Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unlikely Brothers: A Story of Adventure, Loss and Redemption

Michael Mattocks and John Prendergast, authors of Unlikely Brothers, on the banks of the Potomac River 
in Washington, DC.

The Blind Side meets Push in this poignant memoir about two lives forever altered by the bonds of friendship

One may not think that Michael Mattocks and John Prendergast would have much in common. Michael grew up in a single parent household in one of DC's toughest neighborhoods surrounded by crime and violence, while John was raised in a two parent family attending the best schools in the suburbs of Philadelphia. At the age of 21, John became a "big brother" to Michael, then seven, who was homeless and living out of plastic bags. Lacking a connection with his own brother and father, John formed a unique bond with Michael the moment they met. Their "Big brother/Little brother" relationship had its share of high and low points, as the two struggled with varying degrees of violence in their own lives.

During the course of their mentoring relationship, John traveled to war zones and witnessed violence in Africa as a human rights activist, while Michael was living in a violence plagued war zone in Washington, DC. And, they both were disconnected from their fathers. But it was John's experience with his own father that would shape their brotherhood bond in a profound way as Michael fell prey to the streets.

Their story is shared in the book Unlikely Brothers, now available in paperback, that tells their tale of adventure, loss and redemption.  Michael and John share their experiences together in duet, taking us on their journeys as their two lives intertwine. Inspirational and deeply moving, Unlikely Brothers beautifully showcases what an incredible impact such a mentor/mentee relationship can have. It also highlights how the education system failed Michael as a young boy, which ultimately led him into a vicious cycle that befalls many of our young black males.  This book is a great read for youth, youth workers, mentors and mentees.

Today, John is cofounder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Working for the Clinton administration, he was directly involved in a number of peace processes in Africa. He helped create the satellite sentinel project with George Clooney, wrote two books with Don Cheadle, and developed documentary films on Congo with Ryan Gosling. Michael is now a husband and father of five boys, working two jobs in order to support his family. He helps coach his sons on their football teams.   Their mentoring relationship has spanned over 25 years.

To learn more, visit the website at, view the book trailer here, and post your mentoring experiences on the book's Facebook page at  

Photo credit: Nikki Mattocks

Monday, February 27, 2012

Against All Odds Foundation: Social Entrepreneur Provides Hope to New Jersey Youth

The odds were stacked against her - abused, neglected, and homeless after the loss of both parents to substance abuse and AIDS, Christine Carter became just another ward of the child welfare system. As she grew into adulthood, she had a choice: define the terms of her own life, or become another statistic. Her choice was clear. Not only would she be the first in her family to graduate from college earning her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude in social work from Norfolk State University, and her master’s degree in business administration at the young age of twenty-four, she would found a non-profit multi-service agency serving at-risk children and families throughout the state of New Jersey and nationally.

Seven years later, the Against All Odds Foundation maintains a full-time staff of 12 and a part-time staff of over 150 employees. Under her leadership, the organization has provided free services to numerous families in New Jersey. It has earnings of over $1 million in unrestricted revenue and has secured contracts from a range of institutions, including state and local governments, other non-profit organizations and business entities. Christine’s success has made her a leader among her peers in the non-profit, social service and educational arenas. She is also a public speaker, writer and role model for young women.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker shared about Christine, “We are proud of [Carter] who gives hope, empowerment and love to our beloved brick city.” In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Against All Odds Foundation, Christine consults both non-profits and business leaders on successful program strategies from development, implementation and expansion.

In observance of Black History Month, Christine appeared on the Wendy Williams show to kick off Procter and Gamble's My Black is Beautiful campaign. The campaign celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African American women.  To learn more about Against All Odds Foundation, visit

Lincoln Honors Hollywood Elite at ESSENCE Luncheon

Shawn Lollie, Lincoln manager of Multicultural Marketing and ESSENCE Luncheon honoree Shonda Rhimes

On February 23rd, three days before the 84th Annual Academy Awards, the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon was held in Los Angeles, CA. The new Lincoln MKS, available this spring, was the centerpiece of the event and on site for guests to enjoy.

“We are really excited to partner with ESSENCE for the third year for the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon,” says Shawn Lollie, Lincoln manager of Multicultural Marketing. “The premium technologies, performance and craftsmanship of the new MKS make it the perfect vehicle for the luncheon as we introduce the brand to modern consumers at a premium event.”

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer from “The Help” along with actresses Pam Grier, Kerry Washington and Paula Patton were honored during the luncheon. Lincoln also presented the Visionary Award to Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of the television hits “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.”

“African-American women are extremely influential in the premium market space and their buying power is growing. Events like these allow us the opportunity to introduce our vehicles to contemporary consumers while honoring one of the most influential writers and producers in Hollywood, Shonda, with our Visionary Award,” shared Lollie.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Insider: Danielle Moss Lee, President and CEO of Harlem Educational Activities Fund

Our latest Insider is an education veteran, possessing significant experience in curriculum development and program design, and a commitment to expanding educational enrichment opportunities for underserved students.

Meet Danielle Moss Lee, Ed.D., President and CEO of Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF), a comprehensive, non-profit, tuition-free supplemental education and youth development organization that serves high-potential, under-resourced public school students throughout New York City, particularly Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx. The students served by HEAF lack opportunities to reach their full potential. They face lower societal expectations, limited knowledge about the path to college, and a dearth of quality programming, among other obstacles: an opportunity gap.

Under Dr. Moss Lee's leadership, HEAF has increased its enrollment, retention, and participation among students, expanded its outreach in the community, and increased an already impressive record of college attendance among its graduates. HEAF’S track record includes a 100% graduation rate, 98% enrollment in four-year colleges and universities, and 95% complete college within six years.

She has also led her staff in expanding the curriculum to include non-traditional elective courses, broadened students’ service in the local and international communities, and increased student participation in pre-college summer programs resulting in student travel opportunities to Africa, South America, Europe, and Asia.

In recent years, the New York State Education Department, Harvard Business School Club of New York, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, and New York City Comptroller John C. Liu have recognized Dr. Moss Lee and HEAF for leadership in the field of college access and innovation in the social sector. She is frequently called upon to facilitate discussions and present on leading-edge education and nonprofit practice by groups that have included the National Middle Schools Association, Black Agency Executives, Johns Hopkins University CTY, Time Warner, Bloomberg Radio, and Black Women for Black Girls.

Read on to learn how Dr. Moss Lee began her career in the nonprofit sector, how HEAF has accomplished a 100% graduation rate, and advice for those working with and mentoring today's youth.

Education: B.A. in English Literature and History with a concentration in Black Studies from Swarthmore College; M.A. and Ed.M. degrees from Teachers College Columbia University, where she completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership; Graduate of the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management Executive Level Program at Columbia Business School and completed the Harvard Business School SPNM program for non-profit executives.

Previous positions: Assistant Principal of the Grace Lutheran School, Assistant Executive Director of the Morningside Area Alliance, Director for Community and Parent Partnerships at The After-School Corporation, and Director of the CTY Goldman Sachs Scholars Program of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

Congratulations on your ten year anniversary at HEAF. How did you get your start in the nonprofit sector? Why did you choose it as a career?

I actually fell into the nonprofit sector as a result of wanting to make a difference in education but not seeing the public sector as the best way to make the kind of contribution I was seeking. Despite having grown up in a neighborhood where youth development and after-school programs were always available, I hadn't really considered the nonprofit sector as a career track until I started working with young people in and out of the classroom.

During your tenure, you've expanded higher education and community partnerships that include Bronx Community College, Columbia University, and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. What steps did you take to ensure these partnerships were successful?

The best partnerships grow out of developing strong collegial relationships and having a desire to partner with organizations that share your philosophy about what young people need, how services should be delivered and what quality looks like. We don't partner because external stakeholders put pressure on us to do so. We pursue relationships that have young people as the center of the collaboration and that help us to expand learning and youth development opportunities for them in measurable ways.

Nationwide, there is a high dropout rate among African American and Latino students. In contrast, 100 percent of HEAF students graduate from high school. How has your organization accomplished this? How can we better encourage youth to stay in school and graduate?

It may sound over-simplistic, but I think HEAF does a great job at really creating an environment where failure is not a part of the discussion. We assume that each student can and will graduate from both high school and college. We've made it socially unacceptable not to finish high school and go to a four-year college. Not only do we expect them to succeed but their friends at HEAF expect them to succeed. There's a lot of positive peer pressure to get it done. And we don't see high school graduation as the end all be all. I've said at many high school graduation celebrations that I'm proud when you finish high school on time, but if you really want to impress me and the staff at HEAF, graduate from college on time.

Dr. Moss Lee (center) with HEAF students.

What is your greatest career lesson you've learned?

The more you put young people at the center of everything you do, the less you feel the need to justify your decisions. I'm trying to be a champion for those who can't always speak for themselves. At HEAF, we're not afraid to ask ourselves at planning meetings, at evaluation meetings, in discussions, "How does this directly benefit our young people?" And we know how to walk away from things that don't put young people at the center of the work.

What advice do you have for those working with and mentoring today's youth?

Be authentic and be appropriate. Kids can spot a phony. They can also spot someone who's trying to hard. Be yourself. Be a good listener. Mentoring isn't always about sprinkling your idea of wisdom on some poor unsuspecting kid. It's also about learning for the mentor. Finally, remember, you're not a friend - you're a living, breathing example of what's possible in the world. It's okay to have boundaries and to set high expectations. Young people will respect you more in the end.

Share a success story.

Most kids come to HEAF with a parent. But, a few years ago, a young lady showed up at our program by herself. "The guidance counselor gave me several brochures from programs that say they help kids get into college. I've reviewed the material and I'm going to go with HEAF." We said, great, and asked when we could meet her mother. She told us that her mom was going through a lot and wouldn't be able to come and complete the application and interview process. We were so struck by her determination, and her work ethic (she used the money she made from her after-school job to supplement her family's income) that we decided to forego the usual process and admit her immediately. She was shy, cautious and reserved, but the staff took an interest and brought her into leadership positions and she shined.

By the time she began college, she had more scholarship money than she knew what to do with. But, she struggled that first semester because she was working more hours at the retail job she'd had in high school. After much coaxing, we convinced her that the payoff of a college degree and the financial opportunities it would open would be worth the immediate sacrifice she'd make by giving up the job. She found a job on campus and maintained a stellar GPA. When she needed extra cash, we let her work in our admissions office and gave her control over the hours she worked there. She's graduated now and started a very lucrative position in a banking institution. So many young people in New York City are hungry for something more, something better. HEAF takes the puzzle pieces of motivation, aspirations, academic ability and social development and puts them together in a coherent way so that kids reach their full potential.

Learn more about HEAF by visiting

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ford Donates $10,000 to Blair Underwood's SHOW Program at NAACP Image Awards Symposium

Pamela Alexander, Director, Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund; Actor Blair Underwood; Daniel Belgrad, President, SHOW (Students Helping Our World) and Lamell McMorris, NAACP, National Board Member.

LOS ANGELES - On February 13, 2012, students and executives attended the 8th annual Hollywood Bureau Symposium entitled “Film Financing in Black and White” at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. A distinguished panel of industry executives discussed the challenges and solutions for securing funding for film projects that included Debra Martin Chase, Martin Chase Productions; Lawrence C. Hinkle, partner, Fox Rothschild, LLP; Broderick Johnson, co-founder and co-CEO, Alcon Entertainment; David McGriff, associate, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan; and Elizabeth Powell, vice president, Business and Legal Affairs, IM Global. The event was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund and was part of the 43rd NAACP Image Awards Program. The panel also discussed the unique obstacles in securing funding for projects that have a predominately minority cast, and reflected on the recent comments made by George Lucas expressing the difficulties he experienced in securing funding for “Red Tails” as a back drop.

“Ford is proud to reunite again with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau Symposium to bring vital information to those persons aspiring careers in the film industry,” said Pamela Alexander, director of Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “We believe through this symposium individuals will be greatly enriched by the real life tools and solutions to help their dreams become realities of getting their projects off the ground.”

The Ford Motor Company Fund presented its annual symposium grant to Blair Underwood, actor, author and humanitarian for his work with Students Helping Our World (S.H.O.W.) Program. S.H.O.W. is designed to motivate high school students from lower performing schools to improve their grades. Founded in 2009 in Chicago, this is the first year S.H.O.W. will be implemented in Los Angeles. Underwood is working with the Mayor of Los Angeles and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools where four LA high schools have been targeted for the program.

Source: Press Release/Photo: Valerie Goodloe

Fashion Designer Presents Collection During NY Fashion Week, Salutes Figure Skating in Harlem

NEW YORK - On Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, famed fashion designer b michael presented the "b michael America Couture Fall 2012 Collection" at the Museum of the City of New York during Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.  Pictured with b michael is model Maya Sammuelsson, wife of famed chef Marcus Sammuelsson.

The show was used to salute the great work of Figure Skating In Harlem (FSH), an organization with the aim to transform young lives and help Harlem girls to grow in confidence, leadership and academic achievement. Established in 1997 with a special visit by Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, FSH has served more than one thousand girls with a powerful program that prepares them for success in all aspects of life. Their vision is to empower every young girl with the confidence and foundation to achieve her dreams.

In support of the b michael America Fall 2012 collection, legendary actresses Cicely Tyson, Tamara Tunie and Phylicia Rashad were spotted sitting on the front row along with Gregory Generet, Rhonda Ross Kendrick, Valerie Simpson, Will & Anthony Nunziata, Cheryl Wills, Alva Chinn, Kathryn Chenault, Drew Hawkins, Damone Roberts and Sharon Cohen. The models wore jewelry created by AU Jewelry Design and handbags by Mark Q. Paige. The b michael America Couture Fall 2012 collection was sponsored by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

Photo: Shawn Punch

Monday, February 20, 2012

Evidence, A Dance Company Hosts 8th Annual Gala, Gatekeepers: Celebrating Service

Actress Phylicia Rashad, Rose Kirk, Verizon Foundation President; and Monica Azare, senior vice president for New York and Connecticut, Verizon Communications; attend Evidence, A Dance Company's 8th Annual Gala, Gatekeepers: Celebrating Service on February 13, 2012 in New York City.

Verizon Foundation recognized with 2012 Corporate Gatekeepers Award

NEW YORK - Evidence, A Dance Company, presented the first-ever performance of “Gatekeepers” and recognized the Verizon Foundation for its commitment to the arts at its 8th Annual Gala on February 13, 2012 at New York’s Manhattan Center. Founded by internationally-acclaimed choreographer and Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown, Evidence's mission is to promote understanding of the African Diaspora through music, movement and spoken word.

Hosted by The Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” star Norm Lewis, some 250 distinguished guests attended the star-studded affair. Actress Phylicia Rashad served as the Gala Honorary Chair. The black-tie event began with an elegant cocktail reception, followed by dinner, a special performance by Evidence, dessert and Evidence’s signature “Dancing with the Dancers.”

Filmmaker Spike Lee and choreographer Ronald K. Brown, artistic director of Evidence, A Dance Company

Actress Tamara Tunie and Gregory Generet; Beverly Johnson and Brian Maillian

Reginald Canal and Ronald K. Brown

Special guests attending the celebratory gala included filmmaker Spike Lee, Actress Tamara Tunie of “Law and Order: SVU,” Tony Award winning actress LaChanze of “The Help” and Broadway’s “The Color Purple,” supermodel Beverly Johnson, Judith Jamison, former Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Chef Roblé Ali of Bravo’s “Chef Roblé & Co.;” and leading cast from Porgy and Bess.

The Gala presented Evidence's performance of “Gatekeepers,” a powerful modern dance work choreographed by Brown that explores the theme of service and intergenerational care giving. In addition to performances, The Gatekeepers Community Project provides opportunities for elders and youth to interact together in an inclusive way, ultimately to strengthen communities and teach respect and collective responsibility.

“Ron Brown’s inspiration and influence for the dance work Gatekeepers and for Evidence’s 2012 theme of “Gatekeepers: Celebrating Service” includes Native American myth and African traditions,” said Norm Lewis of Brown, who also choreographed Porgy and Bess. “These cultures believe that just as the community cares for the child, so must the child care for the elders when it is time to transition into the afterlife. Ron has blended these themes of a safe and peaceful way of life across the generations and our responsibility to help each other in this quest.”

Dancers from Evidence, A Dance Company perform

The gala featured a Charity Buzz auction where visitors can bid on spectacular auction items including a round of golf with model Beverly Johnson, custom dinner at home prepared by Bravo’s Chef Roblé, and a luxury getaway in Costa Rica, among others. Guests were also the first to experience an exclusive preview of the new, not-yet-released GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir vodka, set to hit shelves this spring.

All proceeds will benefit Evidence's outreach programs, including the Gatekeeper Community Project. Gala sponsors included Verizon Foundation, GREY GOOSE® Vodka, Black Entertainment Television, Booz Allen Hamilton, DraftFCB, Nielsen, and Prudential.

Source: Press release/Photo credit: Donald Bowers,Getty Images

Friday, February 17, 2012

Education Reform Veteran Announces Launch Of Firm to Support Organizations

S.E.I.L. firm brings education, inspiration and leadership to organizations in need of innovation

PHILADELPHIA – Howard R. Jean, education reformer and servant leader, has announced the launch of Success Through Education, Inspiration and Leadership (S.E.I.L.), LLC, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm founded to support non-profit, community-based and educational institutions with empowerment, development, and program management support services.

“I am excited about taking this entrepreneurial step with the launch of Success Through Education, Inspiration and Leadership because it allows me to combine my passions for education reform and youth empowerment,” says S.E.I.L. Founder and Principal Howard R. Jean. “We are thrilled with the support we have received thus far. We look forward to partnering with the many youth-support advocates, organizations and educational institutions, in the community, by providing them with training and consultation in the areas of program development, leadership training and teaching innovations.”

In addition to consulting services, S.E.I.L. will deliver a speakers bureau that will feature a cadre of speakers with expertise in the areas of education, diversity, politics, and conflict resolution. In the fall of 2011, Jean partnered with concerned leaders, DJ Damage of BET's 106 & Park and Philadelphia’s Hot 107.9 to bring the speakers bureau to underperforming public and charter schools in the Philadelphia metropolitan area that impacted thousands of students. Jean and his speakers bureau also provided personal development and success-building tools for minority students in challenging environments in colleges and schools such as Holy Cross, Claflin University and Spalding Middle School.

As the former executive director of the Call Me MISTER Teacher Leader Program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Jean was a key leader in the curriculum writing and program development for “Saving Our Boys,” a pilot program for high school black males that awarded the university its first Huffington Post's “Top 10 Historically Black College and University Success of 2011” honor. Upon Jean’s departure from Cheyney, S.E.I.L. made its soft launch in September 2011. Jean shared with BlackGivesBack, “My mission is to continue the journey as a champion for black male educators and black boys across the country through S.E.I.L. My charge enables me the opportunity to select, create and manage endeavors that will directly impact the trajectory of our future leaders, future fathers and next generation of role models. Through S.E.I.L, our aim is to carry the torch of the talented tenth, making our forefathers and ancestors proud.”

This spring, Jean will launch the S.E.I.L. scholarship foundation that will act as a conduit for students in need of assistance in reaching their educational goals. Based in Philadelphia, S.E.I.L. serves clients in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, New York and South Carolina.

To keep up to date with news and information on S.E.I.L., visit or follow Howard R. Jean on Twitter at @Howard_J.

The Food Network and the Chicago Urban League MetroBoard Present ‘Cork Savvy’

Cork Savvy guests Kwane Baldwin, MetroBoard Treasurer Stacy Summers, guest, Tanquera Baldwin, and Mironda Ross

By Sandra C. Davis, Chicago Contributor

Chicago, IL—On December 15, 2011, good wine, good food, and good advice coupled with networking brought out young professionals from every sector. The Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League (MetroBoard) and the Food Network hosted Cork Savvy: The Network Exchange, a sequenced progression of conversations about career, life development and giving back paired along with wine and food by chef Nicole Pederson of Marcus Sammuelson’s C-House.

“Make a true and lasting impact with the work you do,” instructed Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League , that began the event. The mistress of ceremonies, Ginny Clarke, Executive Coach and author of Career Mapping, introduced distinguished speakers: keynote Anthony K. Anderson, Vice Chair and Midwest Managing Partner, Ernst &Young; Phil Nevels, Co-Founder and COO, Power2Switch; Victoria Holloway Barbosa, MD, MPH, MBA, Millennium Park Dermatology; and Sandra L. Weicher, Vice President of Field Operations, Comcast. The night ended with acknowledgements from the current MetroBoard leadership team and a raffle that benefited some of the MetroBoard’s signature community service and personal development programming: Adopt-a-Family, Vital Bridges, and MB Real Talk. Current MetroBoard President Kelly-Ann Vassell, pledged to further the organization’s mission by creating more events centered around the community.

Cork Savvy-Past MetroBoard Presidents Ronelle DeShazer, Edgartt Melton, Kelly-Ann Vassell (Current President), Angela D. Brooks (Most Recent Past President), Barton J. Taylor, and Eddie Jones

Cork Savvy-Mistress of Ceremonies Ginny Clarke, Executive Coach and author of Career Mapping; Samantha Jones, Roderick Hawkins, Vice President of Communication, Chicago Urban League; guest, Andrea Zopp, CEO, Chicago Urban League

About The Metropolitan Board

The Metropolitan Board (MetroBoard) is an auxiliary of the Chicago Urban League and a chapter of the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP). Founded in 1983, the motivation behind the Metropolitan Board was to identify young African-American professionals and developing them into the future leaders of our community. For information about the MetroBoard, please visit

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

UNCF Celebrates “Game Changers” in Education at Annual “A Mind Is” Gala on March 1st in New York City

Actor and Comedian Bill Bellamy, Grammy-Nominated Recording Artist Ledisi Join UNCF to Honor the Legacy of Shirley Chisholm, UNCF Alumni Serving in Teach For America and NY Giants’ Defensive End Justin Tuck

New York, NY – UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest minority-student-aid provider and national advocate for education reform, will celebrate “game changers” in education on March 1st at its annual UNCF “A Mind Is” Gala. The annual fundraising event, which will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel located at 1535 Broadway in New York City, benefits more than 60,000 students who receive UNCF scholarships and attend more than 900 colleges and universities across the country. Pictured is Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF and Tamara Harris Robinson, UNCF board member and "A Mind Is" Gala Co-Chair.

The evening of entertainment and inspiration will be emceed by actor and comedian Bill Bellamy and will feature special performances by seven-time GRAMMY® nominated R&B artist Ledisi, and the world renowned Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir, founded in 1884 by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee’s first president.

Gala attendees can expect to be inspired by a special tribute honoring the legacy of one of America’s most significant game changers, Shirley Chisholm. A member of Congress from New York City, author, educator, and political trailblazer, Chisholm wanted to be remembered as, “a woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst for change.” This year, UNCF will present their inaugural Shirley Chisholm Award to alumni of UNCF member institutions who have taught in public schools through Teach For America. UNCF’s President’s award will be presented to Lauran and Justin Tuck. The two-time Super Bowl champion NY Giant and his wife started R.U.S.H. (Read, Understand, Succeed, Hope) for Literacy in 2008 and have raised much-needed funds to provide reading materials for children in New York City and Central Alabama.

“The UNCF alumni we will feature at the Gala for starting their careers as teachers have been true game-changers,” said UNCF president and CEO, Michael L. Lomax Ph.D. “Their work as teachers in low-income communities around the country, and their commitment to advocate for education reform after they complete their years with TFA, reflect UNCF’s determination to work through our scholarship programs and with partners like Teach For America, to help communities take ownership of the education their children receive, and make sure that every child gets the education they need to prepare them for college success.”

UNCF will also announce a major contribution from a nationally-known company to UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA). UNCF launched CESA in 2009 to help students, mostly seniors, who were within sight of graduation but whose education was threatened by family layoffs and pay cuts and by the effect of the national credit crunch on student loan programs. Since then, CESA scholarships have saved the college careers of more than 8,000 students who could stay in college so they can graduate. CESA has attracted over $14 million from more than 6,000 donors. Individuals, corporations and foundations can help thousands of students finish the spring semester by contributing to the Campaign for Emergency Student Aid.

Since its founding in 1944, UNCF has raised more than three billion dollars and helped more than 400,000 students secure college degrees. Each year, in addition to supporting its member institutions and their students, UNCF awards 10,000 scholarships and advocates for the rights of low income and minority students to receive a good education from preschool through college graduation.

The UNCF “A Mind Is” Gala is co-chaired by UNCF board member Tamara Harris Robinson, President of the Tamara Harris Foundation, and attracts over 1400 donors, including Fortune 100 corporations and executives, prominent education advocates, athletes, entertainers and notables from the world of finance, law and politics.

For tickets or additional information regarding UNCF's “A Mind Is” Gala, please contact the UNCF Benefit Office at (212) 843-1751 or e-mail .  To donate to CESA and for continuous updates and news, visit  Also, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

For more events across the country, visit our Upcoming Events page here.

Brilliant & Beautiful: Black Female Chemists Promote Science Careers Among Women of Color

Tea and Honey Blends’ founders want to help develop the fields of science with a campaign to make young women of color feel ‘Brilliant & Beautiful’ inside the classroom

When most people think of science, especially chemistry, they imagine a man who wears a lab coat, has the periodic table of elements memorized, adorned with black-rimmed bifocals and lives in a laboratory setting.

Those stereotypes of yesteryear have been wiped away by a new crop of science and math enthusiasts who are breaking the mold. Jaws often drop when a young, impeccably styled Black woman introduces herself as an organic chemist. Drs. Tashni-Ann Dubroy and Tiffani Bailey Lash, have grown accustomed to this response. They are striving to shatter the misconception that the field of Research and Development is exclusively male-dominated and a mundane profession. Both received their doctoral degrees in Chemistry from North Carolina State University.

“One of the myths is that scientists are nerds in ponytails who are not adventurous or social, and that is one myth that Tiffani and I dispel,” explained Dr. Dubroy. “We are certainly gregarious—we have to be social to be in this business.”

These entrepreneurs, owners of the sought after hair care line, Tea and Honey Blends, are far removed as your ‘typical’ scientists. The duo juggles rewarding careers with motherhood and community engagement.

Recently, the ladies launched the non-profit organization, the Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation (BBF) to promote the advancement of women of color in scientific careers. Their mission is to pave the way for future women in the field especially for young girls. BBF supports the growth of women at all stages of their academic and professional careers through mentorship, summer internships, and study abroad experiences. Choosing a career in science is not only rewarding but it can be life changing and innovative for the world at large.  Dr. Tiffani Bailey-Lash shared, “As a female scientist / entrepreneur it is imperative that we lift while we climb. My interest in Chemistry began in middle/high school. We need to keep the excitement in the eyes of these young students in the STEM discipline in order to keep them in the pipeline.” To this end, Dr. Lash is a board member at Washington Math Science Technology Public Charter High School in DC.

Students need to know that there are exciting, lucrative careers in chemistry, from developing dyes for textiles in the fashion industry to formulating a new flavor of soft drink or creating your own green hair care product line. “We have fun doing it,” Dr. Dubroy explained. “It’s one of those industries that you can embrace being a woman because sometimes it takes being a woman to test those products before they are disseminated to customers.” Dr. Dubroy was recently honored with the UNCF National Alumni Council - Excellence in Academic Service award.

The Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation is actively looking to partner with like-minded companies who want to enhance the development of the science landscape with the next generation of diverse candidates. Support is needed for its Way to Achieve Challenge, that recognizes women of color committed to academic excellence with an award and book stipend. Upcoming activities include hosting a summit, "From Science-to-Product-to-Possibility," and a summer research experience for students at Shaw University. BBF is currently conducted in Raleigh, NC and Washington, DC where Lash and Dubroy reside. To learn more about BBF, visit

About Tea and Honey Blends
Tea and Honey Blends was cofounded by Dr. Tiffani Bailey Lash and Dr. Tashni - Ann Dubroy in 2009. As young women of color engaged in chemistry, they decided to utilize their innovative scientific knowledge to create a unique hair care product line designed to suit the needs of various hair textures in the ethnic market. Tea and Honey Blends was selected to participate in the inaugural The Workshop at Macy’s, a comprehensive retail vendor development program for minority and women-owned retail talent. The company has experienced exceptional growth and was recently profiled in Bloomberg Businessweek. Visit Tea and Honey Blends at

Source: Press release/Photo: Tea and Honey Blends

United States Postal Service Unveils John H. Johnson Forever Postage Stamp

By Sandra Davis, Chicago Contributor

CHICAGO - On January 31, 2012, the United States Postal Service celebrated this year’s Black Heritage Forever Stamp commemoration by honoring John H. Johnson, founder of Johnson Publishing Company which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines. “I’m immensely proud that my father and his life’s passion are being recognized in such a high honor as the Black Heritage Stamp,” said Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson's daughter. “His legacy lives on in all whom he touched and in the work we continue to do daily.” Pictured in photo: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Mayor Richard Daley, Desiree Rogers, CEO, Johnson Publishing Company; Linda Johnson-Rice, Chairman, Johnson Publishing Company; Anthony Vaughan, Chicago Senior Plant Manager, USPS; Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Bobby Rush, and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Black History Fact: In 1982, John H. Johnson became the first black person to appear on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in America.

Photo credit:  Johnson Publishing Company

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Insider: Susan Taylor Batten, President & CEO, Association of Black Foundation Executives

In 2011, the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) celebrated 40 years of promoting effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities. Founded in 1971 as a working group, the organization has grown into an independent membership organization that counts among its members the most influential African American staff, trustees and donors of grant making institutions. ABFE’s role in black philanthropy is an important one, as grant making for minorities have not kept with the pace of our nation's changing demographics despite the many disparities facing communities of color. To address this, their work aims to increase grant making addressing African American issues, identify priority issues in Black communities and make recommendations for strategic philanthropic investments to address those issues, and providing leadership, training and networking activities for members.

Ms. Batten is primed for her role as President and CEO, possessing more than twenty years of experience in directing, evaluating and advising both public and foundation-related efforts to improve outcomes for children, youth and families. Prior to joining ABFE, Batten was a Senior Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she coordinated a portfolio on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In that role, she worked across the Foundation to strengthen its focus on addressing racial disparities in its grant making. She is a member of Hispanics in Philanthropy, serves as an Advisory Board Member to the Diversity in Philanthropy Project, and is Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for The Partnership for Prince George's County, Maryland.

Today, under Batten’s leadership, ABFE is heading into new directions. The organization has announced the launch of two new areas of work: Leverage the Trust, which aims to engage 100 Black foundation trustees in activities related to effective and responsive grant making in Black communities, and engaging Black investment managers, who are critical donors themselves, in the field of philanthropy. ABFE is also deepening their work to improve outcomes of Black men and boys by launching a Black Male Funders Learning and Action Network.

Read on to learn how Ms. Batten got her start in philanthropy, how ABFE plans to address trends emerging in black philanthropy, her thoughts on diversity and inclusion in the philanthropic sector, and how celebrity foundations will play a part in ABFE’s upcoming conference.

Hometown: Hempstead, New York
Education: Bachelor of Arts, English and Political Science, Fisk University; Masters of Social Work, Howard University
Honors/Awards: ABFE Connecting Leaders Fellowship, 2005; Schott Foundation for Public Education Change Agent of the Year, 2009

How did you get your start in philanthropy?

While I have always been in the helping profession, my early career was in public service both at the federal and local level. In the mid 1990’s, I was contacted by a search firm looking for talent for a nonprofit consulting group who primarily worked with foundations to plan and document initiatives serving children and families. I was hesitant to leave my “good government job,” but I was curious about the way in which the philanthropic sector could facilitate policy and action in this country to improve outcomes for kids – helping children has always been my primary interest.

The consulting experience at the Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD) provided me with the opportunity to work with several of the large national and corporate foundations here in the U.S. My impressions about how organized philanthropy works with and on behalf of vulnerable children and their families were not all good! Two bold foundation engagements stood out for me during my time at CAPD. One was an effort called Project Change funded by the Levi Strauss Foundation to alleviate the impact of racism…not poverty, but racism… in five communities across the country. That effort was an early insight for me on the potential role and power of foundations on issues of racial equity. The second were a set of current and planned initiatives funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on family and neighborhood strengthening – these efforts were built on principles of community leadership and engagement. I was offered and accepted a position with Annie E. Casey in 1999.

What led you to take the position as the President & CEO of ABFE?

My experience at the Annie E. Casey Foundation was an amazing learning opportunity that connected me with people, ideas and solutions that work for vulnerable children. I was fortunate to join a foundation that had a diverse staff, many of whom were strong advocates for racial and social justice. Five years into my nine year tenure at Casey, I took a position as a Senior Associate on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to work with program staff and grantees on strategies to reduce racial disparities. While the work was challenging, it taught me that there are more allies in the field of philanthropy than we probably know. This was also around the time that I received my ABFE Fellowship that connected me to professional development and nine African American leaders in my peer group – together we had the sense that we could make things happen! When the ABFE CEO position opened up, I thought it would provide an opportunity to work with more foundations that were willing to lead on issues of race and in particular, to be explicit about support to Black communities. I stepped out on faith!

What trends are emerging in black philanthropy and how will ABFE address them?

One of my interests while at ABFE is to contribute to the development of new and recent research on Black giving; unfortunately, the data is scant. That said, we know that our long history of giving is still strong – according to the Federal Reserve 2007 Report on Consumer Finances, Blacks gave more than 12 billion dollars to various charitable causes. The economic recession hit us hard; the Black community lost millions in assets and wealth due to foreclosures and we have yet to see the impact. But the fact remains that Blacks give more of their discretionary income than any other group.

We are also watching the growth and new visibility of Black giving circles through groups like the Community Investment Network. For this reason, ABFE is reaching out beyond our primary audience of foundations to support the work of Black donors. We also know that important resources are moving through long-standing civic organizations like the Links, the Masons, fraternities and sororities. For this reason, ABFE will do more to ensure these groups are privy to the investment strategies and lessons learned that colleagues in foundations have access to regarding Black communities. This includes informing donors on foundation strategies and lessons learned to reduce racial disparities in public systems (education, justice, child welfare, etc.); initiatives that support sub-population groups (Black men and boys, Black families); building the next generation of Black leaders and supporting Black-led and/or serving organizations. We plan to do more networking, showing-up at other organization’s events and targeted outreach for our convenings and consulting in the field.

What are your thoughts on equity, diversity and inclusion in the philanthropic sector?

This is the core of our work and it’s important to say that progress has been made yet there is so much more work to do. We know that the foundation leaders do not reflect the diversity of this country and the browning of America over the next several years will widen this gap. Many foundations want to support vulnerable communities; communities of color disproportionately suffer poor outcomes and available data suggests that communities of color are underfunded and few foundations actually identify communities of color as a focus in their missions or grant making guidelines.

This April, ABFE will host its 41st annual conference in Los Angeles. What are some of the sessions planned?

We are excited about our upcoming conference in April - our theme this year is Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities: Mobilizing our Resources for Community Impact. As described earlier, we are interested in organizing a broad philanthropic movement to improve outcomes for Black communities and plan to have a different mix of colleagues convene in Los Angeles. For example, as part of our Leverage the Trust Campaign, we will have a track tailored specifically to Black foundation trustees – a critical leadership group that we have not connected with in an intentional way. We also will have tailored workshops for regionally-based civic organizations as well as representatives from celebrity and athletic foundations. These groups will join our primary audience of foundation executives for a set of training, professional development and networking opportunities.

We will feature our ongoing Conference activities like our James A. Joseph Lecture and Awards Programs on Excellence in Philanthropy as well as our Insight Forum where we will hear from the Black Philanthropic Network of regional Black philanthropic associations from around the country. Don’t miss Los Angeles!

What is one of the greatest career lessons you've learned? There are so many lessons! I just always tried to make my Mom and Dad proud; to build on the work of our ancestors. That means, always do your best….that’s really all we can do! And keep an eye on those coming up after you looking for support.

ABFE 2012 Conference & Awards Program
ABFE is currently accepting nominations for its 2012 Annual Awards Program that will be presented at the conference, April 27-29 in Los Angeles. The deadline date to submit nominations for the James A. Joseph Lecture on Philanthropy, the Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award, and the Institutional Award for Philanthropic Leadership is February 14.

To learn more about ABFE, submit a nomination, or register for the conference, visit

Corporate Giants Honored at New York Urban League’s 9th Annual Champions of Diversity Awards Breakfast

Michael D. Robinson, Microsoft Corp. and Chair, NYUL Board of Directors; Breakfast Co-chair Valerie DiFebo, CEO, Deutsch Inc; Deanie Elsner, President, Kraft Foods North America Beverages; John Quigley, Regional Vice President, Operations, New York City, Time Warner Cable, Inc.; Linda H. Dunham, Chair, Ronald McDonald House Charities and McDonald’s Franchisee; Susan Whiting, Vice Chair and Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen; Arva R. Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League; Nina Mitchell Wells, Honorary Chair, Champions of Diversity; Breakfast Co-chair Tig Gilliam, CEO, Adecco Group North America.

Kraft Foods Inc., McDonald’s Corporation, Nielsen and Time Warner Cable, Inc. Note Diversity Practices As Key to Success

New York, NY – On February 8, 2012, the New York Urban League (NYUL) lauded Kraft Foods Inc., McDonald’s Corporation, Nielsen and Time Warner Cable, Inc. as Champions of Diversity for their commitment to diversity best practices. More than 250 people attended the event at the Four Seasons restaurant.

In today’s global marketplace companies recognize diversity as a key competitive advantage. The four corporations honored by NYUL were selected by a judging committee of corporate executives based on their commitments to diversity in four deciding categories - corporate citizenry, employment policy, supplier relations and philanthropic practices.

The accomplishments of this year’s honorees highlight the execution of effective practices with far reaching impact. Currently, 43 percent of Kraft Foods Inc. salaried employees are women, and they make up more than 35 percent of the management team. DiversityInc magazine ranked Time Warner Cable, Inc. among the nation’s top 50 companies for diversity practices for three years in a row. McDonald’s Corporation recently received an award from Catalyst for its efforts to promote women’s interests in business. Nielsen has Employee Resource Groups focused on communication between their employees and upper management. These groups serve a wide range of employee populations, including veterans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees and employees with disabilities to name a few.

“What we are witnessing is a true paradigm shift as it applies to corporate diversity. Those innovating or executing best practices are incorporating true diversity at every level of their organization. Each of these four companies has embraced bringing together disparate perspectives for one stronger organizational voice,” said Arva R. Rice, President and CEO of the NYUL.

Frank Ahimaz, Chief Investment Officer of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), delivered the keynote address and Darlene Rodriguez, anchor of WNBC’s “Today in New York,” served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Distinguished guests included Chancellor Dennis Walcott; William Lewis, Lazard; Raymond McGuire, Citibank; Mort Zuckerman, Boston Properties, Nina Mitchell Wells, former Secretary of State of New Jersey, and Kathryn Wylde, Partnership for New York City. This year’s event Co-Chairs were Valerie DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch Inc., and Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco Group North America. NYUL Board Member Dwight Johnson served as Chair of the Champions of Diversity Steering Committee.

This year’s event sponsors include Nielsen and Time Warner Cable, Inc. as Champion of Diversity Lead Chairs, Kraft Foods Inc. as Equality for all People Chair, McDonald’s Corporation and Adecco Group North America as Salute to the Honorees Sponsors, Deutsch Inc. as Legacy Sponsor, and Entergy Nuclear as Founding Chair and Champion Sponsor. Media sponsors of the 9th Annual Champions of Diversity Awards Breakfast include Black Enterprise, DiversityPlus, New York Amsterdam News, The New York Carib News, and The Network Journal.

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League; Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League; Mortimer Zuckerman, Boston Properties Inc.; Michael D. Robinson, Microsoft Corp. and Chair, NYUL Board of Directors; Founding Chair Kenneth Theobalds, Vice President, Governmental Affairs, Entergy Nuclear

The NYUL Champions of Diversity Award was established in 2004 to recognize corporate America’s positive response to The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the basic principles of affirmative action. Previous award recipients include: Adecco Group North America, Interpublic Group, Johnson & Johnson, Macy’s, Inc., Aetna, American Airlines, Major League Baseball, Morgan Stanley, GE, Goldman, Sachs & Co., The New York Times Company, Bank of America, Darden Restaurants, Inc., FedEx Express, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Prudential Financial, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Allstate Insurance Company, Nickelodeon Networks, Betty Cortina, Latina Magazine, American Express, Con Edison, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, L’Oréal USA, PepsiCo, TIAA-CREF, Winston & Strawn, LLP, Entergy Nuclear, Essence Communications, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., IBM, Turner Construction, and Verizon.

For more information about the NYUL and its programs, please visit

Tyler Perry’s GOOD DEEDS Announces Initiative to Support Homeless Youth

Tyler Perry's latest film GOOD DEEDS has announced Good Deeds:Great Needs, an initiative to support Covenant House, a non-profit organization that provides support for homeless youth. Through, Good Deeds:Great Needs will be collecting unused gift cards and donating all collected to the organization. In addition, Lionsgate will make a financial donation to Covenant House every time the GOOD DEEDS trailer is shared. The goal for this initiative is to galvanize communities to share the news and submit gift cards, to provide hearty meals, warm beds and shelter for the homeless youth served by Covenant House.

GOOD DEEDS also presents fans the opportunity to win a Valentine’s Date Night! Just head over to the GOOD DEEDS Facebook page and submit your “love story” for the chance to win a $500 Visa Gift Card! The contest can be found here.

TYLER PERRY’S GOOD DEEDS opens in theaters everywhere on February 24, 2012. The film is a moving, uplifting drama about coincidence, courage, and the defining choices we make on our paths to happiness.
To learn more and share Good Deeds:Great Needs, visit

Friday, February 10, 2012

Charity Auctions Offer Chance to Meet Prominent Black Philanthropists

If you had a chance to meet a prominent black philanthropist who serves on numerous boards and has donated millions of dollars for charity, what would you ask? Here's your chance to meet two renowned philanthropists, all for charity! Charity Buzz, a leading online auction site for nonprofit organizations, is auctioning the chance to meet Pamela J. Joyner and Reginald Van Lee, both arts patrons and major benefactors.  Proceeds from the auctions will benefit Evidence, A Dance Company, whose mission is to promote understanding of the human experience in the African Diaspora through dance and storytelling and to provide sensory connections to history and tradition through music, movement and spoken word. The charity auctions support the organization's upcoming 8th Annual Gala, Gatekeepers: Celebrating Service on February 13, 2012 in New York City.

Bid on your chance to win a private cocktail party for 20 in NYC with Pamela J. Joyner, Managing Partner and Founder of Avid Partners. Prior to founding Avid Partners in 2000, Ms. Joyner was a Partner at Bowman Capital Management, LLC and a Senior Executive at Capital Guardian Trust Company. She earned her AB and an honorary masters degree from Dartmouth College and her MBA from Harvard University. Ms. Joyner's community involvements include serving as a Co-Chair of the San Francisco Ballet and as a Trustee of the School of American Ballet, The McDowell Colony and the Making Waves Foundation.

Joyner's palatial home in San Francisco often serves as the site of numerous charity events, and in February 2010, President Obama appointed her as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. View Joyner's auction here.

Or, how about a power lunch with Reginald Van Lee, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton? Mr. Van Lee is a founding member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and he co-led the Urban Enterprise Initiative with the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, where he focused on driving enhanced competitiveness to small businesses in Harlem.

He serves as Chairman Emeritus of the board of Evidence Dance Company, Chairman of the Board of the New York International Ballet Competition and as a Trustee of the Studio Museum in Harlem. He was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and is a member of the MACS AIDS Fund Board. He is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council, Chairman of the Board of the Washington Performing Arts Society, Co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Howard Theatre Restoration Project, Chairman of the Board of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and a Cabinet member of Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Capital Campaign. View Van Lee's auction here.

Reginald Van Lee

Additional items up for auction are a custom in home dinner for six prepared by Bravo TV star Chef Roble, and a golf foursome in California with legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson. To view all auctions and their terms, visit here.

Related post:  8th Annual On Our Toes in the Hamptons a Summer Delight Reports on Celebrity Philanthropy

This week, hip hop mogul Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter performed two charity concerts at Carnegie Hall to raise funds for his foundation, the Shawn Carter Foundation and the United Way of NY. However, his giving met with skepticism, as reports recently surfaced that Carter reportedly donated only $6,000 in 2010 despite earning 63 million.

As many celebrities tend to use their star power to raise funds for charity without reaching into their own pockets, should they ask their fan base for their dollars? BlackGivesBack along with the Admiral Center and Jodie Blum, former Executive Director of hip hop artist Common’s charitable foundation weigh in. Head over to and let us know your thoughts.

DC Entertainment Group Celebrates Anniversary by Giving Back

URBANE Donates 50 New Winter Coats to Bread for the City for 2-Year Anniversary Campaign

On January 27, 2012, Urbane Lifestyle & Entertainment Group, a lifestyle marketing and entertainment company, presented cash and clothing to Bread for the City, a Washington, DC based non-profit organization that provides vulnerable residents with services, for their inaugural city-wide “U2” coat drive event. In less than 10 days, the company raised $1,200 in online contributions and 50 new winter coats.

Urbane, which operates in seven cities, partnered with the local non-profit organization to help support children, ages 2-12 years old, who are in need. Supporters were able to make tax-deductible contributions online through a collective website, established through Bread for the City. Since 1974, Bread for the City has provided varied assistance to residents of the Washington, D.C. area. From legal and social services to health care, the non-profit organization is a key stakeholder in the community.

Urbane decided to launch their give-back “U2” campaign to add a philanthropic touch for the group’s two-year anniversary. In 2011, the company hosted fundraisers and private events, along with a 40-week run of their reoccurring event, The Urbane Lair at The Park at Fourteenth. On December 22, 2011, Urbane hosted their biennial dinner party, which featured Colie Williams and the Soul For a New Day Band.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Atlanta Giving Circle Awards Local Nonprofits Serving Youth

Jan Johnson (center, in black) of All Grown Up, Inc., accepts check from members of Circle of Joy. L to R Vivian Epps, April Jones, Ava Johnson, Dennisha Haynes, Krystal Webb, Joy Webb, Jan Johnson, Lisa Haygood, Gloria Webb, Kimberly Reed and Chonda Carney. Not pictured is Joni Tabb.

Circle of Joy giving circle hosts 2nd annual grant awards ceremony

The Circle of Joy, an Atlanta based giving circle that promotes collective giving, hosted its annual grant awards ceremony on February 4, 2012. The mission of the giving circle is to pool members’ time, talents and treasures to partner with agencies that are positively impacting youth in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Two organizations received grant awards, All Grown Up, Inc., and FCS Community Economic Development.

AGU mentors middle and high school age females to help them build self-esteem, confidence, set goals for college, and learn financial literacy. FCS Community Economic Development is the umbrella organization of Pride for Parents and the South Atlanta Bike Shop that serves south Atlanta youth. Jeff Delp, executive director of FCS and Andrej Ciho, founder of the South Atlanta Bike Shop shared information about their organizations and success stories of the participants, as well as how the students bonded with community volunteers who teach in the shop.

Circle of Joy grant award recipients.

During the event, Circle of Joy members shared their ideas of philanthropy and encouraged the guests to find ways to get involved with their communities through philanthropy. To learn more about the Circle of Joy, visit

About giving circles: Giving circles are increasing in communities of color as a vehicle for philanthropy and civic engagement. In the report, "The Impacts of Giving Together: Giving Circles as a Civic Engagement Strategy" released by the Community Investment Network, it notes that in much of the philanthropic sector, African American communities and other historically marginalized groups have been viewed as "demand-side" consumers. The giving circle model flips the script by encouraging people to reclaim their role as community philanthropists.

To learn more on how to start or join an existing giving circle, visit the Community Investment Network at and read my guest blog post for the Washington, DC Foundation Center blog titled, "Three Reasons to Join A Giving Circle" here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

African American Entrepreneur Sponsors $1 Million Exhibit of Army's Integration

ARLINGTON, Va. - David L. Steward, co-founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, Inc., of St. Louis, Mo, recently made a $1 million donation to the National Museum of the United States Army. Steward’s gift will sponsor the Museum’s “Reflecting and Changing the Face of America Exhibit,” part of the Army and Society gallery, telling the story of the Army’s integration.

Not only will Steward’s gift chronicle President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 mandating equal treatment in the Armed Services; it will ensure the historic stories of African-American Soldiers such as the Buffalo Soldiers, Red Ball Express operators, Jackie Robinson, and GEN Colin Powell are told.

“We are pleased that Mr. Steward chose to support the Museum project through an exhibit he finds meaningful” said MG John P. Herrling (USA-Ret.), Campaign Executive Director, Capital Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army. “This exhibit will also be an integral part of the larger story of the relationship between the Army, its civilian government, and the people.”

“Without the dedication and generosity of individuals like Mr. Steward,” Herrling continued, “we would not be able to tell the comprehensive story of the Army and the Army’s role in important changes within American society.”

Steward’s father served in the Navy during WWII and several members of his family have served in the Army. In a recent telephone interview, Steward explained that his father spoke of the racism he experienced in the Navy and how he overcame that to fight for his country. When he learned of the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, Steward’s father shared a sense of pride in their story and in the courage they displayed while serving.

The Museum will be a permanent tribute to the American Soldier and will honor their service and their sacrifice. “The stories and the Soldier heroes who lived them should not be forgotten,” emphasized Steward. “They protected our freedom, and provided me the privilege to run a business in a free enterprise system and enjoy and share the fruits of hard work.”

Steward is quick to explain that while he did not serve in the Army, his relationship with the Army and its Soldiers has developed through his business. “I have the opportunity to serve in a different way, by supporting Soldiers through improving upon and providing communications systems and advanced technology solutions that help our brave men and women meet their mission goals,” said Steward.

David L. Steward’s gift places him in the Five-Star Circle of Distinction reserved for donors of $1,000,000 - $4,999,999. More information on World Wide Technology, Inc. can be found at

Conceptual rendering of museum provided by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP

About The Army Historical Foundation

The Army Historical Foundation establishes, assists, and promotes programs and projects which preserve the history of the American Soldier and promote public understanding of and appreciation for the contributions by all components of the U.S. Army and its members. The Foundation serves as the Army’s official fundraising entity for the Capital Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army. The Museum will be constructed at Fort Belvoir, Va., to honor the service and sacrifice of all American Soldiers who have served since the Army’s inception in 1775. For more information on the Foundation and the National Museum of the United States Army, visit

Headshot provided by World Wide Technology, Inc.

Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art Hosts 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner

Ron and Judith Davenport and Brooklyn Museum trustees Warren and Charlynn Goins attend the 2nd
annual benefit dinner hosted by the Brooklyn Museum to support the Brooklyn Museum Fund
for African American Art in Harlem, NY

By Akira Barclay
NY Contributor

HARLEM, NY - On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, African American art donors and patrons gathered in Harlem at Red Rooster, the restaurant owned by famed chef Marcus Samuelsson, to raise funds for the Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art. Notable black artists in attendance were Sanford Biggers, Mickalene Thomas and Lorna Simpson, as well as prominent African American donors and museum trustees Kenneth and Kathryn Chenault, Saundra and W. Don Cornwell, Charlynn and Warren Goins, Tracey and Phillip Riese, Board of Trustees President Stephanie Ingrassia, and Charles and Suzanne Randolph Shorter.

The event celebrated the fund's inaugural acquisition, Web of Life, a 28-foot mural designed by leading twentieth-century African American artist John Biggers.

The museum states that The Fund for African American Art is a collecting initiative launched in 2010 to build Brooklyn Museum holdings of precontemporary African American art. The fund was launched by a $200,000 matching gift from Museum Trustee Saundra Cornwell and her husband Don, and by fractional gifts from Charlynn and Warren Goins of their important landscape by Robert Duncanson and a Charles Ethan Porter still life. The initiative was launched with the purchase of an early Sargent Johnson sculpture. Ms. Cornwell and Ms. Goins initiated the purchase fund along with former Trustee Tracey G. Riese.

Brooklyn Museum trustee and fund donor Saundra Cornwell, with artist Sanford Biggers

Yolanda Ferrell-Brown, Lola West and Joyce Mullins-Jackson

Brooklyn Museum trustees Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express and fund donor W. Don Cornwell

Michael Rosenfeld and artist Mickalene Thomas, who hosted the 2011 benefit, with Sanford Biggers

Director Arnold Lehman and Sanford Biggers

Khary Barnes, philanthropist; Nathaniel Thompkins, Executive Director, 21st Century Foundation (21CF); Sterling Walker, 21CF; and fund donor Ian Fuller

Amelia and Adebayo Ogunlesi

Kathryn Chenault

Ron Davenport and Ed Lewis

Musician Rakiem Walker entertains the guests.

Additional gifts inspired by the initiative include five Edward Mitchell Bannister pastels given by Jason Wright, two early Hale Woodruff watercolors given by E. T. and Lyn Williams, an early Norman Lewis watercolor from Ian Fuller, and a Charles White etching from Milton and Nancy Washington. Camille and Luther Clark have promised the gift of their African American art library as well.

Currently showing at the Brooklyn Museum is Question Bridge, a video installation featuring 150 diverse African American men.  Created by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair, the exhibition includes five video screens, placed in an arc, playing videos of the men responding to questions. Their words are woven together to simulate a stream-of-consciousness dialogue, through which important themes and issues emerge. The subjects addressed include family, love, interracial relationships, community, education, violence, and the past, present, and future of Black men in American society. The men represent a range of American geographic, economic, generational, educational, and social strata.

The artists hope that the Question Bridge project will be a catalyst for constructive dialogue among Black men and others in the nation that will help deconstruct stereotypes about Black male identity in our collective consciousness. The Brooklyn Museum will present a wide range of public programs in conjunction with the project. For more information on Question Bridge at the museum, and an upcoming Teen Night open house event on February 10th for Black History Month, visit here.

Visit the Brooklyn Museum website at

Photo credits:  Eric Weiss and Michael Barclay

Friday, February 3, 2012

29th Annual Black Creativity Gala Honors Science Contributions of African Americans

Anita Green (2nd from left), Programs Committee chair for the 2012 Black Creativity Gala with guests Alicia Carroll, and Sandra and James Foster.

Chicago's African American leaders raise over $475,000 for Black Creativity program at the Museum of Science and Industry

By Sandra Davis
Chicago Contributor

CHICAGO - On Saturday, January 28, 2012, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) hosted its 29th annual Black Creativity Gala with nearly 800 guests. The gala, planned in collaboration with a committee of prominent Chicago African-American leaders, raised more than $475,000 to support the annual Black Creativity program, which pays tribute to the culture, heritage and science contributions of African Americans.

At 6:30 p.m., guests enjoyed cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and the chance to view the annual Black Creativity juried art exhibition, featuring more than 100 original works of art from African American artists.

At 7:30 p.m., guests adjourned to the Museum’s Central Pavilion and Rotunda for dinner catered by Sodexo. Keeping in tune with the evening’s Harlem Renaissance theme—a period of heightened African-American energy and culture during the 1920s and ‘30s—guests feasted on a lavish strolling buffet with seven stations decorated in black, silver and red.

The buffet’s stations, with floral accents by Kehoe Designs, featured an array of food with global influences, including “The Great Migration” station, which showcased food with Caribbean ties such as coconut-crusted Mahi Mahi, plantain and black bean empanadas and Caribbean paella. Other delectable buffet items included peppercorn-crusted Chateaubriand, Peking duck breast with Mandarin pancakes, and fried oysters served on the half-shell. Dessert station “Late Night at the Apollo” offered Bananas Foster flambee with praline ice cream and a selection of cakes.

NBC5’s Marion Brooks emceed the evening’s program and introduced the musical entertainment: Maurice Mahon and the New Face of Soul; the evening’s featured entertainer, Grammy®-nominated artist Freddie Jackson, noted for songs “You Are My Lady” and “Rock Me Tonight”; and DJ Lil’ John.

Frank Clark, featured in the Black Creativity art exhibit and NBC5's Marion Brooks; Shari Runner, Chicago Urban League and Gale Foster Farley, Event Chair.

Freddie Jackson performs.

Throughout the evening, guests experienced the 2012 Black Creativity exhibit, Powerful: African Americans in Energy, which explores America’s energy future and different energy sources with an interactive miniature golf experience that appeals to all ages. Guests can “putt” their way through a diverse landscape of “energy lands” representing oil, natural gas, wind, solar, hydropower and more, and learn the pros and cons of each resource. Throughout the exhibit, prominent African-American professionals in the energy field are profiled to showcase the various careers available in the sciences. The exhibit runs at the Museum from Jan. 25 – April 15, 2012 and is free with general admission.

A committee of prominent Chicagoans, chaired this year by Gale Foster Farley, teamed with the Museum to plan this year’s gala. Shari Runner, senior vice president for strategy and community development at the Chicago Urban League, chaired this year’s Black Creativity executive committee and council; Anita Green, president of Anita Green Relocation Management, chaired the programs committee; and Gregory T. Hinton, chief diversity officer for the Democratic National Committee, chaired the fundraising committee.

Black Creativity 2012 was sponsored by Allstate, ComEd, Fifth Third Bank, ITW, Peoples Gas and US Cellular with media partners NBC5, the Chicago Defender, Clear Channel, WGCI (107.5 FM), WVAZ (103 FM), WGRB (1390 AM) and WLFM (87.7 FM).   The Black Creativity 2012 exhibit, Powerful:  African Americans in Energy is now open at the museum and runs through April 15, 2012.

For more event coverage of the 2012 Black Creativity Gala, visit Social Life Chicago here.

Ava Youngblood and Norma J. Williams; Michelle and Cedric Thurman

Nicole Williams, Bryon Henderson and Loni Swain

Merry Green, Ricky Pennick, Jessica Pennick

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago offers thousands of fun, interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind, world-class experiences to inspire the inventive genius in everyone. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education, MSI also aspires to a larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! MSI is open every day except December 25, and regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day; free days are offered every Wednesday in February. The Museum is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, find MSI online at or call (773) 684-1414 or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.

Photo credit: John Wheeler/Source: Press release, Museum of Science and Industry