Friday, April 29, 2011

Young Professionals Honor the Next Generation of Leaders at Annual Black Opal Gala

Lavern J. Chatman, president and CEO, Northern Virginia Urban League; The Honorable William D. Euille, mayor of Alexandria, Virginia; Honoree Nia Perkins, owner of Paws, Purrs & Exotics Animal Hospital; Honoree Erick King, co-founder and executive director of Capital Youth Empowerment Program, Inc.; and Pamela Perkins, president, Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network

Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network Hosts Black Opal Gala Supporting Scholarship and Community Empowerment Programs

Alexandria, VA - April 27, 2011 - Last month, young professionals from Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, DC area gathered for Black Opal: Celebrating the Next Generation of Leaders, a fundraising gala hosted by the Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network (YPN). More than 200 guests dined and danced at the historic George Washington Masonic Memorial in Old Town Alexandria. YPN honored two young professionals who have reached exemplary heights in their fields and have been of service to Northern Virginia. The honorees included:

Nia Malika Perkins, DVM, owner of Paws, Purrs & Exotics Animal Hospital, the first African-American owned veterinary hospital in Alexandria. Recently, Perkins hosted Paws for the Cause 2010, a project where she asked the public to bring donations for rescue organizations with whom her practice works closely. Two human service organizations were recognized, The Christ House in DC and Community Lodgings in Alexandria.

Erick King, co-founder and executive director of Capital Youth Empowerment Program, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the Northern Virginia area with a Fatherhood and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

The Honorable William D. Euille, Mayor of Alexandria, praised YPN for its service to the Northern Virginia community and acknowledged the historic nature of the evening. “For many years, African Americans could not enter the George Washington Masonic Memorial,” said Euille. “So it is remarkable that this evening we are gathered here to recognize the Young Professionals Network for their decade of service to the community.”

Lavern J. Chatman, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, spoke about service to the community. “YPN is an organization that brings much pride to the Northern Virginia Urban League and the entire community,” said Chatman. “And as each of you continue to advance and enjoy success, keep in mind the importance of empowering others through service.”

Black Opal attendee Laurie Rowe; Barton J. Taylor, national president, Urban League Young Professionals; Pamela Perkins, president, YPN; and Black Opal guest Carla Howard

“This is what we do,” said Pamela Perkins, president of YPN. “YPN makes an indelible mark on Northern Virginia by taking part in a movement that pushes the African-American community towards social and economic empowerment.  And this event moves us a step further to accomplishing that goal.”

“The Northern Virginia Urban League YPN is definitely a model for other young professional groups within the Urban League’s movement,” commented Barton J. Taylor, national president, Urban League Young Professionals. “Northern Virginia continues to raise the bar and events like Black Opal are a testament to their spirit of excellence and service to the community.”

Guests enjoy an evening of dancing with DJ Blaze

About The Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network (YPN)
The Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network (YPN) is an auxiliary organization of the Northern Virginia Urban League. YPN was founded in 1999 as a way to identify and develop future leaders of the community. Through a variety of programs and community service initiatives, YPN supports the mission of the Northern Virginia Urban League and fosters young professional development, social consciousness and civic involvement.

Photo Credit: Karima Evans Photography

Star Jones to Host Spirit of Democracy Awards and Launch of The National Coalition's 35th Anniversary Celebration

Wade Henderson, Minyon Moore, and Rev. Al Sharpton are among Honorees at Event Hosted by The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Washington, DC - Former New York prosecutor, TV host, and author, Star Jones, will serve as host of the 14th annual "Spirit of Democracy Awards Black & White Gala," Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (The National Coalition) has announced. The Gala will be held on May 18, 2011 at the Renaissance DC Hotel.

Selected for their unselfish dedication to education, social and economic justice, the 2011 Spirit of Democracy honorees are: Wade Henderson, president and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights; Minyon Moore, principal, Dewey Square Group; Rev. Al Sharpton, president, National Action Network; Yelberton Watkins, chief of staff, Congressman James Clyburn's Office; Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association; and Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers.

“We could not have chosen a better group of honorees to kick-off our 35th anniversary celebration. All of them are great leaders and are committed to empowering communities of color,” said Campbell. “This is the first of multiple anniversary events to take place throughout the year. We're taking the rest of the year to celebrate and to build upon over three decades of leadership, engagement and empowerment in Black communities.”

Additional 35th anniversary events planned later this year include the launch of the Eddie Williams Civic Engagement and Social Innovation Training Academy on September 17, and the Women of Power 35: Mentor/Protégé Luncheon & Summit on October 20. The luncheon and summit will be part of the close-out of the final tour stop for the Black Women's Roundtable (BWR) 2010-2011 “Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise” National Empowerment Tour. Made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the tour provides tools to empower Black and underserved women and girls.

The Spirit of Democracy Awards are presented to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to creating balance in the democratic process and support The National Coalition's mission and vision of making civic participation a cultural responsibility and tradition. Title 35th Anniversary Partners include AT&T and Verizon, among others. The event is open to the public. Individual ticket prices are $150. For tickets or more information call 202-659-4929 or visit to purchase online.

Founded in 1976, the NCBCP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing Black civic participation in civil society. For 35 years, The National Coalition has been a central force for Black civic engagement, leadership development and voter empowerment creating effective coalition models and networks to address our communities' emerging needs through its 80 membership organizations, 12 state-based affiliates, and signature programs and initiatives---Black Women's Roundtable, Black Youth Vote!, Youth Policy & Process, Voices of the Electorate and Unity Diaspora Coalition.

National Association of Security Professionals Hosts Annual “Impacting Lives” Fundraiser

Rev. Wendell Anthony, Founder, The Freedom Institute; Cheryl Johnson, Treasurer, City of Detroit; and Hiram Jackson, “Maverick Award” Honoree and CEO of Real Times Media

By Talitha Johnson, Contributor
BlackGivesBack Detroit

The National Association of Security Professionals (NASP) recently held its annual Impacting Lives fundraiser, an awards ceremony and scholarship banquet. The event took place at the Detroit Athletic Club honoring five of Detroit’s local heroes.

The annual banquet raises money for its scholarship fund, which has granted more than $140,000 to metro Detroit students since its 2007 inception.  While generating cash for scholarships, the banquet also honored community leaders and professionals whose work impacted the financial service industry.

“We are also pleased to honor five of Detroit’s finest men and women who contributed significant inroads towards progress in the city of Detroit and beyond,” said Kathleen Colin, president of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Security Professionals.

The following were honored during the banquet: Charlie Harrison, Chair of the City of Pontiac Retirement System with the Ray Welborne Legend Award; Cynthia Thomas, Administrator of the City of Detroit Police & Fire Retirement System with the Unsung Hero Award; Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media with the Maverick Award; Gail Perry Mason, senior director of investments for Oppenheimer & Company with the Measure of Excellence award; and Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW National Ford Department with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The NASP is comprised of finance professionals working in the field of brokerage, asset management, investment, and bond counsel commercial bank underwriting.

Photos of the Day

Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker greets a new mother the 2011 Community Baby Shower hosted by the organization Newark Now earlier this month. The event brought together 300 new and expecting moms from the city who received infant and toddler clothes, bottles, strollers, cribs, educational materials and other baby products, as well as pre and postnatal information from local community organizations that specialize in child and/or mother centered services.

“There is no greater responsibility in this world than raising a child,” said Mayor Booker. “Our mothers bear the future of our city, state, and nation. We must build strong families as we build a stronger, prouder, and safer Newark. I am proud of how Newark Now, Horizon NJ Health, K.I.D.S., and our other community partners have come together to support Newark’s mothers with the resources they need to raise healthy and strong Newarkers.”

Victoria Rowell, Honoree Arthur Mitchell and Event Host Jessye Norman attend the Inaugural Dance Theatre of Harlem Vision Award Gala at the Samuel & David Rose Building on April 25, 2011 in New York City.

Derrick Dockery of the Washington Redskins coaches a youth at the White House Easter Egg Roll. The National Park Foundation and Coca-Cola partnered for the event to encourage attendees to live an active and healthy lifestyle at the “Egg-tivity” Zone.

The 2011 Easter Egg Roll, which took place Monday on the South Lawn of the White House, focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme, “Get Up and Go!” All of the activities encouraged children to lead healthy and active lives, which is a central part of the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative, a national campaign to combat childhood obesity.

In related news, as a part of Coca-Cola’s ongoing support for sustainability and healthy living, DASANI Blue Crews will be taking over Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC today (4/29) and tomorrow (4/30) to help reward eco-Samaritans. The Blue Crews appearance at Nationals Stadium also coincides with Earth Month and the national launch of DASANI’s new PlantBottle™. PlantBottle™ looks and functions just like a traditional bottle, but it’s made with up to 30% plants and is 100% recyclable. Those “caught” being environmental do-gooders will receive DASANI items made from recycled materials featuring messaging about the importance of sustainability and details about the new PlantBottle™. A special distribution of the DASANI PlantBottle™ product will occur following the Nationals game on Saturday, April 30. To learn more about the DASANI PlantBottle™, visit

Actors Patina Miller, producer Whoopi Goldberg and Victoria Clark during the Broadway opening night of "Sister Act" at the Broadway Theatre on April 20, 2011 in New York City.

LOUISVILLE, KY - Drawing inspiration from Muhammad Ali's example as an Olympic hero and humanitarian, an interactive panel of national and international guests from the sporting world convened in Louisville, KY, April 13th to April 15th, to explore the transformational impact athletes and athletics can have on society. The conversations and exchanges over the three day festival examined local, national and global trends on the cutting edge of sports for peace and development.

Louisville I.D.E.A.L.S. is an initiative within the University of Louisville’s Department of Health & Sport Sciences to promote the power of sports for personal development and social change. The project collaborated with the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace & Justice to offer the Olympian IDEALS Festival. IDEALS is an acronym for Innovation, Development, Engagement and Advancement of Literacy through Sport.

Mentoring USA, a festival participant and third year grantee of the USTA Serves “Aces for Kids” initiative, partnered with Under Armour, the Rising Stars and West Louisville Tennis Clubs, and the USTA Southern-KY to demonstrate how tennis and mentoring can be combined to become an effective catalyst for change--focusing on wellness, self-esteem building, character development, after-school enrichment, and structured physical activity. In photo: Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, Deion Branch (center) poses with Charles Crawford, Bruce Stone and Robyn White of the Rising Stars Tennis Club.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reginald F. Lewis Foundation Set to Host 4th Annual Gala Luncheon Honoring Eugene Profit

Investment Manager to Receive Prestigious Business Award on Saturday, June 25, 2011

NEW YORK (April 26, 2011) — The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation will honor Eugene A. Profit (pictured at left), CEO of Profit Investment Management, at its fourth annual Gala Luncheon on Saturday, June 25, at the Lewis Estate in East Hampton, New York.

Each year, the Foundation bestows the Reginald F. Lewis Award to an African-American entrepreneur who achieved international business success before the age of 50, as Lewis did. Lewis led the largest leveraged buyout of the 1980s to become the first African American to build a billion-dollar company.

Reginald F. Lewis was the Jackie Robinson of the finance world, breaking into the highly selective world of high finance,” said Lewis’s widow Loida Nicolas Lewis, legendary chair of the occasion. “His accomplishments should be a page in the financial history books of the United States.”

A former NFL player with the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins, Profit started Profit Investment Management with $100,000 and has since grown the company to an impressive $2 billion in assets under management. He has been the subject of numerous profiles in financial media, including CNBC, Business Week, Smart Money, Black Enterprise, Pension & Investments, and Investors Business Daily. Active in the community, Profit started the Profit Charitable Foundation Fund, which helps minority students pay for university expenses and assists with various community causes. The Yale University graduate also advocates for financial literacy through internship programs and workshops informing African Americans about the benefits of long-term investing.

“We are thrilled this year to honor Eugene Profit, whose achievements bring the legacy of Reginald F. Lewis into the 21st century,” said event Chair Leslie Lewis Sword, Lewis’s daughter and foundation board member (pictured at right). “Eugene joins an elite group of African American achievers on Wall Street and in business that the Foundation has helped showcase to the world through this award.”  For this event, Sword has pulled together a committee consisting of a younger generation of supporters, representing a new face of philanthropy.

Profit shares, “Reginald F. Lewis was an inspiration to me as I started my entrepreneurial life and provided an example of the possibilities I could achieve. I am deeply honored to be chosen for this award and to follow in the footsteps of a man who, in addition to being a great businessman, was equally dedicated in his philanthropic work for others and to his family.”

Also to be honored at the gala is Harvard Law School Bussey Professor Emeritus Frank E. A. Sander with the Millennium Member Award, recognizing the key role he played in Lewis’s career. Sander was the Harvard Law School professor who, in 1965, taught a summer law program for students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), attended by Lewis. Upon observing the 21-year-old’s stellar performance, Sander was instrumental in persuading the director of admissions of the law school to admit Lewis even though he had not filed an application for admission or taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

The event will raise funds toward a $1 million endowment challenge grant from The Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation designed to ensure the continuation of the vital work of a Foundation-sponsored museum in Lewis’s hometown of Baltimore. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture is the largest of its kind on the East Coast.

The event will feature the musical stylings of celebrity spinner DJ M.O.S., and for the third consecutive year, CBS2 New York News Anchor Maurice DuBois will emcee the benefit.

Tickets are $550 for the 12:30 pm fundraiser, which is produced by Sharon Lopez of Purple Giraffe Productions, with event and floral design by Jerry Sibal Design Fusion. To attend or sponsor the benefit, please visit or contact 212-690-1363.

Related Posts:
Reginald F. Lewis Museum to Honor Maryland Legal Icons
Reginald F. Lewis Foundation Hosts 3rd Annual Gala Luncheon

Photography credit for Eugene A. Profit photo: Jim Johnson

Journalist Shaun Robinson to Receive the 2011 Dove® Real Beauty Award from Alliance For Women In Media

Honor Bestowed on May 24 in Los Angeles at the 36th Annual Gracie Awards

April 26, 2011 (McLean, VA) – Alliance for Women in Media and Dove®, the global beauty brand, announce that Shaun Robinson is the recipient of the 2011 Dove Real Beauty Award. The award will be presented at the 36th Annual Gracie Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

Alliance for Women in Media and Dove created the Dove Real Beauty Award to honor an individual who best embodies and expresses the “substance and spirit” of real beauty through her life and career. Shaun is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and weekend co-anchor and correspondent for the entertainment news show Access Hollywood. A strong advocate for empowering young girls, Shaun serves on the board of the non-profit youth organization Girls, Inc., has celebrated exceptional teenage girls by co-creating and co-hosting the “I Am Perfect – Exactly As I Am” event, and is the author of the inspiring book about girls and self-esteem, Exactly As I Am: Celebrated Women Share Candid Advice with Today’s Girls on What it Takes to Believe in Yourself. Shaun was also invited by the Obama Administration’s U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas to speak to girls on the island about the issue of self-esteem based on her book.

Alliance for Women in Media has partnered with Dove since 2004. Now celebrating its seventh year as title sponsor of the Gracie Awards, Dove is committed to building positive self-esteem in the next generation and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential by caring for themselves and each other. Dove invites all women to join them in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.

“What an incredible honor it is to receive the Real Beauty Award from DOVE and AWM,” said Robinson. “My mission to help young girls believe in themselves and dream big was inspired by the beautiful and strong female role models I have had in my life. I am humbled to be recognized by DOVE -- a brand that truly embodies self-esteem and self-confidence!”

“We are so proud to partner with Dove in encouraging women and girls to reach their full potential,” said Erin M. Fuller, CAE, president of the Alliance for Women in Media. “We look forward to honoring Shaun Robinson at the Gracie Awards.”

For more information about the 2011 Gracies, please visit For more information about Dove, please visit

HBCU Students Unite to End Sexual Violence In 3rd Annual Denim Day

Eight HBCUs Host Ending Violence Against Women Events to Promote Denim Day

WASHINGTON, DC (April 27, 2011) – On April 27, 2011 over 3,500 students at eight (8) Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) — Clark Atlanta University, Coppin State University, Howard University, Lemoyne-Owen College, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University and Prairie View A&M University—will participate in the 3rd Denim Day at HBCUs. The HBCU movement for Denim Day is organized by Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW): The HBCU Project, an initiative funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health and The Wright Group.

The Wright Group and EVAW are sponsors of Denim Day in USA 2011. Denim Day is a project of Peace Over Violence—a non-profit, feminist, multicultural, volunteer organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. Denim Day was launched in 1999, in protest of an Italian High Court ruling that overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing "tight" jeans.

"Today there is a movement of African American students who visibly stand united as one HBCU campus for Denim Day, recognizing their role as champions for survivors in eliminating shame, stigma and blame-- one fellow student at a time," said Amelia Cobb, Director of Ending Violence Against Women.

In April 2010, over 2,000 students on six HBCU campuses participated in Denim Day at HBCUs and signed the No Violence Against Women (NO VAW) Pledge which included celebrity e-card messaging from Howard University alumnae, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Malaak Compton-Rock; and radio personality, Olivia Fox.

This week 3,500 students have signed-up to join the movement this year by wearing jeans and a 'Denim Day at HBCUs' T-Shirt as a visible sign to support ending sexual violence on college campuses.

For more information on ways to sign the NO VAW Pledge as public support for ending sexual violence against women on HBCU campuses nationwide, visit

ABOUT EVAW: THE HBCU PROJECT. Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW): The HBCU Project is a call to action for HBCU students, administration, alumni and community partners to develop a Coordinated Campus Response (CCR) or documented plan of action to prevent and end all forms of violence against women on college campuses.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ludacris Foundation, Green For All and Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam Host “Keep It Fresh” Earth Day Event

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam and Rashan Ali celebrate Earth Day at a community service event hosted by Green For All, April 21st in Atlanta, GA.

Atlanta, GA - Green For All, a national organization dedicated to improving lives through a clean economy, partnered with The Ludacris Foundation and special guests, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Rashan Ali to celebrate Earth Day. The partners raised awareness about critical water issues through a community service event on Thursday, April 21st at the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance in Atlanta.

Under the guidance of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), students from Dobbs Elementary served together by planting a rain garden (aids in water treatment) and completed a frog and turtle pond. The service day also included an educational session on water treatment and water conservation from local Green For All Fellows and Ambassadors, that provided participants with kits and information to help them save water at home and at school.

“Saving our planet’s water systems – saving our planet – doesn’t have to be difficult,” said Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All. “Any community can develop innovative ways to address its local environmental needs. We’re thrilled to be able to work with The Ludacris Foundation and schoolchildren in Atlanta to prove that.”

Access to clean water isn’t a future problem, it’s a current problem facing many – particularly in America’s low-income communities and communities of color. Currently, only one percent of the earth’s freshwater is easily accessible. Thirty-six states expect to face water shortages within the next five years, and at least fourteen are currently experiencing crisis-level water shortages and contamination. Given Ludacris’ green stance on the issues facing youth and his unique ability to educate young adults, both organizations saw an opportunity to work together for change.

Roberta Shields, Executive Director of the Ludacris Foundation with Keshia Knight Pulliam, Rashan Ali and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

“The Ludacris Foundation is excited to partner with Green For All, Keshia, Rashan and the students to honor Earth Day and reframe the face of environmentalism. Protecting our youth includes educating and empowering them about the promises and opportunities of a green economy – safer streets, cleaner communities, pathways out of poverty,” stated Roberta Shields, Executive Director of The Ludacris Foundation.

About Green For All
Green 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 the 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. For more information, please visit

The Ludacris Foundation
The Ludacris Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization, and this year marks the foundation’s ten year anniversary. GRAMMY® award winning artist and actor, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges established his foundation in 2001, with the aim of inspiring youth through education and memorable experiences to live their dreams. The foundation’s program focus is in three key areas (3L’s): Leadership and Education; Living Healthy Lifestyles; and LudaCares. For more information, visit

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oprah Winfrey Partners with CharityBuzz to Raise Funds for Human Rights

By Akira Barclay, BlackGivesBackNY Contributor

Oprah Winfrey, multimedia icon and one of the world's greatest philanthropists, is partnering with luxury charity auction site charitybuzz to raise funds for a cause she's championed again in again during her Emmy Award-winning show's 25-year run -- human rights. Winfrey is auctioning four VIP tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago and the chance to meet her backstage with a photo opportunity during the show's last season to benefit the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice.

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights provides innovative support to courageous human rights defenders around the world. It assists advocates who have won the RFK Human Rights Award to boldly confront injustices. Bidders support the RFK Center’s work on reconciliation in Darfur, advocating for children in Haiti, bringing an end to brutal oppression in Zimbabwe, and on behalf of Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster.

The auction is open through Thursday, April 28th, at:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ailey At The Apollo Gala to Raise Funds for the Ailey School’s Scholarship Program

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II & The Ailey School Students on World Famous Apollo Stage to Benefit Scholarships to The Ailey School and Ailey Arts In Education Programs Serving New York Students

Event Honoree Guido Goldman with Honorary Chairs Angela Bassett & Courtney B. Vance

By Akira Barclay, BlackGivesBackNY Contributor

New York (April 20, 2011) - Stars of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the rising young dancers of Ailey II, and gifted students from The Ailey School will come together for a spectacular one-night performance on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7pm on the world famous Apollo stage, where stars are born and legends are made. Led by Judith Jamison, in her final year as Artistic Director and joined by Artistic Director Designate Robert Battle, The Spring Gala Benefit performance at the Apollo Theater, (253 W 125th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues) will be followed by a gala party, with festive dress, décor and dancing to music by deejay to the stars—DJ Ruckus.

Ailey At The Apollo will honor Guido Goldman, PhD., esteemed Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Dr. Goldman’s involvement with the Ailey Organization began more than twenty years ago and he has proven himself to be one of the Ailey Organization’s most steadfast, caring and generous supporters. The Honorary Chairs are husband and wife award-winning actors Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance. Bassett is perhaps best known for her intense portrayal of Tina Turner in the biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It and Vance has appeared in notable films such as The Hunt For Red October and The Preacher’s Wife. Gala co-chairs are: Lynne & Anthony M. Carvette and Christopher J. Williams. Benefit Vice Chairs are Judith Byrd, Leslie & Tom Maheras, Celia & Henry McGee, David E. Monn, Gabriella E. Morris & Dennis J. Brownlee, Marc S. Strachan, and Pamela Zilly & John Schaefer.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will share highlights from Anointed, former company member Christopher L. Huggins’ tribute to the anointed leaders of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: past, present and future, and The Evolution of a Secured Feminine, Camille A. Brown’s witty female solo that explores notions of femininity set to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. The emerging stars of Ailey II will perform an excerpt from Donald Byrd’s Shards, a skillfully crafted work which showcases his eclectic and complex choreography set to the music of Mio Morales, and students of The Ailey School will also showcase their talents in performance excerpts of Scott Rink’s world premiere ballet before they join with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the joyful finale of Alvin Ailey’s timeless masterpiece Revelations.

After the performance, guests and the present and future stars of Ailey will dine, mingle and dance the night away in true Ailey style to the sounds of DJ Ruckus – America’s most in-demand celebrity deejay. A superstar deejay for the better part of a decade, DJ Ruckus has established an undeniable music style leading him to be personally called upon to deejay private parties by celebrities including Diddy, Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, Magic Johnson, and Steven Tyler.

Gala proceeds will support The Ailey School’s Scholarship Program, for promising young students who would otherwise be unable to pursue professional training, and Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs, including AileyCamp in Washington Heights, which annually serve more than 100,000 young people. Benefit tickets, starting at $250, may be purchased by calling (212) 405-9031.

Photo credit:  Matthew Jordan Smith

Young Benefactors Group Hosts ‘Sakura in Springtime’ to Support DC Nonprofit

Darius Graham (Young Benefactors Group Co-chair), Bernard Holloway (Alum of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship), Edward Sanders (Alum of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship), and Barbara Bridges attend 'Sakura in Springtime' to support the Institute for Responsible Citizenship on April 2, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC - This month, the Young Benefactors Group (YBG), a philanthropic organization of local young professionals, gathered to support the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, an intensive leadership program based in Washington, DC for talented African-American male high school and college students from around the country. The YBG is comprised of service-minded young professionals in the Washington, DC area who are emerging leaders in the public and private sector.

The group hosted ‘Sakura in Springtime,’ a Japanese themed social fundraiser event at District in Washington, DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood. The event served as a fundraiser for the Institute's summer program in Washington, DC. In celebration of the cherry blossom season, guests enjoyed Japanese inspired small plates, drinks and a Japanese fashion show. Cupcake treats were provided by TamiCakes.

In light of the recent tragedy in Japan, 10% of the proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross International Disaster Relief Fund for Japanese disaster relief.

Will Wilder, Kristen Howard, and Annora Bell (Young Benefactors Group Steering Committee members)

About the Young Benefactors Group
The Young Benefactors Group (YBG) is a philanthropic organization dedicated to promoting the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, advancing its mission, and providing financial support for its programs.  Each month the YBG hosts events ranging from private receptions with distinguished leaders to signature soirees. YBG members enjoy complimentary or discounted admission to these events and access to one of Washington’s premier networks. For more information visit

About the Institute for Responsible Citizenship
The Institute for Responsible Citizenship prepares high-achieving African American men for successful careers in business, law, government, public service, education, journalism, the sciences, medicine, ministry, and the arts. Their goal is not only to help talented African American men achieve career success, but also to train these young leaders to be men of great character who will make significant contributions to their communities, their country, and the world. For more information visit

Proteus Fund Invites Applications for Diversity Fellowship in Philanthropy

The Proteus Fund in Amherst, Massachusetts is accepting applications for its 2011-12 Diversity Fellowship

The mission of the fellowship is to identify, recruit, and cultivate emerging practitioners of color who represent the next generation of philanthropic leaders and offer them training, support, and strong community. The fellowship has a successful track record of identifying and cultivating talented professionals of color interested in entering the philanthropic sector. The year-long program will begin in July 2011 and will place fellows in foundations in and around Boston and western Massachusetts, where they will work on major projects in the areas of community needs, education, affordable housing, global issues, the environment, and youth development. Fellows will spend four days per week working at their assigned foundation and one day per week collaborating in the learning community. Fellows also will have the benefit of guest speakers, structured professional connections, travel to conferences, and professional development.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a person of color with a minimum of a bachelor's degree and five years' work experience, or a master's degree and three years' work experience. Applicants should have a track record of community service/volunteerism, especially in communities of color. Applicants must currently reside in the United States and satisfy federal laws regarding employment eligibility verification. Candidates must be prepared to commit to the program full time between July 2011 and July 2012.

Fellows will each receive a stipend totaling $45,000.

For complete program information, an FAQ, and application instructions, visit the Proteus Fund Web site:

Link to application is HERE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Celebrates 60 Years of Service to Atlanta's Youth

Sharon Burgess Jones (Member at Large), Joli Cooper (Regional Director), Miriam Shropshire (1st Atlanta Chapter President), Tara Joseph-Labrie (National President) and Tamara Robinson (National Vice President) of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated attend the chapter's 60th Anniversary Celebration on April 16, 2011 in Atlanta, GA.

The Largest Jack and Jill Chapter in the Country Partners with Greenberg Traurig and Belk to Continue "Creating a Legacy of Literacy" in Atlanta

On April 16, 2011, the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America hosted "Creating a Legacy of Literacy," a black tie gala that raised $120,000 to support local Atlanta organizations and the organization's national philanthropic arm, the Jack and Jill of America Foundation.  The anniversary gala was the largest fundraiser in the chapter's 60 year history.

“The Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill is thrilled with the tremendous success of our fundraising efforts for the East Lake Foundation, Raising Expectations and Jack and Jill of America Foundation, which culminated at our 60th Anniversary Gala, ‘Creating a Legacy of Literacy.’  Our chapter mothers, together with both the Atlanta corporate and philanthropic communities, have truly exceeded our expectations and have enabled us to exceed our fundraising goal of giving $60,000 in celebration of our 60 years of service in the community,” stated Farah Cook, Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill Gala Co-Chair.

The event began with a piano reception that featured music performed by Jack and Jill teen members, a live auction, themed rooms decorated with memorabilia marking each decade of the chapter's existence, and local live entertainment.

Kimberly Evans Paige (Gala Co Chair), Patrice Brown Greer (Atlanta Chapter President), and Farrah Cook (Gala Co Chair).

Since its inception in 1951, the Atlanta Chapter has been a champion for children and has sought opportunities to make a difference in the lives of families in the community at large. The national organization, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. advocates for issues that are pivotal to the development of children, and the local Atlanta Chapter boasts a strong heritage as a leader in that pursuit growing to become the largest chapter in the United States with 170 members. The organization has held as one of its core principles that every child, with the proper guidance and opportunity, can be a leader.

“Through the funds raised, our organization will be able to directly and positively impact the literacy needs of the children served by our beneficiaries in a meaningful way,” stated Patrice Greer, President Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill.

Kimberly Paige, Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill Gala Co-Chair added, “We view literacy as a child’s passport to the world and life excellence. This is why the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill’s community service goal is ‘Creating a Legacy of Literacy.’ We look to provide financial, time, and talent gifts though our members and sponsors.”

Earnest Greer and Patrice Greer (Atlanta Chapter President)

Sonya Halpern and Daniel Halpern; Marci and Glenn McKenna

Photo credit:  Glenn McKenna

About Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is a national children's organization founded in 1938 to provide educational, cultural, civic, recreational, and social activities for African-American youth between the ages of 2 and 19. Today, there are over 218 chapters, in 35 states, united through national initiatives to enhance the quality of life for youth.

In February of 1951, the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill was organized through the effort of Mrs. Elizabeth Macomson, a teacher at Spelman College. The Atlanta chapter children were the first Black children to participate in a then popular WSB-TV puppet show called Woody Willow. By the middle and late 1950's, the chapter mothers and children were established in charity projects. Through community service projects the chapter seeks to offer all children the same advantages which they desire for their own children. The Atlanta Chapter is one of 6 chapters in the metro area. Ambassador Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and the late Maynard Jackson are among the prominent and historic families who have been and are currently members of the Atlanta Chapter.

Photo credit: Kimberly O’Hara Evans

Monday, April 18, 2011

Evidence, A Dance Company Gala…."A Breath of Spring" A Dazzling Success!

Reginald Van Lee, Pamela Joyner, Rhonda Ross, Tamara Tumie and Gregory Generet attend Evidence, A Dance Company's 7th Annual Gala on April 12, 2011 in New York City.

Celeb Packed Crowd Gives Ronald K. Brown’s Troupe Standing Ovation

By Akira Barclay, BlackGivesBackNY Contributor

On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, Ronald K. Brown’s acclaimed Evidence, A Dance Company held its 7th Annual Evidence Gala…A Breath of Spring in The Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center. One of the season’s most glamorous, star studded affairs, the evening began with cocktails on the mezzanine overlooking the brightly decorated ballroom. The tables, all covered in deep orange with masses of spring blooms transformed the historic ballroom visually into a field of flowers. While there was enough Moet Chandon Champagne and libations to float an ocean liner, most guests opted for the special cocktail created for the occasion by the master mixologists at sponsor Belvedere Vodka, The Belvedere Grand Cosmopolitan – a delightful mix of Belvedere Vodka, Grand Marnier Cranberry Juice and fresh lime.

Honorary Chair Pamela Joyner, a vision in a voluminous Zang Toi gown and Evidence Chairman Emeritus, the always nattily clad Reginald Van Lee, warmly greeted old friends such as Larry Satterfield, actress Rhonda Ross (daughter of Diana Ross), philanthropist Alicia Bythewood and her daughter Brie, Andrea Dubois, longtime board members Andrea Hoffman, Joanne Hill and Gail Monroe Perry; Joyce Mullins Jackson, actress and model Princess Keisha Omilana and Princess Omo Okieme.

Honorary Chair Pamela Joyner; Actress Phylicia Rashad

The crowd literally parted at the arrival of the evening’s co-emcees Tamara Tunie, the beautiful and radiant star of Law and Order SVU and her handsome husband jazz vocalist Gregory Generet. The stunning couple drew admiring glances from many of the crowd. At the last moment to the guests added delight, America’s favorite TV mom, Phylicia Rashad arrived looking drop dead gorgeous. Never the diva, Ms. Rashad charmed all as she signed autographs, posed with guests and answered awe struck reporters questions with a smile.

Andrea Hoffman and Felicia Daniels

Joyce Mullins-Jackson

The extremely professional staff of renowned caterer Canard, Inc. passed delectable mini mac & cheese squares, crab cakes, tuna tartar and one of the surprise hits of the evening - Buffalo chicken wing lollipops with a celery stick.

Following cocktails guests headed down to the ballroom where Tamara Tunie and Gregory hilariously welcomed all and announced the evenings two award recipients – Janice Combs and United Airlines. Combs, who was unable to attend received the 2011 Inspiration Award. Felicia Daniels, who for many years through her position with Continental Airlines has been an ardent and valued supporter of Evidence accepted the 2011 Corporate Award for United Airlines. United Airlines recently merged as equals with Continental to create the world’s leading airline. Following the awards - and in a break with tradition - for the first time there was a theater style performance by the Company of the recently premiered, critically acclaimed “On Earth Together,” choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, Artistic Director and inspired by the music of Stevie Wonder. With special emphasis on Wonder’s songs of social consciousness and responsibility, the movement vocabulary incorporated Afro-Cuban dances based on the Orisha deity Ogun, social dances form Zaire and the Ivory Coast and Zulu dances from South Africa all fused into the contemporary style that has become the Evidence signature.

Brown and his company – Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag, Otis Donovan Herring, Maresa D’Amore-Morrison, Waldean Nelson, Annique Roberts, Lilli Ann Tai and Clarice Young soared in the powerful story telling dance. Kudos to Technical Director & Lighting Designer Dalila Kee for the magnificent mood setting light and sound design. The audience showed their love with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

Ronald K. Brown & his dancers from Evidence

After the performance, Tamara & Generet welcomed auctioneer Patrick Tully to the stage. Tully, a master of his craft and a great wit to boot, worked his way through spectacular one -of -a -kind-experiences including fierce bidding on a trip to Hollywood and tickets to the infamous Playboy Mansion Halloween Party, a vacation stay for eight at the sumptuous Viceroy Anguilla Resort and an elegant dinner prepared by famed chef Todd English.

After the conclusion of the bidding war, Reginald Van Lee took to the microphone with an impassioned plea for “Bricks & Mortar” donations starting at $5,000 and working down as low as $25, drawing a bid for every dollar amount he called. Reggie who is a well-known arts philanthropist could clearly have a second career as an auctioneer!

Those who were not able to attend can still bid on dozens more luxury items and special one of a kind experiences at - including a 6-Course Tasting Dinner with Wine at the acclaimed 5 and Diamond Restaurant in NYC, plus a private cooking class with star Chef David Martinez or 2 Tickets to The Hottest Hamptons Party, The Art For Life East Hampton Event on July 30, 2011 with a Meet and Greet with Russell Simmons and Danny Simmons.

Gala Sponsors were Belvedere Vodka; BET Networks; Booz, Allen Hamilton, Fed Ex, The Dimon Family Foundation, Bruce Gordon & Tawana Tibbs, United Airlines and Verizon. The caterer for the Gala was New York’s highly regarded Canard Inc. The event was coordinated by The JFM Group.

Gala Supporters included Raven & Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Tanika Brown, Willis Burton, Deborah Chatman, T. Troy & Keisha Dixon, W. Anthony Edison, Tanesha Francis, Carla Harris & Victor Franklin, Joyce & Bruce A. Gates, Joanne E. Hill, Pamela Joyner & Alfred J. Giuffrida, Henry McGee, Gail Monroe Perry, Larry Satterfield & Michael Ward, Russell Simmons and Reginald Van Lee.

Alicia Bythewood and Brie Bythewood wearing a Zang Toi gown

The Gala Benefit Committee included Peg Alston, Dorria L. Ball, Yolanda & Alvin Brown, Susan L. Taylor & Khephra Burns, Alicia Bythewood, Nicole J. Coward, Glenn E. Davis, Sally & Mike Hipscher, Andrea Hoffman, Loida N. Lewis, Jonelle Procope, Asha Richards, Janice Savin Williams and Christopher J. Williams.

Evidence, A Dance Company performing "On Earth Together"

Evidence, A Dance Company is supported by a very involved and committed Board of Directors under the leadership of Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Chairman; Joanne E. Hill, Vice-Chairman; Gail Monroe-Perry, Secretary; and Reginald Van Lee, Chairman Emeritus. Board members include Dwayne Ashley, Monica F. Azare, Reginald Canal, Andrea Hoffman, Leslie Mays, James Sullivan, Jocelyn Taylor and Dr. Ancy Verdier.

Photo credit:  Photography by Kurt Leggard

Manhattan’s Most Stylish “Bag Ladies” Raise Funds and Awareness for New York City’s S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

By Akira Barclay, BlackGivesBackNY Contributor

New York, NY – April 15, 2011 -- The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation drew more than 250 guests to its spirited New York Bag Ladies Luncheon and Handbag Auction at the stylish 583 Park Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Thursday. Many walked away with new designer arm candy while helping to raise over $200,000 for research and support services for lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans.

Famed opera soprano and Foundation board member Jessye Norman hosted the festive affair, which honored Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, and accessories designer Mary Norton, creator of the “MooRoo” evening bag line and “Frosting by Mary” for the Home Shopping Network.

“Diagnosing lupus is like hunting a panther in the dark,” said the statuesque Ms. Norton upon accepting the Foundation’s “Woman of Achievement” Award.  Now a wife and mother, Norton recalled years of struggling with such problems as depression, rosacea, and pregnancy loss before finally being diagnosed with lupus.

“If you think you might have lupus, take your pit bull friend—the one with the biggest mouth—to the doctor with you,” said Dr. Snyderman upon accepting her award. A powerful advocate for the health of women and girls, she movingly described the first young woman she ever diagnosed with lupus, a “textbook case” out of central casting. “This [cause] means the world to me.”

S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Executive Director Margaret Dowd welcomed guests such as Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, who will be honored along with her husband, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), at the Foundation’s November 21, 2011 Gala.

The luncheon’s lively “silent” auction found bidders competing for bags donated by luxury brands such as Chanel, Burberry, Valentino, and Prada, as well as bags once owned by such celebrities as Liza Minnelli, Heidi Klum, Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively, Beyoncé, Courtney Cox—and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg…who contributed a golf bag.

Founded in New York City in 1970, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the only organization solely dedicated to providing education, social services, and research support for lupus in New York City. An under-publicized yet widespread and potentially life-threatening disease, lupus primarily targets women between the ages of 15 and 44, among whom it is a leading cause of premature heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke.

San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants Hosts Youth Education Conference

By Tokiwa T. Smith, San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

On Saturday, March 5, 2011 at the DeVry University- Oakland Center, Bank of the West and the San Francisco Bay Area Professional Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants Inc. (NABA) hosted the 12th Annual Youth Education Conference for middle school students and parents. The theme for this year's conference was "Planting the Seeds of Entrepreneurship." "This program exists to create a pipeline for NABA’s program for high school students, Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP)" says Tyehimba Jelani, Youth Entrepreneurship Committee Member. "Our program goal is to teach students skills that will crossover into their field of choice." The morning began with an opening session featuring Chef Nikki Shaw, owner of FLAVOR Catering in Oakland, the featured chef of the Los Angeles Lakers "Fit For Life" campaign and host of Today’s Flavor on 102.9 KBLX. Chef Shaw and her mother spoke to the students about entrepreneurship.

Chef Nikki Shaw spoke to the students about entrepreneurship.

The objective of the conference was to expose middle school students to several fundamental concepts associated with owning a business through a case study. The students were divided into groups and partnered with business professionals. In the morning session the students learned about principles of entrepreneurship such as marketing, finance and accounting. After the morning sessions and lunch, Ise Lyfe, founder & Executive Director of Lyfe Productives and one of the nation's premier spoken word artists and emcees, educator, grass-roots organizer, and youth role model, gave a motivational speech to conference attendees. In the afternoon session, the students developed their business pitches. At the end of the conference each group pitched their business to a panel of judges to determine which business would receive funding from investors. The winning businesses were Sweet Pea Day Care and The Future Day Care.

While the students were learning about entrepreneurship, the parents were engaged in workshops about college planning. The morning workshop speaker was Ms. Tovi Scruggs, M.ED, founder of ASA Academy & Community Science Center in Oakland, CA and the Executive Director of the Urban Services Division of the YMCA of the East Bay. The afternoon session, conducted by Bank of the West employees, taught parents about the college financial planning.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Conference awarded $1400 in cash scholarships to attendees and $900 was awarded to pitch winners. Bank of the West provided $50 vouchers to students to open a savings account. “Lives were changed, confidence was restored and dreams of entrepreneurship were awakened,” said Nicole Felix, Youth Education Conference Founder.

About the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc.
Since 1969, the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. (NABA) has been the leader in expanding the influence of minority professionals in the fields of accounting and finance. NABA, which is 50 chapters strong in the US including the San Francisco Chapter, is funded by corporate sponsors and private donors. For more information about the San Francisco Bay Area Professional Chapter visit their website at

About Bank of the West
Founded in 1874, the $58 billion-asset Bank of the West ( offers a full range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 700 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states and is committed to giving back and supporting the communities in which it operates through a wide range of activities including youth-focused financial literacy. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, one of the world’s largest and best rated financial institutions with more than 200,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The 2011 “Handle Your Business Tour” Arrives at Howard University Hosted by 100 Urban Entrepreneurs

The 60-Second Business-Pitch Competition Awards $10,000 in Startup Capital to Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs

Washington, D.C. — The 100 Urban Entrepreneurs “Handle Your Business Tour” will arrive at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 21, 2011, to give students and young entrepreneurs in the Washington metropolitan area an opportunity to compete for $10,000 in startup capital and eight weeks of mentoring. The Handle Your Business Tour and competition is presented in partnership with Howard University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Innovation.

Entrepreneurs from numerous disciplines will have an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges that includes 100 Urban Entrepreneurs cofounder and CEO Magnus Greaves; Grammy-winning producer Bryan-Michael Cox; and Brian Banks, a vice president of corporate real estate at ADP. Winners will receive $10,000 in startup capital and gain admission to 100UE’s mentoring program, an intensive eight-week regimen that offers recipients a unique opportunity to interact with business leaders and other talented entrepreneurs. Members also gain access to professional networks that provide valuable resources to help them build successful, sustainable businesses.

“Howard University is known around the world for producing successful leaders within all facets of business, politics and community,” Greaves said. “We’re extremely excited and honored to work with the university through the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Innovation.”

In 2010, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, people between ages 20 and 34 were responsible for 26 percent of new entrepreneurial activity in the United States, but the rate of African-American entrepreneurial activity decreased to 0.24 percent from 0.27 percent the year before. 100UE’s mission is to help provide a meaningful, long-term economic boost to urban communities by supporting minority entrepreneurship at its earliest stages — a mission that continues to be supported by Howardites past and present. Music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, a Howard alumnus, recently donated $100,000 to 100UE. Combs’s donation will supplement the Sean “Diddy” Combs Entrepreneurial Fund established by 100 Urban Entrepreneurs and the Carriere Foundation.

100 Urban Entrepreneurs encourages anyone in the Washington metropolitan area with a great business idea to sign up and attend the pitch competition at Howard University’s Blackburn Center on Thursday, April 21, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants must register online at to submit their business idea for consideration by the 100UE funding committee.

About 100 Urban Entrepreneurs
100 URBAN ENTREPRENEURS ( is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping provide a long-term economic boost to urban communities throughout the United States by supporting entrepreneurship at its earliest stages. In partnership with TheCASHFLOW, 100 Urban Entrepreneurs seeks to identify, fund and mentor 100 of the most promising young businesspeople who might otherwise lack access to startup capital and a professional network. Our goal is to provide the tools to help talented young dreamers create viable, profitable companies.

See our related post featuring the 100 Urban Entrepreneurs founders HERE.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Council of Urban Professionals Honors Leaders in Diversity, Community Service and Business at Fourth Annual Gala

James Francis, Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Board Chair; Kathy Wylde, Honoree; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Chloe Drew, CUP Executive Director; and Russell Simmons, Honoree

Russell Simmons, Valerie Jarrett, Kathryn Wylde and AT&T recognized for their example and dedication before sold-out crowd

New York, April 11, 2011 – Over 500 guests paid tribute on April 7 to four distinguished business and community leaders at the Council of Urban Professionals' (CUP) 4th Annual Leadership Gala. The event was held at Espace in New York and brought in over $700,000. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off the event with an address before the gathering of women and minority business professionals, elected officials and community leaders.

AT&T, accepted by Cindy Brinkley, Chief Diversity Officer, received the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award; Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President & Assistant to the President for Public, Engagement & Intergovernmental Affairs, was given the Public Service Innovation Leadership Award; Russell Simmons, Rush Community Affairs, Chairman & CEO, Rush Communications, received Distinguished Philanthropist & Entrepreneur Leadership Award; and Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City, accepted the New York City Vision Leadership Award.

“We are thrilled to honor these outstanding individuals and organizations,” said CUP Executive Director, Chloe Drew. “We celebrate Russell for his incredible efforts to transform the lives of thousands through his business and charitable ventures, Valerie for her commitment to diversity and urban communities, Kathy for the exceptional work she does every day to engage the business community to build New York City’s economy and AT&T for setting the standard for corporate diversity and inclusion and for continuing to expand these opportunities in the future with T-Mobile. Each of our honorees embodies the spirit of the CUP mission: to effect transformative and meaningful social and economic change in New York and in the country.”

Julie Jensen, David Sutphen, Carolina Espinal, Keli Goff

“With the strong support of our members, corporate and foundation partners and donors, CUP is entering its 5th year poised to build on the accomplishments it has already achieved,” said James Francis, Chair, CUP Board of Directors. “This year we have spearheaded the passage of landmark minority and women business legislation; graduated our third class of CUP Fellows; grown our network to over 750 professionals in the financial, legal, media and entertainment, corporate and social enterprise sectors; and matched dozens of CUP members with prominent nonprofit and public sector boards. We look forward to continuing our great work for many years ahead.”

“I am extremely honored to accept the New York City Vision Leadership Award from the Council of Urban Professionals,” said Wylde. “New York City’s success is built on the diversity of its people. CUP’s efforts to increase opportunities for minority and women professionals have deepened the talent pool and strengthened New York’s position as a global city.”

“Far too many corporations are losing out by not reaping the benefits of our diverse society, and minorities are suffering as a result,” said Simmons. “I'm very committed to bringing about a more equitable balance so that all American companies and their workforce can become or remain competitive.”

“We are honored by CUP’s recognition of our efforts to foster an inclusive workforce that’s representative of our customer base and where qualified professionals can make a valuable contribution to the company as well as achieve their own professional goals,” said Brinkley.

Liz Caldas, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, Maria Fernandez-Williams

The Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization whose members are leading minority and women professionals in finance, law, business, real estate, media and entertainment. CUP’s mission is to develop diverse business and civic leaders, empowering them to exert their influence, achieve their individual goals, and create collective impact. More information is available at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah and Robbie Myers to Host 2nd Annual MJB Honors Concert to Benefit FFAWN Scholarship Fund

A Bevy of A-List Performers Will Support the Dreams and Empower the Women of our Future

New York, N.Y. (April 11, 2011)—On May 1, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah and ELLE magazine’s VP, Editor-in-Chief/Brand Content, Robbie Myers, will host FFAWN’s second annual Mary J. Blige Honors Concert. They’ll join close celebrity friends and trailblazers in the entertainment industry, and all will pay tribute to young girls with big dreams of becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

The evening will be held in honor of the 2011 FFAWN scholarship recipients, and proceeds will directly benefit FFAWN’s scholarship fund, which ensures that educational opportunities are made available to young women so that they can get the training needed to be successful. In 2010, FFAWN sent 25 young women to college with full four-year scholarships. All 25 remain enrolled and have maintained GPA scholarship requirements of 3.0; eight of the students made the dean’s list their first semester.

Nine-time Grammy Award–winning artist Blige, who will perform, and FFAWN co-founder Steve Stoute will celebrate the dedication of these special young women and continue to inspire them to achieve greatness. Joining them is a star-studded cast of leading ladies and role models, including Christina Aguilera, Anita Baker, Jennifer Hudson, Corinne Bailey Rae and Jill Scott, among others performing that night.

Patrice Rushen, a pioneer for women as a composer and musical director over the course of her career, will conduct the concert. Rushen was the first woman to serve as musical director for the Grammy Awards telecast (she headed up the musical portion for three consecutive years, at the 46th, 47th and 48th Grammy Awards) and the first woman to lead the music behind the NAACP Image Awards.

Continuing its ongoing support of FFAWN, Gucci is a presenting sponsor for the night’s festivities, where Creative Director Frida Giannini will join Blige to introduce one of the evening’s performances.

The benefit will be held at the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom, which will be transformed and illuminated by the artistic vision of the Urban Zen Foundation, also one of the evening’s presenting sponsors.

For more information about FFAWN and the event, visit

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Mother’s Incarceration and A Daughter’s Inspiration

Brittany K. Barnett (right), founder of Girls Embracing Mothers, Inc. with her mother, the inspiration for the organization.

By Froswa’ Booker-Drew
Contributor, Dallas/Fort Worth

According to recent data, there are 1.7 million children in this country who have a parent in prison, and more than 70% of whom are children of color. Related to this is the increasing number of mothers who are incarcerated, which has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. Because mothers are usually the custodial parent, their incarceration has more detrimental effects on their children. Research studies and programs have been created to address this issue, and one young woman is using her own mother’s incarceration as a way to give back. Meet Brittany K. Barnett, a law student at SMU Dedman School of Law originally from Bogata, Texas, who experienced her mother’s 8-year prison sentence at the age of 22. She shares, “Even as a young adult woman, I was greatly affected by my mother’s incarceration.”

Brittany founded Girls Embracing Mothers, Inc. (GEM), a Dallas, TX based nonprofit to empower young girls ages 7 through 17 whose mothers are currently incarcerated by providing a support system in a caring, inclusive, and learning environment. GEM is committed to inspiring young girls to succeed by instilling a sense of hope for the future and strengthening the mother-daughter relationship by lessening the impact of maternal separation due to incarceration. Brittany shares her inspiring story that led to the creation of GEM:

“My desire to start GEM stems from my experience of being the daughter of inmate # 1374671. This number was assigned to my mother by the Texas Department of Corrections in 2006 when she began serving an 8-year prison sentence. I was 22 years old. Even as a young adult woman, I was greatly affected by my mother’s incarceration. For example, it was devastating that she was absent during holidays and birthdays; that she could not be at the hospital when my little sister severely injured her arm; not seeing her in the audience as I sat on stage during my Masters degree ceremony. I disliked the fact that I could not call her everyday even if just for encouragement as I tested for the grueling CPA exam or to discuss with her my overwhelming first days of law school—just so I could hear her say “You can do it.”

Then were the visitations and seeing her decked in prison whites; only being able to hug her for a few seconds. I will never forget hearing her ask a prison guard could she use the restroom or the consistent sickening feeling within my stomach each time I had to leave her behind the barbed wire. Fortunately my family has a strong belief in God that was instilled in me at a young age. I am far from perfect; however, I prayed daily for God to give me strength and lead me in the right direction so that I would not fall victim to societal flaws. Spiritual growth has taught me I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). By God’s grace, I managed to maintain an optimistic perspective on life and keep my priorities in line. I possess an immeasurable faith in God and giving up has never been an option.

Yet even with my faith, I still experienced a near breaking point. I will never forget my first visit to visit my mother in prison. Our first visit was not a contact visit but a “phone” visit because she had not been there 60 days.  Being in that cold place was so uncomfortable. The word “privacy” is nonexistent. Some of the guards treat the inmate’s families as if they are in prison. My mom looked so out of place. I kept thinking to myself my mom is not a hard-core criminal, she doesn’t belong here. Yet I knew she had to pay for her previous actions. During that first visit we cried a lot. Then we laughed some to keep from crying even more. And we prayed for God to give us strength to get through this journey.

I remember sitting in the car after the visit watching the women in their white prison uniforms through the wire walking in straight lines to wherever they were going, all with their hands behind their backs looking straight ahead.  I began crying uncontrollably, so hard my vision of the inmates was now nothing but white blurred images. I then did something I was always taught as a child to NOT do….question God. But here I was sitting in a brand new car I had purchased with income from my new job at one of the largest accounting firms nationwide. I had a Bachelor’s Degree and just obtained a Master’s Degree. Yet my mother was sitting in prison…this foreign place that I knew nothing of. No amount of college education on earth could prepare me for this time. I strongly believe God has a plan for us all. That everything happens for a reason. So I asked God why……to please tell me why this was happening to me and my family and to please tell me soon.

God’s timing is not our timing. I did not get my answer that day, that week, or that month even. Meanwhile, my little sister and I continued to faithfully visit our mother. Notwithstanding my own experiences, even more heartfelt were my observations of younger girls during visitation and their interactions with their mothers. Evidencing the strength of the mother-daughter bond was the way the young girls would gaze into their mothers’ eyes and hug them tightly. To them, the women they were visiting were much more than a 7-digit inmate number. These women were their mothers. And like myself, these young girls loved their mothers no matter what.

Several months after asking God to please reveal to me His reason behind me experiencing the incarceration of my mother, I watched Lisa Ling on Oprah discussing Troop 1500 – Girl Scouts Beyond Bars. This was a Girl Scout program for young girls with incarcerated mothers. They offered activities for the girls and group visitations for the girls and their mothers. I was so intrigued by the show. It was like God said to me “Now do you see? This is why I am testing you this way. To give you a testimony to share with others to help exhort them.”

The next day I called Girls Scouts in Dallas only to find out they didn’t offer the program.  I researched organizations in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and found none offering services similar to Troop 1500. At the time, DFW was the 2nd largest metropolitan location in Texas with a few state and federal women’s prisons in the area. I knew there must be hundreds of young girls in the area with a mother in prison. That’s when I got the idea of starting my own organization in the Dallas area that offered a program similar to Troop 1500 along with additional programs based on my own experiences, that could greatly benefit daughters of incarcerated mothers.

I now know the reason for me having to experience the incarceration of my mother and the blessings I have received of being able to further my education and network to build relationships with great people was without a doubt so that God could position me to establish Girls Embracing Mothers, Inc. (GEM).

Moreover, GEM will help sustain mother-daughter relationships by offering opportunities for visitation to lessen the impact of maternal separation due to imprisonment. GEM wants to educate young girls that the cycle, which often accompanies incarceration can be broken. After all, my mother and I are living proof.

My mother has since been released from prison. She has developed a willingness to be open and honest about every aspect of her life. Our mother-daughter bond is stronger than ever. Regardless of the trials we encountered, at the end of each day she is still my mother and I love her dearly. The transformation I have witnessed in her speaks magnitudes of her potential and inspires me to continue to strive to be the best I can be.

I want to be an advocate and maximize my effect of this pressing societal problem. One of the lessons I want to instill in the recipients of GEM is that in order for a GEM to brilliantly shine, it must go through heat, pressure and change. This process releases the glory of God. Stay encouraged. Echoing the words of a woman who serves as great inspiration to me, Oprah Winfrey, “I am seeking the fullest expression of myself as a human being on earth.” It is my prayer that GEM will touch the lives of young girls with mothers in prison in a way that will have a substantial impact on steering them toward successful life paths."

Brittany graduates from law school next month, and her proud mother will now be able to share in the moment.  To learn more about Girls Embracing Mothers, visit the website at

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Insider: Elisha Silvera, Executive Director of the Steve Harvey Foundation

On April 4, 2011, the Steve Harvey Foundation hosted its 2nd annual gala in New York City, raising over $600,000 to benefit its signature program, the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men. Founded by author, TV/radio personality and comedian Steve Harvey, the mentoring weekend teaches the principles of manhood to young men through team building activities and workshops led by leaders in entertainment, business and the everyday man.

In 2010, the foundation held its inaugural gala benefit, raising an astounding $1 million dollars. So who is the person spearheading special events and collaborative partnerships for the foundation?

Our latest ‘Insider’ features Elisha Silvera, Executive Director of the Steve Harvey Foundation, who brings a wealth of special events and fundraising experience to her position ensuring that the foundation continues its mission to mentor young men and women for years to come.

Elisha began her nonprofit career at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), where she led major fundraising initiatives totaling $500,000; and she has also worked with other celebrity nonprofit endeavors such as the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation. Prior to joining the Steve Harvey Foundation, Elisha was the Vice President for Event Services for Glow Media, where she led a team to produce events and meetings for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and the NFL Wives Association.

Read on to learn more about Elisha, how she got her start in the nonprofit sector, her tips for ensuring a successful fundraising event, and upcoming foundation activities in your area.

Hometown: Queens, NY

Education: Clark Atlanta-University, Atlanta, GA

Please share your career path that led you to your current position as Executive Director of the Steve Harvey Foundation.

While working as a catering assistant at the Grand Hyatt New York, I had the opportunity to assist and serve as a liaison on major events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, conferences and meetings) held in the ballroom and conference center but it was when I was introduced to our off premise catering division that I knew THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO. We would go into ordinary and sometimes very unique spaces and transform them into completely different spaces to host events, dinner parties you name it. Because that division was limited, my then boss knew of my goals and referred me to an entry-level events coordinator position with the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Over a four year period I was taught and learned the business of special event fundraising, the non-profit industry and was introduced to the concept of doing good as a career. Over the past 12 years I have made a conscious decision to work for and align myself with organizations and individuals who are in the business of doing good.

What are some of the key strategies and programs you are using to fulfill the mission of the Foundation, which is to share, teach and demonstrate the principles of manhood and womanhood to young men and women?

We constantly strive to partner with individuals, corporations and organizations who recognize the gravity of what is happening to young people and are fully committed and willing to roll up their sleeves and dig in the trenches with us, or are able to invest in us financially to enable us to continue to roll out programs that are working and changing the mind sets of young people.

Our flagship program, The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, is a 4 day, 3 night program designed to expose young men to manhood responsibilities involving education, employment and social skills. One hundred young men, ages 13-18, from around the country, will be pre-selected to travel to Dallas, TX with a parent or guardian for a weekend of mentoring. The weekend’s long term goal is to provide young African American men with role models who emphasize solid principles and inspire a bright, productive, and responsible future. Eligible participants must be from a single female head of household who is enrolled as a student in grades 8-11 as of the date of submission as well as a legal resident of the 48 contiguous United States and Washington, DC.

The foundation recently held a major fundraising event, the Foundation's 2nd Annual Gala in New York City. What are three essential things a nonprofit should do to ensure a successful fundraising event?

Know what kind of events appeal to your key donor base or target event audience, keep a realistic budget with low expenses to ensure a high profit, create a committee or chairs who are committed to helping spread the word on the event and encourage financial participation.

Not only have you had a career in special events for well-known nonprofits, but you’ve also worked in the area of development. How has your professional fundraising experience helped you successfully plan special events for previous organizations and clients?

It has allowed me to leverage relationships with past and/or current corporations or individuals to events where it is mutually beneficial to both parties. From a budget standpoint I know how to be strategic with expenses to create a high profit margin to ensure that the majority of the dollars raised go directly to programming and the community of boys we serve.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

People do business with people and your word and a good reputation is EVERYTHING.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in special events and/or fundraising?

Strong and lasting relationships are key. Educate yourself on the industry, learn the business of non-profits and always be fair and honest to people who you work with and/or for you.

What are the foundation's upcoming events and programs?

Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men – Dallas, TX – June 16-19, 2011. The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men is a 4 day, 3 night program designed to expose young men to manhood responsibilities involving education, employment and social skills.

Regional Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend Programs - The Steve Harvey Regional Mentoring Programs were created in direct response to the outcry from parents and community leaders across the country to bring our Dallas programming to their individual cities. In our first steps to expand the Mentoring Program nationwide, in February 2011 we launched our first of five regional programs to 100 young men. Hosted at the University of Southern California, the first program mentored and motivated boys from the Los Angeles area. The two-day program format brings abbreviated elements of Dallas’ signature programming for a life-changing weekend for young men in their home communities. With the addition of the regional programs, in 2011 we will effect change in the minds of an additional 500 young men throughout the country.

Confirmed cities and dates are as follows: Chicago, September 17-18, 2011; New York, September 24-25, 2011; Atlanta and Charlotte, TBA.

To learn more about the foundation and apply for the mentoring weekend, visit

Welcome BlackGivesBack Charlotte!

Meet our newest contributor, Valaida Fullwood, representing Charlotte, NC!

Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings a mix of unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, creative consultant and project strategist. Her client base ranges widely and centers on social innovation in arts & culture, education and philanthropy.

A born-and-bred North Carolinian, Valaida has hometown roots in Morganton and is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in International Studies with a focus in Economics. For nearly a decade, she managed international economic development projects for major corporations, living and working overseas prior to establishing a Charlotte-based consulting practice.

Valaida’s longtime interest is bridging relationships and understanding across culture, race and nationality, which have inspired her to travel to more than 20 countries, four continents and counting. Closer to home, she organizes communication, events and projects for nonprofits and corporations. She also enjoys philanthropic involvement with Charlotte ViewPoint, Community Investment Network, On Q Productions and Wesley Heights Community Association and serves on the organizing committees of innovative forums, Pecha Kucha and TEDxCharlotte.

She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists — a giving circle that gives back. In collaboration with her giving circle and photographer Charles W. Thomas, Jr., Valaida recently completed work on a photographic coffee table book, profiling of stories of giving among African Americans. The book, Giving Back, is set for release in fall 2011.

Follow her on Twitter at and
Read Valaida's previous articles HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Charlotte’s Card Sharks Come Out for Jacob’s Ladder Job Center

Emmanuel Choice, Jacob’s Ladder board member and organizer of the Texas Hold'Em Poker Tournament, joined by Cay’me Jones, the nonprofit’s development coordinator.

By Valaida Fullwood, Charlotte Contributor

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Texas Hold'Em Poker Tournament benefiting Jacob's Ladder Job Center, Inc. drew a room full of poker players to The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte on the evening March 31. Jacob's Ladder is a nonprofit that assists chronically unemployed and underemployed people—deemed the hardest to employ—to find and keep living wage jobs.

Organizers of the poker night were Jacob's Ladder board members Tony Perez, Brian Willis and Emmanuel Choice. The three are friends who work in the commercial real estate industry. They also are members of 100 Black Men of Charlotte. Perez, Willis and Choice conceived of the card tournament as a way to support Jacob’s Ladder while enjoying a night out with friends and colleagues. The March event was the second in a series of fundraisers, and its organizers envision hosting several tournaments a year and expanding the number of card tables and players over time.

“Historically, a large share of our donors have been white, while the majority of the Center’s clients are African American. We need to cast our net wider and include more donors of color. It truly takes a village.” — Brian Willis, event organizer, board member and also president of 100 Black Men of Charlotte

Poker tournament players Hendrick James and Jeff Palmer

Charles Horton and Tournament Champ Tony Perez

Bank of America and The Ritz-Carlton contributed to the event with donations of space, food, drinks and prizes. Over eighty poker players participated in multiple tables of card games, and board members, clients and staff provided information on the programs and services of Jacob’s Ladder. Players donated at least sixty dollars to the nonprofit to compete in the tournament. Winners from the night were: Tony Perez (1st place), George Laettner (2nd place), Aokie Jones (3rd place) and Katherine Culpepper (4th place).

“After relocating from upstate New York for a job and then getting laid off, I had to adopt a new mindset to find employment. Even though my background differs from most Jacob’s Ladder clients, I have learned you get out of the program what you put into it.” — LaTarcia Daniels, job seeker and program participant

“Our clients receive respect and positive reinforcement during their job search, instead of the negative messages to which many have become accustomed. But we don’t use kid gloves. We have high expectations and our clients rise to meet them.” — Jeff Jones, board chair of Jacob’s Ladder Job Center

Aokie James, who placed second in the tournament and Ryan Culpepper

Unemployment among Charlotte's African American population is generally double that of the overall community. The economic downturn has added to the challenges people experience when seeking employment. Jacob’s Ladder recognizes that regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, high rates of unemployment threaten the well being of individuals, families and communities, frequently having a lasting negative impact for generations.

Since 1998, Jacob's Ladder has helped thousands of individuals make positive changes in their lives. Its clients, who often come with backgrounds that make it hard to find employment, participate in a four-step process to help them find jobs. The majority of clients are low-wealth African Americans with criminal histories, poor education and multiple, critical barriers to employment.

Volunteers help clients with resumes and interviewing skills and throughout their job search. They continue to provide support after clients obtain jobs. Jacob’s Ladder also works with employers to hire its clients and ensure clients fulfill job requirements so they keep jobs and can build a career. Find out more at

“Instead of wasting time, I have grown and learned you’ve got to step out of your element to find a good job that supports you and your children.” — Marquis Greer, job seeker and program participant

“The jobless rate is two to three times higher for blacks and Hispanics in Charlotte. I have given to a lot of causes, but at Jacob’s Ladder I saw people who looked like me and my family and who needed help up the job ladder. If we don’t help people struggling at the bottom, then none of us will rise.” — Tony Perez, event organizer and Jacob’s Ladder board member

Mark Parisi and Charles Horton

Story submitted by Valaida Fullwood: Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings a mix of unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, creative consultant and project strategist. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists and a board member of Community Investment Network (CIN). On Twitter, follow @ValaidaF and @BlkGivesBackCLT.

Photo credit: Dirk Weaver, DW Photography