Monday, January 30, 2012

Two Initiatives Aim to Increase Number of African Americans in Medicine

Tours for Diversity in Medicine to launch HBCU tour during Black History Month

The Aetna Foundation has awarded a $210,000 grant to Tours for Diversity in Medicine (TDM), a new initiative founded by former medical school students, to provide college students of color with a wide range of information and advice to plan for careers in medicine and dentistry, and ultimately diversify the health care profession. TDM is a project of Hip Hop Health Inc., that seeks to educate, inspire and cultivate future physicians of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds by forming local connections in order to fulfill a national need.

The inaugural tour will take 11 doctors, dentists and medical school students to five HBCUs in the south, providing premedical enrichment activities. According to the press release, although minority populations comprise more than 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans combined represent only about 6 percent of practicing physicians and 5 percent of dentists.

Alden Landry, M.D.(pictured left), an emergency room physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and co-director of Tour for Diversity in Medicine, said, "Our goal is to increase interest in health care as careers for students from minority populations and help them overcome perceived barriers to medical and dental school, such as high tuition costs, long training and a challenging application process. By offering workshops with established health care practitioners from similar backgrounds to theirs, we believe we can open the pipeline for talented young people of color who can make a significant difference in improving health care in the U.S."

Participating schools and tour dates are: Monday, February 20 at Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; Tuesday, February 21 at Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, N.C.; Wednesday, February 22 at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, S.C.; Thursday, February 23 at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala.; and Friday, February 24 at Jackson State University, Jackson, Miss.

Kameron Matthews, M.D. (pictured right), J.D., co-director of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and a family physician in Chicago stated, "without the assistance of mentors over the years, I would not be a doctor today. We want to connect students with physicians and dentists who are dedicated to their growth and their future."

Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr.P.H., vice president of the Aetna Foundation said, "As our nation's population becomes increasingly diverse, we need health care providers who have the cultural competency to engage their patients fully with their treatment and ensure good health outcomes. Multiplying the number of men and women from underrepresented minorities is a fundamental strategy to achieving health equity in the United States. The Aetna Foundation is pleased to be the Tour's founding sponsor and support this innovative initiative as part of our portfolio of programs aimed at developing health care leaders from underrepresented communities."

Follow Landry, Matthews and other health care providers during the week long tour via Facebook and Twitter @Tour4Diversity. For more information on TDM and to register for the free tour, visit

Physicians Medical Forum Hosts Day-Long Conference to Recruit African American Students to Attend Medical School and Practice in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California

Pre-med, University/College & Post-baccalaureate Students and High School Seniors Invited to Participate on Saturday, Feb. 18th

The Physicians Medical Forum (PMF) is an initiative that aims to increase the number of African American physicians, residents and medical students in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay and Northern California, while helping to improve the delivery of culturally competent medical care to better meet the health care needs of African Americans and the community at-large. On Saturday, February 18th, the organization will host its annual "Doctors on Board Program," a day-long, tuition-free, information-filled series of seminars, workshops and case studies to encourage and increase the number of black students attending medical school.

Several of the Bay Area’s most prominent physicians and medical school representatives will provide students with an innovative and exciting opportunity to explore varied facets of medicine and provide information about medical school preparation, medical specialties, and life as a physician. Upon completion of the program, students will be awarded certificates with a reception immediately following.

Dr. Albert L. Brooks, PMF President and Chief of Medical Services at Washington Hospital in Fremont, California said, "I am proud to be a part of the Physician's Medical Forum, and look forward to meeting and mentoring young African American students who aspire to become doctors. It is rewarding to know that so many physicians from throughout Northern California are donating their time to encourage young minds to consider attending medical school."

There is no cost to participate. Students who wish to take part in this groundbreaking, one-day program must submit the Student Application found here.

BET Networks Talks Teens and Parenting with Special “106 & PARK” Episode of “Young, Single and Parenting”

Airs Monday, January 30th, 6pm EST with special guest appearances

NEW YORK - On Monday, January 30, “106 & PARK” will air a special episode dedicated to young parents titled “Young, Single & Parenting.” The live, 90-minute special will deal exclusively with issues affecting young parents focusing specifically on the realities of African American youth.

Hosted by Terrence J and Rocsi (pictured), “106 & PARK Presents: Young, Single & Parenting” will speak directly to youths in the trenches – young people who are currently parents and those expecting. Participants will be informed of the responsibilities they can expect, the resources available and their rights as parents.

“We are proud of our place as the only daily source of Black Youth culture on television and we know it’s about more than music, celebrities and fun,” said Stephen Hill, BET’s President of Music Programming and Specials. “On 106 & PARK, we’ve taken the time to discuss relationship violence, teen body image issues, AIDS prevention and other topics relevant to our audience. Many in our audience are young parents and need more information and guidance than they’re getting about how to work through certain issues; not the least of which is working on the relationship with the other parent for the benefit of the child. It’s our hope that this special edition of 106 & PARK will help strengthen young families,” said Hill.

On “Young, Single and Parenting” viewers will hear live testimonials from young, single parents in the studio audience. Rappers Don Trip and Tray Chaney, both young parents, will join the show to discuss their videos – Trip’s “Letter to My Son” feat. Cee-Lo Green and Chaney's “Fatherhood.” In-studio experts, Dr. Michelle ( and Dr. Tartt (,  will be on hand to answer questions submitted via a live online chat on

In addition to answering questions live, viewers can join the conversation by logging on to BET’s multiple social media platforms:
  • On Facebook by liking the fan page at
  • On Twitter by using hash tags: #YoungSingleParent; follow the show for all updates @106andPark and @BET.
  • On Google plus at
For more information on 106 & PARK Presents: "Young, Single & Parenting", visit  Source & photo: Press release

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mentoring Brothers in Action: Historically Black Fraternities Elevate Partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to Change the Odds for African-American Boys

Popular Nationally Syndicated Urban Radio Host Michael Baisden Challenges Other Radio Hosts, Celebrities, Corporations and Influencers to Step Up

Atlanta launch event scheduled February 10

In observance of National Mentoring Month and the Martin Luther King Day of Service, Big Brothers Big Sisters and its African American Fraternity Partnership launched Mentoring Brothers in Action, the second phase of their two-year collaborative partnership. According to the press release, the goal of the program is to engage more African American men in fraternal, social, faith-based and professional organizations to get involved in one-to-one mentoring to change the odds for African American boys. Supporting this initiative is popular nationally syndicated urban radio host, Michael Baisden.

“Like so many of our young men, my father also abandoned me so I understand the importance of mentoring. I was fortunate to have uncles and other men in my community to set the right example and to correct me when I was out of line,” said Baisden. “If we want to see different results in our young people we have to invest more into them and show them what is possible. I became a successful writer because I saw successful writers; I became a successful radio personality because I saw successful radio personalities, and so on. If we want to create more successful children we need them to see an example of success and integrity. Success is not an accident, it's something you practice every day in the way you live your life and the way you treat people. Become a mentor today and be that example!”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Co-Chief Executive Officer Max Miller states, “with Mentoring Brothers in Action, we are working with our fraternity partners, bolstered by the support of Michael Baisden -- one of the most prominent and passionate proponents of mentoring -- to bring together our best resources to tackle one of the nation’s most urgent crises. Our goal is to have a positive impact on high school graduation, juvenile justice and economic equity.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters expects Mentoring Brothers in Action to create new and broader pathways to provide mentors for African American boys who disproportionately represent children waiting to be matched with Big Brothers. Participating fraternities include Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi.

Among the initiative’s 2012 activities:

The launch of, a unique website and social media effort that will enable African American men to be the impetus for dramatically changing the odds for African American boys across the nation. Initially developed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as an African American male mentor recruiting tool, the revamped will serve as the nation’s central source for in-depth, interactive mentoring resources.

The Mentoring Brothers in Action National Summit: Michael Baisden will headline this Big Brothers Big Sisters summit February 10 in Atlanta, where invited guests include education and mentoring experts; mentors, mentees and supporters. For more information and to RSVP, visit here.

Additional activities include fraternity chapters partnering with local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies to host “friend raisers,” barbershop recruiting drives, Bowl for Kids Sake fundraisers, and other efforts to engage more African American men in mentoring; and supporting fraternity partners in demonstrating measurable outcomes for children who participate in their unique service initiatives and programs, such as Kappa Alpha Psi’s Guide Right, Omega Psi Phi’s Operation Lamp Light and Alpha Phi Alpha’s Project Alpha.

“Mentoring Brothers in Action takes our two-year partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to the next level. In a powerful demonstration of unity and a deep collective concern for our communities, we are taking accountability for ensuring that African American boys achieve in school and succeed in life. utilizes the strength of technology and social media, powered by Big Brothers Big Sisters and its longstanding proven mentoring success, to engage African American men across the country to take the lead in changing the odds for our boys,” said Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. President Dr. Andrew A. Ray.

To learn more about the African American Fraternity Partnership and its progress to date, visit and

Apollo Theater Celebrates Black History Month with Wide-Ranging Programs in February 2012

Apollo Amateur Night 2012 Season Opens with “Dream” Guest Star Jennifer Holliday

Apollo Open House Weekend with Free Community Sing Event Led by 10-time Grammy Winners Take 6

New York, NY— This February, the world famous Apollo Theater will host a series of wide-ranging artistic and community programming to celebrate Black History Month. Throughout its history, the Apollo has consistently been a model of innovation and excellence, and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the nation. This year’s Black History Month programming includes the return of the Apollo’s signature show, Amateur Night, with a new digital twist; the popular emerging artist concert series Music Café; an Open House Weekend; representing the range and vibrancy of the Theater’s offerings.

Highlights of the Apollo’s February programming include:

Apollo Amateur Night 2012 Opening Night - The 2012 season of the Apollo Theater’s signature weekly live show, Amateur Night, kicks off with several surprises marking the Theater’s 78th birthday, as well as a “dream” special guest performance by the original Dreamgirl– Jennifer Holliday. Wednesday, February 1st, 7:30pm

Amateur Night Digital – The Apollo Theater launches a digital extension of its signature show, giving global audiences the opportunity to vote on their favorite Amateur Night contestants. Wednesday, February 1.

FREE Open House Weekend - The Apollo Theater will open its doors to give members of the Harlem community, New York City residents and tourists alike a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the Apollo’s rich history, as well as the non-profit Theater’s current activities. The weekend activities highlight: upcoming Apollo performances events and cultural program of other local organizations, film clips and shorts on Apollo history, self-guided tour of the historic theatre, exhibition panels on Apollo theatre history, health screenings and cultural fair and information booths with cultural and community partners. Billy Mitchell, the Apollo Theater Ambassador is on hand throughout the weekend sharing Apollo history. Friday’s events to feature a special Community Sing with 10-time Grammy Award winning a cappella sextet Take 6, presented in collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series. Friday, February 3rd through Sunday, February 6th

NOTE: Tickets to Community Sing are free but RSVP is required. RSVP at or at the Apollo Theater Box Office. 4 tickets per individual or 12 tickets per organization. (Organizations will need to bring an official letter to the box office when picking up tickets.)

Apollo Music Café - Set in a club-like atmosphere on the Apollo Theater’s intimate, newly renovated Soundstage, Apollo Music Café is a showcase for emerging artists. The 2012 season’s opening weekend features up-and-coming innovators including: Left of Acoustic, Right of Soul featuring Candice Anitra and Jeremy Jones, and culminates with Hip-Hop Revolutionized featuring Bugnana sand MC Invincible. Friday, February 10th & Saturday, February 11th. Both shows begin at 10 pm (doors at 9pm).

For more information on these events and the Apollo Theater, visit

Corporate sponsors include Target, Aetna and Heineken. The Apollo's annual season is made possible by lead support from The Coca-Cola Company, The Parsons Family Foundation, the Ronald O. Perelman Family Foundation, the Edward and Leslye Phillips Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Reginald Van Lee, the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, and the Neuberger Berman Foundation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Hosts 27th Annual MLK Program in Washington, DC

The Omicron Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. pose for a photograph with Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access Claudine K. Brown, Anacostia Community Museum Director Camille Akeju, keynote speaker Harry E. Johnson, Sr., founder Tracey Webb, and others during the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum's 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Program.

On Friday, January 13th, the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum held its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Program to a standing room only crowd at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The featured speaker for the program was Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. I had the honor of serving as the moderator for the Q&A discussion following his keynote, and I’d like to thank the wonderful staff of the museum, Maria N. Smith and Jenelle Cooper Tolson for the invitation!

The program began with a rousing step performance from the Omicron Eta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the fraternity to which King belonged. Johnson began his engaging keynote by sharing that the vision for the memorial was birthed from five Alpha fraternity brothers while sitting at a kitchen table. A few highlights from his keynote included the challenges he initially encountered in raising the funds needed to build the memorial, the controversy surrounding the choice of a Chinese sculptor, and the acknowledgment of Robert Stanton in the audience, who was the first African American director of the National Park Service. (Listen to Johnson’s keynote here).Under Johnson's leadership, the foundation raised the $120 million needed to complete the memorial, which garnered support from all living Presidents, Congress, corporate and nonprofit communities and celebrities.

The Omicron Eta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

During the Q&A session, one of the questions I asked Mr. Johnson was among the major contributors, who were the prominent African American donors? In addition to the generous gift from philanthropist Sheila Johnson, he mentioned Victor MacFarlane, a real estate investor who donated $1 million through his investment company, MacFarlane Partners.  Johnson shared that it didn’t worry him about who didn’t donate to the memorial, for it was “all of the people who donated $5 and $10 that made a million.”

The Anacostia Community Museum was opened in southeast Washington in 1967 as the nation's first federally funded neighborhood museum. Renamed in 2006, it has expanded its focus beyond African American culture to documenting, interpreting and collecting objects related to the impact of historical and contemporary social issues on communities. Visit the website for information on upcoming programs and exhibitions at courtesy of Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Washington Post Examines Black Women’s Experiences and Perspectives

Series to Include a Community Forum on February 29th, New Poll Results, and Multimedia

WASHINGTON, DC — Black women are far more likely than white women to place importance on career success and are less inclined to focus on having children or being in a romantic relationship, according to a new, nationwide survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is the first story in a series looking at black women's experiences and perspectives and can be read HERE.

Here are highlights of the latest poll findings:

  • About two-thirds of the black women who participated in the survey consider being successful in their careers very important
  • About three in four value living a religious life and worry about having enough money to pay their bills
  • 67% describe themselves as having high self esteem
  • 46% see the nation's economic system as stacked against blacks

The next story in the series will be published Tuesday, January 24 and captures how First Lady Michelle Obama's impact on black women and looks at how she has changed overall impressions of black women in America. In the coming weeks and months, The Post will also explore how black women assess their self-image and the impact of the economic recession on their finances.

In addition, The Post will host a panel discussion in partnership with Howard University’s Women as Change Agents titled “Through the Looking Glass: Black Women in America.” The event will take place on Wednesday, February 29 at Howard University’s Blackburn Center beginning at 6:30pm. The discussion will be led by Michelle Singletary, nationally syndicated Personal Finance Columnist for The Washington Post. To RSVP or to submit a question for the panel, please e-mail behindtheheadlines@washpost.comPhoto:  The Washington Post

Young Voters Hit D.C. for 2nd Annual State of the Union Online Watch Party, #BarackTalk

The League of Young Voters Partners with Rock the Vote and for Viewing Party and Panel Discussion

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, January 24th, national non-profit organization the League Of Young Voters Education Fund (LYVEF), and Rock The Vote will host their second annual #BarackTalk, a State of the Union round table discussion and watch party. The event will broadcast live from Busboys and Poets, one of our capitol’s cultural hotspots, at 5th and K in Washington, D.C. at 7:30 p.m. EST. #BarackTalk will livestream on for viewers to watch and engage in conversation with the panelists.

#BarackTalk will kick off with a series of panel discussions about the biggest issues facing Millennials before the 2012 presidential election. The party begins when President Barack Obama starts his fourth State of the Union address, and will conclude with analysis and discussion by some of the best and brightest minds in entertainment and politics.

The panelists include Goldie Taylor, leading news correspondent (, MSNBC); Chuck Creekmur, influential urban entertainment journalist and co-founder of; Michael Skolnick of; Andreas Hale of TheWellVersed; rapper Dee-1 and many more. Each speaker was selected because of his/her proven ability to engage with young people and spark conversations that resonate.

During the #BarackTalk discussions, participants can directly engage with panelists to ask questions via Ustream at and LYVEF’s Twitter handle, @TheLeague99. Viewers asking questions on Twitter are encouraged to use the hashtag #BarackTalk.

In 2011, the first #BarackTalk State of the Union Event went viral, with the #BarackTalk Twitter hashtag trending locally in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, LA.

As an ongoing mission, the League of Young Voters Education Fund and will be partnering to promote civic engagement among low-income youth of color throughout the 2012 presidential election.

For more information on the State of the Union viewing event and details surrounding the President’s address, please visit

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jeep and Atlanta Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen provide historic background to "Red Tails" premiere in Atlanta

Tuskegee Airmen attend the “Red Tails” premiere on January 10, 2012 in New York City. Photo: Coppola/Getty

By Lisa Brathwaite
Atlanta Contributor

On Thursday, January 12, 2012, the Atlanta Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., with Jeep sponsorship hosted an advance screening of "Red Tails," the George Lucas film that tells the story of the first Black pilots and their supporting ground crew in the U.S. military.

Held at the AMC Southlake 24 in the metro Atlanta suburb of Morrow, the event was a fundraiser for the Atlanta Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen, as well as a viewing for "key influencers" who were encouraged to promote opening weekend attendance when the film hits screens nationwide today, January 20th.

Among the esteemed guests in attendance were Tuskegee Airmen, descendants of Tuskegee Airmen, and two original Red Tails. Bob Friend, a Red Tail who enlisted in 1942, was among those men who received a standing ovation of reverence for their service. “Red Tails” was the nickname taken on by the pilots who chose to be identified by the bold color they painted the backs of their fighter planes.

The movie stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Atlanta’s own Ne-Yo, and features a cast of familiar and new faces. Jeep also figures prominently in the film, sharing the screen at times with the handsome ensemble. In 1941, leading up to U.S. involvement in World War II, a call went out from the Army to American automakers to build a fast, agile and versatile transport vehicle. Jeep answered the call and produced more than 630,000 Jeep vehicles that were used by U.S. military and their allies. Jeeps kept them moving forward on land while above the Tuskegee Airmen changed the outcome of virtually every battle in which they participated.

Atlanta Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen president Zellie Orr addressed the crowd before the film’s start, imploring, “This is an awesome film. Please tell at least four people to go out and see it.”

Watch the trailer, be inspired and please make plans to see the film this weekend. The funding to bring such stories from our experience to the screen tomorrow hinges on your support demonstrated for films like this today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photos of the Day

The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. honored Dr. King’s birthday by laying a wreath at the foot of the Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall, January 16th.

Since its opening, over 2 million visitors from around the globe have been able to witness firsthand the message of hope, justice, democracy and love that resonates from the crescent-shaped walls of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which proudly sits between two Presidents.

The free program featured remarks from Harry E. Johnson, president and CEO of The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation; the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network and host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation and Robert G. Stanton, senior advisor to the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Source: Press release

Hempstead, NY- On December 19, 2011, 100 Black Men of Long Island, Inc., Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. and the Jewish Relations Council of Long Island collaborated by holding a joint press conference to raise awareness and combat health care issues that are prevalent on Long Island. Announced was the formation of an ongoing partnership to improve the quality of health for Long Islanders and encourage early prevention, education and health care initiatives. Immediately following the press conference, 100 Black Men held its annual holiday party that featured a toy and canned food drive.  Photo courtesy of 100 Black Men of Long Island 

Oprah Winfrey celebrates with the first graduating class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa on January 14th, 2012.

Musical guest Janelle Monáe and special guest Hill Harper at President Barack Obama's Victory 2012 Concert, January 11th at UIC in Chicago. Photo by Christopher Dilts for Obama for America.

The Insider: Jackie Jenkins-Scott, President of Wheelock College

Our latest Insider, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, is on a mission to improve the lives of children and families as the President of Wheelock College, a private institution in Boston that has grown to become a national and world leader in higher education, preparing early childhood educators.

Since her appointment as president in 2004, Jenkins-Scott has strengthened the College's core undergraduate and graduate academic programs, enhanced the undergraduate experience, and expanded the College’s reach internationally. She has been a passionate advocate in fulfilling the unique and compelling mission of the College.

Jenkins-Scott’s strong belief in international engagement and civic involvement led to the establishment of the highly successful International Visiting Scholars program which brings to campus scholars from all over the world, and the International Service Learning Program which provides Wheelock Students with opportunities for short-term international service experiences. A new civic engagement focus created a ten-year commitment to rebuilding New Orleans that includes twice annual trips of students and faculty to the city.

In November 2011, the College announced an 80 million dollar capital campaign, the largest capital fundraiser in the school’s history.

Jenkins-Scott has served on many professional, civic, and community boards. She currently serves on the board of directors of The Boston Foundation, The Kennedy Library Foundation and Museum, Schott Foundation, Tufts Health Plan, and Century Bank.

Read on to learn more about the College’s capital campaign, how Wheelock College supports Boston youth and first-generation college students and her greatest career lesson.

Hometown: Damascus, Arkansas

Education:  BS, Eastern Michigan University; Masters of Social Work, Boston University School of Social Work; and completed a Post Graduate Research Fellowship at Radcliffe College. Received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Education from Wheelock College in 2003 and holds Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Suffolk University, Northeastern University, Bentley College, and Mount Ida College.

Last year you announced Wheelock College's 80 million capital campaign, the largest capital fundraising initiative in the school's history. What are your plans to achieve this milestone?

Our goal for this comprehensive campaign is to increase our annual giving and receive special gifts. We also plan to expand our funding from foundations and corporations.

With the campaign, we are introducing the Five Transformational Firsts: the first scholarship endowment; the first endowed professorships to support ongoing development of our professors; the first endowed fund for innovation; the first endowed fund for technology enhancement and innovation, and the first fund for facilities and a sustainable campus environment. To date we have raised $53 million toward our capital campaign.

It is impossible for any institution to remain competitive without technology. We are doing the things that an institution, in a very competitive Boston environment, needs to do to remain in the forefront.

Your website states that 51% of the class of 2013 is the first in their families to attend college. What special support do you provide these students to ensure they complete their education?

Students come with complex issues. We continually assess how we are utilizing all of our resources to advance our students both academically and socially. With the awareness that the first two years of college are critical to a student’s success, we track the GPA’s of our freshmen. This helps us identify potentially at risk students. They attend a one-on-one academic counseling meeting to help us identify areas where they may need additional support. We offer a bridge program, essentially a nine-week academic boot camp that provides assistance in the areas where the student may be struggling. The program has been so successful that we have extended it to second year college students as well. We are seeing great results with the high rate of graduating students.

Jenkins-Scott (center) with Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. and actor and author Hill Harper at a Wheelock College Youth Symposium, October 2010.

Please share more about Wheelock College’s Youth Symposium for middle and high school age youth. Why is it important to host this event?

The Youth Symposium represents a natural complement to Wheelock's core mission “to improve the lives of children and families.” Several years ago, as a part of that mission, we established an office of Pre-Collegiate and College Access Programs to assist urban youth with achieving college access and success. Our work is part of a national movement toward widening college access, and more importantly, ensuring that students who enter college also graduate - prepared for both further study and fulfilling careers.

Wheelock College presented its first Youth Symposium in 2007. The symposium featured Bishop Desmond Tutu, and focused on Forgiveness and Reconciliation. After the event, a number of participants started a group called SPARK the Truth, dedicated to nonviolent, peaceful coexistence for young people in Boston. With the help of that group and the Pre-Collegiate Office, nearly 5000 young people have attended subsequent events on the Wheelock campus focused on leadership development, mentoring, social justice, academic support, coursework and college success planning.

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

I have to say that the most important lesson I have learned throughout my career is to surround myself with the best talent I can possibly find and trust my instincts.

Anything else you'd like to share?

More than a century ago, Lucy Wheelock dared to open a new school in Boston in 1888 to prepare young women to teach kindergarten – a revolutionary educational idea at the time. She believed that the best way to improve the lives of children and families was through education. As Wheelock College approaches its 125th anniversary in 2013, we have many accomplishments to celebrate.

We offer a strong human services and child life program, juvenile justice, and policy – in all 18,000 graduates dedicated to making a difference in the world. All of our programs are based around the lens of impact to children and families including our new communications and global political science program.

What makes Wheelock special is that everyone who comes here is committed to the mission of improving the lives of children and families. The mission is very clear throughout the institution. Students come here committed to change. While the mission is specific, it is also very broad as to where the students’ passions will lead them. We help them uncover their true passions. Their passion can take them to be leaders of nonprofit organizations, being involved in social work, social justice, policy work, etc. Whatever they choose, they leave this College on a professional track.

Visit the Wheelock College website at

Photo credits:; Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hip Hop Artist Common Hosts 2012 AT&T 28 Day Speaker Series

Hip hop artist, actor and author Common, returns as the host of AT&T's 28 Day Speaker Series.  He is pictured with Cookie Johnson, wife of Magic Johnson.

Annual Black History Month campaign adds four new cities to series lineup

Launched in 2009, AT&T 28 Day Speaker Series returns in 2012 with a seven-city speaker series tour that aims to motivate consumers to activate their voices, share their vision and move into action this February and throughout the year.

“We are now in the fourth year of AT&T 28 Days and we continue to recognize past achievements while engaging and challenging consumers to make their own history today,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of Diverse Markets, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “We want to connect with consumers, especially youth, in relevant ways and extend the AT&T 28 Days live experience into new markets.”

The speaker series, which kicked off on January 16th in Dallas, includes a few of today’s influential and respectful leaders offering their views on how consumers can shape their future.

Speakers on the tour include: Holly Robinson Peete, actress, author and activist; Wednesday, Feb. 1 in Oakland (streamed live); Kevin Powell, political activist and author of Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King; Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Raleigh, N.C.; Mario Armstrong, tech commentator and digital lifestyle expert; Wednesday, Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C. (streamed live); Jeff Johnson, social activist and political commentator; Monday, Feb. 20 in Cleveland, Ohio; Desiree Rogers, innovative leader and bold visionary; Thursday, Feb. 23 in Chicago (streamed live); and Michael Eric Dyson, author, scholar and cultural critic; Wednesday, Feb. 29 in Detroit.

“I am glad to return as host of the AT&T 28 Days speaker series. AT&T 28 Days is a movement, and it feels good to be a part of something that has the potential to shape our future and move us forward as a people,” said Common.

The AT&T 28 Days is just one of the ways AT&T continues its commitment to empowering the diverse communities it serves. Events are free and open to the public. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about AT&T 28 Days, AT&T's Black History Month programs and to reserve tickets, visit

Source: Press release

Lawyers’ Committee Appoints Kimberly Thomas Rapp as New Executive Director

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area is pleased to announce the appointment of Kimberly Thomas Rapp as its new Executive Director.

“Kimberly has a proven and dedicated commitment advocating for civil rights,” stated Pamela Y. Price, founder of Price and Associates and Lawyers’ Committee Board co-chair. “Coupled with the support of the staff and Board, the infusion of Kimberly’s energy, enthusiasm, and skills will be an invaluable asset to the organization’s mission to protect the legal rights of communities of color, immigrants and refugees.”

Thomas Rapp is a Bay Area native. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her law degree from Stanford Law School. Thomas Rapp joins the Lawyers’ Committee after serving as the Lead Deputy Counsel at the Office of the County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara, where she provided legal representation and counsel for an organization of approximately 15,000 employees on a broad range of civil rights, general government, healthcare, employment and labor issues. She also provided legal representation as counsel on diverse civil rights, employment and education law matters for the County Office of Education and various school districts.

Previously, Thomas Rapp was the Director of Law and Public Policy at the Equal Justice Society, responsible for the organization’s program strategy and implementation focused on restoring constitutional safeguards against discrimination. She has also worked in private practice in Oakland representing children with special needs and improving access to education for racial and ethnic communities. Thomas Rapp has also authored numerous articles, including several which have been published in the California Lawyer, Connecticut Law Review and the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I am delighted and humbled to be a part of the storied legacy of the Lawyers’ Committee in advancing and defending the civil rights of our Bay Area communities,” said Thomas Rapp. “The organization is on the forefront of developing impactful and incisive programs, policy and strategy informed by the clients and communities we serve. I am honored to have the opportunity to assist the organization as it continues to achieve these goals in this new era of civil rights.”

“With her legal experience in the government sector, nonprofit organizations, and private practice, Kimberly is uniquely qualified to take the helm of the Lawyers’ Committee,” said George H. Brown, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Lawyers’ Committee Board co-chair. “Lawyers’ Committee owes a tremendous debt for the outstanding service of our Board Search Committee, led by David Lowe of the law firm of Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, LLP. We are grateful for the Committee’s diligent work to find us a great new Executive Director, and the Board and staff look forward to Kimberly’s leadership and contributions to advance the legacy of Dr. King.”

Thomas Rapp will officially begin on January 23, succeeding Interim Executive Director Sonia Gonzales, and current Board Member Lateefah Simon. She will be speaking at the Lawyers’ Committee’s 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon on January 26 at the Westin St. Francis.

About the Lawyers' Committee:
For more than 40 years, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area has worked to advance, protect and promote the legal rights of communities of color, immigrants and refugees -- with a specific focus on low-income communities and a long-standing commitment to African Americans. Lawyers' Committee staff, working with hundreds of pro bono attorneys, provides free legal assistance and representation to individuals on civil legal matters through direct services, impact litigation and policy advocacy. In 2010, Lawyers’ Committee mobilized just over 1,000 pro bono attorneys who contributed more than 48,000 hours of free legal assistance, services valued at over $19 million. For more information, visit

Friday, January 13, 2012

Landmark Children’s Book Featuring First African American Character Set for World Musical Premiere

Washington, DC area children's theater to host musical adaptation of The Snowy Day 

As a child, Michael Bobbitt read the book The Snowy Day about an African American boy enjoying a snowfall hundreds of times, but at the time he wasn’t aware of the book’s significance. Written by Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day is considered the first children’s book featuring an African American character that broke the color barrier in children’s publishing. This year marks the book’s 50th anniversary, and in observance, a special edition is available that features a photo of the young boy who inspired the book as well as a letter from renowned poet Langston Hughes, a fan of the author.

Fast forward to today, Bobbitt is a producer of children’s theater, as the producing artistic director of Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children’s theater in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He has made it a priority to ensure that all children experience theater by creating African American Adventures, a series of African American children’s plays.

Adapted by award winning African American playwright David Toney, and Howard University professor Darius Smith, The Snowy Day will premiere at Adventure Theater January 20th and run through February 12, 2012. The book truly celebrates African American culture in the characters and the music.

We talked with Michael to learn more about the series African American Adventures, how he incorporates volunteerism and philanthropy in his productions and how you can get involved.

Please share more about Adventure Theatre's African American Adventures. Why is it important to create a theater experience for every child? What are future plans for the series?

As a producer of children’s theatre, an African American and the father of a Vietnamese child, I’m always on the hunt to use theatre to teach our patrons about culture and diversity. When I combed through the cannon of existing African American children’s plays, I was saddened to see that there is a dearth of fictional African American plays. Most of the African American children’s plays are based in historical fact. There are many plays about Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks. These are our heroes and while their stories are necessary and important, these are all stories about race, and more specifically whites vs. blacks. But, I’m not sure young people think about race the way we do. Their world is filled with multi-culturalism and I hope it will continue.

So, I wanted to find stories that celebrate our culture. Stories that are not about race, but the significant contributions African Americans have made to American culture.  I have committed Adventure Theatre to adapting 5 musicals that do just this. These musicals not only celebrate African American culture, but the themes must be universal. Additionally, these works are adapted for the stage by African American artists. What a great way to share who we are.

The first play in the series was an adaptation of MIRANDY AND BROTHER WIND, written by prolific African American author Patricia McKissack. The play performanced last year to sold out audiences at our home theatre in Glen Echo Park, MD and also at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in NE, Washington DC. This play continues to receive awards. We significantly boosted our percentage of African American patrons, who have continued to return to the theatre. It has been a joy to see that our pioneer project has worked.

At Adventure Theatre, young people share in the thrill of memorable theater experiences and broaden their understanding of the universe. This is why we exist. Independent studies show that performing arts such as those offered by Adventure Theatre can have positive impacts on a child’s socio-economic growth, or generally speaking their prosperity. By providing a creative outlet through performing arts, Adventure Theatre is helping to deter delinquent behavior in youths.

About future plans for this series, I can’t go into too much detail right now, but we are working on the rights to Amazing Grace, Chicken Sunday and a new musical featuring the music of Bob Marley!!!!

View a video of rehearsals for the Snowy Day here.

Your programs not only entertain, but also educate on model citizenship, volunteerism, diversity and philanthropy alongside core learning skills such as history and language arts. How do you accomplish this?

If you can influence a child at a very young age, they will carry that EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS. I think it’s important, as a non-profit, to do everything you can with the power of your organization. In an effort to expand the experience of seeing a play for our young patrons, we use every bit of creativity to make that happen. A few small things we do – each patron receives a pre-email from us, which has a fun guide (coloring pages, puzzles, etc.), recipes, facts about the play and the book and other fun things. When the kids arrive, they get a sticker, instead of a ticket.

Additionally, many of our plays appear on school reading lists, but we do cross reference our shows with the core curriculum in the schools. When schools come to our theatre for field trips, the teachers are provided study guides. These are interactive guides with lesson plans and other exercises that teachers can use in the classroom before or after they see a play. The other thing that we do is to tie our main stage shows into some sort of community engagement project. So, we partner with other non-profit arts, humanities and social service organizations. For example, when we produced GO DOG GO by PD Eastman, we partnered with the Montgomery County Maryland Humane society to host a Dog Adoption Day. The Humane Society drove their mobile adoption unit to the theatre and we successfully helped them adopt out 8 animals.

Any additional comments?

Adventure Theatre is steadily growing and trying to find ways to get every child to the theatre. A few years ago, we started altering the technical elements of our productions to allow kids with Autism, Asperger’s and other sensory issues to come together and enjoy performances of our shows. This initiative, with our help, was emulated on Broadway at The Lion King. With our support, the Lion King adjusted its performances so that 1600 patrons (families and children) with sensory issues could enjoy a Broadway show, for the first time ever. We also regularly host Celebrate Adoption Weekends and Gay Families weekends. We rely heavily on the support of others to keep our programs affordable. We hope the community will support us, new and old, and continue to enjoy our shows. Contributions are tax deductible. Also, I’m always searching and seeking diversity on our board of directors. So, if anyone is interested, I would love to chat with them.

For more information on the Snowy Day and to purchase tickets, visit

Photo credit:  DC Theatre Scene

New Report: "African Americans are more charitable than other races" highlights findings from a new report, “Cultures of Giving Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy By and For Communities of Color” released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that reveals African Americans give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites. And they are donating through new, more accessible methods, like the Internet, texting and other grassroots channels.

The article provides a brief look into the history of African American giving, our motivations for giving, and features BlackGivesBack's top ten black celebrity philanthropists list of 2011!

According to the press release, not only does the report shed light on the encouraging trends found in this movement of self-help--or “identity-based”--philanthropy within communities of color, but it also issues a call to action for foundations, funders and major donors to embrace this emerging area of giving if they want to truly drive social change. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was one of the first to study and support identity-based philanthropy and it has become the largest single funder of identity-based funds in the country.  We'll have more on this report soon!

Destiny Rising, Gala Performance to Benefit NYC Dance Alliance Foundation

NEW YORK, NY - The NYC Dance Alliance Foundation (NYCDAF) will celebrate its first anniversary with a fundraising performance at The Joyce Theater on Monday evening, January 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm. The gala evening of dance artistry will feature outstanding NYCDA alumni, the choreography of NYCDA faculty and special guest performances from prominent professional dance companies all to benefit the NYCDAF College Scholarship Program.

Last August at the closing of their Annual National Convention, Joe Lanteri, Executive Director of NYCDAF distributed an astounding $2.8 million in scholarships to promising young dancers. The evening, directed by Joe Lanteri, will feature choreography by Lauren Adams, Camille A. Brown, Thang Dao, Jason Parsons, Garrett Smith and guest performers including Camille A. Brown (pictured), Melissa Hough & Garrett Smith of Houston Ballet, STEPS Repertory Ensemble, The Marymount Manhattan Dance Company and University of the Arts Dance Ensemble. Special guests include Foundation Star Supporters, Plumb Performing Arts of Arizona and Susan Jaffe, American Ballet Theatre. A post performance 'talk back' with the artists is open to all ticket holders.

The NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. is committed to broadening performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance. NYCDAF is dedicated to investing in the next generation of professional performers by offering scholarships for secondary and college education. NYC Dance alumni have gone on to join such prestigious companies as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York City Ballet and Cedar Lake.

VIP tickets for Destiny Rising are $125 and include VIP seating for performance and after party with the cast. General seating tickets for the performance are $40. Sponsorships and program ads are available. To inquire about sponsorship packages, journal ads or to purchase tickets, contact Travis Fritsche at, 855-692-5678 or visit

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A’Lelia Bundles Becomes Chair, President of the Foundation for the National Archives

Great-great granddaughter of hair care entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker continues family legacy of philanthropy

Washington, DC — Author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles has been elected Chair and President of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the National Archives.

Bundles, who succeeds Ken Lore, was elected to serve a three-year term, beginning January 1, 2012.

The Foundation is an independent nonprofit that serves as the private-sector partner of the National Archives in the creation of the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibitions, educational programs, web sites, traveling exhibits, special events and screenings, educational literature, and historical/records-related products and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the National Archives in our democracy by presenting the depth and diversity of the records it holds in trust for the American people. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education.

“We are all honored and delighted that A'Lelia is assuming Foundation leadership responsibilities,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “Her history of scholarship, media sophistication, and passion for the mission of the National Archives will serve us well.”

Thora Colot, Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Archives, said: “We welcome A’Lelia at a critical time for the Foundation, as we look to expand and enhance our support of the National Archives to serve both museum visitors and researchers. Under her leadership, and with the support of our major donors, we plan to open a new introduction to research and retail space at the National Archives Building in Washington later this year, and we look forward in 2013 to the opening of a new David M. Rubenstein Gallery at the Archives, which will be the new home for the 1297 Magna Carta as well as permanent exhibitions focusing on the rights of women, African-Americans, and immigrants.”

Bundles became involved with the Foundation for the National Archives in 2005 and most recently served as an officer and on the board’s Executive Committee.

“Every time I enter the doors of the National Archives, I’m struck by the magic and the magnitude of this institution,” she said. “As the repository for the Magna Carta and the Charters of Freedom, as well as the documents that tell the family stories of all Americans, we embody the strengths and aspirations of our nation. I’m honored to serve as chair of the board with a passionate group of board members, a talented staff, and a visionary Archivist. I’m truly excited about our 2012 exhibits and the opportunities that the new gallery and retail spaces will create for us to reach even more visitors and researchers in 2013.”

After a 30-year career as a network television news producer and executive with ABC News and NBC News, Bundles now is president of the Madam Walker/A’Lelia Walker Family Archives, the largest private collection of Walker photographs, business records, letters, clothing, furniture and personal artifacts. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, her best-selling biography of her great-great-grandmother, was named a New York Times Notable Book. She is currently at work on her third book, Joy Goddess of Harlem: The Life and Times of A’Lelia Walker, a biography of her great-grandmother.

In addition to her work with the Foundation for the National Archives, Bundles serves as a Columbia University trustee, on the board of the Madam Walker Theatre Center of Indianapolis, and on the Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library Council at Harvard.

Bundles graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and Radcliffe College and received a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Source: Press release

White House Honors Stephen Powell, Executive Director of Mentoring USA as a “Champion of Change”

Recognition honors those following in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

BlackGivesBack congratulates Stephen Powell on his honor as a White House "Champion of Change" for his commitment to improving countless lives through community service and mentoring as the Executive Director of Mentoring USA. Powell was previously featured as an Insider last year in observance of National Mentoring Month.  Read his feature HERE to learn how he got his start in the non profit sector, his thoughts on the black male mentor/mentee disparity, and suggestions for busy professionals to get involved in mentoring.

More from the White House:

WASHINGTON, DC – "Thursday, January 12th, eight local leaders who are following in the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. will be honored at the White House as Champions of Change. These men and women, who include business and non-profit leaders and community volunteers, have each taken great strides to improve the lives of others through volunteerism and in providing economic opportunity to others in their community. The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities."

Powell remains driven to lead program expansion and technical assistance efforts for Mentoring USA across the nation in major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ. Prior to joining Mentoring USA, Stephen worked in program development and management for local and national non-profits and toured the world with percussive-based dance troupe, Step Afrika, which was developed through his collegiate affiliation, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (Beta Chapter- Howard University). His passion for mentoring and community are visible in his roles leading the Trinity faith-based mentoring initiative at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, chairing the USTA Eastern Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and providing technical assistance to the National CARES Mentoring Movement. He is also an Advisory Board Member to the New York City Young Men’s Initiative and leads an Open Society Institute sponsored male mentor recruitment initiative entitled MEN-TOUR.

To watch this event live, visit at 1:30 pm ET January 12th.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Insider: Lyord Watson, Jr. on Faith & Philanthropy

Our first Insider profile of the year features a young man who has made it his life’s mission to combine ministry and philanthropy to transform communities. Meet Lyord Watson, Jr., a preacher and philanthropist from Brewton, Alabama who was recently selected as a 2011-2012 Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) Connecting Leaders Fellow.  The year long fellowship is designed to sharpen the skills and strengthen the leadership capacity of foundation staff, donors, and trustees who are committed to assisting Black communities through philanthropy.

The fellowship begins this month and will expose Fellows to key issues in Black communities and the role of philanthropy, and provide exposure to seasoned Foundation executives in the field. As a philanthropist, Lyord is a founding member and vice president of Education and Grants for the giving circle, Birmingham Change Fund. In 2009, he was recognized for his civic and philanthropic leadership by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham as a National Philanthropy Day VIP. He serves on the board of directors for the Community Investment Network, a national organization that encourages organizations and individuals to think and act more strategically with their giving to impel greater social change in their communities.

Read on to learn what Lyord is looking forward to as an ABFE Fellow, his highlights from an event hosted by his giving circle about black philanthropy and the church, and how his wife Katrina gives back in their community.

Education: Degree in business management and a Master of Divinity Degree from Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, AL.

Current position: Associate Minister at Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church and founder of Ekklesia, a ministry that helps people live out their faith in every aspect of their lives.

Community Involvement: The Association of Black Foundation Executives (Member), Alabama Poverty Project (Faith Advisory Group), United Way (Visitation Allocation Team Member), Community Investment Network (Member), Cornerstone Schools of Alabama (Junior Board Member), Ronald McDonald House (Young Leadership Board Member), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham (Volunteer), Financial Discovery Forum (Member), and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Member).

Congratulations on being selected as a 2011-2012 ABFE Fellow. Why did you apply to the program? What are you most looking forward to?

I first learned of the fellowship through the Community Investment Network (CIN). Chad Jones, the executive director for CIN and a past participant in the fellowship, suggested that I look into the program. I applied to the program because I wanted to learn more about the field of philanthropy. I also know people who participated in the fellowship, such Darryl Lester, founder of CIN and HindSight Consulting; Athan Lindsay, who also was instrumental in founding CIN and was ABFE’s 2006 Emerging Leader in Philanthropy award recipient; Marcus Littles, Senior Partner at Frontline Solutions and Chad Jones, whom I mentioned earlier. I am probably missing other people, but when I saw those names, I knew I wanted to apply. I’m also on the Board of Directors for the Community Investment Network. I believe that part of my responsibility to the members of the network is to continue to develop skills, talents and relationships that will help move the organization forward.

How will this fellowship help you to advance your professional skills in philanthropy?

Professionally, I will gain greater capacity to affect change in my community.

I believe that the fellowship is well designed. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. The program allows you to share your strengths with the class and will help to develop other areas through the professional coaching component. I believe that by being a part of this fellowship, I will have a greater understanding about issues affecting the African American community nationally, but more importantly I will gain exposure to how others are using philanthropy to meet those issues. The exposure will also make me a better advocate and teacher of philanthropy.

Lyord (far right) is joined with participants from the Philanthropy and the Black Church event hosted by the Birmingham Change Fund. Left to right are Reverend Thomas Wilder, Martha Emmett, and Dr. Wilson Fallin.

You belong to a local giving circle, the Birmingham Change Fund (BCF) as a founding member.  Your circle recently hosted the event, "Philanthropy and the Black Church." What were the key themes discussed?

My passions are pastoring and philanthropy so this event was especially exciting for me. The key themes that were discussed:

The role of the Black church in the past. Speaker Dr. Wilson Fallin explained that the church was the largest black institution during reconstruction. Churches learned how to come together and use their limited resources to aid the community. Benevolence was the term that was used for giving. Dr. Fallin spoke about Rev. Pettiford, who founded the Alabama Penney Bank. It was the first African American financial institution in Alabama and the second largest black bank in the nation. There was a representative for the bank at all of the African American churches. The church would take up tithes offerings and then they would take a collection to be deposited in the bank. In turn, the Alabama Penney Bank provided loan mortgages for African American churches, businesses and people.

Another speaker, Martha Emmett, talked about how her family and church shaped her philanthropy. Before she knew what philanthropy was, she understood the importance in giving. She learned from her father, who every Friday night ate with his family and would invite people in need to eat with him. She observed that everybody gave to the church. It didn’t matter if they were a member or not. Emmett said, “People supported the church because they knew the church was there for them.” Now she continues to be very active in her community and it is because of the culture of giving that she grew up in.

The Reverend Thomas Wilder talked about the current and future roles of the church in communities. He said that the church must be:

Visionary – have to talk about the future to move our communities forward. Through God’s words and ways we can be more than what we are.
A voice – speak for people who cannot speak for themselves. There are people in our communities who cannot speak for themselves because they may not know the law, they may not have access, or they may have other reasons. The church needs to be a place to pull people through difficult times.
Vetting – provide accurate information about issues and events that affect the African American community and explain how it is relevant. Historically the church is where people sought information. The church has to communicate truth.
Vehicle – God has to have someone to move through. People have to take messages to the prison, nursing homes, doorsteps, etc… We (the church) have to exhibit and demonstrate God’s actions and be relevant.

Anything else you'd like to share?

In May 2011, my wife [Katrina] started Birmingham Natural Beauties (BNB), a group for women to support, connect, and encourage one another on their natural hair journeys. It’s rooted in Psalm 139:14 “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and that I know full well.” In accepting their God-given beauty, the women are able to embrace and accept the beauty of those around them.

BNB has grown to more than 500 women and culminated 2011 with “Joy to the Curls,” a Christmas party featuring nationally acclaimed jazz musician Eric Essix. BNB’s signature event, “Tress Relief” is a gathering that takes place every other month. One month, it focused on exercise with a presentation about hula hooping for health. In another month, the women heard about how to care for hair and scalp issues from a local dermatologist. Other events have included a product swap. The group’s next event is Generations, on Sunday, February 5 which will focus on African-American hair and perceptions across generations and decades.

To learn more about the Birmingham Change Fund, visit

Additional websites mentioned:
Community Investment Network
Collective Influence Blog of the Community Investment Network
The Association for Black Foundation Executives
Birmingham Natural Beauties
HindSight Consulting

African American Art in the News

Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Donate Prominent Collection of African American Art and Fund New Curator Position at Georgia Museum of Art

The Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) at the University of Georgia has received a prominent collection of art by African American artists, donated by Larry and Brenda Thompson (pictured). The donation was initially announced in March 2011 in conjunction with the couple’s “Tradition Redefined” exhibition that features 72 works by 67 black artists, as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. In addition to their gift of art, the Thompson’s will support a new position at the museum, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of the African Diaspora.

Larry Thompson serves as the John A. Sibley Professor in Corporate and Business Law at the University of Georgia, and is the former senior VP of government affairs, general counsel and secretary for PepsiCo. Brenda Thompson, a doctor of clinical psychology, serves on the boards of the Georgia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries. For more information, visit

Successions: Prints by African American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection Showcases African American Printwork

The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland in College Park, will feature a collection of prints and works by African American artists, amassed by Jean and Robert Steele. The exhibition will open on February 2, 2012 with a public reception from 5-7pm.

More from the press release: "Forty-five artists, using traditional printmaking techniques such as etching, monoprint, lithography, linocut and silkscreen, created the sixty-two works on display. For the last four decades, the Steeles have developed a collection of hundreds of prints and works on paper by African American artists. Instrumental in the Steele’s collecting has been their patronage of printmaking workshops that have been established by, and focus on, African American artists, such as Bob Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop, Inc. in New York City; Allan Edmunds’s Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA; Lou Stovall’s Workshop, Inc. and Percy Martin’s WD Graphics Studio, both in Washington, DC.

The Steeles are endeavoring to create a systematic structure to support African American art,”says exhibition curator Adrienne Childs in her catalogue essay. “Although there are few public or private collections of this nature, the Steeles recognize the need to support black printmakers and the systems that sustain them in order to ensure the longevity and vitality of this important medium.” Accompanying the exhibition is a forty-eight page catalogue; it includes twenty-eight color reproductions, an exhibition checklist, a glossary of printmaking terms, and texts by David C. Driskell, Jean and Robert Steele, and curator Adrienne Childs." For more information, visit

Sources: Press release/Photo credit: Fairfield County Look

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland Promotes LaTida Smith to VP for Programs, Outcomes and Learning

CLEVELAND, OH – The Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland is pleased to announce that it has promoted LaTida Smith to the position of Vice President for Programs, Outcomes and Learning.

Smith joined the Foundation in 2003 and most recently served as a Senior Program Officer, where she directed the Foundation’s responsive grantmaking portfolio in the areas of health and healthcare, human services and neighborhood empowerment. During her tenure, Smith has streamlined the Foundation’s community grantmaking process to expand partnerships with grantees. She also led the implementation and evaluation of program logic models for outcome measurement.

In her new role, Smith will be responsible for providing leadership and oversight for the Foundation’s program strategies, grantmaking, outcomes measurement and learning in order to advance the Foundation’s mission of improving and transforming the health and well-being of Greater Cleveland. Additionally, she will oversee the Foundation’s Urban Families strategic focus area.

“Since joining the Foundation in 2003, LaTida has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to her own personal and professional development,” said Denise San Antonio Zeman, Saint Luke’s Foundation President and CEO. “She is ideally suited to lead the Foundation’s new approach to strategic grantmaking. She will also ensure coordination and collaboration between and among program strategies, and ensure that everything we learn will be integrated into our practice going forward.”

Prior to joining the Foundation, Smith oversaw the City of Cleveland’s HIV/AIDS Unit, distributing $2.5 million in federal funding annually to programs supporting HIV prevention and care services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Her professional experience includes serving as a Community Educator for Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland and an adjunct instructor at The Ohio State University.

Smith serves on the board of directors of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Funders Concerned About AIDS. She was selected as an American Marshall Memorial Fellow, Association for Black Foundation Executives Connecting Leaders Fellow and Cleveland Bridge Builder. She has also been recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under 40 and Kaleidoscope Magazine’s 40/40 Club.

Smith obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and Women’s Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and master’s degrees in English and Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University.

About the Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland

Approaching its 15th year of grantmaking in the community, the Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland is a community-based private foundation that collaborates with nonprofit organizations and community leaders to address relevant issues and offer sustainable solutions in Greater Cleveland. The organization’s mission is focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. Since 1997, when it was established with the assets from the sale of the Saint Luke’s Medical Center, the Foundation has awarded more than $81 million in grants in Greater Cleveland. Information on the work of the Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland is available on the Foundation’s Web site:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BlackGivesBack Celebrates 5 Years of Black Philanthropy

Happy New Year!  This year is an important milestone for BlackGivesBack, in that we will celebrate 5 years of highlighting black philanthropy and charitable giving.  I launched the blog in April 2007, and it has been a joy to share the good deeds for and by African Americans to benefit our communities.  My primary goal is to show that African Americans are not just recipients of philanthropy, but major benefactors, donating millions of dollars to causes important to us.  We've profiled philanthropists such as Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Eddie and Sylvia Brown, Mannie Jackson, Cynthia Stafford, Alphonse Fletcher, Jr., Anthony Welters, Earl Stafford, Roy and Maureen Roberts - and there are many more we will feature this year.

I along with my contributors will continue to highlight charitable events and fundraisers across the country, profile individuals working in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, feature celebrity philanthropy and news of interest to the black community.  Two focus areas this year will be black men and boys, and resources for nonprofit organizations, such as board development and fundraising.  We'll also announce exciting partnerships and an anniversary event!

Here's how you can help to celebrate our anniversary:  Have you been impacted by an article you read on BlackGivesBack?  Share your story.  Have you increased your charitable donations or volunteering in your community?  Let us know!  Email to info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.  Also, share with us your favorite nonprofit, community leader or charitable event in your community to be featured on BGB.

For my DC area readers, I invite you to attend the 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Program hosted by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum on Friday, January 13th at 7pm.  I'll be participating in the program that will feature a keynote by Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation:

During Black History Month, I'm serving as an honorary co-chair for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's annual luncheon on Saturday, February 25th.  The 2012 Black History Month theme is Black Women in American Culture and History.  Tickets are now available and sponsors are needed to purchase tickets for youth. For more information, visit

For Atlanta readers, please join our Charlotte contributor Valaida Fullwood, author of Giving Back:  A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists along with photographer Charles Thomas at a book reception and signing, January 26th at the Georgia Pacific Auditorium from 6-8:30 pm.  The event is hosted by: African American Development Officers Network, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization, National Coalition of 100 Black Women Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter, Southeastern Network of African Americans in Philanthropy and Southeastern Council of Foundations.  The book has been named one of the 10 Best Black Books of 2011 and is up for a NAACP Image Award nomination for literature.
For more information and to RSVP, visit HERE.

Yours in giving,