Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Insider: Kenneth Smaltz

Although we’re living in uncertain economic times, most Americans are optimistic about their financial future.  A recent study conducted by Nationwide Insurance and The Smiley Group revealed that nearly half of African Americans in Washington, DC say they are not taking any steps to better their financial circumstances.  This includes not having a written financial plan, not knowing where to start when it comes to financial planning, and not having a financial advisor- because they think they don’t need or can’t afford one.

Meet our latest Insider, Kenneth Smaltz, Jr. His goal? To change the way people invest – by using rare coins!  Mr. Smaltz owns K. Smaltz Inc., the first African American rare coin company in the United States.  Based in Freeport, NY, his company buys and sells rare coins to private individuals and collectors to help them diversify their investment portfolios.

With 25 years of experience in this niche industry and sales over $10 million dollars, K. Smaltz Inc.'s mission is to change the perception of rare coin collecting from being a hobby to becoming a profitable investment options for investors.

Prior to starting his own company, Smaltz worked with a $25 million dollar rare coin company.  During his time there, Smaltz built a net worth nearing $1 million dollars, selling coins to high profile clients in the business and entertainment world. 

In addition to selling rare coins, K. Smaltz Inc. also designs commemorative coins for major companies and organizations celebrating milestone events.  In 2004, K. Smaltz Inc. was commissioned to produce a rare coin, the Friars Centennial Celebration Coin, for The Friars Club's 100th Anniversary.  Read on to learn how he got started in this field, rare coin collecting and African Americans, and his charitable involvement.

Coin collecting and African Americans aren't typically synonymous. When did your interest in rare coins begin?

Kenneth Smaltz (KS): Well, I have always loved history...from as far back as I can remember. Coins represent history. I have always been interested in items that were around before I was born.  Looking at them and holding them in my hands would take me back in time allowing me to use my imagination.  Collecting, within the last 12 years, has become an interest of mine.  To this day I collect all things from Black memorabilia and antiques to paintings and automatic timepieces.

I began my career in rare coins strictly by happenstance. At the age of 21, I was hired to work in the shipping department of a precious metals and foreign currency company.  They happened to have had a rare coin division.  After two years with the company I was promoted to the sales division and thus started my career in coins.

As for African Americans and coin collecting being synonymous, you are right to some degree.  However, you might be interested in the history of a set of four coins that I am donating to the Evidence Dance Company benefit this August 22nd.  These four coins represent the only time in 217 years of United States history that coins were minted depicting African Americans.  The coins are likely to bring in well over $1,000 for the charity.  The set includes a 1946 Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar, a 1951 Washington-Carver Commemorative Half Dollar, a 1997 Jackie Robinson Proof Silver Dollar and a 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Proof Silver Dollar. The coins will be auctioned off via the benefit’s online partner: Charity Buzz.

Do you have any African American investor clients? Are there efforts that you know of to educate African Americans to use rare coins as a method of investment?

KS: In my 25 years in the rare coin industry, I have only had five African American clients.  It's just not something that is talked about in the black community.  We are familiar with more traditional forms of investing such as stock, bonds, real estate etc. However, I have recently been getting calls from some very important black businessmen and women who heard about what I do.  Perhaps because I have been making the rounds with prominent black leaders and executives, educating them about what I do.  The reception has been an extremely positive one. Word-of-mouth referrals have been amazing.

Kenneth Smaltz (center) with television correspondent AJ Calloway (right) and a guest at a Rush Philanthropic gala fundraiser in the Hamptons, New York

Do you have plans to, or are you currently, sharing your career with youth?

KS: It is definitely on my radar.  As a matter of fact, I just stuck my toe in the water with an organization called Pencil.  I signed up to volunteer my services.  Pencil utilizes the experiences of individuals working in corporate America to take what they have learned and bring it into the schools of New York.

What charities do you support? Any upcoming charitable events that you're involved with?

I am having a BBQ at my house in July and I’m asking my guests to donate $10 or more to the Alzheimer's Foundation.  A party with a purpose is what I’m calling it. With all the crazy things going on in the world, friends, family and giving back is more crucial than ever.

My father, who suffers from Alzheimer's, lives with me. It’s something close and dear to me.

Over the years I have supported many causes from the arts (Alvin Ailey Ballet, the Museum of Modern Art, Evidence Dance Company) to Habitat for Humanity, and feeding and clothing the homeless of New York with the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church.

And, I’m collaborating with a NY-based dance company on a commemorative coin in celebration of their 25th anniversary.  Something I’ll be able to speak more about in the coming months.

If you’re a company or non profit organization interested in a commemorative coin to mark a milestone event, and to learn more about his company, visit the website at www.keeperofthecoins.com.


Literacy Organizations Join Together to Promote Literacy in Rwanda

The Write Stuff Joins ENWA-Rwanda In Promoting Literacy

Via Press Release: Continuing its mission to encourage reading and spread its addiction to books around the world, The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign (previously featured HERE and HERE), is pleased to announce its support of ENWA-Rwanda, a not for profit organization that supports Rwanda’s post-genocide reconstruction efforts. The organization contributes to the healing of the country after the traumatic events of 1994 by supporting development initiatives started by women seeking self-reliance and improvement of the welfare of their communities.

ENWA's mission is to empower women to become competitive entrepreneurs through enhancing their potential to start and manage income generating projects. It provides them with business advisory services and develops their entrepreneurial skills.

In 2009, however, ENWA began using its influence to gather reading materials for Rwanda, hosting a book drive that garnered the support and attention of individuals across the world. It was through this endeavor that Cyrus A. Webb, The Write Stuff's Founder and host of Conversations LIVE! Radio, was introduced to Claire Umubyeyi and Delilah Rothenberg.

"The work Claire and Delilah are doing is so incredible and needed," says Webb, 33. He received an email from Delilah after she saw a post about The Write Stuff on http://www.blackgivesback.com/. "I was glad we could work together, and it became a chain reaction that I hope will further the cause of both of our organizations." Webb interviewed the ladies on Conversations LIVE! Radio, allowing them to talk about the work they were doing and how the public could get involved. (Listen to the interview by clicking here: http://tobtr.com/s/545839).

Claire and Delilah released the following statement: "We would like to thank The Write Stuff for their support and publicity of the ENWA-Rwanda book drive. Books are scarce in post-war Rwanda and illiteracy is high. Although Rwanda has been a French speaking country in recent history, the President is taking initiative to promote English as a new common language. Therefore, our assistance sending proper teaching materials will help to prevent Rwandans of all ages from being left behind. The Write Stuff connected us with the very impressive authors, Barbara Worton (Too Tall Alice--- seen above with Umubyeyi) and Stacey Kannenberg (Let's Get Ready series) to help with the drive, as well. Thanks again, Cyrus and team!"

Both organizations continue to need and solicit your support. For more information about The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign visit http://www.thewritestufftv.com/ or contact Cyrus A. Webb at cawebb4@juno.com. For more information about ENWA, visit http://www.enwa-rwanda.org/, contact Claire Umubyeyi at 646.552.1037 or cu.tessy@gmail.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering An Icon: Michael Jackson

Don Cornelius, host of the show "Soul Train": "His passing will be grieved far beyond that of any other singer, composer, producer, dancer and choreographer, in the history of the world. Indeed, in my very firmest, personal, belief there will never, ever, be another Michael Jackson!"

Berry Gordy Jr., Motown Records producer and founder:"I am somewhat numb. I'm shocked at the death of Michael Jackson. It's like a dream, a bad dream. He was so much like a son to me. It's just hard to realize that Michael Jackson is not here.

" ... As a kid Michael was always beyond his years, he was an innovator, he was a genius at what he did. He had a knowingness about him. At 9 years old, when I first started working with him, he seemed to me like he had been here before. He was just so knowledgeable about life."

Quincy Jones, conductor, composer, arranger, trumpeter:"I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on "The Wiz" and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the '80s. To this day, the music we created together on "Off The Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all ... talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."

Gatherers outside of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in New York, June 25, 2009

Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater Foundation: "The entire Apollo family is saddened to learn of Michael Jackson's untimely passing. Michael first performed at the Apollo in 1969 with his brothers when he was only 9 years old, winning Amateur Night and catapulting their career as the Jackson 5. We will always remember Michael in our hearts as a true Apollo legend, known for his professionalism and grace. Our sympathy goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed."

John Legend, singer, composer:"Michael Jackson will always be remembered as one of the greatest performers in the history of popular music. As a child of the '80s, I feel as though his music and his videos have been an inseparable part of my life and that of an entire generation. And the powerful thing about great music is that it will always live on. He was and always will be an icon. My heart goes out to his family, friends and countless fans for their tragic loss."

A youth stands in front of Michael Jackson's childhood home in Gary, Indiana

Beyonce, singer, songwriter: "This is such a tragic loss and a terrible day. The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music. He was magic. He was what we all strive to be. He will always be the King of Pop! Life is not about how many breaths you take, but about how many moments in life that take your breath away. For anyone who has ever seen, felt or heard his art, we are all honored to have been alive in this generation to experience the magic of Michael Jackson. I love you, Michael."

Usher, R&B singer: "I pray for the entire Jackson family, particularly Michael's mother, children and all his fans that loved him so much. I would not be the artist, performer and philanthropist I am today without the influence of Michael. I have great admiration and respect for him, and I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to meet and perform with such a great entertainer, who in so many ways transcended the culture. He broke barriers, he changed radio formats! With music, he made it possible for people like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama to impact the mainstream world. His legacy is unparalleled. Michael Jackson will never be forgotten."

Sources: CNN.com and MTV.com
Photos: Wireimage

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Wayans Family Returns to their Roots to Benefit NY Charity

Members of the Wayans family at the Dance Flick movie premiere on May 20, 2009: Marlon, Damon, Jr., Kim, Damien and Keenan Wayans

(New York, NY) – Before taking Hollywood by storm, the famous Wayans family of comedians grew up in the Fulton Housing Developments of Chelsea and participated in many of the services for children available at Hudson Guild. On June 25th, members of the family will be returning to Chelsea to help raise awareness of the Guild and the indispensable programs it provides to over 14,000 children, youth, and seniors.

"As kids growing up in the Fulton Projects in Chelsea, my siblings and I were fortunate enough to enjoy the many wonderful free programs and services that Hudson Guild provided for the community,” said Kim Wayans. “The Guild was an enormous help in keeping us engaged in positive activities and out of the mischief the streets had to offer. During this difficult economic climate, organizations like Hudson Guild have to provide more services to more people, and my brothers and I were eager to help to raise awareness of an organization that has done so much for so many.”

Kim Wayans will begin the evening with a performance of her autobiographical one woman show, A Handsome Woman Retreats at the Hudson Guild Theatre. This insightfully funny journey follows an unhappy woman plagued by panic attacks as she goes on a 10-day silent meditation retreat and uncovers both the source and the cure for her anxiety. Along the way, Kim brings to life many of the unique characters whose influences contributed to the Wayans Family becoming one of the most successful families in entertainment today.

On the following day, the Wayans Family will host children’s activities at the Guild. First, Kim Wayans will read from her Amy Hodgepodge book series. After the reading, the Wayans Family will host a screening of their animated special, The Boo Crew: Sneaker Madness. To end the day of fun, the family will conduct a comedy workshop for teens.

All benefit events will take place at the Hudson Guild John Lovejoy Elliott Center, 441 West 26th Street, New York, NY. Kim Wayans’ performance on Thursday, June 25th, will be from 7:00-8:30 pm. The children’s activities will be on Friday, June 26th, from 3:00-8:00 pm. For performance ticket information, call 212.760.9812 or email jhazlitt@hudsonguild.org. For more information on Hudson Guild’s Children and Youth Services, visit http://hudsonguild.org/.

Kim Wayans will also be conducting a book reading and signing on Saturday, June 27th at 2:00 pm at Harlem’s Hue-Man Bookstore located at 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd., New York, NY 10027. Kim will be reading from her latest Amy Hodgepodge release, The Secret’s Out. This event is open to the public.

About Hudson Guild: Founded in 1895, Hudson Guild is a multi-service, multi-generational, community organization rooted in and primarily focused on Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Through a variety of programs and services, including after-school care, professional counseling and community arts, the Guild seeks to empower all individuals and families, particularly those in economic need, to achieve their highest potential. Source: Sharp & Associates PR/Photo: Wireimage

Monday, June 22, 2009

Join Me in Making a Difference in D.C.!

Here’s a short story about me:

In the spring of 2003, I lost my job. At the time, I was the Director of a teen parent and GED center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. During my four years there, I struggled. I struggled to keep and motivate my staff who were making low salaries. I struggled to put together a board that could help me to fundraise. I, along with my staff, struggled to assist teen parents and youth who dropped out of school to obtain their GED or HS diploma, when most were reading at or below a 4th grade level. I struggled to keep the doors open when funding was cut, but I could not. As I left on my last day, I vowed to do whatever I could to help non profit leaders succeed in their jobs, and to help keep the doors open of programs serving our most vulnerable citizens.

So in early 2005, I founded the Black Benefactors, a philanthropic project designed to support African American led non profits and to benefit organizations serving African American children, youth, adults and families in the Washington, D.C. region. Also known as a giving circle, our group is comprised of dedicated individuals and businesses that pool our monies, and then decide collectively where to give those funds to.

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck and fundraising came to a halt, as many people donated to relief efforts. For nearly two years, I had few members and no money raised. During that time, I reached out to Darryl Lester, the founder of the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP) and the coordinator of many other African American giving circles. He gave me guidance, great suggestions and motivated me to stay with it.

In the summer of 2007, serendipity stepped in and I met members from the Black Philanthropic Alliance (BPA), a group of African Americans working in philanthropy in the D.C. region. To make a long story short, we partnered together and to date, have raised over 10,000 for the D.C. community. Just this past weekend, we finalized our by-laws – this is a huge accomplishment for us!

I’d like to thank some people who give tirelessly to help make my dream a reality: Lee Christian Parker of the BPA and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Edward M. Jones, also of the BPA and the Council on Foundations (you guys ROCK!!) I also want to thank all of the founding members, annual members, the BPA, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Darryl Lester and my sister Stacey for creating our website. Special thanks to the following foundations for their donations: The Hill Snowdon Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Membership for the Black Benefactors is available! If you’re an individual or business who would like to become a member, visit the website at http://www.blackbenefactors.org/ to learn more and for contact information. Or, if you would prefer to make a donation to our fund, (no amount is too small), mail your contribution to: The Community Foundation, 1201 15th Street, N.W., Suite 420, Washington, D.C. 20005. Please make your check payable to 'Black Benefactors/CFNCR' and place "donation" or "membership" on the memo line. We’re having a member event next month, details are forthcoming - I’d love to meet my DC area readers!

Check out an article on one of our members, Terri Lee Freeman, President of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region HERE and follow us on Twitter HERE.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation Hosts 2nd Annual Luncheon Gala

The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, named after the late Reginald F. Lewis, the first African American to build a billion dollar company, held its 2nd annual luncheon gala honoring real estate executive R. Donahue Peebles and Retired Colonel Lee A. Archer, Jr., a Tuskegee Airman, on June 13, 2009 at the Lewis's oceanfront estate in East Hampton, New York. In the photo above are Reginald F. Lewis's daughters, Leslie Lewis Sword and Christina Lewis with Don King.

Khephra Burns, Susan Taylor, Loida Lewis, Lolita Valderrama Savage, Frank Savage

Mrs. Loida Lewis, the widow of Reginald F. Lewis, hosted the luncheon along with Ms. Gabriella Morris and Ms. Lolita Valerrama Savage. The master of ceremonies included Maurice DuBois, co-anchor of the CBS Morning Show. Attendees included Don King and former New York Mayor David Dinkins.

Honoree R. Donahue Peebles and Loida Lewis; a dapper looking David Dinkins

In addition to the awards ceremony, this year’s event also included a performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation raises funds for the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland for African American History and Culture, located in Baltimore.

Highlights from the event can be found at Hamptons.com, which cites that Lewis funded 10 million dollars to various non profits and other organizations, among them, an unsolicited $1 million dollar gift to Howard University, a school he never attended; and in 1992, a donation of $3 million to his alma mater, Harvard Law School, to establish a fellowship to teach minority lawyers how to become law professors. He was the first African American to establish a law firm on Wall Street.

Andrea DuBois, Alicia Bythewood

Katrina Peebles, R. Donahue Peebles and Carolyn Fugett, mother of Reginald F. Lewis

From the Dance Theatre of Harlem: Ashley Murphy, DaVon Doane, Danielle Thomas, Sarah Bokowski

The Dance Theatre of Harlem

Visit the Reginald F. Lewis Museum! From now until August 27, 2009, admission is $5 every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. To learn more about Reginald F. Lewis, visit www.reginaldflewis.com.

All photos by Patrick McMullan courtesy of RTC Publicity

Upcoming NY Event: Help Empower Women in Hip Hop

THE HIP-HOP ASSOCIATION and The CENTER FOR MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION AND PROGRAMS at NYU proudly present: THE WOMANHOOD PASSAGE FUNDRAISER RECEPTION, an evening acknowledging the strength, beauty, leadership, challenges and success of women in Hip-Hop, Thursday, June 25, 2009.

Join them for a memorable evening with Hip-Hop scholars, activists, writers, poets, performers and entrepreneurs. Featuring Marcella Runell Hall, Monie Love, Joan Morgan, Kim Osorio, Beverly Bond, Jazzy Joyce, Toofly, Rachel Raimist, Shiro, Roxanne Shante, Rekha, Cindy Campbell, Rokafella, J-Love, Thembisa Mshaka, Baraka Sele, April Silver, Mahogany Brown, Aja-Monet, Lin Que, Kyra Gaunt, DJ Kuttin Kandi, Iris Morales, Fiona Bloom, P-Star, Rosa Clemente (2008 VP Candidate for the Green Party), and more.

All proceeds will go towards the completion of the resource book, FRESH, BOLD, AND SO DEF, and THE LADIES FIRST FUND, the first grant for women in Hip-Hop.

Supported by NJPAC Alternate Routes program of New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at Rutgers Business School, New York Liberty, Divine Orchid, Ford Foundation, Union Square Awards, and the NYU Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Photos of the Day

Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle and Apollo Theatre Foundation President Jonelle Procope attend the Apollo Theater's 75th Anniversary Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2009 in New York City.

Also at the Apollo's 75th anniversary, designer b michael, actress and philanthropist Victoria Rowell and her fiance, Radcliffe Bailey. Rowell and Bailey will be married later this month in New Hampshire.

Grammy award winning hip hop artist, music producer, fashion designer, music video director and author, Kanye West, is surrounded by youth at his 2nd Annual Stay In School Concert, June 11, 2009 in Chicago. Students who had good attendance and grades were treated to a special concert by Kanye.

Kanye is pictured here with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Daley's wife, Maggie C. Daley, is a huge champion of after school programs. The event also brought awareness to the nation's staggering drop out rate.

NFLer Israel Idonije of the Chicago Bears held a free football clinic for Chicago youth on Saturday, June 13, 2009 at Eisenhower High School. Each attendee received training on agility drills; offensive fundamentals and defensive fundamentals, and seven-on-seven passing drills. The football camp is just one of the many community and charitable activities his foundation participates in. Visit his website at http://www.israelidonije.org/.

Congratulations to the first graduating class of Andre Agassi Preparatory School! The tuition free charter school, named after tennis star Andre Agassi, is an initiative of the Andre Agassi charitable foundation. The school opened in 2001, and is located in a predominately lower income area of Las Vegas, with 95% of the students African American.

Andre Agassi receives a letter from President Barack Obama at the graduation, June 12, 2009

Model and philanthropist Amie Petersen presents her Dena Cali beauty line at the Foundation for Living Beauty Spa Fundraiser for Women Living with Cancer at The Odyssey Medi Spa on June 14, 2009 in Marina del Rey, California.

Actress Eva Longoria Parker takes Frosty orders at a Wendy's restaurant in Selma, Texas, kicking off the company's third annual "Father's Day Frosty Weekend" (June 20-21) which benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. For every Frosty sold, 50 cents will be donated to the foundation.

Photos: Wireimage, StudioB PR, b michael

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Praises 100 Black Men of America, Inc. for Educational Initiatives, Outreach to Youth

In an interview with CNN's T.J. Holmes, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the mentoring and community outreach efforts of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. as an effective tool in building the quality of education in the country.
During the interview that addressed the quality of education in the United States, Secretary Duncan highlighted the need for children to be exposed to positive influences coupled with high standards in education as a way to produce the best and brightest students in the world.

"This is why I am such a big fan of what the 100 Black Men are doing around the country," said Secretary Duncan during the interview. "When our children have the opportunity to be surrounded by adults that care passionately about them and stick with them for the long haul, they will do fantastic." In the photo is Albert Dotson, Jr., Esq., Chairman of the Board for 100 Black Men of America.

Following the interview, Secretary Duncan led a discussion on education during the 100 Black Men of America's 23rd Annual Conference titled "Education on the Frontline." Secretary Duncan highlighted federal education priorities; including the importance of early childhood education, appropriate funding for teachers and the support of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

The 23rd Annual Black Men of America conference was recently held June 10-14 in NYC. Community leaders, decision makers and celebrities participated in the four-day conference that included interactive workshops, thought-provoking panel discussions and various plenary sessions for more than 3,000 attendees. This year's theme, "Education on the Frontline," explored issues concerning education in the African American community during various breakout sessions and roundtable discussions in the host city where the concept for the 46-year-old organization was developed in New York.

View the interview HERE, and visit the website at www.100blackmen.org.

Source: PRWeb

Monday, June 15, 2009

America I Am: Traveling Exhibit Celebrates African American History

Talk show host Tavis Smiley tours the 'America I Am' exhibit with tour visitors

Most major cities have a museum devoted to the history and contributions of African Americans to this country. So what makes the America I Am exhibit different? For one, its a traveling museum that is being described as the broadest museum exhibition of its kind.

America I Am is a four year touring museum that features nearly 500 years of American history, and it celebrates the impact that African Americans have had on this country and the world. The exhibit stands at 15,000 square feet and features over 200 artifacts from every period of U.S. history that include media, music, objects, text and narration. What's also different about this exhibit is that visitors can leave a "video imprint" that has the potential to become one of the largest recorded oral history projects in U.S. history.

WalMart Stores is the presenting sponsor for this exhibit, and its Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Esther Silver-Parker, has written an op-ed for the Atlanta Journal Constitution titled "Each of us can honor black history by helping others."

Youth performers dance at the exhibit premiere

The exhibition is developed in partnership with Tavis Smiley, and organized by Arts and Exhibitions International (AEI) and Cincinnati Museum Center. You can explore the exhibit HERE, and visit the website at www.americaiam.org.

The exhibit is currently in Atlanta at the Atlanta Civic Center through September 6, 2009. This event is great for a family activity, summer camps, and mentors and mentees. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster (from $5-$12) and select Georgia WalMart stores.

America's Largest Black Fraternities Unite with Big Brothers Big Sisters to Help Boys with Absent Fathers Succeed

Announcement of Unprecedented Collaborative Action Comes a Week Before Father's Day

Via Press Release: Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi, the nation's largest African-American Fraternities, have joined forces in an unprecedented union with Big Brothers Big Sisters to help black boys -- often referred to the organization by single mothers -- succeed. The fraternities -- which represent 250,000 college educated-men, many who are among prominent African American business and community leaders -- are not attempting to replace missing fathers. Rather, they expect their involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters as mentors, advocates, fundraisers and influencers, to help African American boys and other children break negative cycles.

The collaborative effort will expand Big Brothers Big Sisters' near 20-year national partnership with Alpha Phi Alpha. Together, the fraternities will work with the organization to develop programs to encourage members and friends in their large professional, personal and social networks to also support the nation's largest donor-supported network of volunteer mentors for youth. The men will urge those in their networks to become Big Brothers; donate and raise funds for the top-rated charity; serve on boards of directors for local agencies in their communities; create sponsorship partnerships with their employers; host recruiting and other engagement events, and provide enrichment programs for Little Brothers and boys who are ready to be matched.

"This landmark partnership greatly strengthens our engagement in African American communities and will be significant in helping us serve many more children, particularly growing numbers of boys whose moms are seeking our help," said Judy Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

In addition to joining forces with Big Brothers Big Sisters to develop new national initiatives, the fraternities will expand successful programs launched in recent years by individual local agencies and fraternity chapters.

Existing Big Brothers Big Sisters engagements with the Alphas, Kappas and Omegas include:

Alpha Phi Alpha: The fraternity partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Dallas and Cleveland for successful barbershop recruitment drives, an idea launched in Dallas several years ago.

Omega Psi Phi: Through Operation Lamp Light the fraternity is working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit to adopt a Detroit high school and build a relationship with a core group of 13- to 14-year-old boys... Some Omegas are spending one-on-one time with boys while the larger fraternity supports bimonthly workshops or field trips to museums and sporting events.

In Louisville the Theta Omega chapter created its Men of Quality program, which mentors youth based on the fraternity's four cardinal principles - Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift through a Lifestyles Choices Forum.

Kappa Alpha Psi: Kappa Alpha Psi member, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri board member Johnny Furr, has led efforts to mobilize the community to mentor.

Learn how you can change how children grow up in America by going to BigBrothersBigSisters.org.

Source: PRNewswire/BigBrothersBigSisters

Upcoming Father's Day Events

Washington, D.C.: Father's Day Rally on the Lincoln Memorial, Saturday, June 20, 2009. For more information, visit the website at http://www.fathersdayrally.com/.

Baltimore, MD: 11th Annual International Fatherhood Conference, June 16-19, 2009. For more information, visit http://www.fatherhoodconference.com/.

NATIONWIDE: Real Men Cook for Charity 2009 is coming to a city near you on Sunday, June, 21st! This year, the event is celebrating its 20th year anniversary with a leadership team that includes CNN's Roland Martin, television personality Chef Jeff Henderson, and real estate entrepreneur Kwame Jackson. Among the participating cities are Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Visit the website at http://www.realmencook.com/ for times, locations and to purchase tickets.

Real Men Cook was also a non profit partner for the Atlanta screening of the new film "Imagine That," on Thursday, June 11, 2009 in Atlanta. Those in attendance included Steve Stoute, Bob Whitfield, Tameka Foster Raymond, Stephon Marbury (Boston Celtics), Jason Richardson (Phoenix Suns) and more attended the Upscale Magazine/ Magic Shave Screening. With screenings in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta, father/ daughter pairs and families alike from the worlds of entertainment, political, athletic and philanthropic industries flooded the seats of theaters across the nation showing the beauty of fatherhood.

Hip hop artist Lil Scrappy with daughter

Steve Stoute with daughter; Bob Whitfield with daughter

Tameka Foster Raymond and family; Stephon Marbury and children

Jason Richardson (Phoenix Suns) and daughter

Photos: Stephen Knight, Catherine Tolbert, courtesy of Garner Circle PR

Friday, June 12, 2009

Children Uniting Nations Conference Vows to Develop More Mentoring Programs in Black Community

Daphna Ziman, Russell Simmons, Gabrielle Union and Vivica Fox attend the Children Uniting Nations 4th Annual National Conference at The House Capitol Building on June 9, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Via Press Release: Children Uniting Nations (CUN), one of the premier non-profit organizations working with at-risk and foster youth, announced its partnership with Russell Simmons' "Hip Hop Summit Action Network" at the 4th Annual "Keeping the Promise to our Children" conference in Washington DC on June 9, 2009. Both organizations vowed to develop more mentoring programs in the African American community and raise awareness to children in need.

The conference press breakfast at the Capitol was packed with power from celebrities, legislators, prominent speakers and was hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. "Children Uniting Nations gives America's children an opportunity to succeed by building mentoring relationships," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "And when CUN comes to the Hill, Members of Congress listen because we know that CUN knows how to build self-esteem and life skills for foster and at-risk children."

Gabrielle Union and Rep. Diane Watson attend the "Children Uniting Nations" 4th Annual National Conference at The House Capitol Building

Celebrities (Russell Simmons, Terrence Howard, Vivica A. Fox, Gabrielle Union, David Archuleta and Michael Copon, Shawn King, Catherine Dent) were insightful and dedicated to getting people committed to joining the CUN movement to recruit mentors and elevate attention to children in need. The event concluded at the Department of State in the historical Benjamin Franklin reception room, where Terrence Howard gave a poignant and charismatic speech reminding the audience that "there is an angel in us all and not to forget to use it" just before taking the stage to perform a Latin-jazz ensemble. David Archuleta committed his efforts to motivating the younger generation to get involved, mentor and make a difference.

This year's panel discussions included key youth issues such as "Student Loan Forgiveness in Exchange for Academic Mentoring of Foster Children," "Physical Health, Nutrition and Obesity in Youth," "Drugs & Drug Trafficking," "Mental Heath and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," "Impact of AIDS and HIV on African American Community," and "The Impact of Economic Decline on the Future of Our Children."

Children Uniting Nations Chairwoman Daphna Ziman remarked, "We are appreciative and are grateful to have had so many influential economic leaders and university researchers dedicated to finding a better future for our children as well as such amazing legislative support, media attention and incredible celebrities assembled together in the effort of helping us raise awareness to the needs of our nations at risk youth and help us to advance the priority of children's issues on the political agenda. There is no point in healing the nation if in the process we destroy the souls of our children who are our future!"

Source: Children Uniting Nations via PRNewswire
Photos: Wireimage

The Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship Announces 2009 Recipients

The Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship (CES) is proud to announce the program’s inaugural recipients of its entrepreneurial-focused scholarship. The recipients were selected from a pool of college students in their junior or senior year who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities or Hispanic Serving Institutions. The recipients will each receive $5,000, which will be utilized for educational expenses in the 2009-10 academic year.

The 2009 award recipients are:

Brittany Brown, Jackson State University; Sherkita Collins, Jackson State University; Alicia Crudup, Jackson State University; Kamika Durr-Walker, Jackson State University;Arlinda Fair, Jackson State University; Clemon Redmond III, Jackson State University; Ebony Robinson, Jackson State University; Isabel Serrano, St. Edward's University; Timothy Strong, St. Edward's University; and Rebecca Uribe, St. Mary's University.

“CES is proud to support these 10 students who have made a commitment to embody the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Kelli Coleman, Vice President of Business Development at GlobalHue. “In the future, we are not only eager to build momentum and awareness around the CES platform, but to continue our support of students who have made the decision to go into business for themselves.”

The CES program is sponsored by GlobalHue, the nation’s largest minority-owned multicultural advertising agency, and managed by Scholarship Management Services®, a division of Scholarship America®. In photo is Don Coleman, Chairman of GlobalHue.

For more information, visit www.thecolemanscholarship.org or call Scholarship Management Services at 1.800.537.4180 and ask for The Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship. Applications for the 2010-11 academic year will be available in January 2010.

Source: GlobalHue

Upcoming Atlanta Event: Fairways & Highways Celebrity Golf and Bike Weekend

Celebrities including Lisa Raye, Chrisette Michele, Chef G. Garvin and Terance Mathis join on board for the first annual "Fairways & Highways" Celebrity Golf and (Motorcycle) Bike Weekend in support of the fight against Domestic Violence

Atlanta, Ga (PR Web) June 3, 2009 - Shock Theory Interactive Inc., a marketing communications agency, is merging the greens with the pavement as they align the most unlikely demographics that share in a common interest - philanthropy with a luxury twist. Luring in the best in golf and bike riding for the first event of its kind, Shock Theory presents the first annual "Fairways and Highways" Celebrity Golf and Bike Weekend taking place in Atlanta, GA on June 25th - June 27th. Prolific in concept and development, the various facets of "Fairways and Highways" will prove to be a spin on the traditional golf outing and bike ride fete.

With recent occurrences in the news and the alarmingly high number of domestic acts across the country, we decided to unite an unlikely audience and thrust the epidemic into their hearts and minds while packaging it in a medium that will leave a lasting impression," stated Fairways and Highways visionary -Sonja Williams.

The series of events will launch with the Terance Mathis Celebrity Golf Outing- former star wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, June 25, 2009 at the Celebrity International Golf Club in Tucker, Georgia owned by NBA Star Julius Erving. A private, VIP only reception will take place the day before for the golf outing. The second event in the series will be the signature "Summer Tour De Luxe" - A dramatic mix of arts and entertainment, embedded into a sea of people, live music and alluring atmosphere on June 26th hosted by acclaimed actress LisaRaye McCoy Misick. The series finale will conclude with the White Glove Charity Bike Ride led by TV One's celebrity Chef G. Garvin. The motorcycle ride has attached over 400 bikers that will be outfitted in white gloves honoring their commitment to fight domestic violence. The police escorted journey will start at an exclusive location (large enough to accommodate up to 600 bikers and spectators) and circle Atlanta's perimeter.

For more information on partnership alignment, ticket purchase, golf outing or motorcycle ride registration visit http://www.fairwaysandhighways.com/

Source: GarnerCirclePR

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Say It Loud: The Importance of African American Boys and Education

Jordan Coleman is an actor and young filmmaker based in New Jersey, who was challenged by his mother to use his earnings from Nickelodeon's 'Backyardigans' to do something positive for his community. He created the film Say It Loud, to remind youth, particularly African American boys, that education is important. He enlisted the help of celebrities and athletes, asking them for advice and words of encouragement. The film features appearances from Kobe Bryant, Ludacris, Rev. Al Sharpton, Newark mayor Cory Booker, Master P, Michael Strahan, and rapper Hurricane Chris:

For more information on Say It Loud, visit the website at www.sayitloudfilm.com and read article about Jordan here.

Men To Boys: In related news, check out the site Men II Boys to view a snippet of their documentary, that discusses the lack of father-to- son relationships, primarily in the African-American community, and how that absence affects a boy's ascent into manhood.

Making appearances in the documentary are Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Baltimore Raven Daniel Wilcox and University of Maryland Baltimore president Freeman A. Hrabowski III. The men share their own experiences with their fathers and how having a father around impacted their lives. Source: The JHU Gazette

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Braylon Edwards Foundation Presents 3rd Annual Celebrity Charity Weekend

Via Press Release: NFL pro bowl player Braylon Edwards knows that it is better to give than receive….that is when he’s not on the football field. The pro bowl player plans to score big for arts and education through two major fund-raisers. The weekend kicks off with a food drive on Friday, June 26 where Edwards will distribute food to hundreds of families in Detroit.

“Growing up in the city of Detroit, I learned the importance of the community, giving back and education. For me to be in a position to support local Detroit gems, families and communities, is an honor” says Edwards.

On Saturday, June 27th, Edwards along with Malesa Plater, executive director of the Braylon Edwards Foundation will host the Women Moving Forward and Reaching Back Awards Brunch at the Detroit Institute of Arts from noon-3:00pm. Honorees Carol Goss, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, Danialle Karmanos, founder of Work it Out, and Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General will receive the Champion In You award for their work in health and education. Dr. Ian Smith, medical expert on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and Founder of the 50 Million Pound Challenge will serve as the keynote speaker. The afternoon which will celebrate the art of well being, will feature artwork, gift bags, auction items and more.

Starting at 8pm, the Max M. Fisher Music Center will serve as the backdrop for the Arts and Stars Celebrity Charity Gala, an evening of glitz and glamour. Edwards, along with six time Sports Illustrated supermodel Jessica White, will host the red carpet soiree featuring exquisite cuisine from some of metro Detroit’s premier restaurants, a VIP lounge presented by Patron, the hottest music and people. The evening includes special performances by native Detroiter’s Big Sean of G.O.O.D. Music (Kanye West’s label) and Rhythm and Blues artist Brandon Hines.

Charity weekend sponsors include: Five Hour Energy, Nike, MGM Grand, State Farm Insurance, Wells Fargo, Captrust, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, Globalhue, Taubman, Patron, Fathead and Quicken Loans.

For a complete list visit: http://www.braylonedwardsfoundation.org/.
Tickets are $125 for the awards brunch. Admission for the gala: $35 general; $85 for VIP

Friday, June 5, 2009

The 2009 Harlem Renaissance Ball

Annual gala raises $775,000 for the Abyssinian Development Corporation and the Harlem community

Hundreds of Harlem’s elite gathered under a chandelier adorned white tent at the PS 175 School in Harlem to attend the 2009 Harlem Renaissance Ball and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) on June 2, 2009. In above photo: President and CEO of the ADC Sheena Wright, ADC student Elie Rinchere, Honoree Lionel McIntyre and the Rev. Calvin Butts.

The evening began with a VIP reception at 6 pm, followed by the awards program, dinner, and a performance by R&B artist Chrisette Michele.  BlackGivesBack attended the gala as a guest courtesy of event partner Morris + King. Despite the economic climate that has definitely impacted the non profit community, a total of 650 people attended the event, raising over a quarter million dollars.

Honoree Mortimer Zuckerman and Reverend Calvin Butts, III

The Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Church and Founder and Chair of the ADC, opened the program sharing how the crack epidemic, prison incarceration rates and various other societal ills twenty years ago spurred the creation of the ADC. He said the church felt it had to do something. Karen Phillips, the first CEO of the ADC, was in attendance and received a standing ovation. Mayor Bloomberg gave ADC its praises and shared that from their efforts, the Thurgood Marshall Academies opened its doors in 2004, Harlem’s first high school in 50 years. In addition to this accomplishment, the ADC had just received good news the very day of their event that 93% of their students scored at the highest levels in math.

Four individuals were honored for their support of the ADC: Richard Beattie, Chairman of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Professor Lionel McIntyre, Associate Professor of Community Development at Columbia University; Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City; and Mortimer Zuckerman, Chairman and Editor in Chief of U.S. News & World Report and publisher of the NY Daily News. Each honoree was introduced and received artwork from ADC students.

For our dining pleasure, we feasted on Dizzy’s chopped harvest salad with grilled asparagus and candied pecans, pan-roasted arctic char with beets and cobalt carrots, and a dessert array of miniature sweet potato pie, chocolate bread pudding and individual peach cobbler. After the program, we were treated to a special performance by Chrisette Michele, who performed “Epiphany” from her latest album that debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart, as well as a medley of songs from her first album and timeless classics. Ray Chew & the Crew then brought the audience to its feet, performing hits from artists such as Beyonce and Gnarls Barkley.

Chrisette Michele performs; guests actress Cicely Tyson with Saundra Parks, owner of the Daily Blossom and Harlem Renaissance Ball Event Chair

Throughout the course of the evening, guests continued to support the ADC by using Textgiving.com. We were asked to use our cell phones to send a message with our pledge, which was displayed on the many video screens lining the tent.

Among the guests were fashion designer b michael and actress Cicely Tyson. b michael shared with BlackGivesBack, “I was very excited to celebrate the good work ADC continues to do... enriching one of our most culturally rich communities... Bravo for creating a beautiful tent in Harlem as a venue.”

To make a pledge via TextGiving.com, visit http://textgiving.com/adc/.

For more information on ADC’s programs and initiatives, visit www.adcorp.org.

Photos: Wireimage and Morris+King

Upcoming Event: Chicago – Sip, Savor & Socialize

Do you want to network with Chicago professionals and entrepreneurs, raise funds for a community organization and unwind from a hectic week? Join Painter’s Palette® Event Planning as they present their second Networking for Change event that will take place on June 24, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

Enjoy enlivening and refreshing wines chosen by the experts at Wine Styles, as you experience the taste sensations of N. J. Gates Events catering service, while glorifying and grooving to the musical stylings of Gospel Jazz saxophonist, Andrew Pointer. Meet and greet other Chicago professionals and entrepreneurs and raise money for a worthy cause, the Bottomless Closet, a non-profit organization that has serviced the community for 18 years to support women in transition.

The Painter’s Palette® Event Planning has designed the Networking for Change event series to inspire positive change and raise funds for various community organizations in the Chicagoland area. This series was inspired by President Obama’s call for service.

Where: Wine Styles,1240 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610
6:30 p.m. Networking & Jazz Reception
7:30 p.m. Guided Wine Tasting

Tickets $35 - To purchase: http://networking4change.eventbrite.com/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gordon Parks Foundation Hosts "Celebrating Fashion" Awards Gala

Liya Kebede, Gordan Williams and Bethann Hardison attend the Gordon Parks Foundation's 2nd Annual Awards Gala

Via PDNPulse: The Gordon Parks Foundation hosted its second annual benefit and photo auction, “Celebrating Fashion,” on June 2, 2009 at Gotham Hall in New York.

Parks, who directed the film "Shaft" and was the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, died in 2006. The Gordon Parks Foundation was created "to perpetuate and protect his legacy of photography, writing, music and film, and to support those artistic and educational activities and organizations in which he had an interest during his lifetime."

The event spotlights the fashion side of Parks’s artistic canon and honors four individuals whose achievements advance the principles of courage, vision, compassion and dignity that Parks championed in his life. The honorees are: Ethiopian supermodel and World Health Organization ambassador Liya Kebede; cultural pioneer and philanthropist Russell Simmons; clothing designer Isabel Toledo who, among other accomplishments, created the shimmering dress Michelle Obama wore in her husband’s inaugural parade; and renowned photographer/filmmaker Bruce Weber.

Russell Simmons, Robin Hickman and Geoffrey Holder

“Gordon Parks was known for many things, including photo essays that masterfully documented the coexisting worlds of beauty and urban grit, his direction of the groundbreaking action film Shaft, and his landmark autobiography The Learning Tree, which became the basis for Hollywood’s first major film production helmed by an African-American,” says Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Assistant Director of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation, which oversees the Gordon Parks Foundation and its vast collection of the artists’ work.

Proceeds from the event will be used to permanently preserve Parks’s work and make it available to schools, museums and communities around the world.

Liya Kebede and Bethann Hardison; Erica Reid and Kebede

Honorees were introduced by fashion and entertainment illuminati, including Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, HBO Co-President Richard Plepler, fashion advocate Bethann Hardison and Cuban artist Ruben Toledo. Former President William Jefferson Clinton, and artist and designer Gloria Vanderbilt served as honorary event chairs, and event chairs included Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Dina Merrill & Ted Hartley, and Cartier North America President & CEO Frédéric de Narp.

Bruce Weber, Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren

Also during the evening, the first annual Nikon/Gordon Parks Foundation scholarship will be awarded to Chiara Marinai, a sophomore at Purchase College (State University of New York).

Harvard professor and scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a 2007 Gordon Parks Foundation honoree says, “Gordon Parks is the most important black photographer in the history of photojournalism. Long after the events that he photographed are forgotten, his images will remain with us, testaments to the genius of his art, transcending time, place and subject matter.”

Source: PDNPulse
Photos: Wireimage