Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I wish all of you a Happy, Safe, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

I started BlackGivesBack nearly two years ago and with each day that passes, I get more excited about sharing stories of giving. Whether its celebrities, athletes or everyday heroes, my goal is to inform, educate and showcase good works in the African American community.

I've had many highlights this year, one of them being interviewed for an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The article focused on the lack of African American males working in the non profit sector. (You can view article here.)

My goal for 2009 is to expand BlackGivesBack with more content and stories of giving. I’ve been working on it all year, and I think you’ll be pleased when I’m finished! However, my initial plan to revamp the site was so lofty, I went over the little budget that I have. So now its back to the drawing board.

As 2008 comes to a close, many of you may be thinking of how you can give back to your community in 2009! Consider these:

Use your talent to volunteer for an afterschool program.
Use your skills to serve on a non profit board in your community.
Attend at least one charity related event during the year.
Become a mentor.
Join the PTA.
Join or form a giving circle. (For those of you in the D.C. area, you can join
A giving circle is a group of individuals who pool their monies to give back to their community.
Invite a child without a father figure on an outing with your family.
If you're an alumni of a HBCU, donate back to your school.
Participate in career day at your local school. Share how you made it.
Become a member of an African American museum, such as the
Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore or the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago.
If you're a business owner, hire youth for an after school job or paid internship.

Thank you for another great year!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HBCUs In The News: Victoria’s Secret Pink Collection Launches HBCU Apparel

This past Saturday, my sister and I were in a Victoria’s Secret store in the tony Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. We happened to notice a Howard University t-shirt on display (which happens to be my alma mater). The t-shirt is part of the Victoria’s Secret Pink Collection, a line of collegiate apparel geared towards young college age women. The line represents various universities, among them Penn State and the University of Miami, that launched in July. My first thought when I saw the Howard shirt was, when did this happen?

This past summer, I read about Howard University sophomore Amelia Reid, an avid Victoria’s Secret shopper and employee of the company on the blog Poetics Noire. She saw a hoodie that she wanted from the Pink Collection, and noticed that not one Historically Black College or University (HBCU) was among the selection.

She took matters into her own hands and decided to e-mail Victoria’s Secret a suggestion to include Howard University among its selection of schools. She received a response from a customer service rep that she called ‘sugar coated’ and then created the Facebook page, “HBCU Ladies Wear Victoria’s Secret Pink Too,” encouraging others to contact the company to include HBCUs. The Facebook page currently has over 700 members. highlighted Amelia’s efforts, along with the launch of the HBCU Pink Line at Florida A&M University (FAMU). In the photo above are FAMU President James Ammons (fifth from left) and CEO of Victoria’s Secret Pink Brand and FAMU alum Richard Dent (fifth from right). Dent stated in the article that they had been in contact with HBCUs prior to the first launch and that Amelia’s grassroots efforts didn’t play a part in their decision to launch HBCU apparel. He did however contact Amelia through her Facebook page to let her know that they were not being insensitive. When I learned that Dent was an African American and a graduate of a HBCU, I was surprised at the omission.

Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, is quoted in the Black Enterprise article as stating, “The African American consumer is brand loyal and will spend a lot of money on the brands they love. It was a huge oversight on their part not to have [included HBCUs initially], but they are doing it now, and I think it is going to be really successful.”

She also shares that Amelia’s efforts played a bigger role than they are willing to admit: “I don’t think they anticipated that what she did would get so many young women passionate about this,” Wells says. “It goes to show the power of not just social networking but what happens when the beauty of the Internet puts communication in the hands of consumers to go direct to brands and say, ‘I want something to change.’”

Other benefits of this partnership include paid marketing internships and scholarships for students, and a portion of the sales going back to each school. The company is also in talks with the Tom Joyner Foundation and Black America Web to promote the brand.

I decided to share this story because it perfectly illustrates how one person can make a difference. Amelia’s efforts to request that Victoria’s Secret include HBCUs in their product lines will now benefit thousands of young girls just like her, who want to show pride in their school. In fact, at the Howard University and FAMU launches, the merchandise sold out.

Other participating schools include North Carolina A&T and Southern Louisiana University.

Read article here and view apparel here.

UPDATE 3/21: Victoria’s Secret PINK is pleased to announce the winner of their HBCU competition, Florida A&M University (FAMU). PINK tracked in-store and online sales of their HBCU Collegiate Collection from January 26- February 22 and FAMU consistently came in first place each week.

PINK will visit FAMU this April with Limited Edition tees to giveaway to 1,000 students and coupons to use at their local VS PINK store.

Photo: Keith L. Pope/Black

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Clothes Encounter: Shopping and Socializing for a Good Cause

A Clothes Encounter's Launch Draws Over 300 Savvy Fashionistas for Exclusive Event Benefiting Dress for Success Atlanta and P.A.L.S. (Pets Are Loving Support)

Many of you are probably getting your last bit of Christmas shopping done among the frenzied crowds at the malls, but for over 300 of Atlanta’s fashionistas, their Christmas present came early on Saturday, December 13th, as they were treated to designer and name brand fashions for up to 75% off retail.

A Clothes Encounter (ACE), an upscale consignment party concept, celebrated their launch by hosting a fashion exchange party at ‘Like the River Salon’ in Atlanta. The event offered stylistas gently worn designer and name brand clothing, hand bags, shoes, and accessories at discounted rates while sipping signature Nuvo Vodka cocktails, listening to music by DJ Sugarcut, desserts by Affairs to Remember, and socializing in one of Atlanta's hottest venues, with select proceeds benefiting two area charities, Dress for Success Atlanta and P.A.L.S.

ACE was founded by actress Kaira Akita (in photo), a former marketing and events specialist with a love for all things fashion. She developed ACE under one basic theory - that every woman deserves to shop for great clothes with a cocktail in hand, a girlfriend on her arm, and without breaking the bank. Kaira landed her first major film role in the 2006 Sundance favorite 'Somebodies' of which she earned a "Thumbs Up" Award from film critic Roger Ebert for her portrayal of the character Diva. Kaira reprised this role in the 'Somebodies' television series for BET. The actress has also appeared in Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys" and "Why Did I Get Married."

Kaira shared, "I was so thrilled with the turnout and support that we received. It was truly amazing to witness guests fully engaged in our concept as they shopped, socialized, and most importantly, supported our two wonderful charity partners, Dress For Success Atlanta and P.A.L.S. (Pets Are Loving Support)."

The event was a success, as fashionistas began lining up an hour before the doors opened. Merchandise included coats, jackets, blazers, stilettos, handbags, furs, dresses, and accessories, with some of Atlanta's leading ladies providing their goods, including Rozanda 'Chilli' Thomas, Rashan Ali and Lisa Wu Hartwell and Sheree Whitfield of the Bravo television show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

At the beginning of the four hour event, all items were discounted 40% to 75% off retail, with most items priced under $20. However, by the last half hour, items were reduced an additional 20% off, causing a frenzy for most including Kesha Henderson. "I was like a kid on Christmas…too excited," she admitted.

Shoppers were also given the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a free photo session with celebrity photographer Derek Blanks and celebrity make-up artist, Toni Acey, valued at $1,000 dollars.

Pictured at left: Melissa Randle, winner of Derek Blanks photo shoot with Kaira; right: Fashionistas at the event

The success of ACE's first event has shopaholics eagerly awaiting the next one, which according to Kaira, will occur in the spring 2009. "I must say my favorite aspect of the evening was seeing the surprise on their faces (ACE shoppers) as they encountered our low ACE prices and high quality selection! What fun. I can't wait to begin planning for our spring event."

Victoria Hook and Shandra Jamison (both of Dress For Success Atlanta) pictured with Kaira

To learn more about A Clothes Encounter and sign up to receive notice of their next ACE Soiree, visit To view pictures of the first ACE Soiree, visit the official photographers’ website at

Dress For Success Atlanta is a not-for-profit organization that offers services to help women enter the workforce, stay employed, advance in their careers and improve their lives. Its mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. For more information, visit

P.A.L.S. (Pets Are Loving Support) is an Atlanta-based Non Profit 501(C) 3 organization that provides pet-care including free food and basic veterinary care, and support to the companion pets of critically ill and disabled Atlantans. P.A.L.S. helps people with critical illness or disabilities and the elderly keep their existing pets, despite medical or financial changes brought on by illness. For more information, visit

Happy Holidays to Everyone!!

Source: Chatterbox Publicity {Thanks Jonnice}

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Nat King Cole Generation Hope Foundation Raises Funds for Music Education in South Florida

The legacy of legendary musician Nat King Cole continues to live on through Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., a foundation created by his twin daughters, Timolin and Casey Cole, to benefit music education in South Florida schools.

Timolin shares on the foundation's website: "My twin sister, Casey and I believe our father, by right, has earned his place in history as a true American hero and legend through his contributions to the world of music. We therefore feel the time is right to launch Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., with the goal of inspiring our youth while enriching their lives, through the power of music." In the photo are Casey Cole, Mrs. Nat King Cole and Timolin Cole.

This past July, the Florida Sun Sentinel reported that budget cuts forced schools to discontinue extracurricular activities, which usually includes music education. Music education has shown to help students learn important life skills such as problem solving, creative thinking and mental discipline. In response to this, the Cole twins launched the foundation to provide musical instruments, instruction, seminars, state-of-the-art recording equipment, field trips and funding to educational facilities with limited resources throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Martin counties in Florida.

Black Tie International Magazine highlights the foundation's Inaugural Black and White Gala, held on November 29, 2008 at The Forge in Miami Beach. The gala was chaired by philanthropist and international financier Al Malnik and his wife Nancy Malnik, and featured celebrity guests and star-studded entertainment that raised endowment funds for the foundation.

Timolin shared, “We were thrilled by the tremendous support from our friends and the South Florida community and the funds raised will help music programs in South Florida schools. By enriching students with the opportunity to enhance their musical talents and abilities, our father’s legacy lives on.”

On the web:


Photo: Paulette and Amy Martin/Black Tie Magazine

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Black Doll Affair: "We're Pretty....Philanthropic"

Christmas is approaching and many young girls will receive dolls as gifts this holiday season. For African American girls, its important that the dolls they receive look like them.

The Oprah Show even dedicated an episode about this very topic a year ago. She featured then 18-year old Kiri Davis, a young filmmaker who replicated the famous 'doll test' from the 1940s by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, which concluded black children preferred white dolls over black dolls when asked which doll was good, which was bad, and which looked most like them. Fifty years later, Kiri found the same results.

Kiri shared to Oprah, "I think those attitudes that existed 50 years ago are still here." She concluded that overturning these ideals of beauty is everyone's responsibility.

Dana Hill, a PR, marketing and event consultant based in Atlanta, was watching that episode and it hit her like a ton of bricks. Two months later, Dana decided to host a Christmas party to give beautiful black dolls to beautiful black girls by beautiful black women. She used her public relations background to get the Atlanta community to donate black dolls, also enlisting the support of the local newspaper, radio stations and models from a modeling agency to hand out the dolls.

The event was a success, and it was the first time many of the girls ever received a black doll. Although Dana had planned this as a one time event, many asked, what about next year? The Black Doll Affair was born.

The Black Doll Affair is a philanthropic, social network of black women who donate black dolls to black girls at Christmas. The philanthropic women of the Black Doll Affair are referred to as The Black Dolls, volunteers of all ages and sizes. Some are fashion models while others are community role models, hence their slogan, We're pretty...philanthropic. By donating these beautiful black dolls, they hope to increase the self-esteem of black girls and remind them of their beauty.

I first learned about Dana and The Black Doll Affair after reading an article about them in the Sun Sentinel newspaper recently. I became so intrigued that I contacted Dana to learn more and to share how you can get involved!

How to Join: There are currently two chapters: Atlanta and Florida, with a forthcoming chapter in Los Angeles. By donating $10 (just $10!) you'll become a member, with your donation used to purchase a doll. You'll then receive a Black Doll wristband. That's it! If there isn't a chapter in your city or state, they still welcome you to join. Members come from all over, including New York, Connecticut, and even overseas. The Black Dolls use the social networking site to interact with each other, post year round event information, photos and more.

Membership is open to everyone! For men, there's The Black Doll Brothers and The Porcelain Pals in Florida for Latino women and other races.

Not only do the young girls benefit, but the women do as well. Black Doll member Brandi shares, "The Black Doll Affair is a great organization with a significant mission. It's so important that young girls know how beautiful they are inside and out to transition into strong women that take over the world. And not only does the Black Doll Affair do just that, it brings together black women who otherwise may have never connected and shows unity."

Be A Doll, Give A Doll!

To join, visit the website at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2008


Congratulations to Mary J.Blige for earning your vote as the #1 celebrity philanthropist of 2008!

And not only did you recognize the eight time Grammy award winning songstress for her notable philanthropic work this year, BET also is giving Mary an award! It was announced this week that Mary is among this year’s honorees for the 2nd Annual BET Honors awards show.

In May, Mary launched FFAWN, the Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, which is dedicated to helping all women gain the confidence and skills they need to reach their full individual potential. Upcoming projects include foundation grants and scholarships for women for vocational training and educational programs.

In addition to launching the foundation, she’s also lent her efforts to voter registration drives. Here’s our R&B songstress posing with fans above at a Barack Obama rally in Florida last month.

Mary has also supported other fundraisers this year, among them the Conde Nast Fashion Rocks Stand Up to Cancer event, amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS and Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar party . Visit the foundation website here to learn more and join their online community.

Trey's efforts in Chicago and Richmond with his Songz for Peace campaign earned him the #2 spot on our countdown. Trey, along with Noonie Ward, a former gang member turned community activist, plan to take the campaign to other cities. Trey also has another reason to celebrate, he just earned a Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance!

A reader says about Trey: "Trey really deserves this. Giving out turkeys in his hometown on Thanksgiving. Gotta luh that man." [Related post]


Hill has done much charity work this year, so you’ll just have to search under the ‘labels’ on the right side bar of this blog to view his efforts, such as hosting the Empower Me HBCU Tour.

View the website here for 2009 campus tour dates.


In addition to having his own foundation, this R&B singer/songwriter also collaborates with other organizations, such as Vh1’s Save the Music Foundation. He performed at their benefit gala this past summer and recently was in Atlanta on behalf of the foundation, distributing music instruments to students at M. Agnes Jones elementary school.

One of two hip hop artists on the list this year, Common's Common Ground Foundation seeks to empower disadvantaged youth. One way this is accomplished is through its Corner Book Club, a national online book club. Last month, Common visited an elementary school in Augusta, Georgia, speaking to students about the importance of books, and he should know as he's a children's author. Students in grades 8-12 can sign up for the book club membership and have an opportunity to win a scholarship! [Related post]


The Ludacris Foundation receives the 2008 BlackGivesBack Award for Best Celebrity Philanthropy Website! Just visit the site and you’ll see why. It has a sleek and easy to read layout, features the 'LudaTube', videos of their giving in action, and publishes a ‘Word of Mouf’ e-newsletter that keeps readers updated, just to name a few. Congrats to Valerie Williams and Candace Dickens of The Ludacris Foundation for a job well done!

Both Wyclef and Alicia use their voices - not their singing voices - to raise awareness of important issues in other parts of the world. Wyclef is a champion for Haiti, bringing awareness to the poverty and famine in his native country; and Alicia for the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.


Jurnee’s activities this year included not just creating a $2 million dollar scholarship fund for students at Wiley College, (view here) but supporting other foundations and initiatives as well. She serves on the board of Artists for A New South Africa, and was recently in D.C. for the 35th anniversary of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), where she served as an honorary event host. This month, Jurnee (on right) presented a young lady with the Beating the Odds award by the CDF :

As many families are experiencing the economic hardship this holiday season, Usher reached in his pocket to help those in need. He donated $20,000 to Atlanta's V-103 'Christmas Wish List' charitable program, benefiting 10 families, and partnered with the Atlanta Bow-Tie Society, providing gifts for hundreds of Atlanta teens. [Related post]


Mya rounds out the top ten list for her foundation’s work with youth in the D.C. area. This past summer, The Mya Arts and Technology Foundation hosted a camp that provided much needed arts programming to youth in an underserved area in our nation’s capital. [Related post]

Thank you to everyone who voted! Be sure to check out the growing ‘Celebrity Philanthropy’ list on the right side bar. And, I have more celebrity foundations to add! Also, a big thank you to all of the celebrities who give of their time to better our communities! Until next year…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Top Philanthropic Duo for 2008


The Mournings have taken the top spot as your favorite philanthropic duo for 2008! This is well deserved (and our top pick also). Alonzo and Tracy have raised millions of dollars for South Florida youth and provide direct services to youth through their programs at the Overtown Youth Center and the Honey Shine Mentoring Program.

Last month, the Mournings continued their '33 Thanksgiving' food giveaway, which provided 500 families in underserved areas in South Florida with a complete Thanksgiving meal. Families received a fully cooked turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread rolls, stuffing, cranberry orange relish, one gallon of iced tea, and pumpkin pie! Alonzo shared, “This is a special time for everyone involved – we get to knock on doors and shower families with all the holiday fixings. We are indeed thankful that we have the opportunity to do this. While we cannot give these families all they deserve, we must give them all we can and it is our privilege to do so this Thanksgiving.” [Source: Miami Herald]


In February, the United Negro College Fund announced its 2008 Annual Awards Recipients. Denzel and Pauletta received the highest honor, the Frederick D. Patterson Award for their philanthropic efforts to support minority education and HBCUs. The Washingtons supported one of UNCF's member institutions, Wiley College, by donating $1 million to revitalize the debate team.


This father and son philanthropic duo has a major project set to launch in 2009: Better Black Television, a family friendly network.
P Miller (formerly Master P) shared earlier this year about this project, "Better Black Television has been a vision of mine for some years. I've done a lot to promote and change the way messages are relayed to our children and our families over the last few years. Promoting positive content and positive messages is so important to educate and preserve the next generation. Being exposed to positive content is what changed my life." View website here.

This year, the couple served as honorary event hosts for the 9th Annual Art for Life East Hampton benefit gala for the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, that raised a whopping 1.5 million dollars to provide arts education and funding for underserved New York City youth. Supporting this event was a perfect match for the couple, as they are avid collectors of African American art.
View photos from the Grant Hill Collection of African American Art here.

Last month, Chris and Malaak Rock hosted more than 250 Brooklyn, NY youth from the Salvation Army to celebrate the grand reopening of the Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center, which now has new books, shelving, furniture, and Dell RED laptops, which Malaak personally asked for. She shared, “For me, as a parent, I feel like reading is fundamental. I really believe that you need a computer to be literate.”

She also shared about Chris' giving to the center, which has not been publicized: "Many people don't realize Chris has been giving to this center in so many ways long before I got involved by picking up bus loads of kids and taking them to Toys "R" Us or baseball games or Radio City's Christmas Spectacular, without any of the press and promotions his wife likes to bring," says Malaak. "That's because he cares deeply." [Source]

Coming up.....The Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2008!

Monday, December 15, 2008

BET Networks Kicks Off Inauguration Weekend With 'THE BET HONORS' and Hosts Its First-Ever Inaugural Ball

Hosted by Actress Gabrielle Union, "THE BET HONORS" Recognizes the Accomplishments of Tyler Perry, Mary J. Blige, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, B. Smith, Judith Jamison and Congressman James E. Clyburn

Inaugural Ball to Support America's Promise Alliance and Washington, D.C.'s Dunbar High School and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Via BET Press Release: BET Networks kicks off the inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C., with the second annual BET HONORS on Saturday, January 17 and concludes with BET's first-ever Inaugural Ball on Tuesday, January 20.

Hosted by world renowned actress Gabrielle Union, THE BET HONORS will celebrate legendary songstress Mary J. Blige (Entertainment), groundbreaking filmmaker Tyler Perry (Media), celebrated dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison (Education), businessman, philanthropist and basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Corporate Citizen), entrepreneur extraordinaire B. Smith (Entrepreneur), and the Honorable Congressman James E. Clyburn (Public Service). The second annual event will take place at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 17 and premiere on the network during Black History Month on Monday, February 9 at 9:00 p.m. (EST)

During the historic weekend and following THE BET HONORS, BET Networks will host its first-ever Inaugural Ball and will air a one-hour special, YES WE WILL! BET'S INAUGURAL CELEBRATION, on BET on Tuesday, January 20. Taking place at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the Ball will be in support of our next generation of national and local leaders, with proceeds benefiting America's Promise Alliance, the nation's largest non-profit alliance dedicated to the well-being of children and youth founded by Colin and Alma Powell.

Additionally, the Ball will support two institutions that are committed to the education and advancement of today's youth in Washington, D.C. - Dunbar High School and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

"As we celebrate this historic inauguration and begin a new chapter in our nation's history, it's important that we stay focused on our most precious resource -- our children and youth," said Alma J. Powell, chair, America's Promise Alliance. "We are deeply honored to partner with BET to raise awareness of the challenges facing our young people -- and applaud those making a positive difference in their communities. We cannot afford to stand still as more than a million students drop out of high school every year."

The Results Are In!

You voted. Thousands of you. The countdown for the Top Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2008 begins today!

All of these finalists have given of their time, treasure, and talent to benefit communities around the world, but who earned the top spot as your favorite?



Gilbert Arenas of the NBA's Washington Wizards lands in the top spot for his charitable work with the Scores for Schools program, that benefits Washington, D.C. area schools. Each point that Gilbert scores in a home game is worth $100 for a selected school.

Gilbert shared last year, “ You can see the smiles on the kids’ faces. Now they get to watch the Washington Wizards to see how much I score for their school. It is amazing that this even happened…I have a chance to actually give back in this life and when my career is over, I want people to remember me for what I did off the court as well as what I did on the court.” [See related post here.]

Landing in the number two spot is Laila Ali, who is well on her way as becoming known for her charitable work just as her athletic prowess as a professional boxer. Since becoming a new mother this year, her community involvement hasn't slowed down. She has lent her efforts to a variety of causes this year, among them joining UNIFEM's Say No to Violence Against Women campaign, helping the American Diabetes Association to raise funds, and joined Subway sandwich shops to promote eating fresh and staying fit for new moms and mothers to be. Visit Laila's website here to learn about these efforts and more. [See related post here.]


This New York Giants player has hosted the annual 'Strike 4 A Cure' fundraising event for the past two years in Atlanta, in an effort to raise funds for HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer's research. See previous post here about Osi's trip to Nigeria to provide college scholarships for students.


Cullen's website calls him "an ambassador for African American swimmers." In his spare time, when the gold medal Olympian is not touring the country as part of the Diversity Tour, or with the USA Swimming Foundation's Make A Splash program, he serves as a motivational speaker for youth and gives private swim lessons. [See related post here.]

Ovie Mughelli of the Atlanta Falcons has been profiled on this blog for his community work as part of the Ovie Mughelli Project. Since then, he has renamed his charity the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, becoming more strategic with his charitable giving. He has recently formed a partnership with the Atlanta public school system and has a Board of Trustees that approves grant requests. [See previous post here.]

Coming up.....The Top Philanthropic Duo of 2008!

Friday, December 12, 2008

::Upcoming Events: Baltimore::

NFLer Daniel Wilcox of the Baltimore Ravens hosts 'Giving In Style', a fashion show fundraiser, Tuesday, December 16th, 6:30-10PM:

Daniel along with his wife Shauna, have launched Empowerment M.I.N.D.S. -"Motivating and Inspiring Neighborhoods Determined to Succeed." This red carpet charity cocktail party, celebrity fashion show and auction, will benefit Empowerment M.I.N.D.S. to provide Baltimore area youth and youth sponsored by the Have a Heart Campaign with reading materials, technological products and cultural opportunities.

Eunice Style Fashion Consulting, IMAT, and IMEG Productions are coordinating the fashion show featuring celebrity models including Ravens' players Ed Reed, Chris McCalister, Bart Scott and many others. Musical entertainment will be provided by Carmen, Paula Campbell, Chop Shop Cartel and various talented acts. Also in attendance will be various dignitaries such as star violinists, Nuttin' But Strings, Peter Angelos and Steve Bisciotti.

When: Tuesday, December 16th, 2008, 6:30 PM- 10:00 PM
Where: Maserati of Baltimore Dealership, 1628 York Road, Timonium, MD 21093
To purchase tickets:

Source: D4SM, Inc.

Retired NFL player Keion Carpenter and The Carpenter House Foundation, Inc.,Present The Carpenter House 2nd Annual Holiday Give Back

Since leaving the NFL in 2007, former Atlanta Falcons’ safety Keion Carpenter has embarked upon a bold philanthropic mission by reaching out to communities of color through his foundation, The Carpenter House, Inc. as well as collaborating with other charities. The 31-year-old Baltimore native has been speaking to youth up and down the East Coast about the importance of getting a good education, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, developing good character traits, and pursuing their dreams.

The Carpenter House Foundation’s main objective is creating affordable housing for Baltimore families with limited income and family challenges; making the dream of homeownership a reality. Through his foundation, Carpenter will also offer educational workshops, financial mentoring/management services and holistic family programs in the effort to positively change the dismal statistics that disproportionately plague low-income families and at-risk communities.

Source: MWPR

The 2008 BlackGivesBack Hall of Fame Awards

Today is your last chance to vote for your top black celebrity philanthropists of 2008!

The countdown begins next week, so make sure you vote for your favorite celebrity! View finalists here and vote here.

For this year's list, I purposely left off a few people:
Russell Simmons. Hip hop mogul, author, entrepreneur. Last year, USA Today ranked Russell as one of the top 25 most influential people in the last 25 years. He's joined on the list with individuals such as Sergey Brin & Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, and Bill Gates. That's pretty impressive. I coined Russell the 'hip hop philanthropist' because I'm sure he's inspired many hip hop artists to give back to their communities.
He's involved with so many charitable and philanthropic activities, that I can't even list them all, but here's a few: He's Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which exposes youth to the arts, serves as a board member for the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, and is the primary investor of Global Grind, a hip hop social network. He also found the time to write a book, 'Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success.
Rodney & Holly Robinson Peete. Former NFL player; actress, author. The main thing I love about this philanthropic couple is that they include their children in their giving. Here they attend Vh1's Classic Rock Autism Celebrity Bowl Off charity event, on November 13, 2008 in Hollywood. Rodney and Holly's eldest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, and Holly has become a national advocate for children and families affected with the disorder.
The Peete family is also featured in the 'Nothing Compares to Family' campaign, which stars celebrity families in ads that benefits children's charities for the shoe company Skechers. The selected charity for their ad is HollyRod4Kids, an initiative of the HollyRod Foundation, which helps children and their families affected by autism and other disorders.
This year, Holly hosted the Lexus 'Arriving in Style' event, a private showing of designer Kevan Hall's (pictured on right) spring 2009 collection in various cities, that benefited HollyRod4Kids. I was supposed to attend the DC event, but I injured my foot! Oh well, there went my opportunity to meet Mrs. Peete! Maybe next time.
So, it is my pleasure to induct Russell Simmons and Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete into BlackGivesBack's Top Black Celebrity Philanthropists Hall of Fame! They'll join fellow philanthropists Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson!
The 2008 countdown begins next week!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Actress Monique Coleman Joins Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Foundation Celebrity Gift-Wrap Fundraiser


The Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes Foundation (LLF) welcomes High School Musical actress, Monique Coleman to their 3rd Annual Celebrity Gift Wrap Fundraiser event taking place at the Mall at Stone Crest, 2929 Turner Hill Rd., Lithonia, GA.

The Foundation along with their celebrity guests, businesses and volunteers are the exclusive gift wrappers for the Mall at Stone Crest during this holiday season. Wrapping costs range from $3.00 - $10.00, depending on the size of the customer’s gift. Extended gift wrap hours are from December 13 - 23, noon to 10 p.m., and gift wrappers will be on-hand December 24th, from open to close.

“I am excited to participate in this event to support such an incredible foundation, stated Monique Coleman.” She will appear at the Mall at Stonecrest on December 18, 2008, at 7pm. Along with the support of Monique, this fund-raiser will assist the Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Foundation raise funds for on-going LLF programs which assist low-income youth in metro Atlanta and children housed in Lisa's Home of Love, a residential facility in Jutiapa, Honduras.

About Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes Foundation (LLF): Headquartered in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the Foundation was developed in 2003 by Lisa's mother, Wanda Lopes-Colemon, her brother Ronald Lopes and family friend Anashay Murphy. LLF was inspired by Lisa's dream of building a children’s home on land she purchased in Honduras. Shortly after revealing her plans to her family, Lisa passed away in an auto accident in Honduras.

Four years later LLF opened Lisa's Home of Love, a 10,000 sq. ft., residential facility. The orphanage includes a dental clinic, FREE healthcare, and on-site FREE schooling, which is open to children throughout the community who have no school to attend. The LLF orphanage also has progressive volunteer and sponsorship programs, with future expansion goals.

On the web:

Source: TLAPR

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Photos of the Day: Art Basel Miami 2008 Edition

Art Basel Miami is the most important art show in America. Artists, art collectors, art dealers, critics, curators, and art enthusiasts from all over the world attend this annual event, which was held December 3 to 6 in Miami’s Art Deco district. The event merges an international selection of top galleries with an exciting program of special exhibitions, parties and events featuring music, film, architecture and design. As prestigious as this event is, I decided to highlight some of the African Americans in attendance - the movers and shakers in the art world that you should know.

In the photo above is New York based artist Mickalene Thomas and hip hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons. On December 4th, Russell hosted a dinner at the Mondrian in honor of Mickalene as the 2008 Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's featured artist for Art Basel. Russell shared with the Miami Herald, ''This event is about reminding our supporters to keep art at the forefront. I am still committed to funding art programs, even more so in these tight times.''

Pictured with Mickalene at the dinner are artists Shephard Fairey (left) and Kehinde Wiley (right). Wiley is a New York based painter best known for his portraits of African American men wearing urban fashion, recast as 17th to 19th century historical figures. His artwork was part of the Recognize! hip hop and graffiti exhibit at the Smithsonian earlier this year and his current exhibition, ‘Down’ is currently showing at the Deitch Gallery, 18 Wooster Street in NYC until December 20, 2008.

Wiley describes 'Down' as "an answer to the negative views of young Black men in American society." The press release states that this is his most ambitious series to date: "These figurative paintings, which extend up to twenty-five feet in length, have grandeur and gravity seldom seen in contemporary art."

Kim Heirston Evans and Richard Evans attend the Yves Saint Laurent and ArtForum celebration at The Bass Museum on December 5, 2008. Conde Nast has ranked Kim Heirston as one of the top six art advisers in the world. The Yale graduate counsels her clients on what art to buy, at what price, and attends auctions to acquire art on their behalf.

Thelma Golden, (2nd from left) Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, poses with husband/fashion designer Duro Olowu (left), Tom Delavan, Editor at Large for Domino Magazine (right) and Deborah Needleman, Editor in Chief for Domino Magazine (3rd from left) at Jennifer Rubell's annual Art Basel/Miami Beach breakfast hosted by Domino Magazine on December 4, 2008.

Golden is one of the most respected art curators in America. She participated on the Art Basel Conversations panel, The Future of the Museum – Africa, America and the World.

Thelma Golden is pictured with mixed media artist Glenn Ligon and renowned artist and photographer Lorna Simpson at the Yves Saint Laurent and ArtForum celebration.

Golden and Ligon are pictured here in front of Ligon's 'America' artwork, with the Rubell Family of the Rubell Family Collection. The Rubell's current exhibition, 30 Americans, showcases the work of 30 African American artists. On their website, they share their process for acquiring this extensive art collection:

"Since we started collecting in the 1960s, we have always collected African-American artists as a part of our broader mission to collect the most interesting art of our time. Approximately three years ago, we found there was a critical mass of emerging African-American artists, and began the process of understanding what seemed to be a new movement. When we asked these artists about their influences, we heard some of the same names over and over: Robert Colescott, Renée Green, David Hammons, Barkley Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Carrie Mae Weems. We had been collecting almost all of this older generation for decades. Perfect conditions for a new exhibition.

We have spent the last three years traveling everywhere we can, speaking to as many artists, critics, and curators as we can, finding and acquiring the best work we can, and putting together the best possible portrait of contemporary African-American art that our physical, financial and intellectual limitations allow. The result is a show of more than 200 works of art, exhibited in 27 galleries occupying the entire 45,000-square-foot exhibition space of the Rubell Family Collection."

Mickalene Thomas, Glenn Ligon, Kehinde Wiley and Nina Chanel Abney’s artwork are among the artists featured in the exhibit, which runs through May 30, 2009. For more information, visit the website at:

Also, check out artwork of President elect Barack Obama displayed during Art Basel here.
Photos: Wireimage

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation Receives $50,000 To Help Reduce North Carolina's Drop Out Rate

Earlier this year, BlackGivesBack featured a post on the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, founded by Alabama businessman Dr. Shelley Stewart in honor of his late mother, Mattie C. Stewart. The foundation is dedicated to reducing the drop out rate across the country by creating innovative tools and resources, such as the InsideOut Program and the Choice Bus rolling classroom. We're happy to share that the foundation has received a $50,000 grant from AT&T to support their efforts in North Carolina!

In photo: Dr. Shelley Stewart, founder and president of the Foundation; Cynthia Marshall, North Carolina president of AT&T; and Dr. June Atkinson, superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Via press release: The AT&T Foundation - the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. has awarded the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation (MCSF) $50,000 to support North Carolina's dropout prevention initiative through the InsideOut Program and the "Choice Bus" rolling classroom. The InsideOut program features a powerful video documentary with prison inmates about the devastating effects of dropping out of school. The AT&T Choice Bus, a real bus that is half classroom and half replica of a jail cell, will also travel the state.

The grant sends 5,000 InsideOut dropout prevention toolkits to schools across North Carolina. Two toolkits will go to all North Carolina public schools, representing some 400,000 students. The grant also sponsors a statewide tour of the AT&T Choice Bus. This MCSF mobile teaching tool plainly shows children the choice between staying in school or eventually winding up in jail. AT&T volunteers will support this bus experience as it travels around the state to schools and youth centers.

"I appreciate AT&T's commitment to high school graduation for all students and their support of the InsideOut Choice Bus and the dropout prevention toolkits for schools across the state," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. "This is one important way to get the word out: dropping out of high school sets a course that too often leads to prison. We can't afford to lose our young people in this way."

"We congratulate AT&T for stepping up and doing something about the dropout rate in North Carolina," MCSF Founder and President Dr. Shelley Stewart said. "We invite other corporations in the state to do the same. Already, our MCSF tools are in 29 states and Canada. The more we reach, the more students we can save from a life of prison and poverty, and instead give them every opportunity for prosperity.

"If we don't do something about the dropout rate, then all youth are at risk. America is at risk. It is an epidemic," Stewart said. "As a homeless kid in the segregated South decades ago, a teacher told me that if I can learn to read, I can be anything. That is our message to children today. If you get an education, you can be anything great that you want to be."

For more information, visit

Photo: PRNewsFoto/Mattie C. Stewart Foundation

Unik Ernest: The Nightlife Philanthropist

Unik Ernest knows how to throw a party. His event planning skills have taken him to St. Tropez, where he threw a lavish party for socialite Denise Rich on a boat, in London for Lionel Richie, and at events such as Sundance and Art Basel Miami, where the likes of David Bowie and Naomi Campbell partied last week.

In the early 1990s, the Haitian born entrepreneur was introduced to the South Beach Miami party scene, and four years later, he moved to New York where his nightlife empire took off. As the owner of the NY hotspot Merkato 55 and Bijoux, I’m sure his schedule is jam packed, but he has not forgotten his native country.

In 2007, Unik founded Edeyo, an organization dedicated to improving the future of children in Haiti by rebuilding dilapidated schools, supplying students with learning materials, and providing them with nutritional support. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, where its estimated that only 50% of youth there attend school. He shared last year, “I’m very excited about the launch of Edeyo. For me, it’s a natural match, because I have heartfelt conviction to give back to my country. My success reflects my desire to overcome poverty, and I want to extend that same opportunity to those less fortunate than me.”

Want to read more about Unik’s story and his rise to become a nightlife impresario? He’s profiled in the current issue of BlackBook magazine, where he also shares about two upcoming events. A fundraiser for his foundation on December 9th and an inauguration party in D.C.:

“As we all know, this is the most historic event in America in many, many years. An African-American guy in the White House is incredible. I’m putting a committee together with, John Legend, Spike Lee, Usher—many people will be involved in the event, and it’s going to be very VIP. It’s going to be two nights, the night before Martin Luther King Day and then on Inauguration Day, a closing party to celebrate the inauguration of our new president.”

Wow. I'm sure that’s going to be some event!

Read article here.

Visit the Edeyo Foundation:

Article assistance: Hip Hop Press