Monday, October 31, 2011

Anne & Emmett Sparks Dialogue on History, Race and Hope

Anne & Emmett, the critically acclaimed one-act play to show at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC

Janet Langhart Cohen was 14 years old when she first learned about Anne Frank and Emmett Till, whom she calls martyrs of the Holocaust and apartheid America. It would be years later at a luncheon, that a conversation with a white friend about her memoir, From Rage to Reason: My Life in Two Americas sparked an idea. Although Cohen had achieved success as an Emmy-nominated journalist, author and playwright, the friend inquired why she would write about her experiences growing up in "apartheid America," and that she shouldn't play the victim. She asked her husband, former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, who is half Jewish,"I wonder what Anne Frank would have thought? Was my history worthy of discussion? What would have Anne Frank said to Emmett Till about it?" Her husband told her she should write about it.

The result of this dialogue is Anne & Emmett, a critically acclaimed one act play that unites the two youth in a beyond the grave scenario, where their imaginary conversations draw startling similarities of their harrowing experiences and the atrocities against their respective race. (Pictured in the photo is the play's director, Talvin Wilks with Janet Langhart Cohen.)

In the theatrical piece, Anne recounts hiding in a cramped attic with her family after German dictator Adolf Hitler ordered the Nazi military to round up Jews and put them in concentration camps en route to gas chambers. Emmett tells Anne about how he, in 1955, ended up being brutally attacked by a group of racists and thrown in the Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan tied to his neck. This happened after Till, from Chicago, Illinois, allegedly whistled at a white woman while visiting his uncle in Money, Mississippi. Cohen shared, “It is my deepest hope that this play will not just encourage dialogue but inspire each of us to take positive actions to ensure a more tolerant world.”

The play also honors Cohen's mentor, Martin Luther King, Jr., whom she traveled with for two years. In her early 20s, Cohen moved to Chicago and began modeling, where she stayed as a houseguest of renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was at Jackson’s home that she met King just hours after he had been struck in the head with a brick during a march. Cohen recalls that day with BlackGivesBack and their conversation, telling King that she wanted to get back at those who had hurt him. She asked why he didn't fight back and his response was, "It's not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. We have to love them into decency."

Cohen was with Martin Luther King as he spoke many of his famous words that are now etched on the walls surrounding his memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. She shares of her friend and mentor, "Here is a black man, who didn't serve the country in uniform, nor did he serve in public office, but he moved this country in giant steps into humanity simply by being righteous and non violent."

Anne & Emmett will appear at the historic Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC from November 3-6. For more information on this insightful and thought provoking play, visit the website at and to purchase tickets, visit

Joyce Mullins-Jackson Hosts Meet & Greet for Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC

Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC Trustee Joyce Mullins- Jackson, Executive Director Hector Batista and Board President Tawana Tibbs

Mentor & Mentees Introduced at “Get to Know Us” Reception

NEW YORK - Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS of NYC) Board of Trustees member Joyce Mullins-Jackson hosted a “Get to Know Us” reception for friends and colleagues to personally meet and hear from several of BBBS of NYC mentors and mentees. Ms. Mullins-Jackson and her husband, retired New York State Supreme Court Judge The Honorable Bernard H. Jackson, welcomed guests to hear from Executive Director Hector Batista and Board of Trustees President Tawana Tibbs on how the 104-year old organization continues to make a vital difference in the lives of at risk youth.

More importantly, the guests heard from two mentors known as “Bigs” and their respective “Littles” on how beneficial their relationships were on both sides. For many it was an eye opening experience on how giving a few hours a week to mentor a young person can make such a profound difference in their lives.

Over wine and delectable hors d’oeuvres from BG Restaurant’s dazzling executive chef Darryl Burnette, the attendees were able to meet the young mentees, their mentors and respective families to learn first hand about how their experiences impacted so positively on their lives as students and for the mentors as working professionals.

Gail Monroe Perry, Hon. Bernard Jackson and Tawana Tibbs

Joyce Mullins-Jackson and founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, Susan L. Taylor

BBBS of NYC is the nation’s first mentoring organization and has served the changing needs of New York City’s most at-risk youth since 1904.

The organization has also developed specialized mentoring programs to help children facing more complex challenges, including immigrant youth, teen mothers and children of incarcerated parents.

Through the support of individuals, foundations and corporations, BBBS of NYC has been able to reach out to change the lives of the city’s most disadvantaged children, matching them with a caring adult role model – a special friend who can help to expand their horizons and enrich their futures. To learn more, become a mentor and/or offer support, please visit

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Black List" Exhibition Unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

Photo portraits of distinguished African Americans frame the walls at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery - pictured from left to right: Richard D. Parsons, chairman of Citigroup; Angela Davis, political activist; and Marc Morial, president, National Urban League.

WASHINGTON, DC - The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, along with exhibition sponsor AT&T unveiled “The Black List,” photographs of fifty iconic African Americans in the fields of politics, philanthropy, media, business, and sports at a star-studded private preview and reception on Thursday, October 27.

The portraits, taken by internationally-known photographer and Grammy-award winning filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, include director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden, civil rights and business leader Vernon Jordan, religious figure Bishop T.D Jakes, playwright and director Tyler Perry, and choreographic and artistic director Bill T. Jones, just to name a few. Sanders embarked on "The Black List" project after a conversation with author Toni Morrison, to create an entirely new kind of black list - a visual who's who of African American men and women whose intelligence, talent and determination have propelled them to prominence in diverse disciplines.

In attendance for the premiere were photo subjects BET President Debra Lee, Oscar winning actors Lou Gossett Jr. and Forest Whitaker, erotica writer Zane, and women’s-rights activist Faye Wattleton; along with media personality Roland Martin, actor and author Hill Harper, fashion designer Patrick Robinson, Essence editor-in-chief emeritus and founder of National Cares Mentoring Movement Susan L. Taylor, Congressman James Clyburn, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and environmental activist Majora Carter.

Actor and author Hill Harper

Fashion designer Patrick Robinson

United Negro College Fund President and CEO, Dr. Michael Lomax

Photo subjects Beverly Johnson and Vernon Jordan

"The Black List" exhibit opens on October 28, 2011 and runs through April 22, 2012.  For related program and Black History month activities, please visit or call 202-633-1000.

Photo credit:  Stacey Trammel

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bright Beginnings Celebrates 20 Years of Nurturing Young Minds

Isaac Fourjour, Partner, Tarplin, Downs & Young and Friends of Bright Beginnings’ Member; John Haysbert, Lobbyist, Duke Energy; Mariko Bennett, Lobbyist, Baxter Healthcare; Alethia Jackson, Senior Lobbyist, Walgreens; and Dr. Betty Jo Gaines, Executive Director, Bright Beginnings.

By Stacey Trammel, Guest Contributor

Washington, DC – Bright Beginnings (BB), a nationally recognized child development center for those experiencing homelessness, celebrated its twentieth anniversary during a Capitol Hill reception on Tuesday, October 25.

The event, held in the ultra-modern American Trucking Associations' main lobby, included representatives from BB and its’ Board of Directors, Congressional staffers, Gold and Silver Sponsor attendees from Baxter Healthcare, Walmart, Duke Energy, and others dedicated to the center’s mission.

Led by Executive Director Dr. Betty Jo Gaines and a talented team of teachers, professional staff and volunteers, BB offers nurturing, guidance and encouragement to the youngest and most vulnerable of the city's homeless epidemic. It has served over 2,100 children since its inception; currently all are of color, the majority being African American. An active board and a “Friends of Bright Beginnings” group also work collectively to advance the strategic goals of the organization.

Bright Beginnings staff Latoyia Allen, Heidi Bluming, Emma Kupferman, Tamara Perez, Betty Jo Gaines, Crystal Schanette, Sherri Watkins, LeNesha Brown, Joan Woods and Jonna Holden.

Reception program highlights included a welcome from Isaac Fordjour, a “Friends of Bright Beginnings” member who shared his personal reasons for “giving back;” Nancy Register, President, Board of Directors, who walked attendees through a historical perspective of the organization; parents Dionisia Martin and Louis Limes’ touching account on how the center has impacted their children’s educational success and offers a holistic approach in supporting the entire family; and Jim Duda, Board Member, who announced that BB’s Capital Campaign has reached $2.9 million of its $5 million dollar goal towards opening a child development center in Ward 7, east of the river.

The Walt Disney Company served as the reception’s Platinum Sponsor; Amgen as its Gold Sponsor.

To learn how this nonprofit is making a notable and much needed impact in Washington, DC, visit Bright Beginnings' website at

New York Urban League Hosts 9th Annual Golf Classic at Manhattan Woods Golf Club

The winning foursome: Bernard Davidson, Michael Johnson, Ivor Cumming, Rudolph Woode

NEW YORK - Last month, business leaders and celebrities gathered at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, New York to participate in the New York Urban League's Annual Golf Classic.

The Golf Classic, now in its 9th year, is held in conjunction with the New York Urban League's Football Classic. The Golf Classic is one of the major fundraisers for the New York Urban League, with proceeds supporting  job training programs, financial literacy programs, Whitney M. Young, Jr. college scholarships and more.

Thanks to Golf Classic co-chairs Larry Dais and Alfred Edmonds, title sponsors Entergy and the New York Yankees, the day was a great success. Due to their support along with sponsors such as A Whole New World Academy, Moet Hennessy USA, Miller Coors, Carol Sutton Lewis and William M. Lewis, Jr., Michael D. Robinson, and R. Kenyatta Punter & Associates, the New York Urban League continues in its mission to serve more than 50,000 New Yorkers through advocacy, education outreach, scholarships, social services and technical assistance.

Larry Dais (NYUL Golf Classic Chairman), Michael D. Robinson (Chairman of the NYUL Board),  Noel Hankin (Immediate Past Chairman of the NYUL Board)

To learn more about the New York Urban League, visit

Related posts:  The Insider - Arva R. Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League & New York Urban League Hosts 46th Annual Frederick Douglas Awards Dinner

Photo credit: Ray A. Llanos

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

UNCF Hosts “Changing the Face of Education” Gala Preview Cocktail Reception

NEW YORK, NY - On October 13, 2011, Tamara Harris Robinson, Director of UNCF, Vice President of the Robinson Harris Foundation and chair of UNCF's "A Mind Is..." Gala welcomed special guest Dennis Walcott, New York’s Education Chancellor for a private gala preview cocktail reception, “Changing the Face of Education.”  The reception, held at the Harvard Club, raised funds to help support students attending HBCUs.  Pictured are Dr. Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of UNCF and Tamara Harris Robinson.

Philanthropists, politicians and executives mingled as they learned about UNCF's mission and enjoyed a discussion about the changing face of education from New York Education Chancellor, Dennis Walcot, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D and Tamara Harris Robinson. Attendees enjoyed an exciting evening and learned exactly how the UNCF intends to raise funds among young philanthropists to provide scholarships to more than 20 million students by 2012.

On Thursday, March 1, 2012, UNCF will host their annual "A Mind Is…" Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York.  Among last year's honorees was Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., advisor to former President Bill Clinton and civil rights leader who received the UNCF Lifetime Achievement Award.  Previous attendees have included New York notables and celebrities within entertainment, education and philanthropy.

Funds raised at the UNCF gala will help to fund over 10,000 scholarships throughout the year by supporting the education of more than 55,000 students at 38 UNCF-member historically black colleges and universities.

In addition to supporting HBCU member colleges, UNCF provides support to students at approximately 900 colleges across the country – including Harvard, Princeton and MIT. Ticket and sponsor prices are $100,000 Chairman's Circle Sponsor; $50,000 Official Sponsor; $25,000 Major Sponsor; $10,000 Supporting Sponsor; and $1,000 Individual ticket(s). For ticket information, contact the UNCF Dinner Benefit Office at or 212-843-1751.

David Campbell, Vice President of Operations, American Airlines; Caronet Dunn, Account Sales Manager, American Airlines and Dr. Lomax attend the “Changing the Face of Education” Gala Preview Cocktail Reception.

Dennis Walcott and Dr. Lomax

For more information, visit

Photo credit: Regina Flemming/Regina Flemming Photography

Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Set to Host Mentoring Weekend Events in Atlanta

Steve Harvey speaks to youth at the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men in New York City, held October 7-9, 2011. Harvey welcomed insightful, inspiring guests including renowned educator Geoffrey Canada (Harlem Children’s Zone Founder & star of “Waiting for Superman”), music and branding executive Steve Stoute, journalists Roland Martin (TV One, CNN) and Stephen A. Smith (ESPN) and BET’s Stephen Hill, mentoring the young men with a tailored out-of-classroom experience encompassing dream building, manhood, education, entrepreneurship, fitness, games and more. All the boys received $100 gift cards from K&G Superstore for a suit, a Kmart gift card for a pair of Protégé sneakers, and items from the Army.

The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation will host mentoring weekends for young men and women in the Atlanta area that will inspire, mentor and empower today's youth.

After a successful 2010 debut, The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation is hosting the second annual Girls Who Rule The World Mentoring Weekend (GWRTW), bringing 100 teenage girls pre-selected from metro Atlanta together with a team of inspirational, powerful women for an energy-filled weekend of empowerment, education, health and wellness, history, and much more. Addressing metro Atlanta’s young women in facing common pressures of teenage life and guiding them in a weekend that will strengthen mind, body and spirit, Marjorie Harvey, President of The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, will host girls and mentors at the Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort in Stone Mountain, GA on October 28-30, 2011 for the dynamic three-day, two-night mentoring program.

Creating a weekend to fire up the young ladies about their futures with visions of success, the action-packed, empowering program will host a diverse cross-section of women who’ve changed the landscape in their career fields, and forged their own paths in entertainment, sports, media and business. Among the inspiring leaders who will gather with Marjorie Harvey in Stone Mountain are Carol’s Daughter entrepreneur Lisa Price, Essence Magazine’s Mikki Taylor, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, 5-time Olympian and Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Teresa Edwards and more to share with the girls the advice, challenges, and resources that impacted their road to success. Steve Harvey will share insight on the male perspective during the closing ceremony, and Marjorie Harvey will also be receiving The Phoenix Award, the city of Atlanta’s highest honor.

With Georgia ranked #2 in childhood obesity, the weekend’s inclusive curriculum has targeted health, fitness and wellness goals among its priorities to encourage healthy habits now and for the future. Georgia is also experiencing high rates of teenage girl high school drop outs and exploitation of underage women by sex traffickers. Marjorie Harvey is hosting GWRTW to spark dialogue and give the teenage girls of metro Atlanta the tools to develop personal goals for their futures and embrace their unique self-worth and gifts. Says Marjorie Harvey, “I am so proud of what we accomplished last year at GWRTW. I want to continue to reach our young women in Atlanta and beyond, to let them know that whatever unexpected things in life may come, they are not alone. GWRTW is about encouraging young women to discover the inner strength and power we all have, to be fearless leaders, realize their dreams, love who they are and have fun!”

To connect with the Girls Who Rule The World Mentoring Weekend, please visit:;  Facebook: and Twitter:

For young men in the Atlanta area, Steve Harvey will host the next Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, taking place November 18-20, 2011. The application process is open now for metro Atlanta teenage boys to apply, please visit The Steve Harvey Foundation’s website at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy Hosts 2011 State of the Race Conference and Gala Reception

Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy Board Members & Staff: Marlon Evans, Carolyn Doelling, Sharifa Rohlehr, Cedric Brown, Pam Ulmer, Billy Manning, Ruth Williams, Jason Trimiew, Summer Jackson

By Tokiwa T. Smith, San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO - On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation conference center in San Mateo, nonprofit, business and philanthropy leaders gathered for the Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy’s (BABIP) “State of the Race” conference. The theme of the conference was “Beyond the Neighborhood: African Americans Competing in the Regional Economy.” The conference opened with greetings from Cedric Brown, Chair of BABIP and Eleanor Clement Glass of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The first plenary session focused on 2010 census data and black population trends in the Bay area; regionalism, jobs and economic development in the Black community; and employment and business opportunities in the region. The second plenary session discussed models for employment and entrepreneurship which included worker owned cooperative models, employment focused social enterprise and tech based start-ups. The afternoon sessions were concurrent workshops that focused on tools for actions which included technology, policy advocacy and framework for effective and responsive philanthropy in the Black community.

Presenters at the conference included: Angela Benton, CEO of BlackWeb 2.0 and Co-Founder of NewMe Accelerator; Allen Fernandez-Smith, President and CEO of Urban Habitat; Ted Howard, Steven A. Minter Fellow at the Cleveland Foundation; Mary Lee, Associate Director at PolicyLink; Dr. Steven Pitts, Labor Policy Specialist at UC Berkeley Labor Center; Jason Trimiew, Director of Business Development at REDF; and Junious Williams Jr., CEO of Urban Strategies Council. The conference was co-sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Northern California Grantmakers and Urban Strategies Council.

Emmett Carson, President of Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Cedric Brown, President of Mitchell Kapor Foundation, BABIP Chair; Hugh Burroughs, retired foundation president and philanthropist

Cedric Brown shared about the conference, “While I'm very happy at the quality of information presented at the State of the Race conference, I'm also driven by the stark reality of the data to call on black folks to do as much as we can to improve our collective plight. We shared data, models, and tools - now, let's put them to work.”

Following the conference, the “Celebrating Black Philanthropy” Gala Reception recognized leading Black philanthropists in the Bay Area with the 2011 Community Impact Awards. KTVU’s Morning News Anchor Dave Clark served as Master of Ceremonies, which took place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Stanford University’s Black Community Services Center. Music for the welcome reception and a performance of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” was provided by Marcus Shelby. This year’s honorees are: Gloria Rhodes Brown, retired, former Director of the University of California Cooperative Extension Service for San Mateo and San Francisco counties; Michael C. Bush, Founder of The MattMar Group Inc.; James Lowell Gibbs, Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor of Anthropology Emeritus; Dr. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, author and retired Zellerbach Family Fund Professor of Social Policy, Community Change and Practice at UC Berkeley; Valerie Coleman Morris, leading financial literacy journalist and author; Keena Turner, Vice President of Football Affairs for the San Francisco 49ers; and Verizon Wireless.

2011 'Community Impact Award' Honorees

Carolyn Doelling, BABIP Vice Chair shared, “Our Community Impact Awards are presented each year during a special gala ceremony in conjunction with the State of the Race Conference. The Board of BABIP bestows the awards to a broad array of honorees whose philanthropy has had significant impact on the Black community. Our goal is to lift up the individuals and organizations that are making a difference in solving the critical problems we highlight during the conference. We also want to inspire others to become more philanthropic in pursuit of solutions to some of these intractable problems.”

About Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy (BABIP)
BABIP is a regional, nonprofit membership organization that works to advance the interests of African Americans in philanthropy, and to address the impact of racial disparity within philanthropic institutions and African American communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo credit: El-Qare Photography

Community Event Provides Oakland Youth with Hands-On Science and Math Enrichment

OAKLAND, CA - On Saturday, October 8, 2011, SEM Link, a nonprofit that enhances math and science educational experiences for youth, partnered with Youth Speaks Inc. to host the 1st Annual STEMposium as part of the Youth Speaks Inc Life Is Living Festival. The STEMposium resulted from the collaborative efforts of Youth Speaks Inc; Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (SEM Link); I-SEED; Ankh Marketing; the Isis Project; Oakland Public Library and the Oakland Unified School District Office of African American Male Achievement. The purpose of the STEMposium was to engage the community at large, with an emphasis on youth, in discussions about how STEM impacts their community and to engage youth in hands on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

The STEMposium kicked off with an official welcome from Tokiwa T. Smith, founder of SEM Link and Aekta Shah of I-SEED. Youth poets from Youth Speaks shared spoken word about life, public health and the community. Student researchers from Oakland Tech, Berkeley High, Skyline High and others gave presentations about their research. The poets and student researchers spoke on a pedal powered stage provided courtesy of Rock the Bike. In an effort to engage youth with hands-on STEM activities and information, resource tables were provided by SEM Link, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Projects, The Crucible, and UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources.  Volunteers from AmeriCorps and the San Francisco State Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) supported SEM Link’s tables of hands on STEM activities and provided general event support. “I was glad that SEM Link was a part of this collaborative of San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits hosting the STEMposium, ” shared Tokiwa T. Smith SEM Link Founder and Executive Director. “[The] Life is Living [Festival] was a fun day for the family.”

In related news, SEM Link was recently awarded a grant from the Mitchell Kapor Foundation's College Bound Brotherhood Program. This funding is the beginning of a relationship between SEM Link and the College Bound Brotherhood program to work together to increase the number of young black men that are prepared for a college education, with an emphasis on STEM careers. SEM Link will utilize the funding for targeted outreach to San Francisco Bay Area young black men to ensure their participation in their existing program activities.

“We are very excited about this partnership with SEM Link. This program is preparing today’s youth for the tomorrow’s jobs and we look forward to their sharing of best practices throughout the Brotherhood Network” said Justin Davis, College Bound Brotherhood Program Director. Organizations that receive funding from the College Bound Brotherhood program will participate in the program events for the 2011-12 program year, which include the “Black and Proud to Be College Bound” conference and the Graduation Celebration.

About SEM Link
Founded in 2005, SEM Link is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that promotes student achievement and career exploration in math and science for K-12 students by connecting them with individuals with backgrounds in science, engineering and mathematics. SEM Link has a two-core program model, Experimental Design Program and Math and Science Career Academy. These programs provide students with opportunities to develop math and science skills by enhancing the classroom learning experience and teaching them skills that are transferable to other areas of life. For more information about SEM Link visit or contact Ms. Tokiwa T. Smith, Executive Director and Founder, via e-mail at or via phone at 888-600-6294.

Photo credit:  Adam Turner

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Insider: Chad Jones, Executive Director of the Community Investment Network

In cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte and Washington, DC, giving circles have been created to harness the collective power of individuals who desire to give back. In the African American community, the concept of collective giving is not new, but giving circles have emerged as a growing movement to harness individuals’ time, talent and treasure to benefit causes important to them.

So who is leading this growing movement?

Meet our latest Insider, Chad Jones, executive director of the Community Investment Network (CIN). CIN has earned a reputation for inspiring, connecting and strengthening African Americans and communities of color to leverage their collective resources and create the change they wish to see. The organization supports a network of giving circles, providing technical assistance and donor education. 

Chad’s hire follows the recent tenure of Dionne Lester who co-­founded CIN with her husband, Darryl Lester. Upon his hire Chad shared, “Philanthropy can look differently and affect change profoundly in the 21st century, and the Network’s expanding number of giving circles and donors of color are indicators of the transformative shifts occurring. I embrace this opportunity to work in concert with CIN's board, members and philanthropic partners as we make leaps and bounds forward, collectively as a catalyst for change in African American communities and across the nation’s vast spectrum of communities of color.”

Read on to learn more about Chad, the role of CIN in advancing black philanthropy and how your philanthropic social group can get involved.

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

Education: University of Colorado at Boulder and Macalester College, majoring in Economics and History

Previous positions: Program Officer at the New World Foundation and Marguerite Casey Foundation; Consultant. Previous Co-Chair of the Board at Resource Generation which has spawned the "We are the 1 percent" site," and stone circles at The Stone House

Honors/Awards: Association of Black Foundations Executives (ABFE) Fellow, Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs

As the Executive Director of CIN, what are some goals you want to accomplish?

The mission of CIN states that we inspire, connect and strengthen African Americans and communities of color to leverage their collective resources. Consequently, one of my primary goals is to ensure that I intentionally engage and connect with our own members as the new senior executive of our organization. We are a national organization and it is my plan to conduct national conference calls, as well as make it a priority to visit each member circle as soon as logistically feasible. During that “Up Close and Personal” tour, I plan to listen intently, not only about the concerns, but also about the success stories of each circle.

Thus, I hope to creatively tell more of the stories about CIN members, giving circles and community philanthropy. Philanthropy in communities of color looks different and is less acknowledged even though Blacks and people of color have been doing it since arriving in North America – whether hundreds of years ago during slavery, or those who have come in the second golden wave of immigration since 2000. Undoubtedly, another one of my goals is to publish (through technology) the rich heritage of our families and institutions within the network, which will allow us an opportunity to inspire and strengthen each other.

What skills and education prepared you for this role in your career?

Since we are a membership association, I recognize that we already possess much of what we need within the CIN membership. Mutual aid societies embodied such a spirit 100 years ago. Within CIN, we are keeping such a legacy alive in these first decades of the 21st century. Our people are entrepreneurs, teachers, public servants, gardeners and farmers, leaders in their faith and community. We are veterans and students, too. So, I hope to tap the wisdom that lives within us; in each of our families. Sometimes this will require that I get out of the way, and know when to be silent and listen. We live in a culture that has difficulty with silence, and struggles with active listening – so, I have years of preparation in how to listen. In addition, developing the art of not only asking more questions, but also asking the right questions.

Countless elders and mentors (some of whom have been younger than me) have shared wisdom and support to contribute to who I am today. Professionally, the ABFE fellowship was a tremendous nine-month experience with a group that I viewed as a “black brain trust.” Additionally, I sought out professional development experiences by serving on several nonprofit boards. Those learning opportunities have afforded me the best professional development, as I applied lessons about people, institutions, and most notably fiscal responsibility and accountability.

How is CIN helping to advance black philanthropy?

Most giving, or philanthropy, is done by individuals. And in Black communities, historically that generosity has been bestowed upon a family member, neighbor, or church in time of need. We are advancing philanthropy by focusing on social justice and addressing the policy (legal, financial and political) structures impeding Black communities and other communities of color. We engage people at the grassroots level, rather than dictate to people how benevolent they should be or what they should donate. We acknowledge that people know the immediate and systemic needs of their communities’ best. So, we listen in order to share eight years of institutional knowledge appropriately.

We are building spaces and places that are predominantly people of color. We offer camaraderie and unity, and are equipped with powerful tools and a robust support system of colleagues. CIN members are strategic, empathetic, and an actively engaged group of people. Young and old.

Chad Jones (far right) sits on a panel at CIN's Leadership Summit for giving circles with Charles Lewis (left) CIN Board Chair and Gladys Washington, Program Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation on October 1, 2011 at St. Helena's Island, SC.

Giving circles are increasing in popularity as a way to give back. Can you share more about what a giving circle is and how I can join or start one in my community?

A giving circle is a group of people who pool resources to leverage social capital, financial capital and other resources to grow what we, in CIN, call the supply side of philanthropy. A giving circle offers better solutions since members of a circle come from that same community. You can start a circle by organizing a few friends and acquaintances to come together to address solving a common cause or community social need. Thereby, assembling periodically to have a series of discussions to figure out how, when, and where they will their pool resources (financial, social, political capital, etc) and share knowledge and resources in order to collectively have a sustainable impact on their community.

One of our mottos in CIN is “investing our time, talent, and treasure.” People of all social classes collectively possess resources that can make a vital contribution to the quality of life for people. This is inclusive philanthropy.

I’m a member of a social group that raises funds and provides resources for organizations in my community. Are we considered a giving circle? If so, how can your organization help to support our efforts?

Absolutely. You very much are a giving circle. The benefits that CIN offers member circles include: a sense of community of Blacks and people of color who are strategically giving back in communities across the country; a menu of institutional knowledge and a dedicated crew who are addressing the challenges of launching, operating, and sustaining giving circles. Furthermore, CIN provides donor education; and travel scholarships to attend CIN events, and other events pertaining to philanthropy and communities of color.

As a result of being a part of our CIN family, we have a shared identity that comes with shared experiences and shared values. A collective identity fosters a sense of trust, connection and interdependence, minimizing the risk that no individual circle faces their challenges alone. CIN provides members with a regional and national perspective to complement their local experience.

What are CIN’s upcoming events?

CIN's flagship event each year is our Annual Conference, which will be hosted in Birmingham, Alabama in 2012. However, this Fall 2011, we will launch a series of resources – webinars and blog posts – that are relevant and resonate with our members. Furthermore, each giving circle hosts events locally, such as trainings, monthly get-togethers, and fundraisers based on what they collectively seek to address and accomplish. We are enhancing our communication tools that will enable us to post our content and success stories on the social network sites, e.g., Facebook and of course our CIN website.

Anything else you'd like to share?

A vital research tool that I rely upon is the Black Worker Report, published by Steven Pitts. It is my desire that more Blacks and people of color create content and code, rather than just consume it, so that we become more adept at internet research and tech savvy as the internet evolves from web2.0 to 3.0 and beyond. I use sites that are compelling and user-driven like WordPress and Wikipedia (as well as Facebook). I have embraced the latest social media phenomenon, such as Twitter. However, I have used it not only for professional communication, but also for personal use in order to locate 21st century journalists writing about movements for democracy on the Arabian Peninsula, and roti recipes from a Trini cook and blogger.

Consequently, the internet has afforded me an increased flexibility in how I access information and research policy issues. As a result of this technology, I am an avid reader now more than ever. As an economist, I read the stories that highlight fiscal and budgetary policy. In addition, I frequently research the Business section of the newspaper, and study the traits of successful business leaders. Subsequently, this gives me an acute insight and business perspective on leading and managing organizations and people in turbulent economic times. This knowledge has immensely enhanced my approach to managing a nonprofit organization. I endeavor to use my business skills that I have honed over several years to lead CIN into our next dimension of growth and development. Primarily, as an organization that was only established during the first decade of our new millennium, it is amazing to reflect on how vast of an impact that our circle members have had on changing their communities and our world by focusing on where we live.

Visit the Community Investment Network's website at
Related article: "How to Start A Giving Circle"

Special Needs Network Hosts 6th Annual "Evening Under The Stars"

SNN Board Members: Jan Davis, Sonjia White, Esq., Bonnie Berry Lamon, Esq., SNN President, Areva D. Martin, Esq., Dr. Ruth Creary, Annette Holloman, Shamya Ullah & Cheryl Gully

Los Angeles, CA – While national statistics offer a dire picture of children being diagnosed with developmental disabilities, Southern California’s premier organization providing services specifically to families raising children or caring for adults of color with autism or other developmental disorders proudly acknowledged those who helped during a special “Evening Under the Stars" gala presented by Toyota.

Held Sunday, October 9, 2011 at the Annenberg Building at the California Science Center, Special Needs Network, Inc. (SNN) hosted its 6th annual “Evening Under the Stars,” the biggest yet with 415 guests in attendance, and raising the most amount of funds ever to help sustain the growing list of programs that benefit families in need, including Camp JPAC.

The gala honored a host of important figures making an impact in the autism community, including newly elected President of Charles R. Drew University, Dr. David Carlisle; Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, producers of Dear John, the Twilight series, and the new ABC show Revenge; Dr. Tumani Leatherwood and Dr. Jose Cervantes, directors of the first Kaiser Permanente medical office in South Los Angeles and US Bank Senior Vice President Darrell Brown. A special Local Hero Award was presented to Senate President Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg, a tremendous champion of the autism community and author of the Autism Insurance Mandate Bill (SB 946), which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday afternoon just hours before the celebration.

With CBS2/KCAL9 news anchor, Sandra Mitchell serving as Mistress of Ceremonies, SNN welcomed a crowd of corporate executives, community leaders, key influencers and parents including, State Senator Curren Price, Assemblymembers Steve Bradford and Mike Feuer, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, LA City Controller Wendy Greuel, Toyota’s Group Vice President and General Counsel, Chris Reynolds and Gala Co-Chair LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas.

LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, Avis Ridley-Thomas, Carol Baca, Senator Darrell Steinberg, SNN President Areva D. Martin, Esq., Assemblyman Steve Bradford, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas

Kelly Ann Henry, Toyota; Chris Reynolds, Group Vice President & General Counsel Toyota, & Alva Mason Adams, Toyota

SNN President Areva D. Martin, Esq. with Evening Under the Stars Honorees, Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey, Temple Hill Entertainment; Senator Darrell Steinberg; Dr. Jose Cervantes & Dr. Tumani Leatherwood, Kaiser Permanente South LA Medical offices; Dr. David Carlisle, President, Charles Drew University; SNN Board Members Cheryl Gully & Bonnie Berry Lamon, Esq. & Honoree, Darrell Brown, Senior Vice President, US BANK.

“Our honorees have shown an unwavering commitment to children and families in our community,” commented Areva Martin, Esq. SNN president and co-founder. “With long track records providing community support, our top honorees are more than deserving of this recognition,” said Martin, Esq., also managing partner, Martin & Martin, LLP, legal expert to the Dr. Phil Show and author of “The Everyday Advocate.”

The evening also included the touching premiere of “Camp JPAC: The Feature” produced and directed by CBS2/KCAL9. Ending the evening on a high note, Elaine Gibbs and her band paid a special tribute to the legends of Motown and moved the crowd to their feet.

Special Needs Network, Inc. is a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides resources, advocacy training, parent workshops, and educational opportunities to children with disabilities. Applauded for its innovative and family-centered approach by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Karen Bass, as well as a host of other elected officials and community leaders, SNN has served over 20,000 families since its inception. Special Needs Network, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. For additional information on Special Needs Network, log on to

“Evening Under the Stars” corporate sponsors included Toyota, CBS2/KCAL9, Kaiser Permanente, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Root Cause and Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement Launch Leadership and Sustainability Institute

BOSTON, MA  – To bolster the efforts of advocates and organizations working to improve the life outcomes of black males in the U.S., Root Cause and the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement are launching a Leadership and Sustainability Institute. The project is meant to strengthen the capacity of the campaign’s grantees and other nonprofit organizations working within the field of black male achievement.

“It’s going to take decades of effort to make real headway on the many difficult issues that black men and boys in this country face,” said Shawn Dove, the Campaign Director of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “We’re excited to partner with Root Cause on this important legacy: an institute that provides individuals and organizations working on black males achievement with the tools and support they need to ensure success.”

Black men and boys face major racial disparities, unequal opportunities and achievement gaps at nearly every stage in life including early childhood, primary and secondary school, college and employment. For example, by 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20s who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts; 42 percent of all black boys had failed an entire grade at least once and only 18 percent of black men ages 20–21 were enrolled in college; the Bureau of Justice Statistics projected that 28 percent of black males in America will serve some time in state or federal prison.

While over the years numerous leaders, advocates and organizations have made major strides in improving the life outcomes and achievements of black men and boys, sustaining a strong and consistent multi-decade focus on the issue has been a great struggle. A 1995 Urban Institute study found that of the 51 programs focused on black men and boys surveyed, after 10 years a quarter no longer existed and less than a quarter still maintained programming focusing on black males.

Organizations working in the black male achievement field have faced, and continue to face, more obstacles compared to the overall nonprofit sector including:
  • The black male achievement field has been plagued by inconsistent philanthropic support.
  • Organizations often work in isolation from one another, may be working in segregated neighborhoods, and have lower access to networks and resources to help grow their impact.  Efforts to coordinate the field are often short term or unstructured.
  • Available growth and sustainability resources often lack sufficient cultural context or focus on organizations working in this field, and those few service providers that are dedicated to the field are often small, geographically scattered, have inconsistent cash flow,  slow growth of impact and challenges to sustainability.
About the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement is a multi-issue, cross-fund strategy to address black men and boys’ exclusion from economic, social, educational, and political life in the United States. The campaign responds to a growing body of research that reveals the intensification of black males’ negative life outcomes. It builds on U.S. Programs’ mission to support individuals and organizations that nurture the development of a more democratic, just society, as well as the Open Society Foundations’ expertise and past work to reduce incarceration, promote racial justice, and support youth engagement and leadership development.

About Root Cause

Founded in 2004, Root Cause began as a small nonprofit consulting practice for innovative nonprofits. Since then, Root Cause has grown to become a nationally recognized organization with 30 team members and an annual budget of $3 million. Root Cause has developed growth and sustainability plans for more than 130 nonprofit organizations that have subsequently raised more than $50 million.

Top photo: Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement hosts a retreat in September 2011 at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Source: Press release/Root Cause
Photo credit: Salahadeen Betts via Black Star Project

Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation Co-Chairs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication

Designer Tommy Hilfiger speaks during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication co-chaired by the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation on October 16, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Tommy Hilfiger celebrated the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial located on the National Mall on October 16, 2011 in a Dedication ceremony co-chaired by The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation and chaired by the General Motors Company.

"The Memorial Dedication was a momentous occasion," said Tommy Hilfiger. "To see the Memorial built and celebrated is a remarkable milestone for all those who continue to advocate Dr. King's universal message of humanity and equality. Our Company has had the exceptional opportunity to work with the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation for over 10 years; it is a privilege and a responsibility that we take great pride in."

The Dedication events began Saturday, October 15th with the Dream Reception and Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. During the reception, Emanuel Chirico, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PVH Corp., accepted an award on behalf of the Company, which recognized its long term support of the Memorial. On Sunday, October 16th, the Dedication took place in West Potomac Park in front of an audience of over 50,000. The Memorial Dedication was celebrated with speeches by distinguished guests, including Tommy Hilfiger, remarks by President Obama, and a Dedication concert with performances by Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Ledisi and James Taylor. "It is inspiring to know that this Memorial will serve as a significant remembrance of Dr. King's legacy for future generations," said Guy Vickers, President of The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation and Vice Chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Board. "The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial celebrates a heroic person who dedicated his life to building a better society for all people, and represents a historic achievement for equal rights worldwide. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation is proud to uphold this profound message."

Musicians Stevie Wonder and Ledisi perform during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication

Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King Jr, his wife Arndrea Waters and daughter Yolanda

For the audience in attendance, Tommy Hilfiger donated custom baseball caps featuring artwork inspired by the Memorial logo. The Company also dressed 1,500 event volunteers in custom polos displaying the Memorial logo. After 15 years in the making, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial celebrates Dr. King's legacy as one of the world's most important humanitarians. The Memorial conveys four fundamental and recurring themes throughout Dr. King's life - democracy, justice, hope, and love.

A 450-foot inscription wall features more than a dozen Dr. King quotes to serve as a lasting testament and reminder of Dr. King's humanitarian vision. The Memorial includes the "Mountain of Despair" and the "Stone of Hope," a 30-foot sculpture of Dr. King. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation has been a leading sponsor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation for over 10 years through fundraising, donations, and executive involvement. Guy Vickers, President of The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, serves as Vice Chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Board; the Company also has an executive on loan full-time to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. For more information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. visit

Source: Press release
Photos courtesy of Paul Morigi/ Getty Images

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sphinx Organization Founder Aaron Dworkin Releases Memoir, “Uncommon Rhythm”

Dworkin signs copies of his newly released memoir, Uncommon Rhythm, at a private book release party on October 11, 2011 in NYC.

Aaron P. Dworkin has been changing the face of classical music for 15 years as the founder of the Sphinx Organization, a leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in the genre. Named a White House Champion of Change, a former MacArthur Fellow and President Obama’s first nominee to the National Council on the Arts, Dworkin has recently released his inspirational memoir, Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee’s Journey to Leadership. The publisher, Aquarius Press states, “Uncommon Rhythm is a harrowing yet moving account of Aaron’s journey through social isolation and discrimination to found one of the nation’s cultural jewels. The book is a tapestry of stirring narrative, precious photos and poignant poems. Aaron is driven by the single vision of “inclusion for all,” and hopes that this book will inspire all people who have ever felt like outsiders to nurture their own gifts and make valuable contributions to society.”

Branford Marsalis, Grammy-award winning jazz musician shares about the book, “Success is an amazing combination of talent, hard work, and good fortune. Aaron Dworkin is the embodiment of this troika, and his story is quintessentially an American one. As his book shows, he has made the most of opportunities presented to him, and his words show him to be a visionary in the promotion of American culture to its young citizens. Uncommon Rhythm is a very informative, and inspirational read.”

On Tuesday, October 11th, a private book release party was held in New York City hosted by The BEAT of Viacom; Andrea Hoffman, Founder of Diversity Affluence, Blair Smith, Tara Shaw and Christal Jackson. Notables in attendance included Viacom Executive Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Chief of Staff for Nickelodeon, MTVN Kids and Family Group and Executive Vice President of Global Inclusion Strategy, MTV Networks; Toby Tompkins of the 21st Century Foundation; John Stokes of Marvel Comics and Entertainment Attorney Howard Hertz.

Dworkin with event host Andrea Hoffman of Diversity Affluence

Event host Tara Shaw of Viacom

Dworkin signs a copy of his book for attorney Howard Hertz

Uncommon Rhythm is available at, and your local bookstore. For bulk copies or to inquire about ebooks for your school, email  To learn more about Aaron, visit

Photo credit: Stephen Knight

New York Center’s 10th Anniversary Gala Focuses on Mental Health Awareness Affecting Communities of Color

NEW YORK, NY - The Full Circle Life Enrichment Center, a not for profit New York-based center providing counseling support to families and children in need, celebrated its 10th Anniversary last week at NYC’s Chelsea Piers Lighthouse with a Gala entitled, “Sax, Strings, Sonnets and Songs.” The Center’s mission is to eliminate barriers such as stigma, shame and fear associated with mental illness or seeking mental health treatment.

Honorees who received the Center’s “Inspire Award” in recognition of their powerful decisions to use extraordinary talents, gifts and abilities as unwavering sources of inspiration and hope to hurting children and families worldwide were NY Knick Allan Houston and (left to right pictured above): Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Father’s Incorporated; Terrie M. Williams, Inspirational Author, Mental Health Advocate, and Founder/President-The Stay Strong Foundation; Dr. Gerald Landsberg, Professor/Director-Institute Against Violence at the NYU Silver School of Social Work; Darcel Dillard-Suite, MS, Co-founder and COO of the Center; Derek H. Suite, MD, MS, Co-founder and CEO of the Center; Waleska Williams, accepting the award on behalf of her husband, NY Yankees’ Bernie Williams; Linda McGee, an Educator for the Archdiocese of NY; and Layon Gray, author of the acclaimed award winning Off-Broadway play, “Angels Over Tuskegee.” Terrie M. Williams accepted the award on behalf of Ntozake Shange, author of “For Colored Girls….” Gospel artist BeBe Winans and Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins also received the award.

NY Knick Allan Houston thanks Full Circle Life Enrichment Center co-founders Darcel Dillard-Suite and Derek H. Suite after receiving the organization’s “Inspire Award.”  Visit the website at

Source:  Press Release/Photo Credit: Gerald Peart

The Insider: Monica Haslip, Founder/Executive Director of Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center & Options Laboratory School

By Sandra Davis

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7 (NIV)

Insiders on the rise are not discouraged by humble beginnings; they know how to start small and finish big. Monica Haslip, Founder/Executive Director of Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center (LBP) and Options Laboratory School (OLS), began LBP in her basement, then moved her growing nonprofit into a former liquor store and eventually into state-of-the-art, 40,000 square foot facility.

Ms. Haslip, along with her dynamic team, strive to nurture African American youth on the south side of Chicago by empowering them to design successful futures through the arts and entrepreneurship. Never daunted by great challenges—or at least not for long, Monica has recently opened OLS for off-track (at-risk) youth with limited options for their futures. Founded on the belief that education is liberating, Options Laboratory School (an arts and technology-based charter school) offers its students the tools to chart their own course, true freedom.

Read on to learn how Monica combined her passions for the arts and at-risk youth, thinks herself successful and overcomes challenges.

Where did the name Little Black Pearl come from?

The name represents my personal view and description of black children: beautiful, precious, unique, exquisite and one of a kind.

Both you and Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center have humble beginnings, you a young woman from Alabama and Little Black Pearl started in a basement. How did you manage to successfully bootstrap your career and your nonprofit? What did you do mentally? What did you do? What did you not do?

In my career and organization, I always implement the three “Big P’s”—Prayer, Persistence and Perseverance. I often share my story to highlight both the challenges and successes in an effort to demonstrate the fact that there will always be hurdles to jump and on occasion, we may fall while pursuing our goals; but the value is in the lessons learned, and the grace we display while getting up and the courage we have to keep moving forward. I prepare myself mentally everyday to embrace my own journey. Mental strength is just like physical strength—you must exercise your mind focusing on positive outcomes even when faced with challenges.

Each day I say an affirmation aloud: “I am in stride with the upper progressive movement of life and the mark of success is upon me,” and so it is. During the development of LBP, I approached all the challenges throughout the years with the same zeal and passion as my [business] successes. I learned to appreciate the process of finding resolutions rather than being paralyzed by the problems.

You have been passionate about art your whole life, but you decided to pursue a career in the corporate world before you decided to follow your passion. What was your tipping point?

My tipping point was realizing that I couldn’t allow my disenchantment with disparities in the art field to shape my vision for what was possible for me or any other African American who had a passion for art. I often struggled with the fact that during my formative years when I was formally introduced to art—I wasn’t taught much about the contributions that African Americans had made to the field of art. As a result, I couldn’t see myself being successful as an artist because I hadn’t been exposed to the extraordinary work that my culture had contributed.

As a young adult, I researched and explored the work of African American artists and was filled with pride and possibilities. I realized that my experience wasn’t unique and I could potentially have a positive impact on an African American child’s life by simply exposing them to art and the contributions that African Americans have made to the industry. Learning about people of your own culture who are successful in the industry that you are dreaming of pursuing is a critical element to building the self-esteem necessary to encourage young people to follow their dreams.

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center not only provides students with an arts education, but with entrepreneurial skills. Why is this important to you? Do you think the “starving artist” concept is harmful?

I think the concept of starvation (starving artist) in any sense is harmful. The “starving artist” concept gets more hype than it deserves. According to Americans for the Arts:

Nationally, the nonprofit art and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year.

5.7 million full- time job equivalent jobs
104.2 billion in-household income
7.9 billion in local government tax revenues
9.1 billion in state government tax revenues
12.6 billion in federal government tax revenues

We should continue to encourage our youth to see art as a viable professional opportunity. I believe that African Americans are blessed with innate creative talents. The notion that African Americans with the God-given talents should not learn to market their work for themselves and their community is unfair and unreasonable. African Americans’ must define the value of their art for themselves, and feel confident in shaping the worlds’ view of their approach to earning revenue from their art.

What do you think the exposure to the arts does for youth who live in the inner-city?

I think the exposure to art for youth living in the inner-city opens up a whole new world of opportunity for them. It broadens their thinking and expands their possibilities.

What advice would you give an artist who wanted to pursue his/her passion and make it a career?

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it—prove them wrong!

For more information about Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, visit here, and for more information about Options Laboratory School, visit

Photos of the Day: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dream Gala

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity attend the Memorial Dream Gala at the Washington Hilton.

On October 15, 2011, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dream Gala was held at Washington Hilton Hotel in DC, where hundreds gathered to celebrate the dedication of the MLK Memorial. Many African American corporate and foundation executives attended, including Guy Vickers, President of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation; Rosalind Brewer, Executive Vice President and President of Walmart East; Floyd W. Green, III, Vice President and head of Community Relations for Aetna, Inc. and Pat Harris, McDonald's Global Chief Diversity Officer.

Harry Johnson, President and CEO of the MLK Foundation (L) and Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America. The General Motors Foundation donated $10 million to the memorial project, and presented an additional $100,000 donation at the gala.

Philanthropist Sheila Johnson, a major contributor of the MLK Memorial.

Helen Price, Executive Director of  The Coca-Cola Company (See our 'Insider' post on Helen HERE).

Deborah Elam, Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer at General Electric

President of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, Guy Vickers and Shawanda Vickers

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee and Bernice King

Photos: Wireimage

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Verizon's Journey Of Hope Tour Shares Stories of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence awareness tour to reach countless Americans in the quest to help prevent domestic violence

This October, in support of Domestic Violence National Awareness month, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), and HopeLine from Verizon are conducting the first ever effort to collect and catalog the stories of those affected by domestic violence. Called Journey of Hope, the 8-city cross-country tour kicked off on October 2 in Green Bay and ends in Dallas on October 28.

At each tour stop, members of the domestic violence community, the public, and domestic violence victims and survivors can record their personal experiences on a Verizon Smartphone or tablet. The testimonies will then be posted on Facebook at (under HopeLine tab) to further the discussion about this community issue. Attendees can also donate their no longer used phones and text to donate to support the cause.

African Americans suffer deadly violence from family members or intimate partners at rates higher than other racial groups in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice:

  • Black women experience domestic violence at a rate of 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 percent times the rate of women of other races
  • Black women are less likely than white women to use social services, battered women's programs or go to the hospital because of domestic violence
  • African Americans accounted for almost one third of intimate partner homicides in the country
Domestic violence is one of society’s last taboos. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes with the cost of intimate partner violence exceeding $5.8 billion each year, of which $4.1 billion is for direct medical and mental health services. HopeLine from Verizon gives consumers a way to help prevent domestic violence year-round by donating no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories from any service provider in any condition and turning them into support for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Since its inception, the program has collected over 8 million phones and has awarded more than 10 million in grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country.

Photo of the Journey of Hope bus at the Washington, DC stop on October 8th and 9th at the Taste of DC festival.

Those who can’t attend in person can go to to participate or text “HOPE” to 41010, to make a $10 donation to NNEDV, the largest network of state domestic violence coalitions in the nation. Donations will support NNEDV’s awareness and prevention efforts and provide domestic violence victims with necessary resources. Verizon will waive text-messaging fees and 100 percent of each $10 donation will go to NNEDV. The $10 donation will appear on the customers’ next regular monthly bill. Upcoming tour dates are: Chicago (Oct. 16) Los Angeles (Oct. 19) San Francisco (Oct. 20) and Dallas (Oct. 28).

Top photo:  At Verizon's How Sweet the Sound 2010 Finale on Nov. 13, 2010, in Washington, D.C., hosts Cece Winans and Donald Lawrence presented a $50,000 donation from HopeLine from Verizon to Dr. Oliver J. Williams of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC). The donation will help the IDVAAC continue on its mission to raise awareness of domestic violence in the African-American community and demonstrates Verizon Wireless’ ongoing commitment to this important cause.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Philanthropy News in Education

Oscar winner Denzel Washington made news recently for his $2 million dollar donation to his alma mater, Fordham University.

Via NY Daily News: "One lucky Fordham University student may someday follow in a certain actor's footsteps and star in an acclaimed movie like "Glory," "Training Day" or "Remember the Titans." In his first donation to his alma mater, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington has given $2 million to Fordham to endow a Chair in Theatre in his name, and $250,000 to establish a scholarship for an undergraduate studying the craft." Read article here. Photo: Wireimage

Missouri Philanthropists Establish Signature Scholarship Program

Dave and Thelma Steward Announce The Steward Scholars Program

Via the University of Central Missouri:  "A $500,000 gift from Dave and Thelma Steward will establish a unique signature scholarship program in the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies at the University of Central Missouri (UCM). University President Charles Ambrose announced the scholarship program during his inauguration ceremony on campus Oct. 6.

UCM alum Dave Steward (left) with UCM President Charles Ambrose

Ambrose called the new program “extraordinary.” He noted that it will serve as a prototype for UCM alumni who want to create a legacy at the university by helping outstanding students achieve their education goals. This includes full-ride scholarships with added benefits such as international experiences and interaction with educators and professionals in their chosen field that go far above and beyond most scholarship programs.

Steward’s gift, pledged over five years, establishes UCM’s first business group of named scholars. The Steward Scholars Program will provide full tuition assistance for up to five undergraduate students pursuing Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees in computer information systems. In addition to the typical four-year curriculum, Steward Scholars also will have unique high-impact opportunities to interact with business leaders and key mentors, attend professional conferences and experience a focused international internship or study-abroad semester.

Steward is a UCM alumnus and founder and chairman of the board at World Wide Technology, based in St. Louis.  In 2008, he received the National Urban League’s Business Pioneer Award as well as the St. Louis County Economic Council Dr. William D. Phillips Technology Award. He has been voted by “Ebony” magazine among “the 100 Most Influential Black Americans.”  Mrs. Steward was recently named Variety Children’s Charity 2012 Woman of the Year."  Learn more here.