Thursday, June 30, 2011

NYC Young Professionals Host “Love and Politics” In Observance of National HIV Testing Day

Elijah Woods, Co-Star, "Mama I Want to Sing;" K. Aletha Maybank, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene; Brian Benjamin, Co-Founder, Young Professionals United for Change; and Knoelle Higginson, Co-Star of "Mama I Want to Sing" attend "Love and Politics" on June 27, 2011 in NYC.

June 27, 2011 – In observance of National HIV Testing Day in New York City, several health and community organizations came together to host a two-tiered event, “Love and Politics,” aimed at raising awareness and promoting HIV testing. The events took place in Harlem and mid-town Manhattan. The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building in Harlem was the site of the day event, where local residents were given the opportunity to get free HIV testing. MAC Cosmetics offered free makeovers and WBLS provided the soundtrack for the afternoon while giving out free gifts to everyone who chose to take their power by finding out their status.

A few hours later at Aspen Social Club, “Love & Politics” honored those who are making strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This gathering also served to open the eyes of NYC’s young, professional community to the realities of the HIV/AIDS struggle. Over 250 people attended the evening event and indulged in cocktails, hors d'Ĺ“uvres, and entertainment, while discussing the need to strengthen leadership and advocacy within this network in order to help bring about the change necessary to stop the spread of this preventable illness. The evening’s honorees included: Dr. Catrise Austin of VIP Smiles, Elkhair Balla and Jason Panda of b condoms, and Darryl Towns, New York State Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner.

Unfortunately, for many, HIV/AIDS remains a taboo subject, particularly in the African American community. Given the startling rate of infection, we cannot continue to be silent. Every 9.5 minutes someone in the U.S. becomes infected with HIV, and NYC has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the NYC AIDS case rate is almost 3 times the U.S. average and AIDS is the third leading cause of death for NYC residents aged 35-54. Within communities of color, the situation is even more alarming as African Americans and Latinos bear the greatest burden of the disease, making up 80% of new HIV diagnoses. An even more disturbing fact is that one out of every five people living with HIV/AIDS is unaware of his or her status, which is why testing is so critical.

Athena Moore, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS; Brian Benjamin; Kymsha Henry, Co-Founder, Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition

Honoree Elkhair Balla, b condoms; K. Aletha Maybank; Honoree Jason Panda, b condoms

Brian Benjamin and Juanito Fortuno, Co-Founder, JI Group

In total, over 150 people were tested for HIV. Love & Politics was hosted by Young Professionals United for Change (YP4C), National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), BET, National Action Network, New York Knows (a NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene HIV testing initiative), Veaux Productions, and Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC). Three key players in making Love & Politics a success were Brian Benjamin, Founder of Young Professionals United for Change (YP4C), K. Aletha Maybank, Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Athena Moore, Director of Public Policy/Special Projects for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Additionally, marketing and promotions for the event were provided by the Tara Dowdell Group along with host committee members Fabrice Armand, Dr. Catrise Austin, Elkhair Balla, Brian Benjamin, Sora Caetano, Jason Charles, Shadan Deleveaux, Kyle Donovan, Juanito Fortuno, Knoelle Higginson, Natalie LeBlanc, Martin Majeske, Dr. Aletha Maybank, Athena Moore, Kevin Powell, Diallo Shabazz, Chris “Kazi” Rolle, and Obinna Onyeagoro.

Photos/Source: Tara Dowdell Group

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Insider: Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation

By Tokiwa T. Smith
San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has become a national priority in recent years to ensure that our country remains competitive globally with 21st century technology. One focus of attention in STEM is the disparity among the number of African Americans who are receiving degrees in these fields. According to Gifted Blacks in STEM, a website dedicated to research on the academic success of African American students studying STEM disciplines at HBCUs, the number of minorities entering the engineering and technology workforce is quite limited. As minority populations continue to grow, increasing their participation in science and engineering will be critical to the health of our growing economy. President Obama has made STEM education a priority among underserved groups, with one of his key strategies being to expand STEM education and career opportunities for women and minorities.

Our latest Insider is one of the few African American heads of a STEM educational foundation: Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation. The foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math in the United States. The Foundation’s mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens’ U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG.

As President, she oversees the Foundation’s daily management and signature programs that support, recognize and encourage the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. One of these signature programs is the Siemens Competition, an annual event that recognizes remarkable talent early on, fostering individual growth for high school students who are willing to challenge themselves through science research.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Harper-Taylor has played an active role in various community organizations in her hometown, including the Atlanta chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and membership in the NAACP and the National Urban League. Ms. Harper-Taylor is a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts. She is based at the Foundation’s headquarters in Iselin, New Jersey.

Read on to learn how Ms. Harper-Taylor got her start in her career, her thoughts on HBCU’s roles in preparing a pipeline for African American STEM professionals, and what the Siemens Foundation is doing to support tomorrow’s STEM leaders.

How did you get your start in your career?

I was a communications major and started my career as a reporter for a local station in New York; then transitioned into a career in human resources. In human resources, I received an opportunity to meet with a variety of people. My human resources position transitioned me into my career with the Siemens Foundation. I was working with the Foundation on a program that wanted to transfer high school students from the Siemens Competition into future hires. I began as a program manager, and have since then progressed to my current role as President of the Siemens Foundation.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your career?

To be persistent in my goals - as an African American woman your persistence can be perceived as aggressive. I was persistent in the goals I wanted for my career, and wasn’t deterred by what other people perceived it to be, and stayed focused throughout.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in philanthropy and grant making?

It has to be something that you have a passion for. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else because every day is an opportunity for me to impact someone. If you have a passion for it, you will excel in it; otherwise, it will be a responsibility where you just make a paycheck.

What is the impact that you’ve seen of your company’s and foundation’s outreach efforts in STEM education?

At the Siemens Foundation, we are able to touch students from grade school to graduate school. We want to reach underrepresented areas. Not just gender and ethnic background, but in geographical areas where STEM isn’t emphasized. Working with partners such as Discovery Education, College Board and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), we are able to reach diverse populations through their network and resources. Through our relationship with Discovery Education, a huge amount of resources are sent to teachers and students on a digital platform. This type of impact is important for the United States to have that level of influence in STEM.

What is your favorite success story of the Siemens Foundation’s initiatives?

A gentleman that participated in the Siemens Competition a few years ago was an African American male raised by his grandmother, who attended a math and science school. He excelled in both areas, and he had such a good heart, spirit and attitude about what he was doing. His project focused on diabetes research, an illness that affected his grandmother and other members of his family. He was the only African American student at that level of the competition and was a favorite among his peers. We were excited to give him that opportunity for exposure. His grandmother drove to New York to see him at the competition. At the same time as the competition, he was scheduled to take the SAT. He communicated his conflict to us and we were able to accommodate him so he could participate in the competition and take the SAT. He was not only concerned about the competition but about his future. He covered all aspects of his career and made sure he met his obligations. This student showed such strength in networking and relationship building.

As an HBCU alum, what in your opinion are HBCU’s roles in training the pipeline for the future STEM workforce?

HBCU’s should expose their students to STEM and the impact that it has on all students, not just their STEM majors. If we in the HBCU community gave more information to students about the opportunities in STEM, there would be more students interested in these fields. HBCU’s need to take advantage of the resources and opportunities available to them because of the interest in having underrepresented minorities pursue STEM careers. All students need to be exposed because you never know where that path may lead you. I’m a HBCU alumnus that wasn’t a STEM major, but now I have a career in STEM education.

What are honors and awards you have received or your most memorable moment in your career?

It is an honor to be able to do what I do and present a culmination of the year’s work at the end of the Siemens Competition. Every year, the Siemens Competition national winners ring the New York Stock Exchange Bell that is broadcasted on a jumbo-tron in Times Square. I was also part of the White House Science Fair and had the opportunity to meet President Obama. I’ve done some work with Jeff Corwin of the Discovery Channel and Phillippe Cousteau, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau. I’ve met some interesting people that have the same desire to translate experiences into teachable moments.

Learn more about the Siemens Foundation by visiting

Monday, June 27, 2011

International HIV/AIDS Activist Shares Her Story In Observance of National HIV Testing Day

HIV/AIDS Activist Hydeia Broadbent Talks with BlackGivesBack

At birth, Hydeia Broadbent was abandoned at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas where Patricia and Loren Broadbent adopted her as an infant. Although her HIV condition was congenital, she was not diagnosed as HIV-positive with advancement to AIDS until age three. The prognosis was that she would not live past the age of five. Now at the age of 27, Hydeia spends her time spreading the message of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention by promoting abstinence, safe-sex practices, and the initiative “Knowing Your HIV/AIDS Status.”

“People think because I was born with HIV my story does not apply to them. Well this same disease I am living with is the same disease you can get if you don’t know the HIV status of the person you are considering becoming sexually active with before hand, I ask people to use my testimony as a warning of what you don’t want to go through.”

Hydeia has appeared on many national television programs including Oprah, 20/20, Good Morning America, Weekly with Ed Gordon, and “A Conversation with Magic Johnson” on Nickelodeon. She has been featured in prominent publications including the New York Times, Teen People, Essence, YM, Ebony, Health Quest, Sister to Sister, POZ, National Geographic, Real Health, Seventeen, and Heart & Soul. Hydeia has also taken part in many of America’s talk radio programs including, The Michael Eric Dyson Show, Russ Parr Morning Show, and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

Not since Ryan White has a young person spoke out on an international level so passionately about having the virus. She is one of the few young activists to follow in his footsteps and speak out about being affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. Today on National HIV Testing Day, Hydeia shares with BlackGivesBack what led her to share her story around the world with others, highlights of her travels, and three things you can do today to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS:

You began your debut as an HIV/AIDS activist at the age of 6. How did your parents explain to you that you had the virus?

I always knew growing up I had AIDS. I would be in the doctors office with my parents discussing my medications or infections. My family would talk about AIDS at the dinner table, it was never a secret. I use the example of being a girl. Parents don't always sit girls down and talk about sensitive subjects, but at different stages when things happen to you in life, as girls we often ask a lot of questions. We've learned how to deal with things.

You're considered a pioneer as the first African American youth to speak up and speak out about the epidemic. As you travel the world sharing your story, what is one highlight that is the most memorable to you?

For me its not how many trips, but rather its about when a young person comes up to me and lets me know my story hit them. When these young people tell me they are moved to change their behavior, and the way they look at life, it gives me confirmation that my message is getting through to many of them. The overwhelming number of young people that have connected with my message is by far one of my greatest highlights.

What are 3 things someone can do today to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?

1. Get tested! In order to be of any help to eradicating this epidemic, you must also know your own status. 2. Educate yourself, then your family and friends. Don't be afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS in school, work, in your church or on Facebook and twitter pages. Post facts about HIV/AIDS on your social media sites. The biggest weapons we have against this disease are our voices. 3. If you are sexually active go with your sexual partner to get tested for HIV. In fact, you and your partner should consider getting tested together before you ever become intimate. If you can't go with your partner to get tested, you should ask yourself is this the person you should be giving your body to!

Hydeia is constantly speaking about HIV/AIDS at colleges around the country, and advocates for HIV/AIDS prevention around the world. Her calendar of speaking engagements and appearances can be found at  You can follow and friend Hydeia at and

Steve Harvey Hosts 3rd Annual Mentoring Weekend for Young Men During Father’s Day Weekend

'You Can Be Me' Panel at the 3rd Annual Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend: D'Wayne Edwards, Design Director of Footwear for the Jordan Brand, Nike; Stephen A. Smith, Sports Journalist; Myles Kovacs, Founder of DUB automotive magazine; Rapper Street Hymns, BET host Terrence J, and Dr. Steve Perry, CNN Education Contributor

Harvey Welcomed Teens & Guest Mentors Nationwide for 4-Day, 3-Night Mentoring Experience

Via Press Release: DALLAS, TX – On June 16-19, 2011, comedian, best-selling author, top radio personality and Family Feud host Steve Harvey hosted 120 young men around the country in Dallas, for the 3rd Annual Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men during Father’s Day weekend. Created by Harvey, this transformative weekend is designed to share and teach the principles of manhood and dream building to teenage boys ages 13-18 who are without fathers in their lives. The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend included ten boys returning from previous years, serving as junior counselors to help guide the new boys through the weekend.

The goal of the program is to break the misguided traits of manhood through frank talk, team-building activities and workshops with an intensive, interactive mentoring experience. Joining Harvey were numerous educational supporters, entrepreneurs and other business and entertainment leaders including Denzel Washington, Jermaine Dupri, Terrence J, Will Packer, Dr. Steve Perry, John Hope Bryant, Stephen A. Smith, Lee Haney and more, sharing insight to prepare boys on the responsibilities they will face as adults, inspire them to dream bigger and build a successful path for the future.

Shares Harvey, “The sole purpose of this weekend is to turn these boys into men and provide them with a vision and a dream. One thing I’ve told them is: Success is within you. If you do what you say you are going to do, you’ll always be able to do what you want to do!”

Denzel Washington with Harvey

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney talks fitness and proper push-up techniques with the boys.

Exposing the boys to different mentors and environments complete with fitness, basketball, football, fishing and other team-building challenges on the ranch, the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men included the You Can Be Me session on careers, Do-It-Yourself and music workshops, Looking Good & Feeling Healthy workshops, life opportunities workshop, chess challenge and sneaker design, Dream Hall and nightly Town Hall meetings with Harvey on Roles and Responsibilities of Men, and more. There was also a special program, the Steve Harvey Foundation Parent Program, serving parents and chaperones.

Jermaine Dupri hosts a session at The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend.

Sponsorship support for the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men came from American Airlines, Comfort Inn, State Farm, the National Guard, K&G Fashion Superstore, Outback Steakhouse, General Mills, Kmart, U.S. Army, The Home Depot, Buttons Restaurant, SoftSheen-Carson, Coca-Cola, Burger King, Premiere Radio Networks and Hillshire Farm. The Steve Harvey Foundation Parent Program was sponsored by Essence Magazine, Ford Motor Company and Buttons Restaurant. Harvey also plans to host regional Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekends in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Charlotte later this year.

About The Steve Harvey Foundation & Mentoring Weekend
The mission of the Steve Harvey Foundation is to share, teach and demonstrate the principles of manhood to young men, enabling them to achieve their dreams and become productive men who are balanced emotionally, politically and economically. Hosting the inaugural Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men during Father’s Day Weekend in 2009, Harvey brought 100 teenage boys and their guardians from around the country to his ranch in Dallas. In addition to the annual Father’s Day Weekend in Dallas, the program’s success has inspired Harvey to expand his mission nationwide and create satellite mentoring programs in additional cities including New Orleans. In 2011, in addition to Los Angeles and Dallas, Harvey will also host regional Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekends in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Charlotte. For information about The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men or to make a donation, please visit

The Insider: Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D

A true scientist at heart, Heather knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a physician. It was not until later in life that she realized her passion for helping women of color or as Heather prefers, women with “multi-hued skin tones”– which she describes as the range of skin tones including tan, olive, and brown skin. Her passion coupled with her expertise for treating patients with multi-hued skin tones helped lay the foundation for the development of her own product line, Specific Beauty.

Heather completed her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Georgetown University and went on to graduate from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine before entering the school’s Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery program where she served as Chief Resident in her final year. During her career, she has been honored with many awards and has been quoted frequently in medical journals and national magazines as a skincare expert on various topics including hyperpigmentation, melasma, aging skin, and cosmeceuticals.

Heather is a board certified dermatologist. She sees patients and conducts clinical research in private practice and at the University of Miami where she serves as the Director of Ethnic Skin Care. She is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Skin of Color Society, National Medical Association, Women’s Dermatologic Society and Miami Dermatological Society.

Over the last decade, Heather has focused her time and energy into researching and developing effective treatments for the cosmetic concerns of multi-hued skin tones. Dr. Lloyd shared with BlackGivesBack how she gives back to her community, special skin care needs of multi-hued women, and her top three tips for taking care of your skin during the summer months:

What philanthropic initiatives are you involved with, and what causes are you the most passionate about?

I am always passionate about women's and girl's causes. I currently volunteer at a homeless shelter for women called Lotus House. It is located in Overtown in Miami and is a beautiful retreat in an urban setting. Lotus House embraces a holistic approach which includes bettering the mind and body. I teach a weekly Zumba class and the women love it. Sometimes we underestimate the power of exercise to improve our overall health (mind and body). It is very empowering. I also enjoy speaking with young girls/teenagers. I think it is so important to encourage them to pursue their dreams. I frequently speak at career days and for other youth organizations as a guest speaker about my path to becoming a dermatologist.

How did you realize your passion of treating women of color, that you term women with multi-hued skin tones, as a specialty?

When I entered my residency in dermatology I quickly realized that there was a dearth of research and information in skin of color. I decided very early in my residency to learn as much as I could because when I finished I wanted to be well prepared to treat this patient population. There was such a great need for this expertise and I embraced the opportunity. Upon completing my residency, I was named the Director of Ethnic Skincare at the University of Miami and I have continued to do research and serve this population over the last 10 years.

What special skin care needs do women with multi-hued skin tones have and how do your products from the Specific Beauty line address them?

Women with multi-hued skin tones often have hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone. The Specific Beauty skincare regimen is designed to address this common concern in women with multi-hued skin tones. The reason why I developed the line was to fill a void in my practice. I needed an alternative to hydroquinone that was effective and there were no products on the market that met this need. Based on my years of research, I decided to design a Skin Brightening Serum that combined licorice, retinol and ginger root extract. This formula was based on the Kligman formula, a combination of hydroquinone, Retin A, and cortisone. Dermatologists have used the Kligman formula for years to treat pigment. My goal was to create an over the counter version of this formula with natural yet effective ingredients such as licorice root extract (decreases pigment) and ginger root extract (decreases inflammation). The Skin Brightening Serum is extremely effective at treating hyperpigmentation from acne, melasma and other common conditions in women with multi-hued skin tones. I also realized from my practice people do best with a regimen so I designed a full skin care regimen with cleansers, sunscreen, and moisturizers so that women would get the best possible results.

How important is one's diet in overall skin health?

There is one international study that found diets rich in healthy whole grains and lean meats were associated with younger looking skin. I think a healthy diet can only help your skin and you will get all of the other health benefits for your body at the same time.

What are your three tips for taking care of our skin during the summer months?

1) Wear sunscreen everyday. There are great moisturizers with sunscreens that are lightweight for daily use. Get a travel size for your purse so that you can apply sunscreen even if you forget to apply it at home.  2) For long days at the beach, also wear a hat with a four inch brim to protect your face harmful ultraviolet rays. 3) Use a sunscreen that also contains antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the free radical damage from UV rays that enter the skin and make sunscreen much more effective.

Remember that sunscreen is important even in women with multi-hued skin tones. It prevents dark marks from getting darker. In addition, in these skin types, brown spots are also associated with aging so prevention is key!

Learn more about the Specific Beauty brand at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Philanthropist Cynthia Stafford Hosts “Gifted Day At the Geffen” for Los Angeles Youth

Philanthropist hosts an inspirational day at the Geffen Playhouse for LA students 

On Mother’s Day in 2007, Cynthia Stafford received a windfall of a gift - $112 million dollars courtesy of the California Lottery. She split her winnings with her father and brother, and today, she is one of LA’s top philanthropists investing in the arts, women, and children through the Cynthia P. Stafford Foundation. Her $1 million dollar donation to the Geffen Playhouse put her among the ranks with entertainment mogul David Geffen and Oprah, two philanthropists she admires the most. She shares, “They both live by the principle that when you give, it comes back.” It’s important to note that Stafford’s giving didn’t start when she won the lottery, she often gave to charities while growing up, a trait instilled by her mother who stressed the importance of giving and supporting the arts.

On June 15, 2011, Stafford hosted the 1st Annual “Cynthia Stafford’s Gifted Day at the Geffen” that brought over 300 youth to the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, CA for a day of theater arts and education. She teamed up with Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an initiative of the Mayor’s office and the Geffen Playhouse for educational workshops and a private showing of the play Superior Donuts. She shared about the event, “Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the theater and I wanted to introduce students to a world they may not know much about. This day honored LA students for their hard work in school and hopefully added to their already existing drive.”

In addition to her philanthropy, Stafford is also an entrepreneur, as the founder of Queen Nefertari Productions, a production company and film fund. Ms. Stafford spoke with BlackGivesBack recently about her highlights from the Gifted Day at the Geffen event, why its important for youth to be exposed to the arts, and her charitable foundation.

Share about your first annual Gifted Day at the Geffen. What were your highlights?

The event served to highlight and focus the attention on kids who are gifted in underserved areas of the community, and to bring them to the theater so they can experience it.  For many of them, I think there was close to 300 kids, not one of them had ever been to the Geffen or pretty much any theater. For them it was an experience and they were all thrilled. 

Why is it important that youth, particularly underserved youth, be exposed to the arts?

They are always the ones that are overlooked. My kids went to schools in these same areas. A lot of people tend to overlook the kids in these areas and I see that from where I live now, and where I used to live. There are so many opportunities available for the kids in the more affluent areas because they have the money and the resources. Those that don’t have it, they’re left behind and to me, I don’t think that’s something that should happen. I’m looking to do something different and I hope to inspire others to do the same.

Stafford (second from right) with celebrities that participated in the event that included “Greek” stars Jacob Zachar and Gregory Michael, “Wizards of Waverly Place” star Jennifer Stone, “That’s So Raven” star Orlando Brown, and John Marshall Jones of Nickelodeon’s “The Troop.” Each guest celebrity shared an inspiring story to the students during the post-show. Students also had the opportunity participate in a Q & A with the guest celebrities and Cynthia.

Your donation of one million dollars to the Geffen Playhouse made you one of LA's top philanthropists. As a major donor, what is your giving strategy?

My choosing to give to them [the Geffen] - they actually asked. And when I found out what it was for, which is pretty much like the type of kids we brought to the theater, kids from underserved communities, that struck home with me because I’m an African American woman, raised in a middle class neighborhood. I was able to go to the theater when I was younger. I did a number of things that many times I didn't see African Americans in that’s why I gave back to the Geffen. They are about giving back to the community. And I became a board member shortly after my gift. They asked and I said, why not?

What are the focus areas for funding of the Cynthia P. Stafford Foundation?

My foundation is to monitor the donations I’m giving and I’m also accepting donations. The main focus is women and children. At the top of the list are children who are underserved, deaf and hard of hearing, and those who are gifted but don’t have the resources to fulfill their goals.

Please share more about your film fund and production company, Queen Nefertari Productions.

We currently have a film out on DVD and Blueray called The Inheritance, an African American supernatural thriller distributed by Image Entertainment (starring Golden Brooks and Rochelle Aytes). We have another film titled Polish Bar, that won Best Feature Film and Best Actor at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, a multicultural coming of age tale about a young jewish youth who wants to be a hip hop DJ.  We’re also in post production on a documentary about the Haiti earthquake and aftermath with Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis. And we just shot a reality pilot involving professional athletes. We’re staying busy!

Cynthia shares her story on HERE, and to learn more about her philanthropy and film projects, please visit

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mary J. Blige Tops List of All-Star Honorees to Receive McDonald’s 2011 365BLACK Award for Outstanding Community Service

Actress Angela Bassett, Radio Legend Tom Joyner to Co-Host 2011 Awards Program

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- (June 21, 2011) — Continuing its long-standing support and connection to the African-American community, McDonald’s will recognize a distinguished list of five prominent African-Americans who influence and inspire greatness through outstanding community service at the 2011 365Black Awards. This year’s 365Black Awards will be co-hosted by nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner and Academy Award nominated actress Angela Bassett and will be held Friday, July 1, 2011 at 12:30 p.m. in New Orleans, La., at the start of the Essence Music Festival weekend.

The 2011 365Black Awards honorees are multi-platinum recording artist Mary J. Blige, Oscar nominated and Grammy Award winning actress Ruby Dee, Radio One network founder Cathy Hughes, NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous, and civil rights activist and McDonald’s owner/operator Henry “Hank” Thomas.

“Our 365Black Awards honorees define true leadership in our community, from Ruby Dee’s trail blazing career as an actress to the civil rights crusades led by Hank Thomas; from the media empire created by Cathy Hughes to the leadership that Benjamin Jealous brings to the NAACP, our honorees inspire all Americans to give back in some unique way,” said Neil Golden, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s USA.

“Through her organization FFAWN, the Foundation for Advancement of Women Now, Mary J. Blige continues to invest in the future of young women and gives them the confidence they need to succeed,” Golden added, noting that McDonald’s is also supporting FFAWN through a charitable contribution.

The 365Black Awards were launched in 2003 and are an extension of McDonald’s 365Black initiative, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year round. McDonald’s outreach under the 365Black platform includes the web site, as well as alliances with organizations that provide opportunities for African-Americans to succeed. Source: Press release

New Reports Reveal Alarming Facts About the Educational Experiences of Young Men of Color

College Board Reports Offer Insights into the Educational Challenges Faced by Young Men of Color and Outlines a Series of Concrete Recommendations for Addressing These Issues

NEW YORK, June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead. This jarring statistic is just one of many highlighted in two new reports released by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center at an event held in collaboration with the Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research in Cambridge, MA. The reports, The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress and Capturing the Student Voice, are especially relevant given the need for these young men to attain postsecondary degrees if the nation’s economy is to thrive and compete globally.

The reports seek to give a balanced view of the educational issues that exist for young men of color across four minority groups — African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos and Native Americans — throughout the K–20 pipeline.

“At a time when our nation is committed to reclaiming its place as the world leader in higher education, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of our young men of color,” said Gaston Caperton, College Board President. “As long as educational opportunities are limited for some, we all suffer. We rise as one nation and we fall as one nation. But if we keep working hard — if we keep listening to each other and to our students — we can soften our landings and reach historic new heights.”

Key recommendations outlined in the studies include encouraging policymakers to make improving outcomes for young men of color a national priority, increasing community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support for these young men, and improving teacher education programs and providing professional development training that includes cultural and gender-responsive training.

Visit the website at

The Miracle House: Providing A Refuge for Dallas Women

Dawn Granger experienced an early life of drugs, alcohol and prostitution, beginning at the age of 18. Now, she’s on a mission to save other women. Our Dallas contributor shares her story.

By Froswa' Booker-Drew
BlackGivesBack Dallas

Dawn Granger was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and lived there until her teens when she moved to Los Angeles. Raised in a family of heavy drinkers, her early experience with alcohol and drugs was the beginning of a life of challenges.

While growing up, she struggled with self-esteem like many young women. “I’m here in a fast town, fast cars, fast girls and boys. The age of “gang bangers” was in full effect,” she shared about her life in LA. Dawn recalls this time of being one of searching for love. An unhealthy combination of low self-esteem and drugs led her to ultimately meet a man that introduced her to prostitution. She shared, “All I wanted was to be loved. I thought he loved me. The man who introduced me to prostitution bought me a diamond ring even though I knew it was wrong. So you see, I didn’t become a prostitute because I was strung out on drugs, I did it because I was strung out on a man.”

Dawn racked up countless prostitution charges. With a lot of prayer and her mother’s encouragement, she finally left him and began to get her life back to normal. She got married, had a son, then divorced, but her desire for drugs was still inside of her.

She shares, “I was just finishing Radiology School. My experience at UCLA provided me an opportunity to land a position at Children's Hospital School of Radiology. At that time they only chose 10 people a year. I wrote an essay and they chose me. I was on my way to becoming an x-ray technician. During school I started hanging out more, drinking, and snorting cocaine. By the time I graduated and became a licensed technician, I had found crack. I got my first x-ray job at a children’s hospital in Long Beach. I need to tell you I could not pull it off. The disease had me in its grip. This is when I became a full-fledged crack head. I was no longer there for my son or family. The cat was out of the bag. I spent each day for the next 10 years finding ways and means to get more. My mother was there for me and my son during this time. She made sure my son was taken care of. His Dad did his part as well. They had to let me go. Hell, they had no choice. The disease of addiction did not give a damn about the fact that I had a son to raise. All throughout this nightmare I kept saying, I will be there when my son graduates.”

On August 25, 2003, Dawn’s life changed. “I gave up. I surrendered my life and turned it over to GOD. I will never forget. My son was getting ready to graduate from high school. I swore I would be there. A friend dropped me off at a rehab in Venice Beach, California. I had become homeless, and friends and family had said they were finished with me unless I got help. I was facing a 3 year prison sentence for not doing 100 hours of community service. By checking into rehab, they let me do the hours there. I stayed for 7 months. I did what I was told. I learned what was wrong with me. I started rebuilding my life step by step. Miracles started happening. I was fitting in. I was in awe of how people who suffered like me told the same stories and were able to rebuild their lives. They all were successful by remaining abstinent from all mind-altering substances. I went on to college to study addiction.”

Dawn’s life changed once again in 2008 during a visit to Dallas, Texas to visit a family member for her birthday. “I saw the opportunity to obtain a home. I went back to California and began packing.” She decided to move to Dallas and opened The Miracle House Foundation. The Miracle House is an emergency and transitional housing facility for women who are homeless with psychiatric diagnoses and substance addiction. The agency serviced 14 women in 2009, and in 2010, 62 women were assisted and 6 were placed in permanent supportive housing. This year, the agency estimates they will serve over 100 women. “My holistic hands on approach with women gives me the opportunity to meet the women where they are in their lives. Through community linkages, we are able to be the vessel that leads to a “Miracle”.”

Dawn goes on to share, “When working with the women at Miracle House, I get to tell them that I know they love their children. Just because you were on drugs and did the things you did, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family. The disease of addiction didn’t allow you to be the mother you wanted to be. Today you can.”

The organization is seeking assistance to locate properties around Texas to open similar facilities for women due to the lack of housing for women dealing with these issues. Their wish list includes a huge backyard that they wish to turn into “Miracle Park.” With the right landscaping, it could be a place of tranquility. Help is needed to purchase bricks and other supplies. To learn more, contact Dawn at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Boys & Girls Harbor 19th Salute to Achievement Raises $1.3 Million

William Pickens, Boys & Girls Harbor Board member; Judge Edwin Padro, Harbor alumni; and Stephen Dannhauser, Chairman, Boys & Girls Harbor Board of Directors

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

On Friday, June 10, 2011 more than 400 donors, students, families and friends turned out to celebrate Boys & Girls Harbor’s 19th Annual Salute to Achievement and the presentation of a Journey of a Dream. The event raised 1.3 million dollars, and proceeds will support Boys & Girls Harbor programs, including two new initiatives: Establishing a Boys & Girls Harbor Youth Orchestra in September 2011, and the enhancement of early childhood education efforts.

The evening was hosted by award winning NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills, and featured a special performance of Journey of a Dream, a wonderful multi-disciplinary collaboration featuring the renowned Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma and students of the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts. The performance showcased music, dance and theater students of the Harbor Conservatory and poignantly conveyed the journey of a Harbor student to discover, develop, and aspire to excellence in pursuit of her/his dream for the future. The Silk Road Ensemble with internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed selections from their vast repertoire, and performed two shared pieces with Harbor musicians and dancers.

Dr. Marlene Klyvert and Cheryl Wills, award winning NY 1 Anchor

The evening’s highlights included the posthumous presentation of the 2011 Anthony D. Duke Founder’s Medal to Robert V. Tishman, in recognition of his visionary leadership, generosity and dedicated service as a long time member of the Harbor’s Board of Directors. In May 2011, Boys & Girls Harbor received a generous bequest from the Estate of Robert V. Tishman, which will help enable the Harbor to become a premier education institution in East Harlem. Accepting on his behalf was Boys & Girls Harbor founder Anthony D. Duke.

Dr. Thomas Howard, Boys & Girls Harbor Executive Director and William Ackman, President, Boys & Girls Harbor Board of Directors

The R. Lonnie Williams Award was presented to Don W. Mabrey, Jr. Given in the name of one of the Harbor’s most beloved Executive Directors, the late R. Lonnie Williams, the award honors the recipient’s support of and commitment to children and their education.

Special thanks for helping to make the evening’s event a success must go to Harbor founder Anthony D. Duke, the Harbor Board of Directors, chaired by Stephen Dannhauser, as well as Karen and Bill Ackman, and Presenting Sponsor Pershing Square Management, LP.

From early childhood to college admittance, Boys & Girls Harbor has been a partner in the journey of thousands of children and young people since its inception in 1937, now serving more than 1,300 students annually through education, cultural enrichment and social services.  Visit the website at

Photos of the Day: Detroit McDonald's Restaurant Owners Send Kids to Camp

James Thrower II, a Detroit McDonald’s owner/ operator, with two soon to be campers.

Detroit McDonald’s owner/operators are sending 25 Detroit youth to camp. Many of the children – fourth and fifth graders at Stewart Learning Academy – have had limited exposure beyond the city, making this trip their first summer camp adventure. They will have the pleasure of going to Skyline Camp & Retreat Center in picturesque Almont, Michigan, where they will have a week of fun outdoor activities, including swimming, canoeing, fishing, geocaching, nature hikes, art projects and field games. At the camp, the youth also will learn responsibility, develop self-confidence and self-worth, build strong friendships and practice the importance of teamwork.

This is the second year McDonald’s has made it possible for lucky inner-city students to enjoy a fun-filled, free camp outing. With McDonald’s continued support, even more students will participate in this year’s program.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Photos of the Day

Apollo Theater Foundation president Jonelle Procope presents musician Stevie Wonder with his Walk of Fame plaque at the 2011 Apollo Theater Spring Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 13, 2011 in New York City.

IBM Senior Vice President Rod Adkins celebrates the 100th anniversary of IBM's founding with students from KIPP DC College Preparatory school in Washington, DC on June 15, 2011. Adkins along with IBM executives, employees, and leaders from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) developed personal stories of innovation, service and heritage for the museum's interactive and virtual National Memory Book Exhibit.

The commemoration featured interactive classroom discussions and a pep rally. Adkins highlighted the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education among minority students stating:

“America's shifting demographics make it especially important that we encourage minority students to pursue science and engineering education.  Today, 43 percent of school-age children are of African American, Latino or Native American descent. Yet of more than 70,000 U.S. engineering bachelor's degrees in 2009, less than 13 percent were awarded to under-represented minorities, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. If the U.S. is to remain competitive in a global economy, we will need to reconcile these opposing trends.  We are elated to join together with the NMAAHC and KIPP DC College Preparatory to celebrate IBM's 100th anniversary and to inspire the next generation of innovators.”

Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO), a New York City-based nonprofit organization that provides business skills and training for entrepreneurs, honored three prominent New York businesses for their business success and contributions to under-served communities at its 45th Anniversary Celebration and awards ceremony. Held at The Ailey Studios in Manhattan, the event recognized Queens native Daymond John, star of ABC's hit show Shark Tank and the brain behind iconic fashion brand FUBU; Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, a multi-national law firm which provides extensive pro-bono services; and 2008 WIBO alumnus Brendan Lally, founder of IRL Systems, Inc., a top New York City fire alarm and security service provider. “It was a pleasure to recognize such accomplished and inspiring champions of entrepreneurship," said Amini Kajunju, Executive Director of WIBO. “Having these three examples of business excellence in our midst inspires our members to fully embrace their journey in running their own businesses.” In photo: Daymond John, Brendan Lally, Amini Kajunju, Mike Woods and Kevin Curnin. Photo credit: Eric Wolfe

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

High School Students Learn Valuable Lessons at New York Urban League's Young Men's Empowerment Day

Young men participating in New York Urban League's Young Men's Empowerment Day shadow executives at BET on June 10, 2011 in NYC.

New York, NY (June 13, 2011) -- It was a day of firsts. The New York Urban League's (NYUL) first Young Men's Empowerment Day event last Friday provided many of the 120 high school males the first chance to get an inside view of some of New York City's most renowned companies.

Students not only graced the halls of companies such as Google, The New York Times and NBC, even more importantly they were able to spend time with prominent community and corporate leaders that were eager to share their advice and encouragement.

The event focused on giving young men access to positive male role models that provided inspiration and guidance to help them maximize their potential for success in both academic and career aspirations. Students spent the day shadowing executives from leading organizations based on their interests and goals. They reconvened in the afternoon to participate in break-out sessions to share what they learned during the day and how they will leverage the advice in their everyday lives. At the sessions, students shared advice of their own on what they learned, “Don't do what you have to do, do what you want to do and you'll never work a day in your life,” stated one student.

Young men shadow corporate leaders at Google

Charter school students with Shawn Dove of the Open Society Institute

Activist Kevin Powell, the keynote speaker for the afternoon session, encouraged the young men to live their best lives: “How are you going to open a restaurant if you don't open a book and read about what you want to do.”

“When I look into the faces of these young men, I see limitless possibilities for what they can achieve and contribute to the future of our country,” stated Arva R. Rice, President and CEO of the NYUL.

Young Men's Empowerment Day is one of two NYUL-sponsored events envisioned to motivate local area youth to stay on the right track to educational achievement and economic prosperity. The NYUL's second annual Girls' Empowerment Day occurred in early May to much acclaim.

NYUL President and CEO Arva Rice (center) with Empowerment Day supporters.

Learn more about the NYUL by visiting

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mitchell Kapor Foundation Celebrates College Bound African American Males

By Tokiwa T. Smith
San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

Class of 2011 Celebrated In Unique Graduation Ceremony

On Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at the Oakland Museum of California, The Mitchell Kapor Foundation hosted a graduation ceremony honoring African American male students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The event is part of the Foundation’s College Bound Brotherhood program, which aims to change a grim statistic - only about 11 percent of Black male students who graduate from high school in the San Francisco Bay Area have the courses and grades required to attend a California university. Cedric Brown, CEO of the Kapor Foundation states, “Our goal is to reinforce a college-going culture among young black male students. College education is a crucial vehicle for economic and social mobility. We are celebrating the achievements of young black men who are defying the odds and are on their way toward creating change for themselves, their families, and our communities.”

At the event, 65 males from area high schools and programs of the foundation’s grant recipients, such as Student Program for Academic and Athletic Transitioning (SPAAT), Young Scholars Program, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, and Greene Scholars Program among others, were honored. This was an evening in which the students were encouraged by their peers and an inspirational keynote speech from Mr. Lloyd Pierce, Assistant Coach of the Golden State Warriors. “You can’t make up your own rules to someone else’s game and expect to be successful,” says David Thomas, a graduating senior at Saint Mary’s College High School, explaining the value of getting into and attending college. “Without a college education, my chances of success in today’s economy and workforce are very slim. I must follow the rules to be successful by obtaining a college degree and beyond.”

Most of the honorees were accepted into several colleges across the country including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) such as Howard University, Morehouse College and Texas Southern University. The young men will be majoring in a diversity of disciplines including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines such as microbiology, engineering and fire science. The honorees will be eligible to receive a $100 book stipend from the foundation. (In photo: Mitchell Kapor Foundation's College Bound Brotherhood coordinator Justin Davis; Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce; and Cedric Brown, CEO of the Kapor Foundation).

The College Bound Brotherhood is a program of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation,, that seeks to expand the number of young black men in the Bay Area who are prepared for a college education. The program works to strengthen the college-going culture for young black men; build a college access movement for organizations focused on the enrichment of black male youth; and provide 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 San Francisco Bay Area organizations.

Photo credit: Derek Lassiter

DC Young Professionals Kick Off Ambassadors of Hope Scholarship Campaign Benefiting Urban Promise

WASHINGTON, DC - On Tuesday, June 7th, Clinton Portis formerly of the Washington Redskins, Anthony Marrow of the New Jersey Nets, Pops Mensah-Bonsu of the New Orleans Hornets, UrbanPromise Founder and President Bruce Main, and UrbanPromise Executive Director Jodina Hicks along with area socialites came together to support unprivileged youth by kicking off the Ambassadors of Hope Campaign, a new initiative of the international nonprofit, UrbanPromise, whose mission is to equip children and teens with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth and leadership rooted in the principles of Christian faith.

The campaign aims to partner with professionals to create a network of leaders to be the voice of anti-poverty and promise for future generations through philanthropy and volunteerism.

The event was the first of many that will serve to increase awareness, engage potential donors and volunteers, and establish partnerships with other organizations. In the photo are the Ambassadors of Hope founders Belinda Ortiz, Janaye Ingram, Arlene Wube, Urban Promise Board Member, and Jodina Hicks, UrbanPromise Executive Director.

Held at BAR 7 in Washington, DC, the event raised over $55,000 for the campaign with sponsorships from William Teel 1 Source Consulting, Slow Bucks TV, Rita's Water Ice on H St in Washington DC, LRG, Wanna Bees Media, and a silent auction that included a 1 hour football toss with Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, an autographed football of former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, a signed football and jersey along with a 1 hour lunch with Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, a 1 hour private yacht experience on Washington DC's premier business man William Teel's yacht, and a $5000 custom website from Zoot Soot Design. The evening's donation raffle included four personal training sessions and massages from Fitness Foundation, and a spa package from Hela Spa.

Clinton Portis (center) and the Youth of UrbanPromise

Arlene Wube, COO and owner of Suite 202 Events & Marketing grew up in Camden, New Jersey and was part of UrbanPromise as a youth. The organization helped Arlene become the prominent businesswomen she is today, heading her own marketing and events company, Suite 202 Events & Marketing, with her husband, Taz Wube. Arlene now sits on the Board of Trustees for UrbanPromise and assists in planning events throughout the east coast to continually improve the lives of underprivileged youth.

Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and live music and entertainment by event host Big Tigger of BET and WPGC. For more information on Urban Promise, visit the website at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Apollo Theater Announces 2011 Annual Spring Gala Benefit Honoring Stevie Wonder

Sinbad to Host; Special Performances by Wyclef Jean, Yolanda Adams, Melanie Fiona and Raphael Saadiq

Benefit Will Honor Philanthropist Reginald Van Lee, Supports the Legendary Non-Profit Theater’s Education and Community Programs

HARLEM, NY – June 6, 2011 – The Apollo Theater today announced the complete lineup for its sixth Annual Spring Gala Benefit Concert honoring cultural icon Stevie Wonder, who will be inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. The Benefit supports the preservation of the non-profit Theater’s unparalleled legacy, its current initiatives for emerging artists, and community and educational programs in New York City and beyond.

Wyclef Jean, Yolanda Adams, Melanie Fiona, Raphael Saadiq, Paul Schaffer, and Chick Corea, as well as other surprise guests, will perform during this special evening dedicated to Mr. Wonder’s legacy as an artist and philanthropist. The program will be hosted by celebrated comedian and former host of Showtime at the Apollo, Sinbad.

“I am proud to be hosting this outstanding evening honoring two ‘Wonders of the World’: the great Stevie Wonder and the legendary Apollo Theater,” said Sinbad. “In many ways, hosting this event is like going full circle in my career. There isn’t a person in my time up to now that didn’t want to be Stevie Wonder. Getting to meet and hang with Stevie over the years—as well as hosting Showtime at the Apollo for two years—were milestones in my life.”

Stevie Wonder joins other iconic performers in the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame—musicians, artists, and entertainers whose path to fame included the Apollo—including Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. Each Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductee is honored with a plaque on the Apollo Walk of Fame, installed under the Theater’s iconic marquee on 125th Street in Harlem.

Additionally, The Apollo will present cosmetics giant Revlon with its Corporate Award, accepted by Chairman, Ronald O. Perelman, in recognition of Revlon’s support of the Apollo. Philanthropist Reginald Van Lee (pictured with actress Lynn Whitfield) will receive The Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award, named in honor of one of New York City’s legendary leaders and a champion of Harlem and its cultural institutions. Lee supports many arts organizations and serves on the advisory board of Diversity Affluence.

Produced by Ron Weisner for Ron Weisner Entertainment with events management services provided by JKS Events, the benefit concert will be under the musical direction of Ray Chew, whose credits include Musical Director for American Idol, NBC’s The Singing Bee, Showtime at the Apollo as well as the Apollo’s weekly Amateur Night show. Following the performance, the event will conclude with the Apollo Supper Club—a stylish lounge atmosphere created by David Monn featuring spectacular gourmet creations prepared by Great Performances. The world renowned DJ D-Nice will provide music for late-night dancing.

Tickets for the 2011 Spring Gala and after-party are on sale now. To purchase benefit tickets to the event or to make a donation to the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., email or call 212-380-8946.

About the Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award:  The award is named for Percy E. Sutton, a distinguished community leader, entrepreneur, and long-time advocate for Harlem, and is a testament to his longstanding relationship and devotion to the Apollo and the City of New York. Mr. Sutton was Manhattan borough president for three terms, and at the time, was New York State’s highest ranking African-American elected official. After retiring from politics, he built a media empire, founding the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in 1971, which became the second largest black owned radio broadcasting company in the United States. In 1981, Mr. Sutton purchased the world famous Apollo Theater and made pivotal contributions toward the efforts to revitalize and restore the Apollo. Percy E. Sutton graduated from Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute. After serving as an intelligence officer in World War II with the Tuskegee Airmen, he earned a law degree from Brooklyn College and became one of America’s best-known lawyers, fighting for civil rights and representing many African-American activists, including Malcolm X. Mr. Sutton has received many honors, including the renaming of the 125th Street Manhattanville Post Office and Fifth Avenue from 124th to 142nd Street in his name.

The Apollo's annual season is made possible by lead support from The Coca-Cola Company, the Edward and Leslye Phillips Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Reggie Van Lee, The Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bloomberg, and the Neuberger Berman Foundation. Lead annual support is also provided by public funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council; with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; New York State funding from Senator Bill Perkins, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and the New York State Council for the Arts. Visit to learn more.

Photo credit: Julie Skarratt

New York Blacks in Philanthropy Hosts “Sun on the Terrace”

Ingrid Benedict, Movement Strategy Center and Julia Beatty, Twenty-First Century Foundation

By Akira Barclay, Contributor 
BlackGivesBack NY 

On Thursday, June 2nd, New York Blacks in Philanthropy (NYBIP) held “Sun on the Terrace,” a summer social event to announce the launch of their new membership structure. NYBIP is a local membership based organization of Black professionals, particularly representing people of the African Diaspora, including African-Americans, African natives, Afro-Latinos, Caribbean natives and Caribbean-Americans, committed to strengthening networks, addressing collective challenges and fostering opportunities within the philanthropic sector.

Sponsored by The Atlantic Philanthropies, a private foundation based in New York, the event was arranged by Stacey Easterling, Programme Executive at Atlantic and held on the organization’s scenic 17th floor terrace.

Stacey Easterling, Atlantic Philanthropies

Alvin Starks, Arcus Foundation

Carmen Balentine and Lucretia John, Funding Exchange

Anthony Simmons, Schott Foundation for Public Education/Black Male Donor Collaborative and Kolu Zigbi, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Vivian Eng, Twenty-First Century Foundation and Jasmine Thomas, Citi Foundation

New York Blacks in Philanthropy provides networking opportunities, facilitates professional and leadership development opportunities, and seeks to coordinate strategies for leveraging resources (human & financial) for Black communities. To learn more about NYBIP, visit:

Photo credit: Carmen Balentine

Monday, June 6, 2011

NY Giants Pro Bowler Justin Tuck Hosts Third Annual Tuck’s Celebrity Billiards

Event Raised Overall Donations to $1.2 Million; Mayor Cory Booker and Justin Tuck Announce R.U.S.H. for Literacy Campaign for Newark, New Jersey

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

New York, NY - Iconic athletes, actors, models, and fans all “cued up” in the Big Apple on a cool spring evening on June 2, 2011 to support New York Giants All-Pro Justin Tuck for his third annual Celebrity Billiards Tournament which benefits Tuck's R.U.S.H for Literacy.

The exclusive event brought together celebrities and VIPs to raise funds for the literacy initiative, started by Lauran & Justin Tuck to encourage children to READ, UNDERSTAND, SUCCEED and HOPE. Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy donates books and other reading materials and benefits children in New York City and Justin's home state of Alabama. To date, Tuck’s initiatives have donated over 21,000 books to over 5,000 students, raising over $1.2 million dollars.

Guests included Anthony Anderson, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Jeanette “Black Widow” Lee, Padma Lakshmi, Tristan Wilds, Spike and Tonya Lee, Newark mayor Cory Booker, Bernard Hopkins, John Starks, and Cedric The Entertainer, among many others. Anthony Anderson, noted for his comedic roles, talked about the serious issue of youth literacy and how proud he is to be a supporter of R.U.S.H. for Literacy sharing, "Raising one million dollars isn't anything to sneeze at...I'm elated to have my name and my presence with such a successful event."

Two special highlights of the evening were Tuck’s stunning announcement that R.U.S.H. for Literacy had “rushed” past the million dollar mark with total donations, and Tuck along with Newark Mayor Cory Booker announcing that R.U.S.H for Literacy will be expanding its outreach to students in Newark, New Jersey in the near future.

In addition to the event, Tuck recently teamed up with New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to visit and read with students in Brooklyn at the Eagle Academy for Young Men, and he traveled to Alabama to help in the recovery efforts and to let the local youth know that he will support them with books and learning materials.

To learn more about Tuck's R.U.S.H for Literacy, visit

Source: Press release/Bader TV

Friday, June 3, 2011

New York Urban League Launches Young Men’s Empowerment Day

Industry Titans Sign On To Support New York City’s Minority Males

New York, NY (June 1, 2011) – As the grim statistics surrounding the educational and employment prospects of African American and Latino males continue to plague urban communities, the New York Urban League (NYUL) has announced the creation of its first ever Young Men’s Empowerment Day scheduled for Friday, June 10, 2011.

The event follows on the heels of the organization’s successful second annual Girls Empowerment Day held in early May to much acclaim. More than 150 girls received career inspiration and shadowed prominent executives at some of New York’s most prestigious corporations.

Arva Rice (left) President & CEO of the New York Urban League with young ladies at the Girls Empowerment Day last month in New York City. Rice shared about the event, “Despite major advances in education, women continue to lag behind men economically. It is incumbent upon us to motivate our young women to shatter the glass ceiling -- not just for themselves and their families but their communities and future generations as well.”

The goal of Young Men’s Empowerment Day is to present young men with access to positive male role models that can provide inspiration and advice to help them maximize their potential for success in both academic and career aspirations. The day will begin at Clearview Cinemas, where the students will be segmented into groups of 10 based on their career interests and sent to spend the day with executives at Emmis Communications, WNBC, New York Daily News, New York Police Department, The New York Times, Con Ed, Black Entertainment Television, Interpublic, Black Enterprise magazine and Google. The groups will reconvene at The New York Times Building where they will participate in break-out sessions to share what they’ve learned during the day and how they will leverage the advice in their everyday lives.

The NYUL believes that community led initiatives like this are critical in changing the trajectory of young men in underserved communities. With increased high school drop-out rates and diminished opportunities for those with high school diplomas, young men of color face many obstacles. According to a recent report by the Community Service Society of New York, the rate of unemployment for African American men between the ages of 16-24 was 33.5 percent for the period of January 2009 through June 2010.

“They are our city's greatest source of untapped potential. With proper guidance, they can excel and prosper in the face of daunting societal challenges and diminished expectations,” said Arva Rice, President and CEO of the NYUL. “That is exactly why we're launching our first Young Men's Empowerment Day -- to give young black males direct access to successful area businessmen who have not let anything prevent them from achieving their goals.”

Young Men's Empowerment Day is one of two NYUL-sponsored events envisioned to motivate local area youth to stay on the right track to educational achievement and economic prosperity.

In honor of the day, the NYUL is also calling upon the general public to take the following actions to help young men in their lives seize control of their destiny and excel in adulthood:

Take a young man in your life to lunch or dinner and talk to him about your career path, and ask about what he wants to do when he reaches adulthood.

Ask your employer if they have a summer internship or job shadowing program and volunteer to help them create one if they do not.

Stop procrastinating and become a mentor or volunteer. Find a mentoring organization near you through Susan Taylor’s National Cares Mentoring Movement,

Encourage young men to participate in productive activities – sports, after school programs, local YMCAs or Parks Department activities.

Contribute to programs that support young men.

Participants from NYUL's second annual STRONGER: Girls Empowerment Day

About NYUL: The New York Urban League was founded by a group of prominent New Yorkers concerned with the poor state of blacks migrating to New York City from the south. From its inception it provided employment and connections for migrating blacks bridging the adjustment from the agricultural/rural life to the industrial urban center. Each decade following, “The League” provided critical services such as emergency aid for the unemployed during the Great Depression; formed the Committee for Interracial Voluntary Hospitals to provide care and work in local hospitals; negotiated the opening of employment for blacks in the airline, brewing, and baking industries; created “Street Academies” which became a national model for high school students; published the first State of Black New York report; and created its signature events including the Frederick Douglass Dinner, Whitney M. Young Jr. Classic, and Champion of Diversity Breakfast among many other milestones.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NBA Star Kevin Garnett Teams Up With Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Pledge to get involved and enter for your chance to win an autographed Celtics jersey and basketball by Kevin Garnett

Add the power of your voice to the Wheaties “FUEL a Future” pledge campaign and help reach the goal of 40,000 pledges. Wheaties “FUEL a Future” encourages any adult to pledge online to play one game of basketball with a child in their family or community at  In return, Wheaties FUEL will donate $1 per pledge to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition to a guaranteed $50,000 donation to Boys & Girls Clubs, Wheaties Fuel will donate up to $40,000 more based on pledges. This new campaign, supported by basketball star Kevin Garnett, is designed to empower parents and other mentors to develop the next generation of champions through sports. Because of his support for Fuel a Future, Kevin Garnett autographed a Celtics jersey and basketball which we are giving away to help us raise awareness of the campaign.

To enter the giveaway, visit and pledge to spend time with a child in your community. Then, report back in the comments section attached to this post with contact information, or send an email to blackgivesback[at] with "Fuel A Future" in the subject line. We’ll select a winner on Saturday, June 11, 2011. Good luck and thanks for helping Fuel a Future!

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