Friday, May 29, 2009

NBA Star Kenyon Martin to Host Fundraiser for Dallas Youth

The Kenyon Martin Foundation at The Giving Back Fund has announced that NBA star Kenyon Martin will host an exclusive benefit cocktail party at Marc Events on June 29, 2009 in Dallas, Texas at 6:30 PM. Kenyon and a number of his celebrity friends will be in attendance. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. A limited number of tickets will be available to the public at $50 per ticket. Tickets are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Proceeds from the event will benefit The Salvation Army Cedar Crest Community Center and Bryan Adams High School, Kenyon’s Alma Mater in a continued effort by The Kenyon Martin Foundation to assist underserved young people.

“I understand what it’s like to be a young person growing up with less than ideal circumstances,” stated Kenyon Martin. “I am excited to be able to put on an event in my hometown that will help us come together as a community to provide the young people with the resources they need to succeed.”

Tickets can be purchased at www.KenyonMartinFoundation.org. You can also call The Giving Back Fund at 310.649.5222.

About The Kenyon Martin Foundation
The foundation focuses on providing life-changing opportunities to underserved youth, as well as assisting families without father figures. The Kenyon Martin Foundation has a bi-annual grant making cycle open to community-based charities in Denver and Dallas. Deadlines for proposals are May 15 and Sept 15th, respectively. For more information please visit http://www.kenyonmartinfoundation.org/.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frank Ski Kids Foundation Announces Winners of 2009 International Art Excursion to Italy

Ten Talented Students Will Embark Upon The Artistic Trip Of A Lifetime

In photo: Frank Ski, Christopher Johnson, Reginald Jackson, Olivia Burns, Salvador Teo, Anthony Martinelli, Rachel Pettit, Torrey Thomas, Tanya Ski, Renate Dugans (Judge), Ruth Karunga (Judge), Paul Huggett (Judge), and Brett Cavalli (Judge)
Via 360 Media Press Release: ATLANTA – Drumroll please! This week at the High Museum of Art, the winners of the inaugural Frank Ski Kids Foundation International Art Excursion to Florence, Italy were chosen. Twenty student finalists participated in one last competition to determine the ten lucky winners of a trip any artist would be truly envious of. On his top rated V103 morning show, radio host and Foundation Chairman Frank Ski announced the names of the artistic ten who will jet-set to the world’s art mecca this July.

The students were subjected to an impromptu drawing competition based on a surprise theme, being judged on their creations in addition to their landscape drawings that landed them as finalists. And on July 22, these ten Georgia students will go on an all-expense paid journey to the city known as the “cradle of the Renaissance,” a city unparalleled in world-renowned art and culture. The winners are:

Kaylon Baker / Luella High School, Olivia Burns / Glenn C. Jones Middle School, Dara Carter / Sandy Creek High School, Reginald Jackson Jr. / Carver School of Arts, Christopher Johnson / Stewart High School, Anthony Martinelli / Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., Rachel Pettit / Trickum Middle School, Salvador Teo / Redan Middle School, Torrey Thomas / Mundy’s Mill High School, and Dwayne Walker / South Gwinnett High School.


Tanya and Frank Ski; Contest winners

Florence houses Renaissance greats such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael Sanzio. While on their excursion, the winners will tour the city with a professional artist and guide, tour Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, draw in a city location under the guide of the art professional, take a hands on cooking class, engage in landscape drawing after a tour of the Tuscan country side and much more!

Frank Ski and his wife Tanya, Frank Ski Foundation President, will be accompanying the ten on the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The Frank Ski Kids Foundation’s International Art Excursion: Florence, Italy is the latest in a number of educational excursions developed by the foundation to help sharpen young minds and give them the tools to develop and explore areas of interest, including science and the arts. The Foundation’s Planet Green initiative sent a group of school children to the Amazon in 2008 and the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands in 2007.

Ski has high hopes for what the Italian Excursion winners will learn: “Today’s schools are cutting back on art programs and the initiatives that would help foster young artists. With the International Art Excursion to Florence, Italy, we are hoping to give them an experience that will enable the young artists to really flourish in their passion and inspire them to pursue their artistic dreams.”

Sponsors of the 2009 Frank Ski Kids Foundation International Art Excursion Florence, Italy include: BBDO, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Nike Store Lenox, State Farm Insurance and High Museum of Art.

For more details and updates regarding the Frank Ski Kids Foundation International Art Excursion Florence, Italy trip, visit www.frankskikids.org.

Photo Credit: Cliff Robinson

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mentoring USA and Harlem Children’s Zone Host Healthy Lifestyles Event

Actress Victoria Dillard (left) poses with Mentoring USA’s executive director, Stephen Powell

Actress and Harlem Native Victoria Dillard Supports Harlem and DC Charities

As a part of the Harlem 100 Days of Peace and Purpose campaign, Mentoring USA and the Harlem Children's Zone co-sponsored a healthy lifestyles event entitled: Together We Serve." The goal of the April 13th event was to introduce QuickStart tennis and mentoring opportunities to mentees, mentors and parents.

Together We Serve kicked off with opening remarks that included the USTA Serves Foundation’s goal, “to encourage children to pursue their goals and highest dreams by succeeding in school and becoming responsible citizens.’’ With high spirits of volunteerism and the promotion of good health, Mentoring USA staff, assisted by high school volunteers, taught QuickStart tennis skills to elementary school kids.

During the event, children were served healthy snacks such as granola bars, fruit and bottled water to encourage the importance of a healthy body. Harlem native and former Spin City television star, Victoria Dillard was also in attendance for the event in Harlem to show support for her borough and mentoring. Mentoring USA will launch Quickstart tennis programs this May at Newark, NJ’s Eighteenth Avenue School, PS 154 in Harlem and in Houston, TX via the Harris County Department of Education/Cooperative for Afterschool Enrichment.

In addition to supporting the healthy lifestyles event, Dillard is supporting the Washington, D.C. based organization, Step Afrika's 15th Anniversary Home Performance Series:

From May 27-31, celebrate 15 years with Step Afrika! "The power and undeniable cool of stepping" (Washington Post) returns back to the Atlas Performing Arts Center as Step Afrika! celebrates their 15th anniversary in their biggest show of the year – Home Performance Series. Step Afrika! will be joined by guest artists Jason Nious (star of Cirque de Soleil's Ka in LasVegas), special guests from Johannesburg, South Africa, and W.E.S Group jazz quartet. The company will present a range of works including "Trane" Step Afrika!'s latest creation that merges stepping and live jazz music. The 15th Anniversary Celebration Performance and Reception, on Saturday, May 30th, will feature Grammy-nominated saxophonist, Antonio Hart, and actress, Victoria Dillard. For more event information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.stepafrika.com.

Source: PQ Concepts {Thanks Stephen}

Operation Hope Launches BankingOnOurFuture.Org

BankingonOurFuture.org gives teachers and students free access to award-winning money management tools and curriculums
Operation HOPE and E*TRADE FINANCIAL celebrate the launch of BankingonOurFuture.Org at the Harlem HOPE Center. (Left to right) Edward Kramer, EVP Wolters Kauwer; Celie Neihaus, VP, E*TRADE FINANCIAL; Mike Murphy, SVP E*TRADE FINANCIAL; Arlen Gelbard, Executive Advisor Aqualine Partners and students from Susan McKinney Secondary School of the Arts.
Via BusinessWire: Operation HOPE (HOPE), a global organization dedicated to promoting financial literacy and empowerment in low-wealth, underserved communities, has announced the launch of a new website designed to give youth the tools, knowledge and motivation they need to develop healthy financial habits.

BankingonOurFuture.org provides free online access to the award-winning Banking on Our Future financial literacy program, teaching students ages 9 to 18 the basics of banking, credit, checking, savings, borrowing and investing, and other key money management topics. The curriculums employ specialized web video modules designed for elementary, middle and high school/adult level students, and may be accessed 24/7. In addition, teachers may request volunteer banker-teachers to participate in live classroom sessions.

We must teach our youth the language of money the importance of respecting, saving and spending money wisely in order to resolve many of the social and economic issues our world faces today, said John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE.



Banking on Our Future is the recipient of Oprah’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award and the U.S. Treasury Department's John Sherman Award for Financial Literacy Excellence; and it is the national partner for financial literacy empowerment for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund in South Africa.

With the support of key partners including E*TRADE and volunteer banker-teachers, Operation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future program has reached more than 380,000 students in 1,200 schools nationwide (at no cost to the schools) since its establishment in 1996. Through the launch of BankingonOurFuture.org, Operation HOPE aims to reach a total of five million youth by 2014 as part of HOPE’s 5MK initiative.

Operation HOPE is America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. Visit http://www.bankingonourfuture.org/ http://www.operationhope.org/, and the blog at www.operationhope.org/blog; or call Jennifer Cohen at (917) 477-2822.

Source and photos: BusinessWire

Philanthropy in Africa: The Million Books Project

Carol Bangura saw the need to improve the literacy rate in her native country, post war Sierra Leone. She shares, "the country has not recovered from a ten year civil war in which hundreds of schools were burned to the ground. I was born in Sierra Leone and wanted to help in some way. I have relatives including my mother still living in Sierra Leone."

She founded the Million Books Project, whose mission is to increase the literacy rate in Sierra Leone, West Africa through various literacy projects in America. As of this month, the non profit organization has had over 7,000 books donated in support of their efforts. Their website states that the literacy rate in Sierra Leone is 35.1% in a population with 6 million people.

There are a variety of ways that you can help. You can donate books or sponsor a book drive (great for high school students' community service projects). For more information on the organization's literacy programs and book drives, visit the website at http://www.millionbooksproject.com/.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Pink Pump Affair: More than 200 Women Dress in Pink to Support Autism

TV talk show personality Leeza Gibbons, Actress and Advocate Holly Robinson Peete, Special Needs Network President Areva Martin and Actress Elise Neal
(Los Angeles, May 18, 2009) More than 200 of Los Angeles’ most influential women dressed in pink pumps of all assortments, attended Special Needs Network, Inc.’s (SNN) sold out inaugural “Pink Pump Affair” at the newly opened Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. This star-studded event featured honoree Holly Robinson Peete, Hollywood legend Tanya Hart, and celebrity talk show host Leeza Gibbons, actresses Beverly Todd, Victoria Rowell, Elise Neal and Erica Hubbard.
The “Pink Pump Affair,” the brainchild of Special Needs Network’s co-founder and president, Areva Martin, Esq., was designed to bring together powerful women from different backgrounds and to garner their support for more autism research and resources. Despite difficult economic times, the event was an overwhelming success. Sponsored by Broadway Federal Bank, Time Warner Cable and Martin & Martin, LLP, the event provided women an opportunity for networking and bonding, while raising money for children with autism in poor communities.

Areva Martin and Holly Robinson Peete; Martin with Tanya Hart

Martin, a Los Angeles attorney, told the audience her personal story of finding out her youngest son Marty had autism and her struggles to get him help. She encouraged the audience to take action and to join Special Needs Network’s efforts to raise awareness and to provide resources to underserved families. She also introduced the Special Needs Network Ambassadors, mothers of children with autism who attended the event and represented the thousands of families that SNN serves annually.

The afternoon tea began with a silent auction featuring designer shoes from David’s of Beverly Hills, Madison and J and A Shoes, manufacturers of the popular Athena Alexander line carried exclusively in Nordstrom’s. The guests were then treated to delightful tea service and a live auction conducted by comedian Broderick Price. The stunning Beverly Todd, best known for her role in the “Bucket List” and “Lean on Me,” with Morgan Freeman, took the run-way in an Edward-Lowells of Beverly Hills reversible fox full length fur coat.


Actress Erica Hubbard; Actress Beverly Todd and Tanya Hart

Special Needs also honored the tremendous service and accomplishments of five women including actress Holly Robinson Peete, who has become an outspoken activist for autism following her own son’s diagnosis; Janice Bryant Howroyd, the president and CEO of one of the largest temporary staffing agencies in the country; Dr. Ruth Creary, president and CEO of Visiting Angels, LLC and former executive director of South Central of Los Angeles Regional Center; and Carliss McGhee, author and founder of Khocolate Keepsakes, a literacy program for underserved children. In accepting the beautifully engraved Tiffany necklace which was presented to all honorees, Ms. Robinson Peete told the emotional story of her family’s personal journey in accepting that her son had autism.

“We were in denial for many years and as a parent I know how important the work of Special Needs Network is. I applaud SNN president Areva Martin and the work of the organization,” states Robinson Peete.

Areva Martin and Janice Bryant Howroyd

Lifetime achievement award recipient, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-34), applauded the work of Special Needs Network. The audience rose to its feet and cheered as the Congresswoman vowed to introduce and support more federal legislation on autism research. Waters, a long time advocate for poor and underserved communities, said that Congress was not doing enough to find the cause and preventive measures for the disorder that now impacts one in every 150 children born in the United States.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters with Areva Martin

The afternoon ended with a fashion show featuring the latest designs from Trina Turk and furs from Edwards-Lowell of Beverly Hills. All guests were given specially designed gift bags from Trina Turk, which included make-up compliments of L’Oreal Paris, vitamin drinks from Verve, a CD of Stevie Wonder’s new hit single compliments of Hidden Beach Records and red boxers compliments of Fredericks of Hollywood.

SNN Staff, Areva Martin, Tanya Hart, Victoria Rowell and Radcliffe Bailey

Special Needs Network is a grassroots non-profit organization which provides educational support and resources to thousands of families in South Los Angeles. In less than five years, the organization has gained national and local praise for its innovative programming. Its president, Los Angeles attorney Areva Martin, was identified by Redbook Magazine as one of 10 women in the nation changing the face of autism.

The “Pink Pump Affair” was orchestrated by up-and-coming event planner Todd Hawkins of the Todd Group. Known for his work at UCLA and the Charles Drew University “Jazz at Drew," Hawkins planned every detail flawlessly. The word is out and women are already shopping for the perfect pair of pink pumps for what promises to be a stunning 2010 Pink Pump Affair.
Source and photos: The Todd Group

Celebrity Philanthropy in the News


Hip hop pioneer Russell Simmons is confirmed as Goodwill Ambassador for the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, May 20, 2009. Russell shared, “My life’s commitment is to be of service to the empowerment of young people living in struggle, who undoubtedly have been effected by this legacy. I look to the future with inspiration and faith as we work every day to bring freedom and equality to all young people around the world.” Source: MediaNewswire

CARON WHEELER: Two-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, Caron Wheeler, appeared in Times Square on Saturday, May 2, 2009, for the 2009 EIF REVLON Run/Walk for Women, and then later performed two of her legendary Soul II Soul hits in Central Park's East Meadow.

The event included an all-star lineup, including Jimmy Fallon, this year's Run/Walk host, who was joined by REVLON Brand Ambassadors Jennifer Connelly and Jessica Alba, and a special performance by Ciara. This year marks twenty years since Caron's voice first caught collective and international attention with Keep on Movin' and Back to Life -- two of her most popular, signature songs that are still global favorites that can be heard in clubs and on the radio everyday around the world.

Caron performed at the Congressional Black Caucus Inauguration Ball on Monday, January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. She is involved with a number of international initiatives, causes and charities that have personal and endearing meaning. Caron continues to perform with a global perspective to effectuate change. Her words continue to serve as a message of hope and encouragement for many. Caron's new music releases and anniversary release with Soul II Soul are forthcoming later this summer. Upcoming appearances include the Capital Jazz Festival in the Washington, D.C. area on June 6, and International Youth Day at the United Nations in NY on August 12, 2009. Caron is available for guest appearances, performance and venue bookings, event hosting, community affairs outreach and seminars. Contact pumpny[at]aol.com. Source: P.U.M.P. Management
KANYE WEST FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2ND STAY IN SCHOOL BENEFIT CONCERT
Via Press Release: The Kanye West Foundation, founded in 2007 by the late Dr. Donda West, was established to help combat the severe dropout problem plaguing America's communities. It is through the collaboration of community and corporate partnerships that the 2nd "Stay in School" Benefit Concert, taking place at the historic Chicago Theatre on Thursday, June 11th, was born. This is the first major event for the Kanye West Foundation since the 2007 passing of its founder Dr. Donda West, the mother of Kanye West. It is also the first concert Kanye has performed in the city of Chicago in over a year. The concert will be taped by Fuse, the national music network, and will air later this summer.

Partners include Chicago Public Schools and S.H.O.W. (Students Helping Our World).

Benefit concert tickets go on sale Thursday, May 21st. Tickets start at $49.50 to $500 for the VIP Reception and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.

See previous post here for highlights from the foundation's first fundraiser.

Read posts on the drop out crisis HERE.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'Make A Splash' with Cullen Jones

Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Cullen Jones Joins Forces with USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips for Six-City Event Series to Promote Water Safety

Via Press Release: Motivated by the fact that 57% of African American and Hispanic kids can't swim and are drowning at disproportionate rates, Cullen Jones, the first African American to hold a world record in swimming, is making a commitment to help save lives. This summer, Jones partners with ConocoPhillips and the USA Swimming Foundation for "Make a Splash" with Cullen Jones, a national water safety campaign that kicks off in Houston May 20th. Jones, who nearly drowned as a child, will educate parents and kids about the availability of low to no cost swim lessons in communities across the country, and promote an on-line giving program to help fund swim lessons for kids in need.

In addition to Houston, "Make a Splash with Cullen Jones" will visit five other cities this year -- Indianapolis, Seattle, Kansas City, Denver and Los Angeles. There, Jones will meet with community leaders, parents and children to deliver a stark message - the ability to swim is a life-and-death issue that requires immediate action from parents and kids. He also will focus on increasing funding for learn-to-swim initiatives across the country by soliciting donations to the Make a Splash/Sponsor a Swim Lesson program. Sponsor a Swim Lesson is an online giving program that provides the public an opportunity to help fund free or low-cost swim lessons for kids who otherwise may not have the opportunity to learn.

"I didn't learn how to swim to become an Olympic champion," said Jones. "I learned how to swim, because when I was five years old, I almost drowned. Every summer these tragedies happen and we talk about how they could have been prevented; yet every year the statistics remain the same. I am committed to a real solution and with the help of USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative and ConocoPhillips, we can do it."

Make a Splash, the national, child-focused water safety initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation, began in 2007. In two years, more than 37,000 kids have gone through Make a Splash swimming lessons. Make a Splash works by aligning the nation's top learn-to-swim providers in an effort to save lives. Currently, there are 68 providers giving free or low-cost water safety instruction across the country. For more information, or to donate or sponsor a swim lesson for a child in need, go to http://www.makeasplash.org/.
See related posts here and here.

Via Press Release/PR Web
Photo credit: Daniel Johnson

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Receives Honorary Degree

“This is the best day of my life—finally I can call myself Dr. J.”

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was conferred upon Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Magic Johnson Enterprises by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, May 15, 2009
Mr. Johnson, who also delivered the commencement address, was honored for his contributions to underserved communities, including those served by Mount Sinai. His tireless efforts with the Magic Johnson Foundation continue to generate support, education and awareness for HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations. Mr. Johnson thanked Mount Sinai for the honor, and noted “This is the best day of my life—the day I become Dr. J.”

In his address, Mr. Johnson challenged the Class of 2009 to continue to work hard and maintain their sense of discipline as they begin their careers.

“Winners understand what they have to do to win,” he said. “When July 1 hits [the day medical graduates begin their residencies], I want you to be the first one at the hospital or clinic and the last one to leave. You are all winners. I wouldn’t mind being on the operating table and knowing that one of you are the doctors.”

Also honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree were Michael J. Fox, distinguished actor and founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Anthony J. Martell, Founder and Chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research.

Source and photo: Rubenstein Associates

New Books, Publications & Websites

New Publication: Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, is being released today. The report uses the Schott Foundation Index to find that only eight of 50 states are providing disadvantaged students equitable access to even moderately proficient public education systems.

Rounding out the bottom, eight states - Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia - appear to provide low-proficiency and low-access education, according to their own data.

Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation shares, "In far too many states, students are being denied access to the resources that provide a meaningful opportunity to learn. There is no substitute for opportunity, not in our schools, not in our workplaces, and not in our society. That is our American dream. No one should be satisfied with the level of educational quality and access we are providing to our children. This data defines a community in crisis, not one of achievement for all." View the report at http://www.schottfoundation.org/

Dr. John Jackson will be conducting a conference at 12:30 PM Tuesday, May 19, 2009 for a duration of 1 hour (11:30 AM Central, 10:30 AM Mountain, 9:30 AM Pacific). Participants, Toll free: 877-719-9791, Name of Conference: Lost Opportunity Release, Participant Passcode: 5407549.

Looking for a career in social change? Visit the new website called Jobs for Change, a career service and marketplace for social change jobs that is created in partnership with dozens of nonprofits, including Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, AmeriCorps Alums, Echoing Green, Network for Good, and Encore Careers. You can check it out at http://jobs.change.org.

Their goal is to spark a nationwide movement toward careers in the common good – including nonprofit, government, and social enterprise jobs, and the site features a team of career advisors who will be blogging every day to provide guidance on finding and developing a career in social change. One of the featured career bloggers is fellow blogger Rosetta Thurman, from Perspectives from the Pipeline. Be sure to check it out!

New Books: Hill Harper’s follow up book to the best selling Letters to A Young Brother, is Letters to A Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny, which has just been released in paperback. Actress Gabrielle Union shares about the book, “When Hill told me about Letters to a Young Sister, my first thought was how badly I could have used a book like this growing up.” Recently I’ve read many articles of youth programs that use Mr. Harper’s books with great success, so if you work with girls, pick up a copy of this book!

A Philanthropic Covenant with Black America edited by Rodney M. Jackson (Founder, President and CEO of The National Center for Black Philanthropy), features eight essays from African American grantmakers, clergy, scholars and activists that examine critical elements of modern philanthropy and how they affect Black communities for good and for ill. Each chapter includes statistical documentation of the issues, strategic recommendations to improve the quality of Black life, and examples of models already being practiced throughout the country. To purchase these books, check out my ‘Featured Books’ banner on my right sidebar .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Lupus Foundation of America Hosts 6th Annual Butterfly Gala

National LFA spokesperson Mercedes Yvette, honoree Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Soledad O'Brien

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) held its 6th annual awards dinner, the Butterfly Gala, on May 12 at the Mandarian Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Nearly 500 guests (including me!) at the event celebrated and honored survivors, advocates and champions of lupus research and awareness. The evening was full of inspiring stories from those living with the disease, such as Mercedes Yvette, 2004 runner up on America’s Next Top Model. While on the show, she shared to a national television audience that she was living with lupus and since then, Yvette has been a national spokesperson for the foundation.

Yvette, along with Kathy Crosby of the Ad Council, presented the foundation’s new public awareness campaign launched on March 31. The three year ad campaign is directed towards women most at risk for developing the autoimmune disease – young women of childbearing age with a special focus on minority women, particularly African American, Latino, Asian and Native Americans.

Mercedes Yvette was joined by fellow models and national lupus spokespersons Tomiko Fraser Hines (l) and Kelly Jean Drury (r). Tomiko, brand ambassador for Maybelline New York, is a member of the LFA Board of Directors and shared with the audience that her sister, Shneequa, sadly passed away in March from a severe case of lupus.

Soledad O'Brien, CNN anchor and special correspondent, served as the master of ceremonies for the gala, that honored a group of distinguished honorees: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, received the Leadership in National Health Education Award; Representative James P. Moran (D-VA) received the Leadership in Lupus Research Award; Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D. of Amgen, Inc., received the Cooper Family Foundation Leadership Award; and the Ad Council received a special recognition for creating the new awareness campaign.

Providing leadership to the Lupus Foundation is Karen B. Evans (on left), Chair of the LFA Board of Directors. Evans is also the Executive Director of the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, which provides funds to non profit organizations in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Also in attendance at the gala was Michelle Snow (center), WNBA player for the Atlanta Dream. Snow watched her mother suffer from lupus for 13 years before succumbing from the disease. She is honoring her mother's legacy by leading the foundation's new initiative, "Champions of Hope," that will engage athletes and celebrities to help raise awareness of lupus throughout the country. With Evans and Snow is the founding member of the world famous Supremes, Mary Wilson. She gave an arousing 30 minute performance, entering from the back of the ballroom and working her way to the front!

Wilson closed out the evening by performing a medley of songs that had the crowd to their feet-even inviting guests onstage to join her. Upon leaving, all guests were given a copy of Dr. Gupta's NY Times bestselling book, Chasing Life.

The event raised funds to support research, education program and patient services. The LFA is working to find the causes of and cure for lupus which hasn’t had a new drug in more than 50 years. For more information on the lupus public service campaign, visit http://www.couldihavelupus.gov/ that features information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, links to resources, and stories from women who are living with lupus.

Photos courtesy of the Lupus Foundation
Special thanks to Maggie Maloney for the invite!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Atlanta DJ Celebrates Birthday by Giving Back

From my inbox: Frank Ski, chairman and founder of the Frank Ski Kids Foundation and host of Atlanta’s number one morning show, the “Frank and Wanda Show” on WVEE (V103), recently celebrated his birthday surrounded by his family and close friends.

Hosted by his wife Tanya Ski and Warner Music Group’s executive vice president Kevin Liles, the celeb-filled affair attracted nearly 500 people who arrived by shuttle to an exclusive residence in Atlanta’s acclaimed Buckhead neighborhood. In photo at left is Frank Ski (r) with Kevin Liles.

Frank Ski, also known for the popular 90’s hit ‘Doo Doo Brown said he woke up that morning and said to himself ‘however I spend this day, is how I’d like to live the rest of my life—giving back.’

So, without further ado, the celeb DJ and acclaimed philanthropist asked his guests to help fund his and his wife's mission to send 10 children to Florence, Italy for an art excursion later this year. His friends, as Ski expected, responded with abundant donations.

In 2008, Ski’s foundation took 10 children to the Amazon for an ecological adventure and has sent 10 children to NASA's U.S. Space and Rocket Center Space Camp and Space Academy every year since 2002.


 Ryan Glover, Rocko, R&B singer Monica, Frank Ski, DeVyne Stephens

For more information on the Frank Ski Foundation and the upcoming art excursion, visit the website at http://www.frankskikids.org/.

Photos: Cliff Robinson & Nihn Chau

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Athlete-Turned Youth Advocate Guides Harlem Youth Toward Pro Soccer Stardom

Ed Foster-Simeon, President of US Soccer Foundation; Irv Smalls, Executive Director, FC Harlem; Adrian Benepe, NYC Parks Commissioner; and Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer

"It will be a journey, but I am convinced that soccer will be a force of social change in urban neighborhoods." -- Irv Smalls, Jr.

Via Press Release: "Passion and personality are the hallmarks of Irv Smalls, Jr., who arrived as the Executive Director of FC Harlem in 2007 and has since worked tirelessly to leverage his personal and professional networks for the elite soccer club's benefit. Under Smalls' leadership, FC Harlem has blossomed, attracting media attention, celebrity-hosted soccer clinics and praise from the local communities it serves.

Offering intramural and recreational leagues for both boys and girls as well as an elite boys travel team, the Harlem-based non-profit hopes to improve personal outcomes for youth in need by exposing them to the physical discipline and teamwork model of soccer.

The club is also gaining acclaim for guiding its gifted young players to national and international visibility. From arranging hard-to-get tryouts with professional teams to connecting players with agents who can expose them to both Major League Soccer (MLS) decision-makers and European teams coaches, FC Harlem is leaving an indelible mark on youth soccer.

A former Penn State Nittany Lions football champion himself, Smalls arrived at FC Harlem (formerly the Harlem Junior Soccer Association) with little fanfare, choosing instead to focus on player development and earning the confidence of the Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods that most of the club's players call home. Family by family, Smalls galvanized the community and energized local youth recreation by making soccer a viable option."

In 2008, the organization hosted a star studded fundraising event that honored soccer star David Beckham and soccer legend Pele. The event raised $500,000 to build a first of its kind soccer field in Harlem's Riverside park. (See artist's rendering of the field in photo above.) The field is expected to be completed this fall.

"Smalls' vision for FC Harlem is to make it the first elite, inner city soccer academy in the United States. "Soccer is an accessible option for any child, but here in the United States the game developed a suburban Saturday morning ritual stereotype. It never caught on like basketball or American football," said Smalls. "It will be a journey, but I am convinced that soccer will be a force of social change in urban neighborhoods."

For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://www.fcharlemlions.com/.

Source: PRWeb

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Foster Children Spokesperson Victoria Rowell Kicks Off Foster Care Month

Victoria Rowell, Mrs. Christine Johnson, Honoree, The Mother of The Year Award, (Earvin "Magic" Johnson's mother) and Mrs. Cookie Johnson
Via Press Release: New York Times Best-selling author, actress, philanthropist, and humanitarian Victoria Rowell kicked off Foster Care Month with an inaugural writer’s workshop for foster children at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Harbor on May 2, 2009, followed by the Admiral’s High Tea at Sea, May 3, 2009 on board the beautiful Mariner of Seas cruise ship of Royal Caribbean International. The events raised public awareness and funds to benefit the Rowell Foster Care Positive Plan (RFCPP).

The workshop, underwritten by Casey Family Services, included a star-studded array of panelists who worked with approximately 50 foster youth on how to express their feelings, thoughts, and emotions through the written word. Panelists included American Idol’s Rickey Minor, Isaiah Washington, Rolanda Watts, BET’s Charlie Jordan, ABC News’ Stephanie Wash, Myrna Colley-Lee, Victoria Christopher Murray, and Marva Allen. Participants had the opportunity to work one on one with the panelists.
“It was an amazing gift,” offers Minor. “One kid wouldn’t even talk at first and now is writing like crazy!” Well received by all, the event was capped off by awards for innovative and expressive writing including the August Wilson Award, Langston Hughes Award, and the Terry McMillan Award. Jordan Brand also provided well-stocked travel bags and certificates for new athletic shoes for exemplary participation in writing.

Mrs. Judy Tartt Báloney, 2009 Tea Chairperson for Admirals' High Tea on the Sea, being honored by Victoria Rowell, Founder of the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan
The following day, the Admiral’s High Tea at Sea event, honoring author Terry McMillan and community leader Mrs. Christine E. Johnson (mother of basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson), brought out hundreds of guests and supporters. This year, RFCCP added couture fashion designer B Michael to the beautiful affair with several of his celebrated hats and two original designs; an evening cocktail ensemble and an enormously popular exit suit.

Entertainment was provided by R&B/jazz artist Lalah Hathaway. Actress/comedienne Kim Coles served as celebrity auctioneer and KNBC’s Chris Schauble served as master of ceremonies. Other guests included Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett, supporter and previous recipient of the Agatha Award, Hattie Winston, Cookie Johnson, Anna Marie Horsford, Tonya Lee Williams, Rolonda Watts and Kiki Sheppard.


Taisha Taylor modeling the B Michael exit suit for the auction; Victoria Rowell and Honoree of the Agatha Award, Author Terry McMillan


Angela Bassett with Rolanda Watts, Lalah Hathaway and Victoria Rowell
“I remain awed and humbled by the support of foster children through this event,” says Rowell. “As a former foster child, I know how much it will mean to our children to be able to attend art classes, receive tutoring, and assistance with college.”

Myrna Colley Lee, Taisha Taylor, fashion designer B Michael and Angela Bassett
The Admiral’s High Tea event was sponsored by ING Americas, and hosted by Royal Caribbean International with additional support from Casey Family Services, UPS, Jordan Brand, KNBC-TV, Federal Express, and Southwest Airlines.

Photos by Earl Gibson III
Source: bmichael

Photos of the Day

A grand opening was held this month of the Freedom's Sisters Exhibition in Detroit: Ambassador Shabazz (2nd-l) is joined by (l-r) Frederica Adelman, Smithsonian; Juanita Moore, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; and Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Co. Fund at her mother's interactive kiosk display. Betty Shabazz, educator and widow of Malcolm X, is one of 20 African American women honored in the exhibit for their work in the cause of civil rights.

About Freedom's Sisters Exhibition:"Freedom's Sisters" celebrates 20 African American women from key 19th century historical figures to contemporary leaders, who have fought for equality of color. Freedom's Sisters is a multimedia, interactive exhibition is designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. The exhibition, sponsored by Ford Motor Company, is currently at the Museum of African American History in Detroit until July 25,2009, and will then visit cities such as Sacramento and Memphis during a three year tour. Source: ESP PR


White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, Jason Binn, CEO Niche Media/Capitol File Magazine, and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett at the White House Correspondents' dinner after party hosted by Capitol File at Corcoran Gallery of Art, May 9, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Jason Binn, CEO Niche Media/Capitol File Magazine, Neal Zucker, Linda Johnson Rice of Johnson Publishing Company, Desiree Rogers, Valerie Jarrett and Marko Iglen Dza at the White House Correspondents' dinner after party.

Eva Longoria Parker, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and his mother Roberta Shields attend the People-Time-Fortune-CNN White House Correspondents dinner cocktail party at the Hilton Hotel on May 9, 2009 in Washington, DC.

In related news, the Ludacris Foundation will honor actress Jane Fonda and Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin for their outstanding philanthropic efforts on May 22, 2009 at Straits Restaurant in Atlanta. Tickets are $50 each and space is very limited. Visit here.

Photos: Wireimage

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tavis Smiley Foundation’s Youth 2 Leaders Announces 2009 Leadership Institute


The Tavis Smiley Foundation’s 2009 Leadership Institute is now taking applications. Middle and High school students between the ages of 13-18 will have a chance to meet more than 200 of the nation’s best young leaders for five days of training on leadership, youth advocacy, volunteerism and civic engagement. Speakers include Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West.

When & Where: August 7-11, 2009 at UCLA Campus, Los Angeles

Key sessions include Teen Town Hall, Community Service Project, Team Project Competition, and a Leadership Track for Young Women and Men. Early bird registration is $500 and includes dormitory housing, meals and all conference workshops and events. Students will be selected based on an essay, letter of recommendation, leadership, school and community activities. Application deadline is May 31. For more information and to register, visit http://www.youthtoleaders.org/, or call 323-290-1888.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Philanthropy in Africa: Starr African Rum

Jeffrey Zarnow, a former Hollywood film producer, really didn’t like rum. But his business partner suggested that he try it, and he was sold. He became an entrepreneur and launched Starr African Rum, which is poised to become a new super premium brand of rum.

During his initial stages of planning, Jeffrey intended to make and package the rum in China. This would have been the most cost effective, but he instead set his sights on Africa. He learned about the NEPAD initiative, which stands for The New Partnership for Africa’s Development. It is a strategic framework for Africa’s renewal that is designed to address the current challenges facing the African continent.

Through this partnership, Starr African Rum has created jobs for African citizens - the rum is distilled and manufactured on the island of Mauritius, its boxes are made in Durbin, and the corks are made in Cape Town. Although it costs five times as much to manufacture in Africa, Jeffrey is committed to its support, sharing, “Africa is a place that inspires you, but also breaks your heart at the same time.” Jeffrey, who is a friend to BlackGivesBack, was recently featured on CNN. Check out the short video below:



In addition to supporting Africa, Starr African Rum has supported many charitable projects here in the U.S. that support Africa: Alicia Keys and Keep A Child Alive, B Peace and Kids for Tomorrow. They also support the New York Foundation for the Arts and other organizations that benefit Africa.

So how does it taste? Its light bodied and vivacious, with a surprising hint of mineral, citrus and cardamom. If it’s not sold in your area, you can visit www.astorwines.com to purchase.

{Thanks Jeffrey!}

Women of Influence Step up in Support of Autism

Holly Robinson-Peete, Janice Bryant Howroyd, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, KeKe Palmer, Tichina Arnold and Vanessa Bell-Calloway among those supporting the "Pink Pump Affair," a High Tea, Couture Fashion Show and Awards Gala to Raise Awareness and Funds for Children with Autism and Related Disorders

Los Angeles, California- (April 28, 2009) - On Sunday May 17, Special Needs Network Inc. will host its first annual "Pink Pump Affair," inviting women to wear pink pumps in support of autism. This star-studded event will take place at the new Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills at 2 p.m. At the tea, the Special Needs Network will honor five women who are committed to enriching their communities and making a difference. Women of Distinction Honorees include Holly Robinson-Peete, Actress, and Autism Advocate; Dr. Ruth Creary, CEO Visiting Angels; Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO, Act-1 Group; and Carliss McGhee, President and Co-Founder, Khocolate Keepsakes. Congresswoman Maxine Waters will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to afternoon tea, the event includes a couture fashion show with designs by Trina Turk and Edward Lowell's of Beverly Hills, a shoe auction featuring designer shoes by Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, Athena Alexander, Callisto of California, Taryn Rose and other must have designers. Entertainment news correspondent and noted journalist, Tanya Hart, will serve as mistress of ceremonies.

Celebrity honorary chairs and guests include Leeza Gibbons, KeKe Palmer, Dayna Devon, Tichina Arnold, Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Taryn Rose, Beverly White, and many more.

The "Pink Pump Affair" is sponsored by Broadway Federal Bank, Time Warner Cable, Martin & Martin LLP, Trina Turk, Taryn Rose, L'Oreal Paris, Edwards-Lowell Furs, Union Bank of California, & Frederick's of Hollywood. The official Shoe Sponsor for the event is J&A Shoes.

Special Needs Network Inc. is a non-profit, community-based organization with a mission to raise public awareness of developmental disabilities, particularly as it relates to autism while providing education and resources to families, children and adults in underserved communities particularly in South and South Central Los Angeles.

Proceeds from the May 17th gala will be used to fund Special Needs Network's parent training and the Joe Patton Advanced Academy for youth. For more information on Special Needs Network Inc., visit http://www.specialneedsnetwork.net/ and for information on the gala, contact Todd Hawkins of the Todd Group at 310-649-6040.

Source: TheTodd Group

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People for 2009


Time magazine recently unveiled their list for the world's 100 most influential people for 2009. The list includes scientists and thinkers, heroes and icons, artists and entertainers, builders and titans, and leaders and revolutionaries. Of course, President Obama made the list, along with First Lady Michelle Obama. Other luminaries that made the list are Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, John Legend, and Judith Jamison.

On May 5th, a cocktail reception and dinner was held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.


Time 100 honorees Van Jones and author and media personality Tavis Smiley. Jones is the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


Time 100 honoree Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer (left) and guest; First Lady Michelle Obama

Roland Fryer is the youngest African-American to ever receive tenure at Harvard, and he is currently leading projects in Washington, D.C. and other cities that provide financial incentives to encourage students to do well in school.

During the evening, the First Lady announced a new fund to support non profits and social entrepreneurs. She shared, “... I am pleased to announce that as part of the new Serve America Act, the Administration is creating a Social Innovation Fund to help innovative nonprofit groups and social entrepreneurs, like the ones I just mentioned, expand their successful approaches to tackling our most pressing national challenges.

“The idea is simple: find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country.”

Oprah, Diane Sawyer and Gayle King

John Legend and Dr. Cornel West

Billie Jean King, Ann Moore of Time magazine, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama

Photos: Mazur/Wireimage