Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Ronald H. Brown American Journey Awards Honors Business, Community and Philanthropy Leaders

American Journey Honoree Thomas Boggs, Chairman, Patton Boggs LLP; Michael Mallory, Executive Director, Ron Brown Scholar Program; American Journey Honoree Eddie C. Brown, President, CEO & Founder, Brown Capital Management; and American Journey Honoree Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus NAACP and civil rights activist pose at the Ron Brown Scholar reception, March 25, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Annual Event Raised Funds for the Ron Brown Scholar Program

On Friday, March 25th in Washington, DC, hundreds gathered at the J.W. Marriott Hotel to celebrate the legacy of Ronald H. Brown, the first African American appointed to the Cabinet post of the Secretary of Commerce and the first to serve as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. A tireless advocate for American business both home and overseas, Brown’s life tragically ended in a plane crash in Eastern Europe while on a trade mission. Brown’s legacy of service, mentorship and leadership carries on today in the scholar program named in his honor, the Ron Brown Scholar Program and the Ron Brown American Journey Award.

The American Journey Awards gala was hosted by Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Chief of Staff for Nickelodeon/MTV and Tom Werner, Chairman of the Boston Red Sox and partner and co-founder of Carsey Werner. Proceeds from the gala benefited the scholar program that provides financial resources for students to attend some of the finest colleges and universities in the country. The scholar program has met with great success – over half attend Ivy League universities, and 100 percent graduate. In addition, 100 percent are actively involved in community service.

The annual award program was established in 2009 to honor outstanding Americans who exemplify the vision and transformative ideals of Brown and who serve as models to which the scholars should aspire. The 2011 distinguished honorees are: Mr. Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr., Chairman, Patton Boggs, LLP; Mr. Julian Bond, Civil Rights Activist; and Mrs. C. Sylvia and Mr. Eddie C. Brown, community volunteer and President, CEO & Founder of Brown Capital Management. Past and aspiring scholars attended the gala to celebrate in the annual event.

Scholar alum Tariq West, a DC native and 2010 graduate of Stanford University shared with BlackGivesBack how being a scholar afforded him mentorship and guidance that helped him ultimately decide on his career goal. “When I think about the unique opportunities provided by the scholar program, I think about my arrival at Stanford where a large community of Ron Brown scholars are, and the love and support I got from that community even before I accepted there.” He now serves as a mentor at the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, DC where he teaches literature to middle school youth. “I call them my kids,” he said with a laugh.

Ron Brown Scholar alum Tariq West

Ron Brown Scholars have achieved significant accomplishments, such as 1995 alum Katori Hall, an award winning playwright and screenwriter. Katori’s upcoming Broadway production, Mountain Top, is about Martin Luther King’s last night on earth, rumored to feature Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry. Mountain Top won the Laurence Olivier award for Best Play in 2010, beating out frontrunners and making Hall the first African American woman to win the prestigious British award.

She joins the likes of August Wilson and Arthur Miller, both winners of the prize which is akin to Broadway's Tony Award. Like the many Ron Brown scholars, Katori attended Ivy League universities such as Columbia University, she earned a Master’s degree in acting from Harvard, and attended Julliard for play writing. She recently hosted a fundraiser benefiting the Howard University Department of Theater Arts.

Katori Hall and Michael Mallory, Executive Director of the Ron Brown Scholar Program
Aspiring scholar Esther Owolabi from Westchester, IL was excited to be among the 2011 finalists. She shared that her career goal is to major in political science and then focus on public education reform to address the educational inequalities seen in today’s school systems. She’s already been accepted to Georgetown University, and remarked that the application process for the program has been very rewarding.

Esther Owolabi (with microphone) and Ron Brown Scholar semi-finalists introduce themselves to event attendees.
Guests at the gala included NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous, Secretary Rodney Slater, DC mayor Vincent Gray, and video remarks from former president Bill Clinton. Michael Mallory, Executive Director of the Scholar Program shared about the awards gala, “Tonight is really the culmination of so many good people focused on a mission to have young people soar, not just grow, but soar…and the objective is to keep these African American scholars connected for a lifetime and sharing with others. It’s not that they’re smart that we can call them scholars, but the idea is that they put others first, and they put community first.”

District of Columbia Councilman Michael A. Brown; District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown pose during the event. Earlier in the day, Michael Brown, Ron Brown’s son, joined Kwame Brown and others for the ceremonial renaming of 14th Street, NW in front of the Commerce Department as Ron Brown Way.

About the Ron Brown Scholar Program: The program is a public 501c3 charity that provides Scholars financial resources to attend some of the finest colleges and universities in the country. Established in 1996 by the CAP Charitable Foundation to honor the legacy of service of the late Ronald H. Brown, its mission is to accelerate the progress of African Americans into the mainstream of professional leadership while instilling a strong dedication to public service. Visit the website at http://www.ronbrown.org/ to learn more about the program and read success stories of their numerous alumni.



Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Africa Foundation Commit $6 Million to Improve the Lives of African Women and Girls

By Akira Barclay, New York Contributor

Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation have announced a $6 million commitment to support water and sanitation programs with the potential to improve the lives of about 250,000 women and girls in twelve African countries. Awarded through the company's Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), which seeks to provide at least two million people with access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015, the funding will support programs in Algeria, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda.

According to the World Health Organization, African women and children spend up to forty billion hours a year collecting water. Because the distance they must travel to retrieve clean water is often great, women frequently resort to using unsafe water sources, putting themselves and their families at risk of life-threatening diseases. Data from the United Nations finds that an African child dies every fifteen seconds from a waterborne disease.

“The water and sanitation crisis affects billions of people every day, but the impact on women and girls is particularly devastating,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Supporting initiatives that promote access to water for women and girls is a building block for community health with a ripple effect on social and economic empowerment. This is a win-win for everyone.” For more information, visit HERE.

The Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation Selects Desmond Richardson to Receive the 60th Annual Capezio Dance Award

(Totowa, New Jersey/New York, New York): The Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Desmond Richardson as the recipient of the 60th annual Capezio Dance Award. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization funded by the world’s premier dance and apparel manufacturer, Capezio Ballet Makers, which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2012.

Awarded annually since 1952, the Capezio Dance Award celebrates significant contributions to American dance by an individual, company or institution. It recognizes those who bring respect, stature and distinction to dance and who exhibit qualities such as innovation, creativity and imagination. Desmond Richardson’s mastery across a wide range of dance genres, ground breaking accomplishments as a choreographer and dedicated commitment to expanding the influence of dance place him within the pantheon of prior Capezio Dance Award awardees such as Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham and Savion Glover.

Hailed as one of the great modern dancers of his time, Richardson’s immense talent was first recognized as a student at New York High School for the Performing Arts, during which time he received a merit scholarship from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (1983-1986) and the International Academie des Tanz in Koln, Germany (1984-1985). He was also a recipient of a Presidential Scholar Award for the Arts (1986).

In 1987, Richardson joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where he was a principal dancer for seven years. After leaving the Ailey Company, he performed with Ballet Frankfurt and as guest artist with several world-renowned companies, including Swedish Opera Ballet, the Washington Ballet, Teatro at La Scala, and the San Francisco Ballet. In 1997, he joined the American Ballet Theater where he performed the lead role in the company’s world premiere production of Othello, leading The New York Times to describe him as one of the most majestic dancers ever to tread the Metropolitan stage.

Richardson co-founded Complexions Contemporary Ballet in 1994, creating a singular vehicle for incorporating into dance and human movement a spectrum of methods, styles and cultures. He continues to serve as artistic director of the company.

In 1998, Richardson joined the cast of the Broadway musical Fosse, for which he received a 1999 Tony Award nomination. He has also appeared on Broadway in the musical The Look of Love and the critically acclaimed Movin’ Out. He had a principal role in Soul Possessed, which premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1999. Richardson has worked in television, film, and video, appearing with such diverse musical artists as Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Madonna. He was featured in the films One Last Dance and the Oscar winning Chicago. Displaying his multi-faceted talents, Richardson made his singing debut in Charles Randolph Wright’s 2005 film, Preaching to the Choir and performed the lead role of Beowulf in Julie Taymor’s Grendel.

His recent honors include the Alvin Ailey School’s 2006 Apex award, the prestigious 2007 Dance Magazine Award and, at the invitation of the President of the United States, performing at the 60th Presidential Conference.

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, President and Artistic Director of the North Carolina Dance Theater, will present the 2011 Capezio Dance Award and the accompanying $10,000 honorarium to Desmond Richardson at a performance by Complexions Contemporary Ballet at the Joyce Theater on May 24, 2011.

© Photo by Karsten Staiger Photography/Source: Press release

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jack & Jill of America Foundation Launches Project to Rebuild Homes



Jack and Jill Rebuilds America Project will assist families throughout the U.S.
On Saturday, March 12, 2011, Jack & Jill of America joined with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) in dedicating a new home at 4025 N. Rocheblave in the Upper Ninth Ward for partner family member Corey Holmes. Corey Holmes is a 29 year-old father of three children who grew up in the St. Bernard housing project in New Orleans. He worked his way through many obstacles to become a chef in some of New Orleans’ best restaurants. The road to achieving his dreams took an unexpected detour when Hurricane Katrina struck. Corey lost everything. Yet, he held fast to his dreams. While he continued down his career path as a chef, he wanted to become a homeowner.

The Jack and Jill of America Rebuilds Project, in partnership with NOAHH, collaborated together to build Corey’s home in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. At the dedication of his new home, Corey said “Becoming a Habitat partner was a big blessing to me. I never knew that owning a home could be possible at my age. I will finally be able to give my family a life that I always dreamed of. I knew with hard work and perseverance that my dream would come true.”


The dedication of Corey’s home launched their “Jack and Jill Rebuilds America Project” which was established in an effort to support homeless and displaced families in every region of the United States. Jack and Jill of America will concentrate its resources to building future homes until 2017.

The proposed construction schedule is 2012 – Philadelphia; 2013 – Southeastern Region; 2014 – Mid-Atlantic Region; 2015-Mid Western Region; 2016 – Far West Region; 2017 – Central Region.
The Jack and Jill of America Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. which consists of over 200 chapters throughout the United States. Since the Foundation’s inception in 1968, chapters have been instrumental in supporting community based organizations that help children and families. The Foundation, which is based in Washington, D.C., has distributed millions of dollars to non-profit organizations all across America, and continues to deepen its vision with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. as the needs of families and children become more complex in the 21st century. Source and photos: Jack & Jill

The History Makers Host Black Science Professionals in Oakland

By Tokiwa Smith, San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

On March 4, 2011 at the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, The History Makers, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and developing African American video oral history, presented Science Makers. The event, co-sponsored by The Leadership Institute at Allen Temple and the University of California at Berkeley, engaged hundreds of Oakland residents in an evening of learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from black STEM professionals.

The speakers included: Dr. Krishna Foster, Chemist, California State University at Los Angeles; Dr. Dawn Wright, Oceanographer and Geographer, Oregon State University; Dr. James Johnson, Civil Engineer, Howard University; and Dr. Dale Morgan, Geophysicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Each STEM professional gave a brief presentation about their research and career path. After the presentations the ScienceMakers were engaged in a panel discussion about their perspectives on the effects of the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill led by Dr. Gibor Basri, Astrophysicist, University of California at Berkeley.

At the event, San Francisco Bay Area high school sophomore Natan Sebhatleab, who attends International High School and is a Level Field Playing Institute SMASH scholar, was honored for being the 3rd place winner of the ScienceMakers Youth YouTube contest. For the contest, students made videos about STEM professionals they admired.

“We were so pleased at the outpouring of interest from the Oakland and Berkeley communities. The fact that we had 400 attendees from the black community on a Friday night to listen to these scientists who traveled from around the country to talk about their lives and work was nothing short of phenomenal. We are so happy with Pastor Smith and the Allen Temple Baptist Church community as well as Dr. William Lester who serves as co-chair of our ScienceMakers Advisory Board and has worked to bring local students to our UC Berkeley program,” Julieanna Richardson, J.D., Founder and Executive Director of The HistoryMakers shared.

ScienceMakers has hosted similar events in Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, DC. For more information about ScienceMakers visit their website, http://www.thehistorymakers.com/.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Set to Host Inaugural Vision Gala

By Akira Barclay, New York Contributor

Honorary Gala Chair Jessye Norman, Opera Icon & Victoria Rowell, Actress, Dancer and Author, will honor Arthur Mitchell, Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of the Dance Theatre of Harlem at the Inaugural Vision Gala

[Via Press Release] New York, March 2011: Jessye Norman, Honorary Gala Chair and the Dance Theatre of Harlem Board of Trustees will honor co-founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Arthur Mitchell, at the Inaugural Vision Gala. The evening will be hosted by actress, author and former dancer, Victoria Rowell.

The Gala will take place on Monday, April 25, 2011, 7pm at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 165 West 65th Street, New York. The reservation only event will include dinner, dancing and performances by students from the School, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble and special guest artists. Proceeds will benefit the Next Generation Fund for scholarships and financial aid to students at the Dance Theatre of Harlem School. For inquiries and to purchase tickets call Sharon Williams Duncan at 212-690-2800.

About the Honoree: Arthur Mitchell is acclaimed as the first African American to become a permanent member of a major U. S. ballet company—electrifying audiences around the world with his performances—before going on to greater artistic and social impact as co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. As a dancer, Mr. Mitchell is best known for two career-defining roles: Agon and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, both created for him by George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet. In 1969, leaving a brilliant performing career behind, he founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem with his teacher and mentor Karel Shook, turning it into one of America’s premier ballet companies and schools. In the process Mr. Mitchell established himself as a dynamic choreographer and extraordinary teacher.

Forty-two years later, the institution born out of the turmoil of the Civil Rights era and the tragedy of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. endures as a testament not only to Mr. Mitchell’s commitment to transforming young lives through the arts, but also to the vision that enabled him to defy convention and provide opportunity where none had existed before.

About the Dance Theatre of Harlem: Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim, encompassing a dance company, a leading arts education center and Dancing Through Barriers®, a national and international education and community outreach program. Each component of Dance Theatre of Harlem carries a solid commitment towards enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell, Artistic Director Emeritus and Karel Shook, the institution has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world.

Serving as cultural ambassadors and representatives of the people of the United States they have participated in high profile tours abroad, notably to the former USSR in 1988, South Africa after the fall of Apartheid in 1992; and to China in 2000 following the signing of the 2000 US-China trade treaty. The DTH School and its arts education and outreach programs serve over 25,000 students and educators each year. Over 65% of students study on scholarship or tuition assistance at the school with an overwhelming number singling out their DTH experience as among the most important in their lives.

In 2008, a 14-member touring group called Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble was commissioned to carry the DTH legacy to wider American audiences and has impacted over 75,000 audience members since. In January 2010, Virginia Johnson, former Dance Theatre of Harlem prima ballerina and founding editor of Pointe Magazine succeeded co-founder Arthur Mitchell as Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem. DTH is located at 466 West 152nd Street in a landmark district in Harlem. The organization’s award winning building houses four dance studios, administrative offices, library and archives, and physical therapy facilities. Visit the website at http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/.

The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health Partners with Empire BlueCross Blue Shield To Fight Heart Disease Among Black Women in Brooklyn

By Akira Barclay, New York Contributor

The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health has launched a major initiative to improve the cardiovascular health of African American and Afro-Caribbean women in Brooklyn, NY. The initiative, Heart of a Woman, is a central component of the Institute's community-based health programming in 2011 and is supported by a leadership grant of $190,000 from the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation.

Carried out in partnership with customers and stylists in eight hair salons, Heart of a Woman will increase awareness of Black women's risk of cardiovascular disease and how even simple changes in diet and exercise can reduce their risk. Heart of a Woman will train salon stylists to serve as lay health advocates for their customers, offering fact-based information about heart health and encouragement. The program will target the communities of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Flatbush.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of American women – and African American women are at greater risk than any other ethnic group,” said Mark Wagar, President and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “The Arthur Ashe Institute is taking a highly innovative, people-to-people approach to help spread the word to women, so they can better protect themselves against the ravages of heart disease.”

Heart Health Advocate Star Jones knows firsthand the devastation heart disease can cause. After being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease in March 2010, Star underwent successful open heart surgery to correct a genetic abnormality and repair her aortic valve. “I learned late in life that my health is my greatest asset. For as the proverb says, “she who has health has hope, and she who has hope has everything. Heart health has become my mission in life and my hope for tomorrow.”

Jones will be honored at Sports Ball 2011, the 17th annual gala of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

About the Arthur Ashe Institute:
The Arthur Ashe Institute was founded in 1992 by tennis champion and humanitarian Arthur Ashe in response to the need for better access to health care in minority urban communities. The Institute has built a substantial reputation for its ability to bring current health information into Brooklyn communities using culturally tailored curricula that address health concerns that disproportionately affect minority populations, including cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. To learn more about the Institute, visit the website at http://www.arthurasheinstitute.org/.

About Empire BlueCross and Blue Shield Foundation: Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes Empire's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Empire serves. To learn more about the Foundation please visit http://www.wellpointfoundation.org/. Source: Press Release

Friday, March 25, 2011

Black Baltimore Philanthropists Win Marylanders of The Year Award


Award Presented During Maryland Day Festivities at Maryland Historical Society

Via Press Release: Baltimore, Maryland (March 25, 2011) - Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown have a talent for using philanthropy as a tool to battle inequality. They and their family have contributed more than $22 million to various charitable causes over the past fifteen years. The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) announced today that Eddie and Sylvia have been selected as the societies “Marylanders of the Year,” an award whose recipients have included Ben Bradlee, Tom Clancy and Sargent Shriver.

Maryland Day commemorates the founding of Maryland. On March 25th, 1634, settlers stepped from two small sailing ships, the Ark and the Dove, onto Maryland soil. They landed at St. Clements’s Island on what is now St. Mary’s County, Maryland. MdHS leads the commemoration in Baltimore each year with a patriotic celebration and the naming of the Marylander of the Year.

At the awards luncheon held today, Burt Kummerow, MdHS President said, “Eddie and Sylvia have generated spectacular dividends for impoverished inner-city residents and leveled playing fields across the country in the realms of education, healthcare and art.

The Browns’ gifts primarily focus on helping African Americans in the areas of health care, education and the arts. However, a number of their gifts have been targeted to improving the quality of life in the broader Baltimore community.

Brown was born impoverished in rural Apopka, Florida. Always a superb student, his academic prowess prompted a local businesswoman to fully subsidize his education at Howard University where he earned an electrical engineering degree in 1961. He never met his benefactor but knew he wanted to do the same for other poor black youngsters. Sylvia was born in King William, Virginia (the daughter of educators) and as a former educator shares Eddie’s vision about the importance of education as an equalizer.

At the Maryland Day awards luncheon held at MdHS in Mt. Vernon, Eddie Brown said, “We have tried to create a model of philanthropy that spurs other African Americans of means to become more involved with charitable giving to our community. Both of us have been very pleased with the results achieved.”

After college, Eddie joined IBM as an engineer, earned an MBA and worked as an investment manager for T. Rowe Price before founding Brown Capital Management in 1983. His Baltimore-based business was soon able to amass more than $6 billion in assets under management. The Brown’s established their charitable foundation (C. Sylvia and Eddie C. Brown Family Foundation) in 1996.

The Brown’s $1 million challenge grant gift to the Enoch Pratt Free Library is the largest donation extended to the institution in its 129-year history. Its purpose is to make widely available the libraries' collection of African American literature then stored in a basement area.

Their largest gift was $6 million that helped fund construction of the $20 million dollar Brown Center, located on the campus of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. They also underwrote a number of full scholarships for African American students to attend MICA.

Their second largest single gift was $5 million for the Turning the Corner Achievement Program that guides inner city Baltimore youth towards success.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is another educational institution that has received their assistance. They provided $1 million to create the Brown Capital Management Faculty Institute of Entrepreneurship to provide faculty training and activities that help kindle the spirit of entrepreneurship in UMBC students.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture received a $1 million challenge grant from the Browns for the purpose of helping the museum establish an endowment.

The Brown’s mission in the realm of the arts has been two-pronged: to provide more opportunities for African Americans in the arts, while simultaneously helping to expose their talents and skills to a wider audience. Their first gifts went to The Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art to provide more art created by African American artists to be added to their permanent collection.

Some other recipients of the Browns’ philanthropy include Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University; Center for Urban Families, that develops career paths and strong family model; Baltimore School for the Arts; Howard University; Middle Grades Partnership in Baltimore City; and the Soulful Symphony/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Partnership.

The Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844 and is the world’s largest museum and library dedicated to the history of Maryland. Occupying an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore, the society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled “Maryland Historical Magazine.” More information about the Maryland Historical Society can be found online at http://www.mdhs.org/.

This evening, the Browns are among the honorees at the Ronald H. Brown 2nd Annual American Journey Awards in Washington, DC, a special event that will honor the legacy of the late Secretary Ronald Brown, the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The proceeds from the event will benefit the Ron Brown Scholars program and BlackGivesBack will be there to bring you highlights!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Green For All Launches “Keep It Fresh” Campaign with Hip Hop Artist Wiz Khalifa


CEO of Green For All, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins (pictured), SIGG USA, and the Green For All organization has kicked off their latest public awareness campaign, “Keep It Fresh,” partnering with hip hop artist Wiz Khalifa on the 2011 Campus Consciousness Green Carpet Tour. As Wiz drops his album March 29th and embarks on his headlining tour March 31st, he is promoting a different type of green, one that has far reaching effects for all of us. For his Campus Consciousness Green Carpet Tour, Wiz will promote environmental sustainability through his actions and through education. One of the central campaigns of the Green Carpet tour is “Keep it Fresh.”

The “Keep It Fresh” campaign, which runs through April 22nd on Earth Day, is designed to raise awareness about crisis-level water shortages, inspire personal action around water usage and advocate for improving local water situations.

The campaign uses interactive online engagement, onsite activity and offline organization to educate communities about today’s water challenges. Currently, only 1 percent of the earth’s freshwater is easily accessible. 36 states in the U.S. expect to face water shortages within the next five years and at least 14 states in the U.S. are currently experiencing crisis-level water shortages and contamination.

“We are proud to partner with the Campus Consciousness Tour featuring Wiz Khalifa for the ‘Keep It Fresh’ campaign to raise awareness about our clean water crisis and the economic opportunity provided in protecting our fresh water supply,” stated Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All. “Access to clean water isn’t a future problem, it’s a current problem facing many of us, particularly, many of our nation’s low-income communities and communities of color. I am excited about this partnership’s potential to create change through action.”

“SIGG is proud to be partnering with Green For All in its mission to improve drinking water availability and awareness about the necessary steps needed to insure continued access to this basic necessity,” says President of SIGG North America, Rob Dewar. The campaign will be hosting an online giveaway promoted through the ‘Keep It Fresh’ Facebook page www.facebook.com/freshtour, and will be offering a free iPad2 along with custom-designed SIGG bottles that are exclusive to the campaign. For more information, please visit http://www.campusconsciousness.org/.

About Green For AllGreen For All is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through a clean energy economy. The organization works in collaboration with business, government, labor, and grassroots communities to create and implement programs that increase quality jobs and opportunities in green industry – all while holding the most vulnerable people at the center of its agenda.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All, is a phenomenal African American female who has committed her career to redefine the face of environmentalism. For her efforts, Lamkins was recognized by The Grio as one of their 100 History Makers In The Making, Ebony in its Power 150, Black Enterprise Magazine 40 Next: Emerging Leaders for Our Future in 2010, and Essence recognized her twice as one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans in 2009 and one of the 21 Leaders of the New School in 2010.

For more information, please visit www.greenforall.org.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Insiders: Magnus Greaves and Lucas Riggins, Founders of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur and co-founder of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs Magnus Greaves (2nd from left) with BET executive Stephen Hill, BET CEO Debra Lee, and SESAC Senior VP Writer/Publisher Trevor Gale at the 7th Annual Bryan-Michael Cox SESAC & 100 Urban Entrepreneurs Brunch Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 13, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.

Our latest Insiders both have had success in the corporate and financial worlds, and are now using their expertise and insight to help our nation’s next generation of urban business owners as the founders of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs. The nonprofit foundation provides funding, mentorship, and professional connections to urban entrepreneurs from economically disadvantaged communities across the country. Their goal is to provide 100 urban entrepreneurs with $10,000 in 12 months.

Magnus Greaves, a self-taught financial guru, founded an electronic futures trading firm in London that later expanded operations to Paris, Chicago and Montreal. After selling the company to an industry giant for millions, he founded Doubledown Media, a New York–based publisher of luxury-lifestyle magazines. Lucas Riggins, a native of Harlem who was adopted at 9 months of age, went from working in promotions at Universal Records to co-founding Teri Woods Publishing, a leader in urban fiction that later secured a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. Lucas read about Magnus in Black Enterprise magazine and reached out to him with an idea to help young people in urban communities start on the path to become business owners. That idea came to fruition with a one million dollar donation from Dan Carriere and his wife, Pauli-Ann, also entrepreneurs and founders of the Carriere Foundation.

To date, the organization has held events in cities such as Atlanta and Birmingham to allow budding entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for an opportunity to receive $10,000 in start up costs. The nonprofit has already helped many businesses, including UTicketIt, a Chicago based event-registration and management system for open-seating school and community events; Real Spice, an Ethiopian seasonings company in San Francisco; and the GoodieBox Bake Shop, a “sweet oasis of baked goodness” in the New York City area.

The work and mission of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs is greatly needed. Although the number of black owned businesses has increased substantially in the past decade, research has shown that they are more likely to have trouble staying afloat. In addition to a cash grant, entrepreneurs are provided with mentorship, and access to first-class knowledge and professional networks.

Last year, the organization announced that Grammy award winning music producer Bryan-Michael Cox was appointed to their advisory board, and just last month, hip hop superstar and entrepreneur Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs donated $100,000 to help support the organization’s efforts.

Magnus and Lucas talked with BlackGivesBack recently about their foundation and how it got started. Read on to learn more and how you can get involved to support the organization.

What led you to add social entrepreneur to your resumes?

Magnus:
My background is in the Wall Street area and media, and there comes a point when you are really inspired to do something that’s a bit more meaningful than just trying to make money… I realized through media, through magazines, through creating content, you can direct it to any audience that you want and why not put that towards an audience that you feel really passionate about. The young community of urban entrepreneurs was clearly lacking the type of business information in the format that they wanted. It wasn’t enough to just create information about how to start a company and how to be better at it, we actually needed to go that extra mile and provide the opportunities. The way we decided to do that was through providing the funding and mentoring through 100 Urban Entrepreneurs. But, I really wouldn’t have gotten on this journey if I hadn’t met with Luke (Lucas). Luke really provided the spark for all of this and made it real and made it happen.

Lucas: In my community there are just so many people who I see that are losing their lives and not having opportunity….I didn’t really see it until I stepped outside of the community and then came back…and it still looked the same when I was 10 years old, no programs or anything available. When you listen to these kids, you realize that these kids are really smart, they really don’t have anyone who they can go to, or any programs or resources that can help bring that knowledge to the forefront…I felt like I had to do something about this and that’s what made me really research and reach out to Magnus.

100 Urban Entrepreneurs co-founders Lucas Riggins (left) and Magnus Greaves at a pitch event in Birmingham, Alabama last year.

How is 100 Urban Entrepreneurs funded?

Magnus: Each entrepreneur gets $10,000, plus mentorship, plus other great things. The initial one million in capital came from our extremely generous partners, Dan and Pauli-Ann Carriere, very successful in the mining business and as financiers, and very generous to put up the initial million dollars to ensure that we will be able to fund the first 100 people, and fortunately now we’re getting a lot of individuals and companies that are really interested in what we’re doing and want to add to what Dan and Pauli-Ann contributed, so that we’ll be able to do more than 100 urban entrepreneurs next year and going forward.

What has been one of the proudest moments since you started the program?

Magnus: Most of the people that come into the program that we serve; we get to watch them grow and develop into businesspeople. For me, the greatest thing has been once the initial 8 week program is over, instead of going off and doing their own thing; everybody comes back and says how can we give more? How can we give back to 100 Urban Entrepreneurs? That to me is the proudest moment, watching how much people appreciate it, how much they want to contribute to it.

Share more about the partnership you have with Grammy award winning music producer Bryan-Michael Cox and how he supports your organization.

Lucas: Bryan came on board because a friend of mine who does our events made the introduction, and she told Bryan what we were involved in. We did a pitch competition in Atlanta and I asked Bryan to be a part of it. Bryan came out; he witnessed it and was actually a judge there. At that point, he got touched emotionally…he said, I want to be involved in any way possible, I want to get my celebrity friends involved, there’s so much that I want to do because I feel that there’s a lot that I can do. He really gets it, understands it…so we were like the perfect match for him, for what we do and our mission.

Magnus: Bryan gets it. Bryan is a businessman himself. He would not be as successful in the world of entertainment if he wasn’t such a great businessman. And when he was on his way up, he had a mentor. He had to learn business by doing things right, doing things wrong. He really understands what it means to be an entrepreneur. He really understands how important it is to have great business skills and best practices. Plus he understands the other challenges that these young kids face. So what we love about Bryan is not the entertainment celebrity status, as much as his appreciation for what young kids are going through because he went through them himself and he really wants to get involved.

100 Urban Entrepreneurs founders Dan Carriere, Magnus Greaves and Lucas Riggins, look on as advisory board member Bryan-Michael Cox speaks at the 7th Annual Bryan-Michael Cox SESAC & 100 Urban Entrepreneurs Brunch Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs recently donated $100,000 to your organization at an event hosted by Cox. Did you know you would be receiving a donation from him?

Lucas: That was a huge surprise - that was a big one. One thing I must say is I really commend him for doing that because when you talk about donations and giving back, I think a lot of people try to less reach in their own personal pocket, and more try to leverage sponsors, etc. So for him to personally reach into his own pocket and give that donation, I just have a huge amount of respect and I think that this entire industry should definitely stand up and salute that man for doing that.

Magnus: It meant so much to us because he’s somebody that Luke and I have always looked up to as a businessman and entrepreneur. We know that everybody who comes through our program has been inspired by him. One of the things we try to do differently is we want to make sure that we are talking about business to our audience in a context that is appealing to them. We’re not going to use the same reference points as the Wall Street Journal, we’re not covering Warren Buffett, we’re talking about guys like Diddy, and to then have him acknowledge the program that we’re doing and the effect on the people in the program, it was a pretty huge moment for us.

How can someone get involved with 100 Urban Entrepreneurs?

Magnus: One of the things that we’re really trying to do is work with bigger companies so that we can take these young entrepreneurs on field trips to corporate offices, because sometimes you have to visualize what success looks like. So there’s a field trip program that we’re trying to implement into what we’re doing, so if there are any companies that would like to participate in that, that’s a good look for us.

One can also become involved by serving as a mentor with the program. Magnus also shares, “There’s a lot of different ways that people can get involved - a lot of people have more knowledge than they realize and sometimes it’s the smallest bit of advice that can help the kind of young entrepreneurs that we’re starting with.”

As we concluded our conversation, Lucas summed up his experiences working with youth and the importance of community involvement:

“We should create a call to action to all the powers that be in these communities…I sit and talk to the kids in my community at least three times a week, and if they can just hear from people they look up to offer some words of encouragement, little do they know that would really mean so much to these kids ….we’re talking about kids from dysfunctional backgrounds, that don’t have any people to look up to that inspire them or people they can emulate growing up. I tell people all the time if LeBron James and Jay-Z show up in the community tomorrow, these kids physically and mentally believe that they can actually take LeBron in a game of basketball and they honestly believe they can take Jay-Z on a one on one rap off - but what they don’t believe is that they can be big businessmen like these gentlemen. And that’s the problem.”

An upcoming pitch event will be held at Howard University in Washington, DC. To learn more about 100 Urban Entrepreneurs and their goal of strategically placing young businesses on a path towards professional and financial success, visit the website at www.100urbanentrepreneurs.org and the partner site, TheCASH Flow at http://www.thecashflow.com/.

Photos: Axiom Blue and Wireimage

Music Legend Stevie Wonder Partners with Luxury Charity Auction Site to Benefit Ten O’Clock Classics


By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

Legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder has wowed audiences and listeners for decades with his talent, making an incredible impact on music history. Now, he is putting a truly rare and incredible piece of that history up for auction to benefit Ten O’Clock Classics (http://www.tocmusic.com/), a nonprofit that provides classical music venues, outlets for up and coming classical artists, and education and inspiration for children to pursue classical careers.

Wonder has partnered with luxury charity auction site charitybuzz.com to auction a personalized Steinway Baby Grand Piano, which he will imprint with his hand and finger prints or sign the fall board of for the highest bidder.

Bidding is open through March 30th at charitybuzz at: www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/257018. The estimated value for the instrument is $60,000.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo of the Day

Jacke Robinson Foundation (JRF) scholar Ebenezer Asare, event presenter Dr. Calvin Butts, JRF scholar Dominique Grasty, honoree Ingrid Saunders Jones, and JRF scholars Kyle Rhoden and Paula Champ attend the JRF Annual Awards Dinner on March 7, 2011 in New York City.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, Senior Vice President, Global Community Connections and Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation, was recently honored with a coveted ROBIE Humanitarian Award for her extensive work with charities and community initiatives around the world.

The 2011 ROBIE Awards were presented by the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) at its annual awards dinner in New York on March 7. For nearly three decades, the iconic event has paid tribute to individuals who embody the humanitarian ideals of Jackie Robinson and who have raised funds for the JRF, which provides four-year college scholarships, graduate school grants and mentoring to academically distinguished minority students.

Since 1987, the Coca-Cola Foundation has donated more than $1.5 million in funding to support JRF programs, and two former JRF scholars currently work for Coca-Cola. “I am forever grateful to work for a company that that brings moments of happiness into millions of lives...that helps young people attend college...and that supports every community it serves,” Ms. Jones said. “And I thank Coca-Cola for trusting me to further that effort.”

The annual JRF Annual Awards Dinner has recognized some of the most decorated names in business, politics, education, media, sports and the arts, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, J. W. Marriott, Jr., Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr., Clive Davis, Spike Lee, Ruth J. Simmons, Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Henry L. "Hank" Aaron, John Welch Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, George Lucas, Marian Wright Edelman, Arthur Ashe, Michael Jordan, Tom Brokaw, Dr. Sheila C. Johnson, Robert Redford, Robin Roberts and Katharine Graham.

About the Jackie Robinson FoundationEstablished in 1973, the JRF is an education and leadership development program that provides its scholarship recipients with mentoring, career guidance and practical life skills, resulting in a nearly 100 percent graduation rate -- more than twice the national average for minority students. The more than 1,400 JRF alumni are both leaders in their professional fields and ambassadors of Jackie Robinson's legacy of community service.

This 2010-2011 academic year, JRF is providing generous financial aid and program support to 220 JRF scholars representing 31 states and the District of Columbia and enrolled in 92 different colleges and universities across the country.

Source and photo credit: Margot Jordan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Conference Aims to Propel Young Black Male Students in the San Francisco Bay Area on the Path to a College Degree

San Francisco, Calif. – On March 19, hundreds of promising young African American male students from throughout the Bay Area will gather in San Francisco for the “Black & Proud to Be College Bound” conference, a unique event designed by the Mitchell Kapor Foundation to help bolster participants’ college prep skills and foster a dynamic community of college-bound youth.

The conference is part of the College Bound Brotherhood, an innovative Kapor Foundation program started in 2008 to help change a grim statistic: college graduates earn twice as much as workers with just a high school diploma, yet only an estimated 11 percent of African American male students who graduate from high school in the San Francisco Bay Area have the courses and grades required to attend a California university.

“A college education is one of the most important tools that can help black men to have greater economic and social mobility,” said Cedric Brown, CEO of the Kapor Foundation (pictured). “Our goal is to build a movement of young black men in the Bay Area who are college bound. We know we can make this dream a reality, and this conference is an important step along the way.”

At “Black & Proud to Be College Bound,” leaders and members of some of the Bay Area’s top college readiness organizations will offer compelling conversations and workshops on a host of essential topics, including financial aid, community colleges as a bridge between high school and a Bachelor’s degree, merits of historically black colleges and universities, SAT/ACT prep tips, skills for writing the personal statement for college applications, high-growth careers to consider, getting back on track for college after a setback, and what to expect in the first year of college.

The College Access Foundation of California is co-sponsoring the conference with the Kapor Foundation. The conference will include speakers Ise Lyfe, Bay Area hip-hop artist; Chris Norwood, XCEL Educational Services; Alexandra Bernadotte, CEO and Founder of Beyond 12; Walter Robinson, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC Berkeley; Jacqueline Rushing, Founder and Executive Director of Young Scholars Program, and many more.

The conference will be held from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM at Seven Hills Conference Center at San Francisco State University(800 Font Blvd, San Francisco). Advanced registration is free for youth; youth registering on the day of the conference; and parents/guardians will be charged a small fee. For more information and to register, please visit http://collegeboundbros2011.eventbrite.com.

College Bound Brotherhood organizations participating in the conference include: 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, Inc.; Athletic Scholars Advancement Program; Bayview Hunters Point YMCA; College Track; The Greene Scholars Program; Choose College Educational Foundation, Inc.; East Oakland Youth Development Center; Juma Ventures; M³ Foundation; Summer Search; Young Scholars Program; OUSD African American Male Achievement Initiative and many more.

About the College Bound Brotherhood Program:
The College Bound Brotherhood is a program of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation focused on increasing the number of Bay Area black male youth who enroll in college by strengthening the college-going culture for young black men; building a college access movement for organizations focused on the enrichment of black male youth; and providing resources to build stronger, more effective organizations. Since the founding of the Brotherhood program in 2008, the Kapor Foundation has distributed nearly $1 million in grants to 25 Bay Area organizations. For more information, please visit www.mkf.org.

Jarvis Green Foundation Set to Host 4th Annual Wine Tasting Gala to Benefit Single Mothers

Jarvis Green, a defensive lineman for the Houston Texans, was in Washington, DC recently to present at the Sports Networking in Career Conference (SINC) on the campus of George Washington University.

Jarvis (pictured center) was a featured panelist addressing, "Athlete Foundations, Marketing, and Management" with executives from the Washington Redskins, The Giving Back Fund, Perennial Sports and Entertainment and James Grant Sports. Many audience members asked Jarvis about the CBA negotiations, yet they were intrigued and impressed about his passion off the field while having a successful football career.

One attendee quoted, "Jarvis Green was so inspiring at SINC conference. What a great athlete and human being; making a difference for the community, one single mother at a time." While Jarvis was in D.C., we spoke to him about his foundation and its upcoming events.

The Jarvis Green Foundation was founded by Green to provide support to single working mothers in disadvantaged, low-income areas whose lives have been affected by tragedy. Recently the foundation partnered with Touch106 radio station in the Boston area along with the website YBF.com to award $15,000 to 35 single mothers. The mothers received gift certificates for special pampering they desperately needed.

The 4th annual Jarvis Green Foundation Wine Tasting event will be held on Saturday, March 19th in Seekonk, MA, that will benefit single mothers in the New England area. A pre-wine event will be held on March 18th. An upcoming event, the Southern Wine Tasting Gala, will be held in Baton Rouge, LA on May 27th. To purchase tickets for the wine tasting event, please visit www.jarvisgreen.com. Keep up to date with Jarvis by following him on Twitter at @JGBayousFinest and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JarvisGreen.

Source: D4SM
Photo Credit Zach Jopling

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HBCU News: University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hosts 'Hollywood on the Shore' 2011 Gala

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), an HBCU located in Princess Anne, Maryland, recently hosted 'Hollywood on the Shore,' raising over $250,000 to benefit their Campaign for Academic Excellence that assists students with tuition and fees. Special celebrity guests included Pam Grier (pictured with UMES president Thelma B. Thompson), Sharon Stone, David Alan Grier and Tyne Daly, all of whom received honorary degrees for their successful careers and philanthropy.

Here's more about the event courtesy of UMES:

UMES puts on another 'Oscar-worthy' party

PRINCESS ANNE - (March 6, 2011) - As dessert plates from the sumptuous meal at UMES' annual Gala were cleared away, mistress of ceremonies Maggie Linton invited students working behind-the-scenes at the 2011 event to step forward and take a bow.

An endless stream of undergraduates – many wearing white apprentice chef hats and matching smocks – circumnavigated the Student Services Center ballroom Saturday night. The sell-out crowd of nearly 500 rose to its feet in applause that built to a crescendo, and then into rhythmic clapping. The smiles on the students’ faces said it all – Hollywood on the Shore was another resounding success.

The event marked the second year in row friends and supporters of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore had a chance to mingle with celebrities on home turf. Entertainers Tyne Daly, David Alan Grier, Pam Grier and Sharon Stone graced the university with their presence for an occasion that is arguably the lower Eastern Shore’s premier social event.

Each celebrity guest addressed attendees seated in a ballroom transformed with decorations into a scene that could have been inspired by a big-budget musical.

Stone, who travels the world raising awareness about poverty, political oppression, environmental and health problems, touched on those subjects during her speech. She also singled out President Thelma B. Thompson for praise as a strong female role model.

Her voice full of emotion, Stone said she “could not be more honored” to receive an honorary degree from UMES. “I feel accepted, understood and loved,” Stone said.

Pam Grier said the evening brought back memories of role models, now deceased, who inspired her as a young woman: the Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president, and her friend and fellow actress Tamara Jones. Grier, who used sign language to express thanks and love to the crowd, described receiving the honorary degree a humbling and empowering experience.

As the quartet’s designated comedian, David Alan Grier, did not disappoint. He produced the biggest laugh with a story about attending a fund-raiser for several years and being mistaken for LeVar Burton. Burton was scheduled to attend the UMES Gala, but had to send his regrets because of a last-minute professional obligation.

David Alan Grier talks to UMES students.

Daly confided she was nervous about speaking without notes, and then eloquently talked about the value of education, reading and her disappointment with America’s failure to tell the complete story of the role blacks and women have played in the nation’s history.

Laughter erupted when Daly said, “I’m talking so much because I’m now a doctor” referring to the honorary degree she had just been awarded. Like her fellow celebrity guests, Daly challenged UMES students to take advantage of the college experience.

Actresses Tyne Daly and Sharon Stone

As Thompson pointed out in her welcoming remarks, UMES students often fall short of earning their degrees because they cannot afford tuition and fees. The Gala will generate an estimated $280,000 toward the university's $14 million Campaign for Academic Excellence to raise funds for scholarships so some of those students can reach that goal. Thompson thanked the celebrities and the guests for supporting that worthy cause.


Source: UMES Office of Public Relations
Photo credit: Patty Hancock/Patty Hancock Photos

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative Honors Community Leaders

Honoree Howard F. Sims, mistress of ceremonies Yetta Gibson, and honoree Michael Kelly attend an event hosted by the Black Philanthropy Initiative of the Arizona Community Foundation on January 20, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.

On January 20, 2011, Arizona’s black philanthropic community gathered to honor two community leaders at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe. Hosted by the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) of the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), honored were Howard F. Sims, an architect, former trustee for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and emeritus trustee for The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; and Michael Kelly, founding board member of the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Arizona Community Foundation.

Honorees Howard F. Sims and Michael Kelly

The Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative is a permanent endowment supported by African-Americans to address relevant issues in Arizona’s Black community. Through strategic grantmaking, the endowment will support nonprofits serving African-Americans in such critical areas as health, education, workforce development, community building and more. Their goal is to build a $1 million dollar fund by 2015 while also increasing individual, named charitable funds at ACF dedicated to African American issues. A recent gift was made by honoree Howard Sims, who along with his wife donated $300,000 in collaboration with Gamma Mu BoulĂ© to increase leadership development for African Americans.

The event’s mistress of ceremonies was Yetta Gibson, a reporter for the local TV station 3TV, and receiving special recognition was Jean Fairfax, past board member and BPI Task Force member.

ACF President & CEO, Steven G. Seleznow with ACF Board Chair, Marilyn Harris, and Honoree, Howard F. Sims

Honoree, Michael Kelly with Gamma Mu Boule' mentee, Nathan Delafield and his mentor, Marion Kelly

3TV Reporter, Yetta Gibson; Honoree, Michael Kelly; and ACF Senior Advancement Officer, Janita Gordon

Gamma Mu Boule members, Dr. Albert McHenry and Bill Jackson with Honoree, Howard F. Sims

The event was coordinated by Joy Johnson of A Joyous Event. To learn more about the Black Philanthropy Initiative, visit HERE. To make a donation, call AZF at 602-381-1400.

Story and photo credit: Wayne Parham/Photos courtesy of A Joyous Event

Black Owned Adoption Agency Aims to Build Families and Find Homes for African American Children

By Froswa' Booker-Drew
Contributor, BlackGivesBack Dallas/Fort Worth

According to Adoption.com, “Of the estimated 500,000 children in the U.S. foster home system, more than half are minorities. Of those available for adoption, 40 percent are black, although blacks represent only about 13 percent of the general population. What is more, according to the National Adoption Center, which keeps track of hard-to-place children, about 67 percent of such children are black and 26 percent are white, while 67 percent of the waiting families are white and 31 percent are black.” These alarming statistics over the years compelled Rose Jones, founder of Children and Family Institute of Dallas, Texas to create an agency that would make a difference for African American children and families.

Established in 1993, Jones shares, “God put it on my heart to create an adoption agency that would specialize in finding homes for African American children and other children of color. Our mission is to provide permanent homes for children in need and provide human services to restore, build and strengthen the family and we do that through parenting and life skills classes called Pathways to Parenting. We help parents obtain the tools and information to keep their children from being a part of the system.” The agency works with more than 200 birth mothers a year.

Jones, a degreed, Master-level Social Worker was employed with Child Protective Services with the State of Texas for over seven years. During that time, she noticed the challenges of finding homes for African American children and saw the barriers that African American families faced when they went to the state to adopt. “Many were intimidated by the paperwork that they had to complete. I saw a gap in the community as far as services were concerned. I saw a need and I was angry seeing children not getting their needs met and I wanted to fix it.”

“African Americans are disproportionately represented in the foster care system. It has been that way for more than twenty years, and why is it that our children are not moving faster into homes? Something is wrong with that—it is something wrong with so many of our children being in the system. We need to advocate for our children. ” says Jones.

Starting the agency was a challenge. Jones had a difficult time with funding and others sharing information. “I knew how the state ran things but private industry was different. People were discouraging. People asked if I had a track record. They said I couldn’t do it. I went into my savings to start the agency. I couldn’t get any funds so I did it for free. I gave my time, found volunteers and made it happen.”

Rose also recognizes the consequences of black foster care children who wind up in the juvenile justice system as adolescents who then are at a higher risk to experience homelessness, alcohol and drug dependence and other problems.

“Children are not being prepared to be independent adults when growing up in this system due to the instability. If children who live with their birth parents are staying home until their late twenties, how is it that we expect these children to leave foster care at 18 and function? Your connection to another adult is cut off then. They are expected to go out in the world and take care of themselves. You have not been prepared except to go into another system. When I started looking at the issue of homelessness and children in foster care, that really bothered me. These children are being set up. They don’t have a real attachment. If they haven’t received loved and have been passed around, what can you expect?”

Jones and others are trying to change those odds. A consortium of Black owned adoption agencies has started this fall to provide support and resources to the less than 20 agencies around the country. Started by Ruth Amerson, an adoption placement agency owner in South Carolina, the group wants to ensure long-term sustainability of the existing agencies. Several agencies have closed in the past due to a lack of funding and support. There are less than 20 African American adoption agencies around the country. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel but we want to come together to share and support our efforts. There is no one else like us and does the work like we do it.”

Jones is an optimist and is committed to her calling to saving our children and our families. “I want to decrease the number of children in foster care. I want to help parents become good parents and find purpose in life. If you can be the best you can be you will be a good parent. I want to do that with all of my heart.”

Visit the website at http://www.cfiadopt.org/ and contact Rose Jones at rjones@cfiadopt.org.

The 2011 Taffi Dollar Women’s Conference: Radical Redefined Hosts the 4th Annual Ethel J. Bolton Scholarship Fundraiser

Special Guests Include Judge Glenda Hatchett and Comedian Bruce Bruce
On March 22, 2011, Taffi Dollar and The Women’s Ministry at World Changers Church International in College Park, Georgia, will host their 4th Annual Ethel J. Bolton Scholarship Fundraiser Gala. The Gala will feature the #1 national best-selling author of Dare To Take Charge, Judge Glenda Hatchett, as guest speaker.

The Fundraiser is in honor of its namesake, Ethel J. Bolton, Taffi Dollar’s mother—affectionately known as "Everybody's Mama," who dedicated her entire career to the field of education. She understood how vital it is to expose young minds to information and equip them with the skills necessary to contribute to society and make their mark in this world. So she did all she could, even when her health was failing, to make sure she touched and influenced as many lives as possible.

Ethel was a motivator and an encourager, who made a profound impact on thousands upon thousands of young lives. The mission of the Ethel J. Bolton Scholarship Fund is simple: to offer college tuition assistance to outstanding high school seniors, who may not otherwise have an opportunity to go to college.

Judge Glenda Hatchett is best known for her television court show, Judge Hatchett, where she rules with an iron fist—but also with compassion for those who enter her courtroom. Judge Hatchett is respectful, stable, moderate, and able to apply the law equitably. She is also more than willing to find long-term solutions to the problems facing the parties appearing before her bench. Judge Hatchett is most proud of the troubled teens who have gone on to college or medical school, and those who have recovered from drug addictions, after appearing on her show. Judge Glenda Hatchett says, “Sometimes people need a wake-up call, an opportunity to examine the road they're heading down, in order to motivate them to change before it's too late."
In addition to the Honorable Judge Hatchett, comedian Bruce Bruce is also confirmed to appear at this most auspicious occasion. Bruce Bruce is best known for his time spent as the host of BET’s Comic View. He has also appeared in various stand-up comedy television shows and specials.

The inclusion of Bruce Bruce to this fundraising gala will bring an element of light entertainment but will ultimately bring a serious awareness to the main goal of the night by impacting the lives of young people around the world.

The Ethel J. Bolton Gala is designed to celebrate young lives and make an impact on their future. The Gala will be held at World Changers Church International, in the Fellowship Hall, from 5:30 -7:30 P.M. Tickets are $35 in advance and $50 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.taffidollar.org/ejbgala.

Women & Teen Girls Conference: “Radical Redefined – From Fear to Faith” in 2011
Registration is now open for this free conference that will offer inspirational messages to women and teen girls. Featured speakers include Creflo Dollar, Taffi Dollar, Scarlett Harrington, and Cynthia Brazelton. This dynamic event will spotlight the real life stories of real women, who are doing radical things, and how these women conquered fear and overcame major obstacles to arrive at their destinies.

This unique three-day experience will include a live talk show, a dance musical, teen sessions, vendor opportunities, and a plethora of speakers and ministers, who will share testimonies about the hills and valleys they have traveled in their lives in order to encourage the more than 5,000 women who will attend. Registration is open and is free for women and teen girls in grades 6 through 12. To register and obtain more information, please log on to http://www.taffidollar.org/events/radical2011.

For vendor opportunities and information, please email virtuous@worldchangers.org.

For up-to-the-minute Radical updates, follow Pastor Taffi on Twitter @taffidollar.

To learn of more events in your community, please visit our events page HERE.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UNCF Hosts "A Mind Is" Gala in Honor of 40th Anniversary of 'A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste'®


Linda Johnson Rice of Johnson Publishing Company, Stephen Gregory Barr and Carol Sutton Lewis attend UNCF's "A Mind Is Gala" commemorating the 40th anniversary of "A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste" campaign on March 3, 2011 in New York City.

Here are more photos from the UNCF's "A Mind Is" Gala courtesy of international photojournalist Margot Jordan, held recently in New York City that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the organization's "A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste" campaign.

By Margot Jordan

On March 3rd, in celebration of its winning motto for 40 years, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) hosted its first ‘A Mind Is...’ Gala. The event, held at New York City's Marriot Hotel in the heart of Times Square, brought out such recognizable faces as music producer Pharrell Williams, journalist Lola Ogunnaike, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Roberta Flack, who took the crowd down memory lane with the songs ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘Killing Me Softly.’

The night commenced with a performance of ‘Life Ev'ry Voice and Sing’ by the Johnson C. Smith University Singers and introductions by the master of ceremonies, WNBC 4 New York anchor David Ushery. On hand to talk about the organization's 40 years of service was UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax.



Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF, and Marc Morial, President, National Urban League

UNCF is the nation's largest minority education organization. With its aim to serve youth, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.

On the importance of the UNCF, Flack, 74, stated, “The UNCF does such good work. Historically. Can you imagine the years that they have put in to testify to that?”

Shortly after Flack's performance, the UNCF Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to former UNCF executive director Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., who spoke about the creation of the UNCF motto and its subsequent PSA campaign.

Honors were also presented to Young & Rubicam, UNCF's partner then and today, whose creative team drafted the motto and embedded it into a nationwide public service announcement campaign; and The Advertising Council, still a UNCF partner, that selected UNCF and the "A mind is" campaign for national exposure.


Leecia Eve, Hon. David N. Dinkins and honoree Vernon Jordan


Michelle Morial , Ted Wells, Nina Wells and Dr. Elsie Scott


Kennedy and Michael Benjamin (seated) and Patricia and honoree Edward Ney


Dinner Co-Chairs Tamara Harris Robinson, Vice President of the Robinson Harris Foundation and Mark Mason, Chief Operating Officer & Managing Director of Citi Holdings


Saundra Parks, The Daily Blossom; and Sheena Wright


Presidents of the historically black UNCF colleges

Photo credit: Margot L. Jordan, International Photojournalist/646 226 6652


Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit Addresses Education Issues Facing the Nation’s Youth

Exceptional New York City Students, Representatives of Urban Dove, East Harlem Tutorial Project, & Publicolor Join Pro Athletes & Corporate & Education Leaders to Tackle Lagging High School Graduation Rates at Sun Life Rising Star National Summit
Sun Life Rising Star students & supporting nonprofits; Tennis Champion Venus Williams; Miami Dolphins Chad Pennington & Davone Bess; Sun Life US President Wes Thompson, prominent education leaders discussed critical education issues facing nation’s at-risk youth
Wellesley, MA (February 28, 2011) – Mariama Diallo of New York (Queens), nominated by Urban Dove; Travis Lawson of New York, nominated by East Harlem Tutorial Project; Narita Shelton of New York (Brooklyn), nominated by Publicolor; and 19 other outstanding students from across the country joined an all-star line-up of professional athletes, front-line nonprofit organizations serving at-risk youth, corporate leaders and nationally recognized educators at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL this weekend to address critically important education issues affecting high school students at the Sun Life Rising Star Awards National Summit. The students and community-based organizations who advocate on their behalf were invited to participate as representatives of the inaugural class of Sun Life Rising Stars, having been recognized by the leading financial services organization in 2010 for overcoming the odds by furthering their education.

Pictured here from left are Lawson, Tennis Champion and Miami Dolphins Limited Partner Venus Williams, Shelton and Diallo.

Sun Life developed the Summit to provide a forum for education stakeholders to discuss the state of public education in America’s major metropolitan areas, tackle socio-economic issues causing the precipitous decline in graduation rates among urban high school students, and present new ideas and approaches that will ensure at-risk youth receive the requisite resources and information to finish high school and continue their education.

Tennis Champion and Miami Dolphins Limited Partner Venus Williams; Dolphins Wide Receiver Davone Bess; Quarterback Chad Pennington; and Vice President Nat Moore; Sun Life US President Wes Thompson and Vice President and Head of US Marketing Priscilla Brown represented the Miami Dolphins Foundation and Sun Life Financial respectively.

Highlights included the students’ grand entrance into Sun Life Stadium via the Dolphin’s famed ‘Orange Carpet’ as they were applauded by Bess, Pennington, the Dolphins front office and cheerleaders; a special welcome reception in the Dolphins locker room where they received personalized Dolphins team jerseys; and inspirational speeches by Thompson, Moore and the Dolphins players. Williams shared her personal story of overcoming the odds as an at-risk student in her keynote address.

In 2010, Sun Life Financial provided more than $1 million in grants and scholarships through the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, rewarding students and their supporting nonprofits in Boston, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and South Florida. Each nonprofit organization received a $50,000 grant, along with training, materials and curriculum infrastructure to develop and provide financial education for youth in its program. Each student received a $5,000 scholarship to help finance their post-secondary education.

Priscilla Elizalde, a San Diego, California graduate of Kearny High School’s Construction Tech Academy, and HANDY, Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Florida nonprofit organization, won the inaugural national award for the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, collecting an additional $50,000 toward college tuition and HANDY, Inc., an additional $50,000 in grants.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards is the educational cornerstone program of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, devoted to providing and supporting signature Education, Health, Youth Athletic Programs and Volunteer Activities that inspire and engage communities throughout Florida.

Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation to Receive $200,000 Donation from American Express


Having Garnered the Highest Number of Votes in the Arts & Culture Category, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Wins Vote for Funding Through Members Project® from American Express and TakePart
[New York] March 2, 2011 – Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is proud to be voted as one of the charities to receive $200,000 from American Express through the company’s Members Project program. The funds will help the Ailey organization further its mission of using dance to inspire, unite and educate, extending the scope of Ailey’s dynamic performances, innovative arts education activities and world-class training programs.

“I applaud American Express for championing Ailey and other great organizations through this fabulous campaign,“ stated Sharon Gersten Luckman, Executive Director of Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. “We are so grateful for the vote of confidence and thank all our fans for their resounding ovation of support through the Members Project. The award from American Express will broaden the reach of Ailey’s performances and programs serving people in New York City, across the country, and around the world.”

In the coming year, The Ailey School will award over 300 scholarships to talented young dancers, AileyCamps in 10 cities and other inner city programs will impact over 100,000 students nationally, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II will inspire over 400,000 people around the globe with performances of premieres and classic works, like Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations.

Members Project encourages everyone, including non-American Express® Cardmembers, to take his or her step and help support worthy causes and charitable organizations.

Anyone can get involved in Members Project by volunteering or donating. Members Project provides the platform to help make taking action easier with organizations like Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. For more information about Members Project, visit: http://www.takepart.com/membersproject.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congress as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” is currently in the midst of a tour to 24 North American cities. Led by the renowned Judith Jamison in her final year as Artistic Director, and joined by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle, the performances celebrate five decades of Revelations, an American classic called a must-see for all people. For further information visit: www.alvinailey.org.

In photo: Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's M. Rushing, K. Boyd, G. Allen Sims and C. Brown. Photo by Andrew Eccles

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Hosts 37th Annual Awards Gala in New York City

Via Uptown Magazine: March 8, 2011 - Last night at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan, the Jackie Robinson Foundation paid tribute to those who embody the humanitarian ideals of Jackie Robinson and who helped raise money for the Foundation’s premier minority scholarship and mentoring program.

During their 37th Annual Awards Dinner and Gala, they honored outstanding industry professionals and philanthropists Sean “Diddy” Combs (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bad Boy Entertainment Group), Ingrid Saunders Jones (Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company), and Joseph R. Perella (Founding Partner, Chairman and CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners).
Honored for their charitable and philanthropic contributions and innovation in the music, fashion and financial arenas, respectively the three honorees were introduced by Russell Simmons (Founder, Def Jam Records), Ray McGuire (Head of Global Investment Banking, Citi) and Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts III (Pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church).

Russell Simmons touted his support of colleague and ROBIE Achievement in Industry Award recipient Sean “Diddy” Combs saying, “I was asked to present Sean with his award tonight. I’m honored. He’s one of my heroes and a good friend.”

Hosted by comedian and entertainer Bill Cosby, Mayor Bloomberg also made a speech and introduced the award recipients. R&B artist Chrisette Michele provided entertainment for the evening.

To view photos from the event, visit Uptown Magazine HERE.

Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, Uptown Magazine

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Disney’s Dreamers Academy and the Pursuit of Happiness

The opening parade for the Disney Dreamers Academy with actor, author, radio personality and comedian Steve Harvey; Mikki Taylor, former Essence magazine editor-at-large; Tracey Powell, Disney Parks and Resorts; and Disney Dreamers at the Walt Disney World Resort, March 3-6 in Orlando, FL.

By Talitha Johnson
Contributor, BlackGivesBack Detroit


In its fourth consecutive year, Steve Harvey and Disney World have collaborated to present the Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a four day intensive mentoring and motivational program at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for high school students. This year, Essence Magazine and The Coca-Cola Company have joined forces to help inspire youth.

Teens from across the nation entered the competition to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity. A reported 4,000 applied, and 100 were selected to attend with their parents or guardians.

Each year, the programming is tailored to the specific interests of the Dreamers, providing a chance for them to receive hands-on experience in their career field throughout the duration of their trip.

Those interested in pursuing a journalism career, wrote and published an article for the official Disney’s Dreamers Academy newsletter, “The Gazette.” Dreamers were granted a chance to explore other career fields, such as fashion, acting, business, dance, science and culinary arts.

In the spirit of fun with a slice of real world experience, participants took center stage for a mock American Idol competition in Disney World’s Hollywood Studio’s version of an American Idol set. Participants were taken by surprise as American Idol champion Ruben Studdard stepped on stage for a special guest appearance.

Nickelodeon's Christopher Massey, actress Tamera Mowery, and BET's 106 & Park host Terrence J
“Your dream is the most important component of your life,” Steve Harvey shared. “If you dream about something it keeps you.”

“You can tell how committed someone is to their dream by what it takes to discourage them,” said Jonathan Sprinkles, motivational speaker.

Both students and parents were encouraged to “dream big” as they engaged in an assortment of Disney World’s theme parks and attractions.

Returning Dreamer and clothing designer Tevyn Cole, 18, shared with this year’s participants, “Whatever your dream is it’s your goal.”

“Before the academy, I knew what I wanted to become, but that passion wasn’t as strong as it was [‘til] after the academy… Afterward, I had this nothing can stand in my way attitude and that’s what’s changed me the most,” added Cole, a Michigan native.

Dreamers on a safari adventure
Dexter Tanksley, Disney’s principal facility designer and imagineer; Dr. Steve Perry, educator, author and motivational speaker; Dwayne Edwards, footwear design director for Nike; and Zerbin Singleton of the U.S. Naval Academy were among the several speakers who inspired participants with stories of their uncommon roads to success.

When the night fell, participants danced the night away with R&B singer Cupid, who taught his new dance “Cupid Shuffle 2.0,” a song that is slated to release this summer.

As a returning celebrity for the third year, Cupid said, “I have to be here to give my part back to the community and to the kids.”

The Dreamers also had an opportunity to view a live recording of the “Steve Harvey Morning Show” at Disney’s Boardwalk -- ESPN Club.

For a more in-depth scope, the girls and boys were separated by groups. Steve Harvey delivered words of wisdom to a captive audience of teen males. As the girls had a slumber party and heart-to-heart with the former editor-at-large of Essence Magazine, Mikki Taylor; second runner-up on season two of Fox’s American Idol, Kimberly Locke; and Steve Harvey’s twin daughters, Brandi and Karli Harvey.

Mikki Taylor, former editor-at-large of Essence Magazine
During the closing reception Mikki Taylor gave additional words of advice, “We need these times together to put our dreams in plain view.” She cautioned, “The times of challenge will surely come, but they are just for a season, so don’t camp out with them.”

Keynote speaker actress Raven Symone took the stage and the floor, as she shared the spotlight with the Dreamers. She engaged the crowd and handed the microphone over to dreamers who were bold enough to grab it.

“I got involved [with Disney’s Dreamers Academy] because there are so many people at a young age and of color and different ethnic backgrounds that get overlooked for so many years. There’s always someone that wants them to succeed, but there’s always someone that wants them to fail...knowing that a company as big as Disney wants them to succeed; I want to help them in whatever way possible,” admitted Symone.

In addition to knowledge and applicable skills, every Dreamer walked away with a new Sony Bloggie Touch camera.

With smiles beaming on their faces, several Dreamers admittedly walked away with hope, happiness, and a mission to not only pursue their dreams, but empower others in their communities to do the same.

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Anderson