Monday, January 31, 2011

The Jerry Clark Foundation Hosts 3rd Annual Winter Baseball Camp for Atlanta Area Youth

Jerry Clark, music industry executive and founder of the Jerry Clark Foundation, with Lawrence “Larry” Williams, former member of the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro National League) at the 3rd Annual Jerry Clark Foundation Winter Baseball Camp, January 22, 2011 in Decatur, Georgia.

Foundation Aims to Drive African-American Youth Back to Baseball

Via Press Release: On Saturday, January 22, 2011, the Jerry Clark Foundation Inc. hosted its much anticipated 3rd annual Winter Baseball Camp at the Inspiring Kids Academy located in Decatur, Georgia.

Over 150 youth from the Atlanta metropolitan area enjoyed a full day of pure baseball instruction and enhancement. Campers received proper fundamentals and techniques from professional players and instructors in Major League Baseball and other esteemed baseball professionals. This year’s camp took place in a new indoor baseball facility, the Inspiring Kids Academy, an 82,000 square feet facility that houses 13 indoor batting cages, seven pitching mounds, and a throwing/fielding area perfect for baseball players at all levels.

Special guest instructors included: Marquis Grissom (MLB Veteran), Mike Cameron (Boston Red Sox), Cedric Hunter (San Diego Padres), Jacob Brumfield (MLB Veteran), Eddie Rush Jr. (Detroit Tigers), Daryl Boston (MLB Veteran), Chavez Clarke (Los Angeles Angels), Coach Derwin McNealy (Clark Atlanta University), Coach Robert Mitchell (Morehouse College), Atlanta Blue Jays, and the Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College baseball teams. Celebrity fitness trainer, John Lewis of Energy Fitness of America was on-site to provide athletic training sessions. In addition, former Atlanta Falcons’ safety and Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Brian Jordan, and Atlanta Blue Jays coach/CEO Anthony Dye, served as keynote speakers to discuss the importance of being well-rounded, overcoming failures and adversity, as well as taking pride in personal appearance.

As an added bonus, Lawrence “Larry” Williams, former member of the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro National League) also spoke to the campers about the Negro Leagues and the importance of taking advantage of present opportunities that he was not afforded.

Campers left with an unforgettable experience and expressed great gratitude in being part of the camp. Community leaders Stan Watson (Dekalb County District 7 Commissioner), Lee May (Dekalb County Distric 5 Commissioner), and Assistant Chief Dale Holmes (Dekalb County Police Department) all came out to show their support for the work the Jerry Clark Foundation is doing in the community.

"This year was absolutely AMAZING!! Just being able to give back to the community is an honor. To be able to deliver baseball and life lessons is one of the Jerry Clark Foundation's goals to help drive African-American youth back to baseball," states Jerry Clark, founder of the Jerry Clark Foundation.

Several sponsors contributed to the success of the Jerry Clark Foundation’s 3rd annual Winter Baseball Camp: Brand Banking Company, Jackmont Hospitality Inc., Jakes Management DBA McDonald’s, V103, Raydar Entertainment, MHR International, Born 2 Compete, Energy Fitness of America, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Atlanta Blue Jays, Inspiring Kids Academy, Hitter’s Box, Dr. Maurice Jove, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, and the Georgia Team Raiders.

About the Jerry Clark Foundation
The Jerry Clark Foundation was founded with the intent to give back to the community and create individuals that will be assets to society via academics and athletics. The organization stresses high academic achievement to help youth avoid potential pitfalls such as dropping out of school and substance / alcohol abuse. In addition, the foundation believes athleticism can create a team mentality where students can develop a culture of openness without taking things personally, which is critical to success. The Jerry Clark Foundation Inc, hosts several events throughout the year. For more information, please visit

Photo Credit: Freddy O /

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fathers Incorporated Hosts Annual Dinner to Launch Fatherhood and Mentoring Campaign Inspired by the White House

Event honoree John Amos; Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director and Founder of Fathers Inc.; and Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships attend the first annual Heritage Awards Dinner in Harlem, NY hosted by Fathers, Inc. on January 14, 2011.

Organization Readies for 2011 Year of Responsible Men Campaign with Support of Several Urban Cities for National Mentoring Month

New York City, Los Angeles, Albany, Milwaukee and Other Cites Join Effort

On Friday, January 14th at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem, New York, Fathers Incorporated hosted its first annual Heritage Awards Dinner that honored five national awardees for their work in the field of responsible fatherhood and mentoring, and officially launched 2011: Year of Responsible Men campaign in partnership with the White House, the NBA, and the Ali Center. The campaign will feature a year-long slate of activities that will encourage responsible fatherhood and mentoring.

The event honorees were John Amos, most recognized for his role as James Evans in the television show, “Good Times,” and Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary “Waiting for Superman.” Michelle Drayton, publisher of Today’s Child magazine and J-Will, host of Albany’s “JWill in the Morning” on Jamz 96.3 (Albany) served as the event hosts. The keynote speaker featured Pastor Tre’ Staton of the Empire Christian Center, and special remarks were delivered by Dr. Jeff Gardere, America’s Psychologist and host of VH1’s Dads Camp, and Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The 2011: Year of Responsible Men campaign will partner with the White House, a network of private and public grass-roots organizations, corporate partners and a high profile honorary board. Several major U.S. cities have joined in support of the campaign.

Terrence Ray, Director of Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative; John Amos, Actor & Humanitarian; Carey Casey, CEO of National Center for Fathering; Kenneth Braswell, Founder & Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated; Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; (back) Robert D. Johnson, Founder and CEO of Celebrate Dads; Jerry Tello, internationally recognized authority in family strengthening, therapeutic healing, cross cultural issues and motivational speaking; and Dr. Jeff Gardere, America’s Psychiatrist & Host of VH1’s Dads Camp.

“Fatherlessness is an epidemic, and we know for many children both young and old that the effect of its pain runs deep. In America today, more than 24 million children are unable to call their father’s name in the next room,” says Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated. “That is why Fathers Incorporated was formed. We are committed to make a difference and get fathers more involved in their children’s lives daily, no matter what the circumstances. As responsible fathers, this is our mission.”

The campaign will include the efforts of national organizations and cities, including Mentoring USA. “For over two decades, the goal of Mentoring USA has been to encourage vulnerable youth to stay in school by providing a trained mentor, one-to-one, with sufficient resources to ensure a productive lifestyle and a hopeful outlook. Our annual accountability study has confirmed, time and again, the success of our program through our mentees high rates of graduation and progression to college,” says Matilda Cuomo, Founder of Mentoring USA.

“We are proud to join Fathers Incorporated as they promote family mentoring and nurturing, knowing that in doing so, they are creating an environment in which children and their parents can thrive and excel,” stated Mayor Michael Bloomberg via a proclamation.

About Fathers Incorporated (FI): Established in 2004, FI serves as a leader in the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood and Mentoring. The agency’s international, national, and local mission focuses on remedying the impact of father absence. This is accomplished through the use of innovative social marketing and multi-media platforms, traditional communications, and product development. FI seeks to expand the range of work in the fields of comprehensive and non-traditional family service models. For additional information, please visit and


We hope you have enjoyed our month long series on mentoring in observance of National Mentoring Month. To find mentoring opportunities in your area, visit the National Cares Mentoring Movement website at

Photos courtesy of Fathers Incorporated

Chicago Mentee Introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC

“Well, there you go. And that's what the South Side of Chicago produces. Well done. Thank you, Deneen, for that outstanding introduction.” –First Lady Michelle Obama

Deneen Beatrice Borner, a spirited 15 year-old freshman from Harlan Community Academy High School in Chicago, was chosen to travel to Washington, DC to represent the Polished Pebbles mentoring program at the 2011 National Mentoring Summit held at the Library of Congress on January 25, 2011 hosted by MENTOR, The Harvard Mentoring Project and the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The outstanding young lady is a mentee in the Mentoring USA - Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, supported by Bloomingdale's mentors in Chicago.

Deneen had the honor of introducing First Lady Michelle Obama, to which she stated, “Well, there you go. And that's what the South Side of Chicago produces. Well done. Thank you, Deneen, for that outstanding introduction.”

Deneen is a confident and active participant in her classes and after school programs. Her interests include community service, swimming and track. The Mentoring USA - Polished Pebbles mentoring framework provides girls with the opportunity to learn the vital life skills of effective communication. It provides girls with non-violent and non-aggressive means to self-identify, respond to threats of violence and interpersonal-conflict and handle the challenges of daily living. As a part of Mentoring USA, Polished Pebbles is proud to present the Bloomingdale's Brown Bag Apprentice program. Bloomingdale's Chicago employees serve as mentors participating in activities such as job shadowing, "Take Your Polished Pebbles to Work Day," community building day, store tour, book club, mock interviews and school visits. During all the activities, girls develop personal relationships with Bloomingdale's employee mentors, put their communication skills to use and gain confidence to become leaders of their time.

Bloomingdale's has been supporting national non-profit Mentoring USA since 1999 when the company launched the associate mentoring program in New York and has since expanded to Chicago, California and Washington DC. Earlier in the day, a mentor, Richard Pittelli, from the Mentoring USA Bloomingdale's NY program partnership with PS-59, received the "Corporate Mentor of the Year Award." Bloomingdale's is proud of Deneen's accomplishments and was thrilled to dress her for the speech introduction. She wore a Lauren by Ralph Lauren dress with a black DKNY bow sweater. Photo:

About the National Mentoring Summit: At the first-ever National Mentoring Summit, First Lady Michelle Obama lauded the commitment of more than 17 U.S. corporations to expand or create mentoring programs that increase graduation rates among America's youth and position them for success. The Corporate Mentoring Challenge, an initiative led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, encourages companies to launch a mentoring program, expand existing employee mentoring programs or provide resources to support local mentoring programs that help youth gain leadership skills, achieve their educational goals and increase their confidence. For more information, visit

Upcoming Mentoring Event: New York

To mark the end of National Mentoring Month, the Open Society Institute (OSI), in conjunction with the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, the Mentoring Success Center of Communities in Schools of New Jersey, Mentoring USA and the Children's Defense Fund Black Community Crusade for Children, will host a panel discussion to identify how the expansion of faith, community, and workplace mentoring strategies can effectively respond to the crises facing young people in black communities across America.

The evening will feature mentor/mentee pairs profiles, a "Who Mentored You" open mic session, spoken word artists, jazz trumpeter (an Open Society staff member) Joe Moffet, and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to register to become a mentor with one of the following organizations: Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Mentoring USA and the Mentoring Success Center of Communities in Schools of New Jersey.

Speakers will include:
Stephen Powell, Executive Director, Mentoring USA
Thomas Owens, Director, Communities in Schools of New Jersey Mentoring Success Center
Shawn Dove, Campaign Director, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Open Society Institute
Danielle Lee Moss, Ed.D., Executive Director, Harlem Educational Activities Fund
Reverend Emma Jordan Simpson, Executive Director, Children's Defense Fund-New York (co-moderator)
Melvin Hall, Mentor, Trinity Faith Based Mentoring Project
Aaron Brooks, Student and Mentee, Communities in Schools of New Jersey Performance Learning Center

Location: OSI-New York
Event Date: January 31, 2011
Event Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
For more information and to RSVP:

Photos of the Day: Fashion Edition

Jocelyn R. Taylor, designer Tracy Reese and Reggie Canal attend Shop for a Cause at the Tracy Reese Boutique on January 26, 2011 in New York City.
Fashion designer Tracy Reese hosted a shopping event at her New York City flagship store in honor of the one year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. The designer recently announced her partnership with Akyson, a non-profit organization that aids in Haiti relief efforts and promotes the sales of goods created by Haiti’s most talented designers and artisans. A portion of the event's proceeds benefited the organization and guests were offered a 15% discount on purchases.

Macy's CEO Terry J. Lundgren, Johnson Publishing Chief Executive Officer Desiree Rogers and Johnson Publishing Company Chairwoman Linda Johnson Rice attend the Eunice Johnson Fashion Retrospective unveiling at Macy's Herald Square on January 27, 2011 in New York City. The traveling fashion exhibit is in honor of Eunice W. Johnson, founder of Fashion Fair Cosmetics and the Ebony Fashion Fair Show that raised $55 million for various scholarship programs.

A general view of the exhibit.
For upcoming cities and dates, see our previous post HERE.

Black supermodels Pat Cleveland (left) and Iman (right) with fashion designers Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan at the Tribute To The Models Of Versailles 1973 at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art on January 24, 2011 in New York City.

Fashion designer Kevan Hall (2nd from left) with models at the Kevan Hall Spring 2011 Collection Fashion Showcase at the Agenda Loft on January 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Photos: Wireimage

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Payless ShoeSource Celebrates Black History Month With Third Annual Payless Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship Program

Retailer Sells Limited-Edition I Believe Bracelet for $3, Donates to Scholarship Program with the National Urban League's Project Ready Program to Support the Future of African American and Other Minority Youth

Via Press Release: In celebration of Black History Month this February, Payless ShoeSource® will continue its successful Payless Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship program by joining together with its shoppers and the National Urban League (NUL) to raise money to support the future of African American and other minority youth.

Now in its third year with the program, Payless will again sell a limited-edition I Believe accessory for only $3 in more than 800 stores nationwide and®, while supplies last, and will donate a minimum donation of $35,000 to the Payless Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship program established with NUL. Payless said it expects NUL to distribute about a dozen scholarships to African American and other minority youth through its signature education program, Project Ready, for the 2011-2012 academic season.

This year's limited-edition item is the I Believe bracelet, available beginning Feb. 1 in select stores and on The bracelet features a red faux suede double-band bracelet anchored by a silver-toned ring inscribed with the inspiring messages "Dream" and "Believe," offset by two drop charms: a clear faceted round charm and a white medallion disc.

"Financial constraints hinder too many of our nation's youth in pursuit of their academic dreams," said LuAnn Via, president and CEO of Payless. "Our partnership with NUL has enabled Payless to distribute scholarships to underserved youth, thereby allowing deserving students to attain their educational goals and lay the foundation for a strong future. This philanthropic program, like so many at Payless, democratizes giving by offering on-trend items at a great price point so that more people can support the causes important to them."

To be eligible for a 2011-2012 Payless Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship, students must be a registered Project Ready participant, and submit materials by the scholarship deadline of March 1, 2011. For additional information about the nomination process, please visit or the local NUL affiliate office.

Source: Press release/PR Newswire; Photo:cohn&wolfe

Head of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial to be Honored by the Trumpet Awards Foundation

Via Black PR Wire: Harry E. Johnson, Sr., the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., has been selected to receive the “President’s” Award at the 2011 Trumpet Awards Gala to be held in Atlanta on January 29th.

Originally presented by Turner Broadcasting in 1993 and now presented by the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc., the Trumpet Awards were created to herald the accomplishments of Black Americans who have succeeded against immense odds. Special recognition is given to the few, who symbolize the many, who have overcome the ills of racism and poverty and achieved special greatness. The 2011 Trumpet Awards will be aired on April 24 on TV ONE.

"Mr. Johnson’s tireless passion and relentless efforts has allowed him to ensure that MLK Memorial will not only be built on the National Mall, but dedicated as well in August of 2011 for the world to see and behold for generations to come. Harry Johnson represents the truest essence of this great award; the achievement of special greatness," states Ms. Xernona Clayton, Founder, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc. and Creator and Executive Producer of the Foundation’s Trumpet Awards.

Harry E. Johnson, Sr. has led the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation as President and CEO since 2002. The President of the United States and the U.S. Congress charged the MLK Foundation with erecting a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Under Johnson's leadership, the MLK Memorial Foundation has raised $109 million of the $120 million needed to complete the memorial; positioned three boards (Executive Leadership Cabinet, Governing Board and Honorary Board) for the foundation; and garnered support from all living U.S. Presidents, Congress, members of the corporate and nonprofit communities, and celebrities

“I am very humbled and honored to be recognized with such a prestigious award. Being part of a team that organized the support and contributions made by millions to build a memorial to a man who was a citizen of the world, whose messages of democracy, justice, hope and love transcended racial barriers and resonated around the globe, I am grateful and blessed for this unique opportunity." adds Johnson.

Mr. Johnson is a career lawyer, entrepreneur and public servant. From 2001 - 2004, he served as National President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, the fraternity to which Dr. King belonged. Johnson is also a small business owner who has dedicated his time to community groups and issues, such as voter registration, blood donations, HIV/AIDS, Boy Scouts of America and Big Brothers.

Johnson received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University where he was a member of the Thurgood Marshall Student Bar Association. He completed Post Baccalaureate work in Public Administration at St. Louis University and received his Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University of Louisiana. Johnson has received a number of recognitions for his public service and was named in Ebony Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans,” 2001 – 2004.

For more information about the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., visit For more about the Trumpet Awards Foundation and the 2011 honorees, visit

Photo and source: Black PR Wire

Monday, January 24, 2011

African American Production Based on Award Winning Children’s Book Premieres in Washington, DC Area

DC Area Theater Receives Grant to Diversify Audiences with First African American Play – Serving as Production Partner
Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children’s theatre in the Washington, D.C. area, along with the African Continuum Theatre and the Dance Institute of Washington presented the world premiere of Mirandy and Brother Wind on January 21, 2010 in Glen Echo, MD, based on the Caldecott Honor Book of the same title in celebration of Black History Month.

The new children’s musical also celebrates a series of firsts for Adventure Theatre including its first partnership with African Continuum Theatre, the only professional African American theatre company in Washington, D.C., and the first time the theatre has produced an African American show.

I have the pleasure of serving on the honorary host committee for this landmark production, and if you’re in the Washington, DC area, I hope you will attend and support this play! Parents, please bring your children! (Perfect for ages 4 and up). It is a delightful and high-spirited play that children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy. I was impressed by the commitment of the theatre’s staff and board of directors to ensure diversity among its audiences, as this is the first all African American production in the theatre’s nearly 60 year history.

Rooted in the tradition of African American storytelling, Mirandy is the story of a young girl’s ambition to win a cakewalk competition by harnessing the power of Brother Wind. Michael Bobbitt, the play's producing artistic director who adapted the Mirandy and Brother Wind children’s book says, “In the ever growing genre of children’s theatre, there is a dearth of musicals about the African-American experience (fictional and non-fictional). Most African American children’s works are based on popular African and/or African-American folk tales, legends, myths or historical fact. Our goals with Mirandy are: To preserve/re-enliven highly ignored parts of American history and express the universality of experiences specific to the African-American culture through great theater.”

The theatre was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for Mirandy and Brother Wind, and was among only 29 grantees in the United States for musical theatre as part of their new series to diversify audiences. The African American Adventures series will focus on producing 5 new children’s musicals over the next 5 seasons based on fictional African American children’s books. An upcoming production will adapt the children's book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, a book that broke the color barrier in mainstream children's book publishing.

Director Jennifer Nelson comments, “I am delighted to be part of bringing this new play to the stage. Mirandy and Brother Wind is an imaginative, life-affirming and positive journey through a moment in American history when community spirit made hard work bearable. We see this world through the eyes of a lively young girl with an irrepressibly joyous spirit. The music and dance will make you want to join in the celebration of life!”

Special Community Event: A free special community event will be held at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC on February 26th at 2:30 pm. The event will feature a cakewalk and dance demonstration (the main theme from the book), a lesson and mock-cake-walk competition, as well as a meet and greet with the book's author Patricia McKissack and illustrator Jerry Pinkney. Washington DC’s own Cake Love will also be part of the day with a special Mirandy and Brother Wind cake. I hope to see you there!

Mirandy and Brother Wind is now showing at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD until February 13, 2011. The production will then premiere in Washington, DC from February 25-March 13, 2011 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. To purchase tickets, please visit HERE. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Janet Berry, 301-634-2262.

Honorary Host Committee for Mirandy and Brother WindCongressman Jesse L. Jackson, 2nd Congressional District of Illinois
Tracey Webb, Founder – Black Benefactors &
Henry Hailstock, President of the Montgomery County, MD Branch of the NAACP
Stephen Leach, Vice President, Government Relations and Community Outreach, Reading Is Fundamental
John J. Oliver Jr., Chairman of the Board/Publisher, The Afro-American Newspapers
Ayris. T. Scales, Interim Director, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

Giant Steps to Change the World: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee Release New Children's Book

Author Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrator Sean Qualls and Spike Lee promote "Giant Steps to Change the World" at PowerHouse Arena on January 23, 2011 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

“On some days your dreams may seem too away far to realize… Listen to the whispers of those that came before...”

Via "Following the success of their much beloved picture books, Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please; Academy Award nominated director Spike Lee, and his talented wife Tonya Lewis Lee offer up an inspirational picture book about activism and taking the big steps to set things right set to beautiful illustrations by the award-winning Sean Qualls. Using examples of people throughout history who have taken "giant steps," this book urges kids to follow in their footsteps and not be hindered by fear or a sense that you are not good enough. Despite the challenges, even the smallest step can change the world. So, what's your next step going to be?"

View a video of Spike and his wife Tonya as they discuss the inspiration behind the book HERE.

Photos: Wireimage

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ebony, Fashion Fair Cosmetics & Macy’s Celebrate Fashion Icon and Philanthropist Eunice Johnson

A Retrospective Fashion Exhibit Honoring A Timeless Style Icon
NEW YORK (January 20, 2011) – Macy’s Department Stores and Johnson Publishing Company are partnering to present a beauty, fashion and lifestyle tribute to the life of legendary style maven, Eunice Johnson. The Ebony, Fashion Fair Cosmetics & Macy’s Celebrate Eunice Johnson retrospective, will debut at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City on January 27th thru February 1st, and will then tour 10 Macy’s locations across the country throughout the month of February.

In partnership with EBONY and Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Macy’s will showcase some of the haute couture designs from Mrs. Johnson’s private collection that were featured in the famed Ebony Fashion Fair shows. The month-long exhibit will feature designs by some of the World’s most renowned and critically-acclaimed designers, including Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, Carolina Herrera, Stephen Burrows and B. Michael to name a few.

Each of the 10 locations will feature approximately 10 to 30 signature looks, complete with information about the designer, the season in which the design first appeared and information about the model who wore the look.

“It is an honor for Macy’s to stage a celebration of Eunice Johnson's contributions to fashion, beauty and American history,” say’s Martine Reardon, executive vice president Marketing, Macy’s Inc. Reardon continues, “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with one of America’s most iconic and revered lifestyle authorities. Through the Ebony Fashion Fair shows, Mrs. Johnson filled a void in fashion by producing runway presentations that brought a new sense of style, drama and diversity to the industry, and we’re excited to present a glimpse of these historical shows to our customers.”

(In photo: Alexa Rice, granddaughter of Eunice Johnson, founder of Fashion Fair Cosmetics and the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, attends the Eunice W. Johnson Tribute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, held last year in New York City). Photo source: Metropolitan Museum of Art Flickr
Johnson Publishing Co., chairman Linda Johnson Rice said, “It is a sign of my mother’s determination, confidence, and creativity that more than 50 years after launching the renowned Ebony Fashion Fair show, her timeless sense of style endures as a guidepost for today’s fashion loving women. We are honored that Macy’s, a 30 year retail partner of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, selected Eunice Johnson as the anchor for these exciting exhibits.”

In addition to New York City, the retrospective will be on exhibit at the following locations:
• Macy’s State Street, Chicago, IL; February 2nd to 7th
• Macy’s Galleria at Hidalgo, Houston, TX; February 3rd to 8th
• Macy’s Center City, Philadelphia, PA; February 9th to 14
• Macy’s Aventura, Aventura, FL; February 10th to 14
• Macy’s Lakeside, Metarie, LA; February 17th to 21st
• Macy’s Metro Center, Washington, DC; February 17th to 21st
• Macy’s Beverly Center, Los Angeles, CA; February 22nd to 28th
• Macy’s Lenox Square, Atlanta, GA; February 24th to 28
• Macy’s Union Square, San Francisco, CA; February 24th to 28th

Source: Press release/Macy's

MSB Philanthropy Advisors Launches to Advance Responsive Philanthropy

By Akira Barclay, New York Contributor

January 17th marked the 25th Anniversary of the holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the fitting launch of MSBphilanthropy Advisors, the only known African-American woman owned business of its kind. Founded by M. Starita Boyce Ansari, PhD, MSBphilanthropy Advisors fosters responsive philanthropy and social justice through training, technical assistance and philanthropy advising.

Providing best practices in an array of service areas, MSBphilanthropy Advisors helps funders, legal and financial advisors, individuals, nonprofit and voluntary organizations realize their missions.

In addition to Dr. Boyce Ansari, MSBphilanthropy Advisors’ team of social justice specialists includes Pamela R. Babb, MPA; George Banks, CPA, CMA, MBA; Denise A. Davis, DrPH, MPA; and Cheryl A. Pemberton, MPA.

To learn more about how MSBphilanthropy Advisors can strengthen your ability to bring change visit

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Insider: Helen Price, Executive Director of The Coca-Cola Foundation

Coca-Cola is a brand name that is well recognized throughout the world. But what may not be as well known are Coca-Cola’s philanthropic efforts through The Coca-Cola Foundation, the company’s international philanthropic arm founded in 1984. Since its inception, the foundation has donated more than $355 million to community projects and initiatives across the globe, and in 2010, $19 million in grants were awarded to community organizations in the U.S. and Canada alone.

For our latest Insider column, we feature our first corporate foundation executive, Helen Price, the Executive Director of The Coca-Cola Foundation. A native of Atlanta, Georgia and a graduate of Spelman College, Price is a key player in the company’s grantmaking for the largest beverage company in the world.

Read on to learn how she got her start in corporate philanthropy, how the foundation determines focus areas and selects grantees, and advice for pursuing a career in corporate philanthropy in our exclusive interview.

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Spelman College; MBA, Accounting, Atlanta University

Previous positions held: Auditor/Tax Accountant, Arthur Anderson; and Finance, Human Resources, BellSouth Corporation

Board affiliations: Conference Board – Corporate Contributions Council, Alliance Theater, Project GRAD, Carver YMCA, Morehouse College Leadership Institute Advisory Board

Civic or professional groups: Leadership Atlanta, United Way Nominating Committee

Honors/Awards: YWCA Women of Achievement Academy, Atlanta Business League’s Women of Influence, Trumpet Awards High Heels in High Places

Favorite quote: Leadership requires compassion and wisdom. Humility is a sign of that leadership.

Last book read: Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghes

How did you get your start in corporate grant making and philanthropy?

By training, I am a Certified Public Accountant. For many years I held a number of financial and management positions in public accounting at the Bellsouth Corporation. Almost 18 years ago, I was invited to apply for the position of director of corporate external affairs at The Coca-Cola Company. I took advantage of the invitation, interviewed and was ultimately hired to join the corporate team responsible for the Company’s community engagement and philanthropy. It has been a great opportunity for me to use my financial and managerial skills, while learning more about the beverage industry, and how consumer products go to market.

The Coca-Cola Company’s global reach and the opportunity to report to Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of Global Community Connections, allows me to better understand community sustainability, financial compliance, and grantmaking.

I currently serve as the executive director of The Coca-Cola Foundation, in addition to my company position as group director, corporate community affairs. Each year the Coca-Cola system helps thousands of students continue their education … and contributes to community partners in creating economic opportunity, preserving the environment and improving the quality of community life around the world. Giving back to my community is very important to me. And I am proud to work for a company that has made community philanthropy a part of its operating philosophy.

What trends do you see emerging in corporate philanthropy?

Over the years, corporate giving or philanthropy has become more strategic. Today, more companies are aligning their community support with their business goals. For many years, The Coca-Cola Company had a strong legacy of supporting educational initiatives. Today, we continue to support education, and expanded our giving to those areas that align with our business expertise. Today, we also support water stewardship, recycling, active healthy living and educational initiatives in local communities around the world.

The Coca-Cola Foundation recently awarded $4 million in grants for its 4th quarter, and over $19 million to communities across the US and Canada in 2010. How does Coca-Cola determine its grantmaking focus areas and select grantees?

We start with an intentional commitment of resources. The Coca-Cola Company gives back at least 1% of our operating income annually to help develop and sustain communities around the world. The next step is how we prioritize and focus our grantmaking. About five years ago utilizing the perspective and experiences of our senior leaders worldwide, we conducted a series of strategic planning sessions to determine our philanthropic giving areas. We carved out a set of global philanthropic commitments that align with the Company’s business expertise and access.

Our recent grant awards focus on our designated global community priorities: water stewardship, active healthy living, recycling and education. We operate in more than 200 countries around the world, and through our local presence we are able to connect with great partners, NGOs who are on the ground helping to improve their local communities.

What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a career in corporate philanthropy?

My advice is to first volunteer your personal time in your community. If you are serious, make a personal commitment. Next, conduct a self-analysis of your intent and purpose. Figure out what interests you about philanthropy, and think about why corporate as compared to the grassroots service providers. Once you have clarity about your interests and intent, develop a plan that is time bound. Have you seen someone doing what you want to do? Then, go talk to them… read about them… Ask them what experiences help prepare them… what skills are important. Find out what is required. Break your dreams into small sections… dissect them, and take one step at a time. I also recommend finding a good mentor. Find someone who can help you navigate in this industry and in corporate America.

For more information on The Coca-Cola Foundation, visit HERE.

Related posts:
Coca-Cola Foundation Awards $4 Million in 4th Quarter to Support Active Lifestyles, Education and Environmental ProgramsCoca-Cola 'Open Happiness Tour' Provides HBCU Students the Trip of a Lifetime

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Actress Camille Winbush Partners with Sorority for National Youth Symposium

Camille Winbush is Spokesperson for Sigma Gamma Rho's 2011 National Youth Symposium

Sigma Gamma Rho is excited to announce that Camille Winbush will be the official celebrity spokesperson for the 14th Annual Nationwide Youth Symposium. Winbush, best known as Nessa from the Bernie Mac show, is a multi-talented actress and singer, and a three time recipient of the NAACP Image Award. Currently, she stars on ABC Family's The Secret Life of The American Teenager.

"While not a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Camille Winbush shares Sigma’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people and she is looking forward to helping us to promote the Youth Symposium and Project Reassurance on a national level," states International Grand Basileus Joann Loveless.

Winbush will be assisting the 88-year old organization in spreading their theme of “H3: It’s all About Me – Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations.” The actress has videotaped a PSA with several members of Sigma Gamma Rho's youth affiliate group, The Rhoer Club. Alumnae chapters are expected to use the video and other support materials featuring Winbush to promote local events taking place on Saturday, March 12.

Chapters will simultaneously celebrate the National Youth Symposium, which is traditionally set within Sigma Week. Programming will focus on support of First Lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity as well as offer panel discussions and other activities to encourage students to excel in or look at careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sigma Gamma Rho is a national partner with the White House's STEM program to promote math and the sciences, particularly among children of color. It also recently formed a unique partnership with the Centers for Disease Control that posits the organization as the only African American sorority to participate in the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative.

About Sigma Gamma Rho Youth Symposium March 2011

The Youth Symposium was originated by Sigma Gamma Rho's late past Grand Basileus LaRona J. Morris to give youth tools to combat peer pressure. In its 14th year, the symposium has addressed such issues as teen pregnancy, diet and nutrition and low self-esteem. The Youth Symposium is an annual event occurring during Sigma Week, which focuses on the sorority's community service initiatives. Members of the sorority and its affiliates will participate on the second Saturday of March. Visit for more information.

Miller Lite Presents “Greatness: A Celebration in Black”

Tharon Johnson (Senior Advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed/Piedmont Public Affairs), Steven Muhammad (Muhammad Organization), Brenda Davenport (Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute), and Steve Canal (MillerCoors) attend the Greatness: A Celebration in Black private reception, January 17, 2010 in Atlanta.

In commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the National Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO), The MLK March Committee and MillerCoors proudly presented "Greatness: A Celebration in Black," a private reception hosted at Entice-A restaurant honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the pioneers of the civil rights movement. The MillerCoors "Greatness" award was given to the The King Family by James Tolliver (General Manager, MillerCoors) and Tyrone Brooks (President of GABEO) in addition to a special commemorative gift presented by the Alvin Ailey 50 initiative. Entice - A restaurant's executive chef, Michelle Rouse, prepared a historic spread and signature cocktails, courtesy of Gentlemen Jack and Miller Lite. Guests experienced a trip down memory lane through the struggle and strife of the civil rights movement into the promise and progression of today.

Yusef Muhammad (The MLK Holiday March Committee/FCE Entertainment), Steve Canal (MillerCoors), Margaret Muhammad (The MLK Holiday March Committee/FCE Entertainment), Yamma Brown (daughter of James Brown), Tyrone Brooks (President of GABEO), James Tolliver (General Manager MillerCoors). Also in attendance, Stevie Baggs of the Arizona Cardinals.

Photo Credit: Vaughn Dabney/Source: The Garner Circle PR

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

National Mentoring Month || The Insider: Lavar Young, President of Newark Now

In observance of National Mentoring Month, we're highlighting mentors and those who work in the field throughout January. Meet our latest Insider, LaVar Young – a father, speaker, and mentor who has taken the job of helping men become better fathers.

Since 2001, LaVar has been helping fathers in transition from Newark, NJ reestablish relationships with their children, families and communities. He is taking an active role in improving the lives of young, African American men.

In October 2010, LaVar was tapped by Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker to be the President and CEO of Newark Now, an intermediary organization that provides Newark residents with skills, tools, and support to transform their neighborhoods. Prior to becoming President of Newark Now, LaVar served as Director of Fathers Now at the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers. Participants of the program are men who have lost their jobs and homes, or who are re-entering the workforce following incarceration and seek to assume greater responsibility for and contribute in the lives of their children.

Recently LaVar was highlighted in the “I AM NEW JERSEY” profile by the Star Ledger for his work in the City of Newark, and was invited to the White House for a round table discussion on fatherhood initiatives with President Obama. LaVar and Fathers Now have been featured on CNN’s Building up America, USA Today, and Man Up, a documentary on a Fatherless Nation.

As a speaker, LaVar uses his experiences as a dedicated father to motivate and encourage fathers. He discusses fatherhood and its role in a man’s life.

Read on to learn how LaVar’s relationship with his father influences his parenting, the impact of African American children growing up in fatherless homes, and how mentoring can play a positive role:

What were your early experiences with your father, and how has it shaped you as a father and mentor today?
My early experiences with my father were not the best. Unfortunately my father has battled drug and alcohol addiction for most of my life. As a result there were missed opportunities to build a strong bond as father and son. The relationship I have with my son is certainly shaped by my relationship my Dad and I have. Before my son was born, I committed myself to being a better example for him than my father was for me. It’s detrimental to the legacy of my family that my son and I have a bond. My father and grandfather never had a relationship. The only time I can remember seeing my grandfather was at his funeral. If that negative tradition is going to be broken, it starts with me and my son and the relationship we have now, and him knowing that even when he becomes a man his Dad will always be there to love and support him.

Today it is estimated that over half of African American children are being raised in single parent households, mostly headed by women. What affect is this having on African American boys, and how can mentoring play a role?
The impact of not having fathers involved in the development of their boys is huge. Responsible single mothers do a terrific job of raising their children, but where will our boys learn or see the positive traits of a man if fathers are not around? It takes time to build strong relationships. When fathers are not involved it leaves a void in the development of a boy which in many cases results in a wider negative divide in the African American community. Mentoring can help fill the void by creating relationships that support and play a positive role in a child’s development. It certainly makes a difference when you have a positive influence in your life to give advice and direction.

As president & CEO of Newark Now, how is your organization addressing fatherhood?
As an organization we fully understand the affects of fathers not being involved with their children and how that plays out in our community. We offer Fathers Now, a full comprehensive center to fathers. The program aims to strengthen education skills, enhance father/child relationships, and assist with employment opportunities. Fathers attend daily from 9 am to 3 pm for 8 weeks.

What are some other key initiatives supporting the fatherhood in the country, and how can one get involved?
There are a number of groups around the country doing great work. The National Fatherhood Initiative, National Comprehensive Center for Fathers, Fathers Incorporated, National Mentoring Coalition and the Urban Leadership Institute. I would suggest one search the web for a program near you.

LaVar Young (center) with Mayor Corey Booker (left) and Rabi Kulwin.
For more information on Newark Now and its Fathers Now program, visit

The Black Community Crusade for Children: Key Black Community Leaders Confront Crisis Facing Black Children

New Research Finds Tough Times for Black Children
In 1990, 22 Black leaders gathered at the Rockefeller Foundation’s conference center in Italy to discuss the plight of African American children and families. Co-convened by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) along with Dr. Dorothy Height and Dr. John Hope Franklin, they concurred that the Black child and family were facing the worst crisis since slavery and something had to be done. The Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC) was launched out of this effort.

To date, the successes of the BCCC include the CDF Freedom Schools® program; the Harlem Children’s Zone; youth leadership development programs which have trained 20,000 young leaders; economic empowerment work in 77 “Black Belt” southern counties; and the placed-based policy work of PolicyLink.

On January 13, Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children’s Defense Fund and Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone, released two studies and announced the goals of a new crusade to confront the crisis facing Black children:

In new research conducted by Hart Research Associates for the CDF on behalf of the BCCC, they found two issues have risen to the top of serious concerns the Black community faces. An overwhelming majority, 85 percent said unemployment presents serious challenges to Black communities and children today.

The criminal justice system’s unequal treatment of Black Americans is another issue perceived to be a devastating problem. Most Black adults believe the criminal justice system is doing more to hurt than to help Black children. Half of the young people surveyed say that ending up in jail or prison is a very serious problem for the Black young people they know.

Serious problems identified by Black Americans in a similar study conducted by Hart Research 16 years ago continue to plague Black communities today, such as failing schools, negative cultural and media influences, violence, drugs and addiction, fractured families and teen pregnancy.

“We must act with urgency, vision and courage to combat the growing racial and class segregation in America. We must close the achievement gap; reweave the fabric of family and community; and build a loud and effective adult voice for children,” said Geoffrey Canada. “We must shut down the cradle to prison pipeline and replace it with an expressway to college and work,” said Marian Wright Edelman. “We know what to do to provide all children a healthier, fairer and safer start in life and the chance to reach successful adulthood,” Edelman continued. “We now must create the public will and effective Black community voice to expand what works to all children and get it done.”

To read the full report and to learn more about the work of the BCCC, visit HERE.

Source: Press release/CDF

African American Philanthropy & Nonprofit News

Thompson Hospitality is the nation's largest minority owned food service company, and was named the 2010 Company of the Year by Black Enterprise magazine. The company's founder, Warren M. Thompson, along with his siblings announced a major gift to the alma mater of their parents, Virginia State University.

Via VSU: Thompson Hospitality today donated $1 million to Virginia State University. The gift represents the second-largest gift in the school’s 128-year history.

Thompson Hospitality is the largest, minority-owned food service company in the United States. The company, based in Herndon, VA has over 3,200 employees and provides meals and facilities management at businesses and institutions in 45 states and four foreign countries. Ruby and Fred Thompson, Sr., parents of current company leaders Benita Thompson-Byas, Senior Vice President; Fred Thompson, Jr., Chief Administration Officer; and Warren Thompson, Chairman and President, both earned degrees from Virginia State.

Warren Thompson said VSU was a natural beneficiary of the company’s success. “The foundation started at VSU,” he said. “We wanted to make a statement of support for education in Virginia. What better place than VSU?”

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell joined VSU President Keith T. Miller in accepting the Thompson gift. Governor McDonnell said the company exemplifies the private support necessary to help advance higher education. “Thompson Hospitality represents 30 years of successful entrepreneurship,” he said. “We’re thrilled they’re headquartered in Virginia.”

Virginia State University received its first gift of $1 million or more in May 2010 from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation.

The Influential 1's Announces Continuing the Dream HonoreesThe Influential 1's, a recently launched website, serves as a vehicle to pay tribute to the many unrecognized social media influencers in the urban space. I'd like to thank the founders for including me on this list!

They state, "The Influential 1’s are moving ten steps ahead of the mainstream. They are testing the next tools that will change how everyone else communicates everything from how we stay connected with our best friends to how a team will get resources to the impoverished. Not only that, the Influential 1’s are heavy users of tools that are currently in play, orchestrating audiences to bond together and motivate towards a common goal. With a few strikes of a keypad, they are igniting movements and dictating trends. Their minds are a hot bed of information."

To view the list of all honorees, visit

Nonprofit NewsOnlyUp: Launch of new bimonthly online journal focused on young adults in the nonprofit sector

A new website is being launched by a group of millennials driven to create a more vibrant discussion about their place in the nonprofit sector. is a collaborative effort to engage the nonprofit sector in a conversation about the future of social change leadership, with a specific focus on young nonprofit employees.

Some upcoming topics include: why pursuing work/life balance is harmful for social justice; how young people can change the tense relationship between nonprofits and foundations; how to effectively manage young people; and why we need a new generation of charities. Visit the website at

Celebrity Philanthropy: Halle Berry's "What A Little Love Can Do" ProjectAcademy Award winning actress Halle Berry has announced a new project with the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles, CA based domestic violence shelter. She says, "This year, I have taken on a unique challenge. My goal is to completely remodel one of Jenesse Center’s transitional housing shelters. It is my belief that the spirits of many battered women have been so broken that they can only DREAM of living independently in a safe, warm and beautiful space free of the horrors of the past. Through living in an apartment that was designed with love and attention to detail that is reflective of modern day living, I believe these women and children will have an amazing opportunity to begin to live a reality that is possible and most importantly, begin to dream the dream for themselves."

Halle has funded two of the 15 remodels, one being a children's space that she named Nahla's World, after her daughter. To view a video and for more information about the project, visit HERE.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The 2011 MLK Reading Project

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chevrolet is proud to announce the MLK Reading Project, a digital platform that encourages Americans to personally honor the lasting influence and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, Chevrolet is inviting individuals to keep Dr. King’s dream alive by selecting and recording an inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. quote to share with the world.

With a brand heritage that is so deeply rooted in American values, Chevrolet is honored to sponsor this very special project in memory of a man who helped define those values. With your help, we can ensure that Dr. King’s accomplishments are never forgotten.

Begin by recording your personal reading and listening to Dr. King's inspiring words at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Make the Dream a Reality for The Children

By Judge Glenda A. Hatchett
Although Dr. King is no longer with us, his spirit and dream live on.

On January 17, 2011, we will mark the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. It is a milestone that provides us with an opportunity to honor his legacy.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday is also recognized as a national day of service. A time when we can impact our communities the most and transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems.

As we embark on this 17th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, please take time to reflect on how we can make his dream a reality for African American children in foster care.

Each year, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on adoption and foster care, more than 450,000 children enter the foster care system in the United States. Today in America over 152,000 African American children are in foster care. They represent nearly one-third of all children in foster care, where more than 50 percent are boys.

Dr. King once said that “life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” How can we continue to make the dream a reality for African American children in foster care?

One way that we can start is by becoming involved with the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, a nonprofit organization that I support because it has been proven to work for children in foster care.

CASA is a national network of trained community volunteers who are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for the safety and wellbeing of abused and neglected children. It fulfills society’s most sacred obligation, by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s best interest when and where it matters most. Research shows children with a caring CASA volunteer by their sides are significantly more likely to find safe, permanent homes. Less than 10 percent of children who have had a CASA volunteer return to the foster care system.

Today, more than 70,000 CASA volunteers serve more than 230,000 abused and neglected children through 1,055 program offices across the U.S. However, only 12 percent of these volunteers are African American.

As Georgia’s first African American Chief Presiding Judge and head of one of the largest juvenile court systems in the country, I saw countless children from all walks of life enter and exit the foster care system.

These children are more than just statistics, they are our future, and need someone to be that constant anchor in their lives. Our children need to do more than simply survive – they need to thrive and be given the tools to do so.

Become a CASA volunteer today and help a child in need. A CASA volunteer must be at least 21 years of age and successfully pass a background check; participate in an in-depth 30-hour volunteer training class; communicate effectively both verbally and in writing; and commit to staying with a case until the child finds a safe, permanent home.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree or make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

For more information about National CASA or the local CASA program in your area, call 1-800-628-3233 or visit online at

Judge Glenda A. Hatchett is a nationally recognized authority on juvenile issues and serves as a national spokesperson for the National CASA Association. The best-selling author of Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say! released her second book, Dare to Take Charge in September 2010.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Insider: Diane Bell McKoy, President & CEO of Associated Black Charities

There are many urban cities across the country grappling with issues facing the African American community such as high unemployment, obesity, the school drop out rate and the educational achievement of black boys. Addressing and solving these complex problems isn't easy, but the city of Baltimore has stepped up to the challenge. As an example, last fall the city announced that their African American male students led gains in graduation rates and decreased drop out rates, an important exception to a troubling trend nationwide.

In our second Insider profile series for the year, meet one of Baltimore's leaders in philanthropy, Diane Bell McKoy. As president and CEO of Associated Black Charities of Maryland (ABC), her work is focused on building healthier and wealthier communities in the State of Maryland through strategic partnerships and philanthropic investments.

Diane has an extensive background in community and economic development, having served as the CEO of Empower Baltimore Management Corporation where she led a strategy which successfully created over 10,000 new jobs, six loan funds for businesses and moved over 14,000 persons to employment.

Prior to her appointment at ABC, she was a Senior Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and has held numerous leadership positions in Baltimore City government. Diane holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the School of Social Work and Community Planning at the University of Maryland. She has received Leadership/Management certifications from a number of organizations including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Read on to learn how Diane got her start in philanthropy, how ABC's initiatives are supporting Maryland's African American community, and things to consider before giving back in your community:

How did you get your start in philanthropy and why did you choose it as a career?

As I define “philanthropy,” my start was growing up in a household that valued giving back and thought it was our responsibility to give our time and our treasures to make a difference for others. Moving into it as a career was probably much later in my life and it was a natural evolution for my career, which has always centered on being a “change agent” for, with and about the African American community.

What societal issues are currently facing Baltimore’s African American community, and how is Associated Black Charities addressing it?

I firmly believe all of the societal issues currently facing Baltimore and Baltimore’s African American community are rooted in Baltimore’s historical pattern of institutional racism yielding a pattern of cyclical behaviors. Let me clarify, I am not excusing individual negative behaviors in the African American community nor am I saying that all of the African American community in Baltimore is not thriving –many are.

The societal issues are a byproduct of deeply rooted institutional racism that limits access to opportunities including information and relationships that yield greater positive outcomes for any citizen and in this instance, specifically African Americans. They can be summed up as issues related to both health and wealth disparities and embedded in those two issues are all the others: educational disparities, housing disparities, childhood obesity, adult obesity, limited college graduation rates, and limited numbers of African American businesses with employees, etc.

Associated Black Charities believes that philanthropy can be a galvanizing tool to bring about change in the lives of African Americans across the state (not just Baltimore). And to achieve those changes, we are working in partnerships, establishing and convening collaborations, and using research and data to inform our strategy ranging from public policy to using grants to incubate programs.

For example, one of the wealth disparities is obviously related to employment, both for low income African Americans and professional African Americans as well.

Diane with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley at the Associated Black Charities 25th Anniversary Gala that honored African Americans in higher education, October 2010, Baltimore, Md. Photo credit: Glenwood Jackson

Continued: For low income African Americans we fund “employment providers,” providers that are directly linked to an employer for employment at the end of a cycle of successful skills training. We then track by wage records to inform our efforts going forward – are people really moving up a career ladder.

Clearly this isn’t enough since in many instances there are also public policy barriers that impact the employment of low income and/or African Americans. So we partnered with Job Opportunity Task Force to develop a policy brief identifying those issues. We were able to use elements of the policy brief along with other relationships to support and staff the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus Foundation in their educational weekend in November.

For African American professionals, specifically in the nonprofit sector, we have a Baltimore/Washington Racial Diversity Collaboration where we have used research to identify the challenges for people of color in the sector. We have convened network sessions across the geographical area to provide relationship support for these professionals. We are now exploring the creation of a talent pipeline for the regional sector.

What we have learned first from the research and later confirmed through the use of “philanthropy grant dollars on the ground”- access to information and relationships matter and when we can increase those access points, we can increase the opportunities outcomes for African Americans.

As the CEO of a public foundation, what suggestions do you have for people who want to give back in their local community?

I would first thank those who are giving back in their local communities. I also hope that the many people who are currently giving of their time and talent recognize that time and talent are also very valuable “give backs.”

For those that want to give back in their local community, I would urge them to spend some time thinking about what do they want to achieve in their giving back. What kind of time, treasures, and talent can they give now vs later? What organizations and/or activities already exist that they can join? In giving of their time, talent and treasures, understanding the limitations of access for many African Americans – what do they have to give that can change the “access” for African Americans? What influence or knowledge do they have that could be beneficial for others? What relationships do they have that could be beneficial for others? Are they willing to use those “talents,” “treasures” and “time” to help others – help themselves and thus be a part of creating a stronger and healthier community.

Diane with guests at Associated Black Charities 25th Annual Gala.

What advice do you have for those pursuing a career in philanthropy, and for those already working in this field?

I would give the same advice to those pursuing a career in philanthropy as well as those working in the field very similar advice as those seeking to give back in a local community. For those seeking to pursue a career in philanthropy – gain clarity through research – what does this mean to you? What are your career goals? Are you viewing philanthropy as working for a foundation and if yes, understand the limited number of opportunities there may be inside of the foundation world. But with that said, relentlessly pursue relationships and exposure to those already in the foundation world. Explore opportunities to public sessions/public briefings sponsored by foundations. Request informational interviews to learn more about the work but more importantly to gain “access” to additional relationships or knowledge about the key players inside of a foundation.

For those already working in the field, I think many people, specifically people of color, are very conscious of their role as “internal influential change agents.” But I would urge them to do the same, as it relates to expanding their sphere of influence by expanding their relationships in the sector. I would urge them to stay connected to the work on the “ground” – inside of formal “philanthropic organizations” we can sometimes get lost in the “bubble.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 25th Anniversary of MLK Day

The 25th anniversary of MLK Day is approaching and the nation will turn its focus to volunteerism and community on this national day of service.
How will you get involved?

Check out the suggestions below:

HandsOn Network
The volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, is the largest volunteer network in the nation and will engage more than 100,000 volunteers in 1,500 projects across the country during this important day. The organization is hosting two important projects.

“America’s Sunday Supper”
Join leaders Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Olympian Carl Lewis, NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, DC Central Kitchen founder Robert Egger, CEO of HandsOn Network Michelle Nunn and others online on Sunday, January 16 for “America’s Sunday Supper.” The Sunday Supper will engage the nation in service, dialogue and reflection to honor the memory of Dr. King and build upon his foundational work in developing diverse and strong communities. Topics of conversation will include how everyone can use service as a solution to address current issues such as hunger, poverty, homelessness, health, violence (such as bullying) and education.

You can watch this important discussion LIVE via webcast and participate in online dialogue. More information is available at

Host a local “Sunday Supper” In Your Area:
Join HandsOn Network and thousands of individuals across the country to host your own Sunday Supper on January 16. Inspired by the legacy of Dr. King, the Sunday Supper invites people from diverse backgrounds to come together to share a meal, discuss issues that affect their community and mobilize around the most pressing social issues.

Register your local Sunday Suppers at To help you with your supper, you can download a Sunday Supper toolkit for tips and materials to host these discussions as well as conversations cards to initiate conversations about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s service work and the impact it holds on local individuals and communities.

To learn about volunteer opportunities in your area on MLK Day, visit, and follow @HandsOnNetwork and use #MLKDay to join the conversation via Twitter.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

National Mentoring Month || The Insider: Stephen Powell, Executive Director of Mentoring USA

For our first ‘Insider’ column of 2011, we observe National Mentoring Month and spotlight Stephen Powell, Executive Director of Mentoring USA, a NY based early-intervention mentoring program to prevent school dropout. An alumnus of the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management Executive Education Program at Columbia University's Graduate Business School, Stephen remains driven to lead program expansion and technical assistance efforts for Mentoring USA across the nation in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Newark, NJ.

Prior to joining Mentoring USA in 2005, Stephen worked in program development and management for local and national non-profits such as: Family and Child Services of Washington, DC, VSA arts/Kennedy Center, the Anthony Bowen YMCA, Youth for Understanding, the Metropolitan DC Police Boys and Girls Club, and the Harlem Educational Activities Fund.

A native of New Jersey, Stephen was born and raised in Newark and East Orange. He now lives in New York City with his wife/Broadway actress Marlaina Sims-Powell and their 3 year old daughter, Sinclair Adina. Stephen is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Xi Lambda Graduate Chapter, the National CARES Mentoring Movement, and is a member of USTA Eastern Multicultural Participation Committee. He is also an Honorary Board Member of 2011 Year of the Responsible Man Campaign.

Read on to learn how Stephen got his start in the non profit sector, his thoughts on the black male mentor/mentee disparity, and suggestions for busy professionals to get involved in mentoring:

How did you get your start in the non-profit sector, and what advice you do have for those interested in pursuing a career and/or currently working in this field?

My exposure to non-profit work really started while I was the community service director of my fraternity while in college. It was natural for my fraternity chapter to partner with the local YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs to volunteer as mentors/coaches for the youth. In the process I realized that my “calling” was to work with people, because I love what people can accomplish with support and inspiration if you speak to their hearts. I ended up working in the non-profit sector, professionally, due to an externship while a student at Howard University. The opportunity would eventually land me a full time position at a senior wellness center in Washington, DC. Planning and implementing wellness, preventative and rehabilitative activities for this population allowed me to appreciate the beauty and value of being an active listener—a skill necessary to be a good mentor, friend, parent, etc.—while interacting with the clients. What I learned having a client-base of people who treated me like a grandson was invaluable; their stories and life advice gave me a clear perspective on how to deal with challenging circumstances as I was maturing personally and professionally.

My ten year involvement with another non-profit, Step Afrika, since its inception while I was in college, provided me an opportunity to tour the U.S., Africa, and Europe inspiring youth through performances and artist residencies. Step Afrika is the first professional company in the world dedicated to utilizing the art form of stepping as an educational tool for young people worldwide. It was during my time with Step Afrika—doing collaborative, educational projects with celebrities—that I realized another passion; procuring celebrities and athletes to support causes for children. Inevitably, this passion led me to develop a for-profit business, PQ Concepts Sports and Entertainment Consulting LLC, for the purpose of simply influencing the “influencers” to support select charities throughout the US, through special events, publicity and advocacy.

If I had any advice to offer for those wishing to embark on a non-profit career, or advance in the non-profit field, I would simply say make sure you are satisfying your life’s passion; think like a for-profit if you have the opportunity to run a non-profit; explore “episodic” volunteer opportunities within non-profit organizations; remain prayerful and purpose-driven; understand that the work can be “thank-less” but fulfilling, nonetheless; and don’t underestimate the importance of embracing your creative side…you’ll need it to be a successful fundraiser and visionary of your respective cause.

As the Executive Director of Mentoring USA, what are your short and long term goals for the organization and how do you plan to accomplish them?

Short term goals include increasing our individual donor base; growing our staff to better serve our clients, and continuing to brand Mentoring USA, nationally, while aligning ourselves with other entities and who are committed to supporting mentoring efforts. Long-term, I would love to see Mentoring USA, via a concrete sustainability plan, have a presence in every major US city, via partnerships with faith-based organizations, municipal offices, school districts and corporations.

Stephen (far right) with Craig Simmons, Executive Director, 100 Black Men of New York, Inc.; Victoria Rowell, Actress, Author and Humanitarian; and Matilda Cuomo, Founder /Chair of Mentoring USA at the 21st annual International Forum for Child Welfare conference on November 8-11, 2010 in Palisades, NY.

Research has shown that mentoring positively impacts children and youth. In mentoring programs across the country, there are waiting lists for black boys to be paired with black male adult mentors. In your opinion, why is there a lack of black male adult mentors and what efforts are being made to increase this number?

I’ll try my best to exercise brevity with this answer. There has to be more emphasis placed on the capacity building needed to recruit and train black male mentors. Marketing and PR surrounding the need for black male mentors is necessary; however, it is at the capacity building and training level where the rubber meets the road. Our communities are wounded spiritually, culturally, physically, and emotionally. So in the process of capacity building, there has to be honest, inclusive dialogue that will address some of the issues hurting the black community: classism; financial unpreparedness; violence; glorification of thug life; unemployment; underemployment; spiritual disconnect; cultural disconnect; fatherless homes, etc.

It is important to note that some men don’t see mentoring as the responsibility of a man; some men are adverse to criminal background checks, and there are men who seek structured group mentoring sessions vs. one-on-one relationships. Understanding these barriers are necessary before making the “ask” of a man to become a mentor.

Getting out of working in silos is another critical piece to affecting change within the area of black male recruitment; no one organization or individual can solve the problem alone. Mentoring USA is committed to working with organizations like the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement; Father’s Inc., 2011 Year of the Responsible Man campaign; 100 Black Men Inc.; the National CARES Mentoring Movement; the faith based community, and many others who are willing to join forces to reclaim our communities and save our youth. It truly takes a village to raise our children. But guess what? Our children don’t want to hear about the “village,” they need to see the “village” respond to their call for help. Men must take active leadership roles in the effort and recruit other men to engage in the process of mentoring young black boys. (In photo: Stephen with Susan Taylor, founder of National CARES Mentoring Movement).

Black women have done a remarkable job holding down homes and raising families for years, but a woman cannot take a boy through a male rites of passage. I was raised by a single mom who made tremendous sacrifices for me and my brother, but she was always aware that I needed positive male role models in my life to help me understand what it is to develop into a responsible man, particularly during my pre-teen years. I do the work that I do, in honor of the men and women—peer and adult mentors—who stepped up for me during my formative years.

I hope my example inspires others.

I want to mentor, but I’m worried about the time commitment as I have many personal and professional responsibilities. What ways can I get involved?

I hear this often, and with the current economic climate, it is somewhat challenging to volunteer when you are trying to make ends meet. If you cannot commit to mentoring a child, one-one-one for an academic year, or calendar year, you can support a local mentoring program by donating space; serving on their board of advisors/directors; making a financial contribution; facilitating a life-skills workshop, or providing in-kind marketing services. Four hours per month, in most cases, is a small investment of time that will have an infinite, positive result that will benefit the mentor, mentee, family and community at-large.

Every child should have a mentor, and most mentoring programs need support, so get involved!

Mentoring is a labor of love, and love is the greatest force on the planet.

About Mentoring USA: Founded by former first lady of the state of New York, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, the organization is an effective, early-intervention mentoring program to prevent school dropout. By providing mentors at schools, community centers, and foster care agencies, Mentoring USA helps children, ages 7 to 21, improve their self-esteem through financial literacy training, nutrition and wellness, and bias-related anti-violence education. The Mentoring USA model has proven to be effective in helping a child to reach his or her full potential. When each child is matched with a trained, caring, adult volunteer mentor on a one-to-one basis, the child's grades improve, school absenteeism minimizes, and children gain confidence and hope for the future.

The Fab Empire, Divas MPH and Events 4 Good People Host "Coats and Cocktails," an Outerwear Drive for the Homeless

By Shreeta Quantano
Baltimore Contributor
Baltimore, MD -- On Monday, December 27th at Milan Lounge in downtown Baltimore, The Fab Empire ( joined Divas, MPH and Events 4 Good People to host "Coats for Cocktails," an outerwear drive for homeless men, women and children in the greater Washington, DC region. Over 200 young professionals came out to not only enjoy an open bar sponsored by Belvedere Vodka, but also to donate outerwear items for those in need during the holiday season. The event received over 200 coats and other outerwear items such as scarfs, hats and gloves. Items will be donated to the Bea Gaddy Family Center in Baltimore and Central Union Mission in Washington, D.C.

The event was the marriage of an idea that Joi-Marie McKenzie, editor-in-chief of The Fab Empire, had two years ago when she started "The Coat Project," which donated over 500 coats to men, women and children in need in Washington, D.C. She stated, “This year, we wanted our Fab! family to be a part of our giving. Not only are we engaging young professionals to give back, but we're also meeting them at the place where they regularly gather. We're giving their normal party a purpose.”

Coats & Cocktails Hosts: Ashlee Tuck and Joi-Marie McKenzie
Coats & Cocktails Partners: Divas, MPH
For more event photos, visit HERE.

About The Fab Empire: The Fab Empire, a unique award-winning Web site that caters to young, urban professionals in Baltimore, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., was created in August 2007. The Fab Empire covers society, politics, celebrities and local events.

Monday, January 3, 2011

President Obama Proclaims January 2011 As National Mentoring Month

President Calls on Americans to Become Mentors to Young People in Their Community
This month marks the 10th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, an annual media campaign designed to recruit volunteer mentors for young people. Although research has shown that mentoring plays a significant role in reducing risky behaviors, there remains a gap between the number of mentors and the number of young people who need a mentor. This gap is even more significant in the African American community, as organizations struggle to recruit black male mentors for young black boys.

In observance of National Mentoring Month, we will highlight those working behind the scenes to narrow this gap, and those who work in the field of mentoring throughout the month.

For our first post of 2011, read how President Obama, General Colin Powell and government agencies are promoting this effort, and learn about a mentoring summit scheduled for January 25th in Washington, DC:

BOSTON, MA, December 2010 – President Barack Obama issued a proclamation this month designating January 2011 as National Mentoring Month. He stated, “Across our Nation, mentors steer our youth through challenging times and support their journey into adulthood. During National Mentoring Month, we honor these important individuals who unlock the potential and nurture the talent of our country, and we encourage more Americans to reach out and mentor young people in their community.”

National Mentoring Month is spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. This year's campaign focuses on mentoring as a strategy for boosting academic achievement. The campaign’s tagline is “Help Them Get There. Become a Mentor.”

General Colin L. Powell, a spokesperson for the campaign, is featured in a public service announcement (PSA) prepared for broadcast on television and radio. In the PSA, General Powell states, “Our nation's future depends on what we do today to prepare our young people for productive and fulfilling lives. All of us need to get involved to help kids stay focused and stay in school. We must become a nation of graduates. One way for you to help is to volunteer as a mentor.”

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, MENTOR, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will host a National Mentoring Summit on January 25th at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Summit will bring together influential stakeholders from the public and private sectors to chart the field of mentoring's future and expand its circle of influence. With a theme of “Achieving Academic and Social Success: Supporting Youth through Mentoring,” the Summit will support the Administration's efforts to improve the graduation rate of high-school students and keep youth out of trouble.

As a highlight of National Mentoring Month 2011, Thank Your Mentor Day will be celebrated on January 25th. On that day, many Americans will reach out to thank or honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them and had a lasting impact on their lives. Thank Your Mentor Day promotes three ways to honor your mentor: (1) contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation; (2) pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community; and (3) write a tribute to your mentor for posting on

In addition to its national focus, the campaign includes a heavy emphasis on local communities, and is intended to energize and empower community and statewide mentoring initiatives as well as encourage planning and coordination among mentoring groups.

In communities across the country, designated nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies are responsible for coordinating local campaign activities, including media outreach and volunteer recruitment. These local lead partners include state and local affiliates of MENTOR, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network, America's Promise Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Communities In Schools, and United Way of America.

Local activities range from telethons and media appearances to mentor/mentee game days, basketball tournaments, concerts, walk-a-thons, movie and museum days, and recognition events to honor outstanding mentors.

For additional information about National Mentoring Month, visit

Source: Press release/Photo: Wireimage