Friday, March 30, 2012

Young Professionals Launch Alvin Ailey Young Patrons Circle in New York


Jay Lundy, Kara Hollis, Rachel Libeskind, Hannah Bronfman, Honor McGee, Sam Hamilton, Jenny Obiaya and Baruch Shemtov at Alvin Ailey Young Patrons Circle Launch Event in New York.

NEW YORK - On March 28th, a dynamic group of influencers ages 21 to 39 launched the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Young Patrons Circle at the Penthouse of The Standard in East Village. The young professionals are excited about being closely involved year-round with this world-class Company, while supporting Ailey’s programs and new Artistic Director Robert Battle’s vision. Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle welcomed 100 guests including Steering Committee members Hannah Bronfman, Natalie Ginsberg, Sam Hamilton, Kara Hollis, Rachel Libeskind, Jay Lundy, Honor McGee, Jenny Obiaya and Baruch Shemtov.

“I know how the arts can inspire, as my world was forever changed when I witnessed the artistry of Ailey as a young person,” said Battle. “The Young Patrons Circle will be at the forefront of inspiring the next generation of arts enthusiasts, while also giving them the opportunity to have an impact on Ailey’s future.” Led by the Young Patrons Steering Committee, members will enjoy a behind-the-scenes view of Ailey, with exclusive benefits and special opportunities connected to performances and other activities at the Ailey Studios.

“Ailey is a celebrated cultural institution in New York and the nation, to which we feel a special connection,” said Honor McGee, a Steering Committee member who spoke at the event. “Ailey also deserves a world-class Young Patrons Circle, and we look forward to making it happen during this extraordinary time for the organization.”



Honor McGee and Hannah Bronfman with Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle



Robert Battle, Jay Lundy and Baruch Shemtov



Kristina Roddy and Kara Hollis


Sam Hamilton, Jenny Obiaya and Jay Lundy



Rachel Libeskind, Henry McGee, Adriel Saporta



Honor McGee, Hannah Bronfman, Robert Battle and Sherry Bronfman

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is currently performing for audiences across the country in 27 cities, welcoming a historic new era led by Artistic Director Robert Battle. Join Ailey’s Young Patrons Circle and connect with the best and brightest of New York City’s next generation of cultural philanthropists. Annual membership dues are $250 per individual. For more information, visit www.alvinailey.org/youngpatrons .

Photo credit: Adriel Reboh

"Why Giving Circles? Why Now?" Hosted by Friends of Ebonie



I'd like to thank Ebonie Johnson Cooper of FriendsofEbonie.com for hosting a great webinar this week titled, "Why Giving Circles? Why Now?" I was honored to serve as the guest speaker for Ebonie's inaugural "For Goodness Sake!" series that focused on giving circles and their benefit to individuals, communities and nonprofit organizations.

If you missed it, don't worry! The webinar is now available here. You'll learn what a giving circle is, how they work, and why they are essential to communities of color. You'll also learn why I started The Black Benefactors and resources if you'd like to start or join a giving circle.

Ebonie Johnson Cooper’s mission to give back to her community has been a life-long passion. Ebonie received board governance training through the United Way’s BoardServNYC program, has served on the Junior Committee of New York Cares, and led a grassroots public awareness campaign to successfully save the famous 55-year-old Pink Tea Cup Restaurant in New York from closure. She created Friends of Ebonie to inspire her peers and allow her giving circle to reach organizations that change lives. In 2010, Friends of Ebonie expanded to serve as an information platform for exceptional charities, volunteer opportunities and fundraising campaigns.

Ebonie is currently a Vice-President on the Junior Board of New York Cares, Inc. and an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Professionally, Ebonie manages the DIY Projects at KaBOOM! in Washington, DC. Her career also includes MTV, BET, and the Barack Obama Campaign for Change.

This is the first of many web interviews for Ebonie's "For Goodness Sake!" series, so I encourage you to visit her website at www.FriendsofEbonie.com and subscribe to her newsletter, like her on Facebook and follow on Twitter at @FriendsofEbonie.  Thank you Ebonie and to all who participated!

Candlelight Vigil to be Held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the 44th Anniversary of King’s Assassination


At sunset on April 4, the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. invites the public to join them as they honor the life of Dr. King on the anniversary of his assassination by holding a candlelight vigil and laying a wreath at the foot of the Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The vigil, which falls on the 44th anniversary of that fateful day in Memphis, TN, will bring people together to honor the life of this man of peace. Since its opening, millions of 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 brief ceremony will take place Wednesday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. and will include remarks by Harry E. Johnson, president and CEO of The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation and other dignitaries including Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of ‘Mahatma’ Mohandas K. Gandhi; Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League; Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO; and Rev. Gwendolyn E. Boyd, 22nd national president, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The program is free and will be open to the public. For more information about the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, please visit www.buildthedream.org.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Legendary Film Director Bill Duke Trains Next Generation of Entrepreneurs Through Media


Legendary film director and actor Bill Duke (center) surrounded by Ron Hicks, Senior Director of Government Affairs and Community Outreach for Advance America with staff and board members  of Paul Public Charter School at a screening of Duke’s “Dark Girls” documentary; February 29, 2012  at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, DC.

Known as the legendary African American Godfather of American cinema, Bill Duke has a string of acting credits that include Predator, American Gigolo, Car Wash, Menace II Society, Bird on a Wire, Get Rich or Die Trying, X-Men 3 and many others. His accomplishments behind the camera are just as impressive, directing films  such as A Rage in Harlem and Hoodlum. As the founder and CEO of Duke Media, Duke has successfully produced film and television for over 30 years. He recently joined the ranks of directors Stephen Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Clint Eastwood by receiving a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America.

In addition to his motion pictures accolades, Bill Duke is a humanitarian and activist who devotes his time to charity and non-profit organizations. Duke is the Founder and CEO of the Duke Media Foundation, designed with the specific purpose of utilizing multimedia education to identify, address, and fund the eradication of issues impacting local communities including, but not limited to HIV/AIDS, education, diabetes and child molestation. The Duke Media Foundation provides media training for grade school and high school children and recently, with the help of Congresswoman Diane Watson, received a $100,000 congressional grant for the training of young people in creation of media and emerging platforms. Additionally, the foundation supports fundraising efforts for organizations involved in foster care, HIV/AIDS education, nutritional education, financial literacy, and gang intervention.

On Wednesday, February 29th, Duke was in Washington, DC for a special screening of his documentary “Dark Girls” sponsored by Advance America with partners the National Council of Negro Women, Jackson and Associates Group, LLC, Black Philanthropic Alliance and The Black Benefactors. The film screening benefited Paul Public Charter School in Washington, DC. Ron Hicks, Senior Director of Government Affairs and Community Outreach for Advance America shared, “Advance America is committed to making a positive difference in the communities throughout the United States. We are proud to partner with the Bill Duke Media Foundation to help bring the “Dark Girls” discussion to the attention of thought leaders across the country. The fact that the screening of this important film in Washington, DC also helped support the impressive work being done at the Paul Public Charter School is indicative of Advance America’s steadfast commitment.”

BlackGivesBack (BGB) talked with Duke about his Foundation’s media program and how it will prepare youth for entrepreneurship and the future.  The program will serve as an introduction to media and financial literacy by using an intense 10-week curriculum. Youth will learn how to create video games taught by African American programmers, build cell phone applications, and learn basic film techniques such as writing, editing for sound, color correction and sound mix.  Youth will also be taught entrepreneurship and financial literacy. He shared, “My attempt is to have youth think they can be the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and not just think about employment, but being employers.” Only 12 students participate in each cohort, and each youth will not be allowed to leave the program until he or she can teach the lesson learned that day.

In Los Angeles, where the program is being piloted, Duke shared with BGB that 35% of youth there are dropping out of school before graduation: “There has to be some intervention that there’s a world out there, that you can be a part of which you can impact. If no one ever tells them, they don’t have that dream. We as adults have a responsibility and obligation.” Plans are to expand the program nationwide and the Foundation is currently seeking additional funding.

To learn more about the Duke Media Foundation and Bill Duke’s upcoming projects, visit http://www.billduke.com.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New York Urban League Hosts Young Men’s Empowerment Day


NYUL's 2nd Annual Young Men's Empowerment Day allowed 125 local high school students to learn from corporate mentors, panelists and each other.

The New York Urban League’s Empowerment Day Partner Students with Leading NYC Corporations for Job Shadowing and Mentorship

NEW YORK - For 125 local high school students, corporate takeover had a new meaning. On March 23rd, students from 17 high schools and community organizations, including Harlem Children’s Zone, McKee High School, Harlem Educational Activities Fund, and Brooklyn Technical High School participated in this year’s New York Urban League's Men's Empowerment Day. The mission behind the Empowerment Day is to give high school students the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a successful professional based on their career interests.

Students participated in a variety of activities at host locations and then convened at Time Warner Cable for a panel discussion and reception to wrap up the day. NBA and New York Knicks star John Starks and New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams participated on panel discussions.



New York City Council Member, Jumaane Williams, (left) and NBA and NY Knicks great, John Starks (right) served as panelists for the NYUL's 2nd Annual Young Men's Empowerment Day discussion, which was moderated by Rev. Alfonso Wyatt (center), The Fund for the City of New York.

Participating companies included Con Edison, Interpublic, Macy’s, Food Network, CBS, NBC, New York Daily News, New York Times, Emmis Communications, Harlem Hospital, Microsoft, Soft-Sheen Carson, the District Attorney’s Office and Time Warner Cable.



Michael Jack, President and General Manager of NBC New York, hosts Arva Rice, President & CEO of New York Urban League, and local high school students as part of the NYUL's 2nd Annual Young Men's Empowerment Day.



Arva Rice and local high school students join Bobby Amirshahi, VP, Communications, NYC for Time Warner Cable

For more information about NYUL and its programs please call 212-926-8000 or visit www.nyul.org.

Celebrities and Local Communities Join Forces With General Mills to Advocate Education


Box Tops for Education Brand Manager Tommy Hillman, LifeLearn Associates President Dr. Jacquelyn Jackson Fleming, Spelman College President Dr. Beverly D. Tatum, famed comedian Steve Harvey, editor emeritus of Essence magazine Susan L. Taylor, TLC's Chilli, actress Tisha Campbell Martin, singer/song writer Monica, and General Mills Baking division President Anton Vincent at the Box Tops for Education Town Hall at Morehouse in Atlanta Georgia.

ATLANTA - On March 16, 2012, almost 1500 guests gathered for the Box Tops for Education Town Hall event hosted by Steve Harvey at Morehouse College to engage in a critical conversation around the importance of a solid primary education for our nation’s children, while encouraging each other to become more involved in that effort as parents and as a community.

The town hall attracted a diverse panel of education experts and celebrity moms for the discussion, which was moderated by National Cares Mentoring founder Susan L. Taylor. These celebrities and key stakeholders, including LifeLearn President Dr. Jacquelyn Jackson Fleming; Spelman College President Beverly D. Tatum; actress Tisha Campbell Martin; Grammy Award winning artist Chilli from girl group TLC; and Grammy Award winning singer-song writer Monica all attended the event because they know the critical importance of education.

Taylor assured the guests that this Town Hall was something different. “Believe me, this was a call to action for all of us,” said Taylor. “What we had was a lively discussion about our children’s development and about what we must do as parents, teachers and responsible members of the community to ensure that our young ones are self-sustaining contributors to their families and community in ways that matter most. All of this starts with pre-school and a strong primary education.”



Steve Harvey and Susan L. Taylor

Panelists spent time talking about their own experience with education, taking care of their children and wanting the best for their communities. Discussion was then opened up to the audience to ask their questions to the panelists about education.

“It was inspiring to see that so many people shared the passion that General Mills has around education,” said the president of General Mills’ Baking division Anton Vincent. “Every person who attended the town hall was there because they wanted to make a difference. We, at General Mills, are eager to give communities the tools to do just that through the Box Tops for Education program. Supporting our youth is a collective effort, and General Mills is proud to be a part of that.”



Actress Tisha Campbell Martin, TLC's Chilli, singer/song writer Monica



Jean Childs Young Middle School Band

Box Tops for Education is a program that started in response to the growing number of schools experiencing financial difficulty. It offers an easy way to earn cash for schools in your community by purchasing participating products, clipping the coupons and turning them in for cash. The cash can in turn be used for whatever the school needs.

To learn more about Box Tops for Education visit www.btfe.com.

Source: Press release

Monday, March 26, 2012

BlackGivesBack Announces Launch of Black Men and Boys Series


Dear Readers,

In January, I announced that BlackGivesBack would be launching a series on black men and boys this year in an effort to combat the negative stereotypes so often portrayed of them in the media. I was inspired by the report “Portrayal and Perception: Two Audits of News Media Reporting on African American Men and Boys," released in November 2011 that analyzed Pittsburgh's news media for three months. The researchers found that the largest block of news stories linked to African American men and boys involved crime. Little to no coverage was devoted to positive “quality of life” stories such as education, leadership and community. The report also highlighted the near-absence of positive coverage of young black men and boys ages 15-30. A 19 year old African American male interview subject summed up his thoughts about the media stating, “They don't show...positive African American men that have obtained degrees within business and marketing and that are moving in a positive direction. They only show the guys getting caught with drugs...And that affects our overall perception of different ways to become more economically fit as African American males.” Although the report’s findings are based from Pittsburgh, I’m sure the same findings would be found in any other city.

For the past couple of months, I have been researching organizations, funders and individuals who are working to support black men and boys, when the nation was hit with a tragedy. The tragic death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin has brought renewed attention to racial stereotyping, and the impact it has on our black men and boys. And media plays a significant role in promoting how they are perceived. Among the report’s recommendations is to use the blogosphere as a vehicle to promote positive stories, and that’s what I intend to do with this series. Features will include highlights of organizations that are mentoring the next generation of black men, initiatives led by foundations that are funding media projects on black males, and stories of everyday black men and boys working to improve their communities.  I'm pleased to have the support of many who will contribute to the series, including Stephen Powell, Executive Director of Mentoring USA:

"Congratulations to BlackGivesBack for its persistence in highlighting the importance of investing in the success of Black men and boys in communities throughout the US. I am personally committed to combating the prevalence of negative images of Black males in the media, by specifically working to build the capacity of Black men and the faith community to mentor young boys via the our MEN-TOUR: Recruit. Reclaim. Restore project, with support from the Open Society Foundation Campaign for Black Male Achievement and strong community partnerships. In order for the Black community to heal we must aim to ‘fit the description’ of a collective, spiritually-centered body moving forward with a firm understanding of self-love.

Thirty days prior to the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, I wrote a blog for the Soros Open Society Foundation - Campaign for Black Male Achievement entitled 'Black Male Mentoring: Decoding the Image.' Within the context of the blog post, I shared a recent experience where I was stereotyped by a Black person while I was walking in a cross walk, in Newark, NJ, with my hoodie over my head. Mind you, it was 20 degrees outside but I also understood the fear the person possessed due to the negative media images portrayed on Black men…in hoodies, bomber jackets, etc. It is a tragic irony to be at this juncture; to see Trayvon Martin lose his life over being racially profiled in a hoodie.

We lost our dear brother, son Trayvon because he was racially profiled due to his choice in how he covered himself, with a hoodie, on that fateful 26th day of February. When our children can’t simply be children, in their own communities, and our communities can’t feel safe in the presence of Black men, we must ask ourselves: what type of leadership and spiritual covering are we providing to protect our communities? Why are our boys treated as suspects until proven innocent? We owe it to Trayvon and countless others whose lives were tragically cut down way to soon, a Black men call to action to positively engage in the life of Black boys."

The good news is that there are many initiatives for black men and boys underway, such as the Open Society Institute and Echoing Green’s Black Male Achievement Fellowship, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise, the Association of Black Foundation Executives work with black men and boys, the Knight Foundation’s Black Male Initiative, Cities United, an initiative led by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addressing violence among black males (read highlights from their conference I attended here), Chicago's Black Star Project, the Leadership Sustainability Institute, a project that aims to strengthen the capacity of nonprofit organizations working within the field of black male achievement, and the Foundation Center's recent announcement that it will generate a comprehensive report analyzing philanthropic giving in support of black men and boys and an interactive web portal of resources for both funders and non-profits working on black male achievement.

Here are 4 things you can do to help:

  1. Inform local media and bloggers about events and black males in your community for positive media coverage.
  2. Join a giving circle. A giving circle is a form of philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their money or time to a pooled fund, and decide together where to give these away. Studies have shown that giving circle members are more likely than other donors to give to areas less often funded by organized philanthropy, such as to organizations serving ethnic and minority groups. This aspect is important, as an article recently published by TheRoot.com cites new research that donors may not be as likely to give to programs serving black youth past elementary age due to negative stereotypes. To learn more about giving circles, visit www.thecommunityinvestment.org and register for a free webinar on March 27th here.
  3. Use your expertise and talent to volunteer at a program serving black men and boys.
  4. Support projects such as Question Bridge, an interactive, transmedia art project that seeks to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. Now currently showing at the Brooklyn Museum until June 3, 2012 and the Oakland Museum of California through July 8, 2012.
I look forward to your feedback about the series. Send your suggestions and story ideas to info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Soul Photo

I’m Shocked, You’re Shocked: Another Black Child Murdered


By Kenneth Braswell

Life can’t get more tragic for the parents of Trayvon Martin. The hard and cold facts are that they both lost a son way too soon in life. Certainly a call made late in the afternoon by police informing them that their son had been murdered had to be heart wrenching and unbearable. Some would even say surreal; besides, it’s not natural for parents to bury their own children. In the aftermath, a public outcry so much so that the outrage has created a social media firestorm. The shocking, yet, not unfamiliar circumstances of his death have caught the attention of America, the media and average everyday folks. As a result, the hearts of Black America are grieving in concert and searching for answers for this unfortunate loss of young life.

Yet while I’ve grieved and search for ways to support his parents over the last month, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, “should I be shocked?” Another black youth shot down in the prime of his life via unusual circumstances. Yeah, what’s shocking 'bout that? I’ve asked myself this question over and over, against my need and desire to still grieve for Trayvon and struggling with my morals to remain empathic. However I can’t ignore that I’ve lived long enough to remember the stories of Emmitt Till. A tragedy that lends some context to the value or lack thereof for young black life pressed up against the hard rock of racism.

I’ve also lived long enough to witness the tragedies of Yusef Hawkins, Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, James Bryd Jr., and Sean Bell; some of whom have lost their life, the others have faced the living pain of racism at the hands of injustice. Few can forget the public outcry surrounding these black men, but many should ask, “Who’s next or when will it end?!”

Even in my town of Albany, New York, plans to march in the streets on behalf of Trayvon are admirable. Yet not two months ago, public outcry emerged as another young black male was killed by police fire under unusual circumstances. Many have forgotten his name, more never knew it happened. Too often countless, unmentioned and unheard of young black males in urban cites die each day; not all at the hands of security guards, police or whites. Most of them are murdered by other boys and men who look just like them. Yet public outcry seems to be silent at the hands of this greater tragedy. Just think, over the same weekend that word began to spread about the death of Trayvon, over 30 people were shot according to Chicago’s BlackStar Project whose work is determined to end this senseless activity in the Windy City.

I am frustrated, angry and infuriated by the events surrounding Trayvon Martin; however I am even more disappointed in the silence around his name that will disappear in a month. History has shown this to be true. Rev. Al Sharpton will be off to another city to speak out for another family; talk show hosts will find ways to keep the conversation alive under the pressure to move on to the next story; and the front page stories will be following the tragedy of another name. And the regular everyday folks, well Facebook and Twitter will determine that.

The two pressing questions for black fathers and mothers will remain, “How tragic must our condition get before we pass the urgency and outcry of the moment?” The other, “What are you really prepared to do for black boys and girls other than shaking your head, reposting an article on Facebook, marching, rallying, signing a petition and talking about it around the watercooler?”

The cavalry is not coming to save our communities. The knight in shining armor doesn’t exist. The second coming of Dr. King and Malcolm X - not on their way. President Obama can’t do it by himself and “money” ain’t never brought a black man safety. Let’s find space to grieve for Brother Trayvon, but grieving hasn’t saved a life of a black man or black boy yet. What are you REALLY willing to do? I’m prayerful that this time will be different.

Kenneth Braswell is the Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated (www.fathersincorporated.com). He has 4 children including a 3 year old black son and a 5 year old black nephew, which he is very concerned about protecting in a world that believes that they will always be suspicious and a suspect first; including himself!

Photo: Andrew Brown (nephew), Kenneth Braswell and Kenneth “KJ” Braswell Jr. (son)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Julian Bond Celebration Gala to Honor Human Rights Icon and Advance Teaching of Civil Rights Studies

Gala will raise funds to create the Julian Bond Professorship in Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Virginia

Actor Harry Belafonte and musician Dave Matthews to serve as co-chairs

On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, a powerful group of 400-500 leaders of industry, business, arts, politics, community and culture will gather at the Plaza Hotel Ballroom in New York to honor Julian Bond through music and spoken word for his long history as a civil rights leader. The gala will also serve as a fundraiser to create the Julian Bond Professorship in Civil Rights and Social Justice that will advance the teaching and interpreting of civil rights studies at the University of Virginia. The professorship will create a powerful synergy among the many faculty and students who are working to shed new light on the civil rights movement and the African American experience.

An endowed chair, with its prestige and financial rewards, is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive, attesting to a scholar’s standing among peers, both within the University and throughout the academic world. The chairholder will also draw on the scholarly resources of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, a productive and highly respected center of teaching and research on the African diaspora, in this country and around the world.

Harry Belafonte and Dave Matthews will serve as distinguished co-chairs, and many celebrities are scheduled to participate.
The celebration committee members for the gala are Thaderine MacFarlane & Kathy Thornton-Bias (Co-Chairs), Daisy L. Lovelace, Lesia Bates Moss, Matt Paco, Michael Shure, Maxim Thorne, Gretchen Tibbits, Michael Turner, Alessandro F. Uzielli and Kristin van Ogtrop. The Young Patrons committee members are Ann Marie MacFarlane (Chair), Lauren A. Grayson, Brandon Kelly and Paul MacFarlane.

The gala will begin at 6:30pm with a reception, followed by dinner and tribute at 7:30 pm and dessert and mingling at 10:00 pm. Tickets and tables are available for purchase. Contact Melanie McEvoy at 212-228-7446 x12 or melanie@mcevoyandassociates.com for more information and visit the website at http://www.bondgala.com/.

Chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2010, Julian Bond was a founding member of the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served in the Georgia State Assembly for more than 20 years. In 2002, he received the National Civil Rights Museum’s annual Freedom Award and in 2008 was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. In March 2007, Mr. Bond led the first-ever “Civil Rights South Tour,” a six-day University-sponsored trip to landmark sites that included meetings with key figures of the American civil rights movement. Often heard in the media as a commentator on current issues, he narrated “Eyes on the Prize,” the acclaimed PBS series on the civil rights movement.

The study of the civil rights era is vital not only to academic scholarship but also to public understanding of recent American history and how it has led to our present condition. It is critically important that students and the public know the history of the civil rights movement so that concerned citizens can recognize any effort to reverse advances in equal opportunity and empowerment for women and minorities. By providing resources to sustain faculty expertise on the civil rights movement and the legacy of one of its most distinguished leaders, the Julian Bond Professorship of Civil Rights and Social Justice will make this possible.

HBCU News: University of Maryland Eastern Shore Alumni Welcomes New President


Dr. Mortimer Neufville, USM Chancellor William Kirwan, Dr. Juliette B. Bell, alumni president Paul Trotter Sr. and UMES Board of Visitors chairman Jesse Williams are all smiles after an endowed fund in Bell's honor was announced during her first visit to campus March 14 - also known as "Pi" Day.

Alumni of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) recently welcomed their next president, Juliette B. Bell, a renowned biochemist, with a special surprise. Via UMES:

PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (March 14, 2012) University of Maryland Eastern Shore alumni welcomed the institution's next president, Juliette B. Bell, to campus today with a surprise announcement that they are underwriting a special award in her honor to support a deserving math or science student. The disclosure came at the conclusion of an introductory event at the Student Services Center Theater to welcome Bell, who assumes the UMES presidency July 1.

In less than a week’s time, the National Alumni Association and individual alumni donated $6,500 toward a $10,000 goal of creating an endowment to launch the Award for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – known collectively as the “STEM” disciplines.

Plans call for the recipient to be a rising junior or senior “who excels in one of the STEM areas … and also demonstrates an aptitude in scientific research and a commitment to advancing the number of minorities and women pursuing careers in (those academic) disciplines,” according to UMES Alumni Affairs Director Kimberly Dumpson.

Dumpson said she's hopeful the first award will be presented to a student to use during the 2013-2014 academic year.

The gesture clearly touched Bell, a biochemist known in higher education circles as a leading advocate to recruit students to be the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

"I'm truly grateful for this awesome opportunity," Bell said. "God is good. I'm truly honored and humbled. This is an opportunity I will not take for granted."

Bell paid tribute to her late parents, whom she said emphasized the importance of education and instilled a work ethic that has served her well throughout her career in higher education. She also paid tribute to the job done by former President Thelma B. Thompson in making UMES what she described as "a jewel."  Read more here.

Related post:  UMES Hosts "Hollywood on the Shore" 2011 Gala

Source and photo credit:  Office of Public Relations/UMES

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Steve Harvey and Soledad O’Brien to Co-Host The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala Presented by Screen Gems

May 14th Gala To Support Community Change and Youth Mentoring

Applications now being accepted for The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men taking place Father’s Day Weekend in Dallas

ATLANTA, GA – On May 14, 2012, multi-faceted entertainer Steve Harvey and co-host Soledad O’Brien of CNN will host The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala presented by Screen Gems in New York, honoring BET Networks’ Chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee, director/producer Spike Lee and best-selling author/activist Tonya Lee, Capital Preparatory Magnet School founder and CNN contributor Dr. Steve Perry, and Victory Junction founders/NASCAR icons Richard and Kyle Petty, with The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s Helping Hand Award. Marking the gala’s third year, The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala (formerly The Steve Harvey Foundation Gala) will converge at Cipriani Wall Street for an unforgettable evening, with Title Sponsor Screen Gems, Print Sponsor Essence and sponsor Coca-Cola, and feature the dynamic vocal talents of Rachelle Ferrell, with special guest Bill Cosby and event chairs Madeline Nelson, Julius Erving III, and more showing support.

Honoring Debra Lee, Spike and Tonya Lee, Dr. Steve Perry, and Richard and Kyle Petty for their work as game changers impacting countless communities, The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s Helping Hand Award honors those individuals who make a measurable difference in the lives of young men and women, raising the flag of social progress and serving as role models for today’s youth through their careers or philanthropic efforts. In the past two years, the Helping Hand Award honorees include Ford Motor Company’s Alan Mullaly, Tyler Perry, and Chris and Malaak Rock in 2011, and Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada, State Farm’s Pamela El, and Denzel Washington in 2010. This year’s gala proceeds will benefit The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s cornerstone programs for young men and women: The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend.

“It’s an honor to present Helping Hand Awards to Debra Lee, Spike and Tonya Lee, Dr. Steve Perry, and Richard and Kyle Petty this year,” say Steve and Marjorie Harvey. “Their dedicated work has not only been a game changer in their fields, but has also made a priceless impact in shaping the minds and dreams of youth for generations to come. Soledad O’Brien has also been a game changer in examining the stories and people that help shape this country, and together we look forward to hosting an inspiring, fun-filled evening!”

Proceeds from this year’s Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala presented by Screen Gems will specifically support both The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend, programs that empower young men and women in realizing their dreams for the future. The Harveys created these dynamic programs with empowering, hands-on experiences that cannot be found in any classroom, to bring guidance to teenage men and women, who often face social or educational issues with unmet needs that greatly impact their futures. The mission of The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation is to ensure that the needs of the whole child are met through the development of programs and support of community-based organizations that foster excellence in the areas of health, education, and social well-being within urban and ethnically diverse communities.

Hosting The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men since 2009, each year Steve Harvey welcomes 100 teenage boys and their guardians from around the country to his ranch in Dallas every Father’s Day Weekend. Mentoring teenage boys who are without fathers, the program’s success has also continued expanding with Harvey leading regional satellite mentoring programs, hosting 100 boys in each city including New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and Los Angeles. Hosting the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekends in October, since 2010 Marjorie Harvey has hosted 100 teenage girls in Atlanta each year. This year’s Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men in Dallas over Father’s Day Weekend will take place June 14th -17th, with applications being accepted through April 6th.

Eligible participants can visit www.SteveHarveyMentoring.com now to apply for The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men taking place Father’s Day Weekend in Dallas. For more information about tickets, table and sponsorship opportunities available for The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala presented by Screen Gems, the mentoring programs or to make a donation, please visit www.SMHarveyFoundation.org.  

Source: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Monday, March 19, 2012

Upcoming Events in Your Community


We receive many emails from readers inquiring about event coverage featured on our site. Most often asked is, "how can I learn about these events in advance?" Supporting a fundraiser in your community is a great way to give back. To learn of these events, please visit our Upcoming Events page! You can also submit an event by emailing us at blackgivesback[at]gmail.com. Please include "BGB Events" in the subject line.

By visiting our Upcoming Events page you'll learn more about the following events and more:

6th Annual HBCU Career Development Marketplace

The American Small Business Alliance is hosting its 6th Annual HBCU Career Development Marketplace, a national conference designed in 2004 to inform and educate top undergraduate and graduate students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities about developing their careers.

This annual event, to be held November 1-3, 2012 in Alexandria, VA, will bring students from across the country together with corporations, organizations and government agencies interested in enhancing their workplace diversity by recruiting interns and employees from the nation’s HBCUs. It consists of 3 main activities: workshops featuring prominent and influential speakers, a career fair marketplace and town-hall meetings, where students speak informally with experienced HBCU alumni from key industries.  Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are available. Visit www.hbcucareermarket.com and contact spickett@asballiance.com.

In Washington, DC, the 2nd Annual 3-on-3 Charity Basketball Tournament benefiting Capital Partners for Education will be presented by Pursuit, a community, business strategy and consultant firm on Saturday, March 31st from 9am-2pm. The fundraiser will be held at KIPP DC School, 2600 Douglass Road SE.

In New York, we're serving as a partner for the New York Urban League Young Professionals' 2nd Annual "State of Young Urban New York" on Saturday, March 24th.  See our previous post here.  Also featured on the events page is the American Cancer Society's upcoming Pink & Black Tie Gala on May 17, 2012 that will honor Brooklyn native Kangol Kid, Hip Hop Legend and Founder of the Mama Luke Foundation. He will be recognized for his efforts to bring Hip-Hop artists together through the Mama Luke Movement as Hip-Hop’s first public financial contribution towards the fight against breast cancer. Kangol’s award will be presented to him by Legendary Producer/Songwriter and Cancer Champion Paul Anthony of Full Force along with Bow-Legged Lou.

Interested in learning more about black philanthropy?  In April, two upcoming events will feature giving circles and explore the future of black philanthropy. The Cleveland Foundation is hosting its 2012 African American Philanthropy Summit on Saturday, April 21st highlighting giving circles; and the Association of Black Foundation Executives is hosting its annual 2012 conference and program from April 27-29 in Los Angeles. 

If you're interested in learning more about giving circles, please join BlackGivesBack.com and Black Benefactors founder Tracey Webb and FriendsofEbonie.com for the educational series "For Goodness Sake! Why Giving Circles, Why Now?" on March 27th from 8pm-9pm EST (7pm-8pm CST).  Visit here to register for free.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Insider: Tamara L. Harris, President of the Tamara L. Harris Foundation


On March 1, 2012, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) hosted its annual A Mind Is” Gala that raised $3.7 million dollars to support scholarships and programs that reach more than 60,000 students each year.  At the helm of this successful fundraiser is our latest Insider, Tamara L. Harris, Vice-Chair of the UNCF Board of Directors, Chair of the Development Committee for the UNCF Board, and president of the Tamara L. Harris Foundation. Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, asked Harris to serve as gala chair due to her long standing dedication to UNCF and education.

Growing up in the Caribbean, Harris dreamed of attending an HBCU, but didn’t have the resources. Instead, she attended a university in her home state to receive eligibility for in-state student aid. The cost of attending an out of state HBCU was not something she could afford. Harris went on to receive a first class education at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a BA in Economics and a MBA, and worked as an equity research analyst in Hong Kong at Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.

It was this personal experience that inspired her to establish New Jersey Advocates for Education (NJAE), an organization that provides academic and monetary support to New Jersey high school graduates entering a four year college or university. The organization offers scholarships to students who apply to a New Jersey college or an HBCU. The eligible maximum scholarship amount is higher if a student chooses to go out of state to attend an HBCU. Harris hosted successful fundraisers for NJAE, attracting hundreds of prominent African Americans from various communities in New York and New Jersey, which has helped the organization to award 149 scholarships totaling over 1 million dollars. It was NJAE’s partnership with UNCF that led Harris to serve on UNCF’s board of directors in 2008 and to subsequently chair the gala.

For this year’s gala, Harris used the dinner as a forum to highlight education and UNCF’s role in supporting graduates prepared for the workforce to support the economy and country. Harris talked with BlackGivesBack about her foundation, and to provide words of wisdom in the areas of fundraising and board development for nonprofit organizations:

As Chair for the 2012 UNCF "A Mind Is" Gala, you were able to secure 100% board support and involvement.  What advice do you have for nonprofit organizations with board recruitment and development?

When you look at people who are successful, you don’t typically get to places of success without what I call a ‘personal advisory board,’ people that you can tap into who bring different expertise than you. Reach out to your own personal advisory board. When you’re looking at what people can bring to the table, everyone has currency. If you’re a young start up or you have a small nonprofit, you have to be strategic with potential board members. A board member could have financial currency, someone who works at a bank or at a fund, or has access to financial capital. The other currency you’re going to need is social currency. If you’re having a fundraiser you need to tap into certain networks. A board member may not be financially lucrative and well off, but they may have social contacts and a very plugged in network. Another board member might have convening power, a powerful person in the community. So when they gather folks, everyone will show up. You also need someone who has board currency, someone who has served on a board before.

So there are all of these different strategic people that should comprise your board as you think about how you want to navigate in your community and grow as a nonprofit. The underlying piece is when you’re small, you can’t have members who aren’t willing to do things. Look for the "roll up your sleeves" type of people who will get down and dirty and really help, and those who are really passionate about what your nonprofit is about. I’ve seen boards with a few committed members and it’s very hard to make progress and move things forward if everyone doesn’t have the same energy and passion.






You’ve hosted and  chaired many fundraisers that have raised millions of dollars. What fundraising tips do you have for nonprofits in this economic climate?

It’s very important to stay positive and focused on the mission of your organization. In this environment, it’s very easy to get swayed and take up new messages because it’s a way to get funding. It’s also important to stay current and educated in your space. If you’re talking to donors and you are educated and on top of your nonprofit space, that’s added value. You have to look at ways you can add value to a donor.

Being creative in finding ways to stay connected with a funder is probably the best approach given the economic environment, the competition and uncertainty. Appreciate the relationship with a funder. In this economic time it’s easy to think, “I got less than I did last year” instead of thinking, “how can I continue to cultivate this relationship?” So maybe the funder is not giving this year, but if things pick up and a program officer goes to another job, they’ll keep you in mind. Think how to stay relevant and current with your funder, so that regardless of their giving capacity presently, as circumstances change – either the program officer takes a position with a foundation with more assets, they elevate in their position with more decision making control, or the economy does change - you’ll be considered because you’ve developed, nurtured and sustained that relationship. Sometimes we lose sight of the power of building a relationship and staying connected even in times of crisis and adversity. That’s probably the most challenging and difficult thing to do, but that’s part of keeping connected. Figure out ways to stay engaged.

Also, strategically look at where you’re positioned and if the market is telling you that people just aren’t giving to your cause. Then you really have to take a hard look to see if funders are hearing the right message and if they're clear about the work you’re doing and how important it is.

Please share about your foundation, the Tamara L. Harris Foundation.

The focus has been education, specifically scholarship programs in New Jersey. The three largest recipients of support have been UNCF, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and NJAE. My foundation has funded operational expenses for NJAE and fundraised for scholarships. Foundation staff worked directly with students, met with them, tracked grades, and stayed connected to monitor them academically and socially. Also for many years we supported various charter schools. Currently my foundation isn’t accepting grant proposals, but that will change over time.

Harris shared final thoughts on the 2012 UNCF "A Mind Is" Gala, that it was “a testimony to the power of partnership, positivity, and the passion that is needed to empower students to transform their own and many other lives through education. We must remain committed to ensuring that the opportunity to make it to and through college continues for our future generations.”

Photo credit:  Earl Gibson III

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New York Urban League Hosts 3rd Annual Girls Empowerment Day


Actress and comedienne Kim Coles (L), Arva Rice, President & CEO of the New York Urban League (center), and author,  film and television producer Crystal McCrary Anthony (R) with New York high school girls participating in the New York Urban League's 3rd Annual Girls Empowerment Day.

NEW YORK - On Friday, March 9th, the New York Urban League hosted its 3rd Annual Girls Empowerment Day. The mission behind the Empowerment Days is to give high school students the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a successful professional based on their career interests. More than 125 girls from 17 different high schools and community organizations from across the city visited various local companies which matched their interests and studies.

The event included a busy day, with morning sessions, afternoon panel discussions, Q&A, and a reception at the Time Warner Center. Panelists included producer and author Crystal McCrary Anthony and noted actress Kim Coles.  Arva Rice, President & CEO of the New York Urban League moderated the panel discussions.




Kim Coles, Arva Rice and Crystal McCrary Anthony

Participating schools and organizations were McKee High School, Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development, Harlem Renaissance High School, Antioch Baptist Church - Circle of Sisters, Rights of Passage/Spirit of A Woman, Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Curtis High School, High School of Food and Finance, Berean Baptist Church, Brooklyn H.S. for Law & Technology, Turn 2 Foundation, UFT secondary charter school, Hip Hop 4 Life, Brooklyn Technical High School, Harlem Children's Zone, and First Corinthians Baptist Church.

Participating host companies were Macy's, Food Network, CBS, NBC, New York Daily News, Emmis Communications, Harlem Hospital, Microsoft and event sponsor, Time Warner Cable.





“The Empowerment Days give students an opportunity to peek behind the curtain and gain an insider’s view of the day-to-day happenings at some of New York’s most elite organizations. It’s these small but meaningful interactions that have the greatest impact on young people,” said Arva R. Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League. “So many of the students that have participated in the past have walked away with new insights and inspiration for their future. Thanks to our corporate partners, we can continue to expose more young people to some of the possible careers available to them.”

The New York Urban League's Young Mens Empowerment Day is scheduled for March 23, 2012. Visit the website at http://www.nyul.org/.

Monday, March 12, 2012

AT&T 28 Day Speaker Series Inspires Consumers to Shape Own Future


Desiree Rogers, innovative leader and bold visionary and Common, award-winning hip hop artist, actor, author and activist at the AT&T 28 Days event held at the Park West Theatre on Thursday, February 23, 2012 in Chicago.

During the month of February, AT&T hosted its annual "28 Days" initiative, an inspiration campaign and website (www.att.com/28days) to celebrate the history, contributions and culture of African Americans. AT&T created 28 Days in 2009 to highlight the month of February as more than a reflection of the past, but as an unimaginable footprint to what the future holds beyond Black History Month. Events were held in cities across the country featuring today's influential and respected leaders offering their own unique perspectives to inspire consumers to use their voices, creative visions and actions to shape their own future. The seven city tour was free and open to the public, with select cities hosting a live stream.  The speakers were Mario Armstrong, digital lifestyle expert and a radio and award winning TV tech-show host; Jeff Johnson, award-winning investigative journalist, social activist and political commentator; Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, best-selling author, scholar and cultural critic; Holly Robinson Peete, actor, author, advocate and philanthropist; Kevin Powell, activist and author; and Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing, Inc.




Technology commentator and digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong inspired and motivated the audience with his speech at the AT&T 28 Days held at Howard University on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.

During the speaker series event at Howard University in Washington, DC, Mario Armstrong inspired the crowd to pursue their dreams by sharing his own story on the road to entrepreneurship. He stressed the importance of incorporating technology as an essential component of any business start-up, and keeping true to that, gifted a young lady from the audience with a brand new laptop computer to help support her dream of opening a nonprofit. After Armstrong's keynote, hip hop artist Common graced the stage for a performance.




Common performed an inspirational song for the audience at the AT&T 28 Days event held at Howard University on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.




Holly Robinson Peete motivated the audience with her speech at the AT&T 28 Days speaker series event that occurred in Oakland, California at the Scottish Rite Center on Wednesday, February 1, 2012.

AT&T is also sponsoring a special sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 NCAA Final Four Championship. The trip includes round trip coach class air and ground transportation for the winner and a guest, two tickets to the game, and a $250 check for the winner. The sweepstakes ends Friday, March 16, 2012. For details, visit http://www.finalfourgetaway.com/.

Photo credits: Errol Dunlap Photography (Chicago), Carmen Alvarez Photography (Oakland) and LaVan Anderson (Washington, DC)

New York Urban League Young Professionals to Host 2nd Annual "State of Young Urban New York"



On Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 9 am-4 pm, the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP) will host its 2nd annual State of Young Urban New York, a town hall/symposium that endeavors to engage young professionals of color ages 21-40 in meaningful discussions on issues that affect them.  Most importantly, they wish to generate important take-aways and ideas on how to improve themselves and their communities moving forward.

BlackGivesBack.com is pleased to announce our partnership with this event, which serves to:
  • Introduce core issues that affect urban professionals of color throughout New York City;
  • Continue the legacy of advocacy with the State of Black America by the National Urban League and State of Black New York City by the New York Urban League;
  • Provide urban professionals in the tri-state area with a networking afternoon providing discussion, lunch and ending cocktail reception;
  • Raise awareness for the NYULYP, New York Urban League and partner organizations; and
  • Cultivate corporate sponsorships and lasting relationships.
Plenary sessions will feature Media ("As Seen On TV: Are Our Political & Cultural Views as Good/Bad as the Media Says They Are?"), Education ("4th Down & Long: Are There Realistic "Plays" to Closing the Education Gap?"), Employment ("Right Place, But Wrong Space: Can Your Skills Be Better Used in Service, Government, or the Private Sector?") and Health ("No Days Off: For Young Professionals, Is Our Health a Growing Casualty of Our Work?").

Speakers include State Senator Kevin Parker (D), 21st Senate District; Vincent Morgan (D), 15th Congressional District; Richard St. Paul (R), New Rochelle City Councilman; Cathy Stewart (I), Independence Party Founder; Kela Walker, Television Host & Producer; and Errol Louis, 'Inside City Hall' Host.



Photo from the 2011 State of Young Urban New York

NYULYP is a unique entity of the New York Urban League designed to serve as an empowerment forum for individuals ages 21-40 that live and work throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The organization trains, develops and educates young professionals to take leadership roles within the National Urban League (NUL), the civil rights movement and society-at-large.

For more information on The State of Young Urban New York and to register, visit http://soyuny.com/.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daughter of Reginald F. Lewis Pens Memoir, “Lonely at the Top”

In the best-selling biography “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?,” it chronicles the journey of lawyer, business titan and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, and his rise from east Baltimore to become the nation’s first African American to own a billion dollar company. At the age of 50, Lewis succumbed to brain cancer, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. Christina Lewis Halpern, Lewis’s youngest daughter, was only 12 at the time of his death and immersed herself in her studies to cope. She went on to attend Harvard, her father’s alma mater, and enjoyed a career as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

But, there were challenges growing up as the daughter of one of the nation’s wealthiest African American men. Lewis’s legacy had a profound impact on his daughter, and she explores this in her newly published memoir, “Lonely at the Top.” Described as “touching,” “exceptional” and “eye-opening,” Halpern interviews her father’s friends, family and colleagues to produce “a bluntly honest and deeply human account of what it’s like to be the sensitive child of a rich and powerful man.”

Halpern shared with BlackGivesBack (BGB) what she discovered about her father while researching for the book, how her father’s legacy continues to influence her, and how she gives back.

BGB: What is one thing that you discovered about your father while researching for the book that you didn't know? What is one thing you discovered about yourself?

Halpern:  I discovered a number of things about my father while researching the memoir, and not all of them have fully settled in yet. The obvious answer is that I discovered that he had D's in several subjects in law school, which is something that I did not expect given what a fine lawyer he was. While he had never claimed to have been a great student, I was surprised that he had clearly struggled with the material. I was not used to thinking of my father, who was successful in everything he did, as someone with needs, as someone who struggled.

This memoir was extremely cathartic for me and one way that played out was by showing me that in order to find peace and to stop feeling like a failure when compared to such a successful and confident and wealthy parent, I had to make my own way, and not try to find success in the same way my father did. I also rediscovered my father's piece of advice to me as a young girl: that grades are not about what score you get, but the effort you put into them. As a child I didn't understand what he meant. But as an adult I see that he was extremely correct and that it is deceptively wise advice.

BGB:  What will readers learn about your relationship with your father and how it influenced you?

Halpern:  My hope was the readers would get a window into what it might be like to be born the daughter of an extremely successful, famous and high-achieving parent. Obviously, I idolized my father, but I also struggled with living up to his legacy. I hope readers see that the achievements of others can inspire, but can also limit us, as well, if we compare ourselves to others too narrowly.

BGB:  Tell us a little about your philanthropy. What causes/organizations do you support?

Halpern:  I donate to a number of charitable organizations in my own name and through my family foundation, The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation. I focus on educational organizations working with predominantly black populations, both here in NYC (The Brotherhood SisterSol program in Harlem) in Haiti (Partners in Health, Haitian Education Leadership Program) and in Rwanda (Generation Rwanda). I also support Harvard College, my alma mater, and am leading my 10th reunion gift campaign. Finally, there are so many amazing arts and cultural organizations in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, Alvin Ailey, The Apollo Theater. I just attended an event for the Studio Museum in Harlem and told Thelma Golden (the museum's director and chief curator) I would join their young supporters program.

Finally, I support the museum named after my father in Baltimore, which is a state museum of African-American history and culture.  In my memoir, I describe how my father turned me onto philanthropy when I was very young and donating and giving back is something I will always do.

To learn more about Christina Lewis Halpern visit www.christinalewis.com, and to purchase "Lonely at the Top," visit http://amzn.to/sCy5Gp.

Apollo Theater to Host 2012 Spring Gala Honoring Lionel Richie and Etta James


Annual Concert and Award Ceremony Benefiting the Non-Profit Theater to be held Monday, June 4, 2012

Lionel Richie and the late Etta James to be inducted into Apollo Legends Hall of Fame - Just added! Gladys Knight to pay tribute to Etta James

**Updated:  HARLEM, NY – The Apollo Theater, one of the nation’s greatest cultural treasures, will induct Lionel Richie and the late Etta James into its Apollo Legends Hall of Fame at its seventh annual Spring Gala on Monday, June 4, 2012. The Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony brings together the best and brightest in business and entertainment to raise funds in support of the non-profit theater’s remarkable legacy, its current initiatives for emerging artists, and community and educational programs that serve students and families in New York City and beyond.

Lionel Richie and Etta James join past Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductees—all legendary musicians, artists, and entertainers whose paths to fame included the Apollo—Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. Each Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductee is honored with a plaque in the Apollo Walk of Fame, installed under the Theater’s iconic marquee on 125th Street.

Celebrated singer-songwriter, musician and record producer Lionel Richie is a multi-award winning superstar whose musical legacy spans more than three decades. His long association with the Apollo began in the 1970s when he performed at the Theater as part of The Commodores. Richie has created an unforgettable body of work that speaks to people of all races, faiths and ages around the world, with universal themes of life, love and loss presented with poetic simplicity and irresistible melodies.

“I was so moved when I found out that I would be inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, an honor made even more special because it is shared this year with the late Etta James. I am so proud to join my friends, including Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and so many more in the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame,” said Richie. “The Apollo Theater has meant so much not only to me, but to all of American music. I treasure my memories of the Apollo, each visit is like a family reunion, and I can't wait for this homecoming to begin. This will be a truly special and unforgettable night for me.”

Blues, soul, jazz, R&B, and rock vocalist Etta James forged a five-decade career with over a dozen hit singles, four Grammys, and a prominent place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. James performed at the Apollo Theater as early as 1957 with Big Maybelle Smith, and then went on to perform again in 1963, during the era when the legendary Frank Schiffman was the Apollo’s manager. James passed away on January 20, 2012 at age 73.

"Lionel Richie is one of our most accomplished artists and one of our nation’s most creative musical talents. His artistic and philanthropic endeavors have inspired us for decades, and it will be a great honor to welcome him to the Apollo in June to induct him into our Apollo Legends Hall of Fame,” said Apollo Theater president and CEO Jonelle Procope. “We are also privileged to have the opportunity to celebrate and remember the great Etta James, a true American musical icon.”

Additionally, The Apollo will present Citi with its Corporate Award, in recognition of their community leadership. Each year at the Spring Gala benefit, the Apollo recognizes a corporation whose support enables the Theater to grow and expand in its programs and community and education offerings.

The evening consists of the gala benefit concert and awards ceremony, produced by Ron Weisner for Ron Weisner Entertainment, and an after-party called the Apollo Supper Club, featuring a stylish lounge atmosphere, spectacular gourmet creations, and late-night dancing.

Tickets for the 2012 Spring Gala and after-party are now on sale. To purchase benefit tickets to the event or to make a donation to the Apollo Theater, call 212-531-5347. To purchase show-only tickets, visit www.apollotheater.org.

This event is the Apollo’s largest annual fundraiser and proceeds of the event will benefit the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, dedicated to preserving and developing the Apollo Theater and its initiatives for performing artists, educational programs, and community outreach efforts in New York City and beyond.

Honoring Los Angeles “Fatherhood Heroes” with The White House and Lou Gossett, Jr.

LOS ANGELES, CA – On Friday, March 2, the White House participated in an event honoring ten Los Angeles individuals and organizations for their dedication and positive presence in their families and communities. The Fatherhood Heroes roundtable was part of a series of local fatherhood events across the country, spearheaded by the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor, participated in the event at the Challengers Boys and Girls Club along with Oscar winner Lou Gossett, Jr. and others.

“As a father myself, it was important for me to join with so many inspiring individuals and to talk about the great opportunities and challenges confronting dads. We know how integral fathers are to the success of their children, and we also know the great value active and caring fathers bring to their community and this nation. This event was a great opportunity to lift up the importance of fathers,” Michael Strautmanis said.

“It is important for us to celebrate and emulate the unsung heroes, the fathers, who do the right things for their families and themselves,” said Oscar winning actor Lou Gossett, Jr. Michael Strautmanis and Lou Gossett, Jr. praised the innovative programs of faith and community-based organizations in Los Angeles that are helping fathers to be actively engaged in the lives of their children. Roundtable participants discussed how the support of family and mentors had made them better fathers, even if their own fathers had not been present in their lives. The wives, kids, fathers, and mentors of those being recognized were in the room to reinforce the true value of that support.

After the event, groups discussed ways to connect their efforts in order to strengthen responsible fatherhood programming in Los Angeles.

The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative is a national effort to address responsible fatherhood and healthy families in America through partnerships with family-serving groups and mentorship groups around the country. The initiative serves as a call to action for cities and states, with individuals and organizations, across the country to raise awareness about responsible fatherhood and work to re-engage absent fathers with their families. For more info visit www.fatherhood.gov.

In photo: Kenneth Braswell (Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse); actor Lou Gossett Jr., Eugene Schneeberg and Deborah List (Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships; U.S. Department of Justice), and Michael Strautmanis, (Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Senior Advisor for Strategic Engagement, The White House) attend the Fatherhood Roundtable Event hosted by the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

National Civic and Business Leaders Honored at 32nd Annual 100 Black Men of NY Benefit Gala Raising More than $800,000

Loida N. Lewis, Chairwoman & CEO, TLC Beatrice and Chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation Awarded $100,000 in Scholarships

NEW YORK ─ Philip Banks, Jr., President of One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York, welcomed 600 guests to the New York Hilton Grand Ballroom on March 1st to honor some of the country’s most dynamic civic and business leaders at the organization’s 32nd Annual Benefit Gala, themed “A Commitment to Excellence.” Pictured is Banks along with Loida N. Lewis, Chairwoman & CEO,  TLC Beatrice,  LLC and former NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins, an honorary board member for 100 Black Men of New York.

Among the esteemed guests in attendance were former Deputy Secretary of State Clifton Wharton, Jr.;  former NYC Comptroller William Thompson and incumbent Comptroller Hon. John Liu;  New York State Senator Kevin Parker;  CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King,  actor Blair Underwood,  NYS NAACP Conference Chair Hazel Dukes,  New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson,  New York State Senator Malcolm Smith,  New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins,  Chancellor of The City University of New York Matthew Goldstein and CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson; along with hundreds more.

Emmy award-winning co-anchor of My9 TV’s The 10 O’Clock News Brenda Blackmon, Fox 5's meteorologist Mike Woods and Reverend Jacques Andre DeGraff, 2nd Vice President of One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York served as co-emcees of the fundraiser which saluted:

Cheryl McKissack Daniel, President & CEO, McKissack & McKissack, with the Trailblazer Award
Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., President & CEO, TIAA-CREF with the Global Economic Achievement Award
Michelle Y. Lee, EVP, Northeast Region President, Community Banking, Wells Fargo with the Corporate Achievement Award
Mike Muse, CEO, Muse Recordings with the Artistic Achievement Award
Dennis Walcott, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education with the Educational Champion Award
Jessie Wooten, honored as Mentor of the Year

Loida N. Lewis attended the gala as a special guest and awarded $100,000 in scholarships to five 17-year-old students selected from the Junior One Hundred Program, a new 12-week leadership and life skills development program which also provides opportunities to earn college scholarships. The students who submitted winning business plans were Julio Trujillo of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School; Ramel McIntosh of Queens Preparatory High School; Kwasi Atiba of Bedford Academy; Akil Hollington of the Eagle Academy and Nicholas Legare also from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School. Each student won $20,000.

“I congratulate the 32nd Anniversary Gala Honorees who have each demonstrated the commitment to excellence that we embrace as a theme for our community and for ourselves,” said Mr. Banks. “A commitment to excellence is a pledge and a promise to live our lives in an outstanding fashion, to be eminently good, to be superior in the daily tasks we assume and to continue in the journey of service to our communities, our families and our children. Each of them has lived that commitment to excellence.” Mr. Banks added.




Blair Underwood, patron sponsors Sylvia and Byron Lewis; Gayle King, Brenda Blackmon and Mike Woods






One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York City

The Gala Committee was co-chaired by Michael J. Garner and Hilton O. Smith. Gala Committee members were Philip Banks, Jr., Will Brown, Jr., Curtiss Jacobs, Tyrone McKinney, Fitzgerald Miller, Sadiq Murray, Mark Smith, and Myron Williams.

Diamond sponsors for the gala were Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, News Corporation and Walmart.

For more information about 100 Black Men NY, Inc., or to support the programs of the organization, visit http://www.ohbm.org/ or call 212-777-7070.

Celebrities, Business Leaders and Education Advocates Attend UNCF “A Mind Is” Gala and Raise $3.7 Million Dollars

NEW YORK - On Thursday, March 1, 2012, a star-studded crowd of 1,500 of New York's elite joined UNCF (United Negro College Fund) at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, for an evening of inspiration and entertainment to celebrate “Game Changers” in education. The gala raised $3.7 million to support scholarships and programs that reach more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country each year.

Actor and comedian Bill Bellamy emceed the evening, Grammy nominated singer Ledisi performed, and the world-renowned Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir performed fitting musical selections that stirred the crowd, opening with beautiful renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing. Ledisi graced the stage with “It’s a Wonderful World,” followed by her motivational song “All Right” from her first Grammy-nominated album, “Lost and Found.” Among the guests included Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Constance White, Reverend Al Sharpton, Socialite Bevy Smith, Extra! Correspondent AJ Calloway, Editor and Journalist Susan Taylor, CEO and President of Foot Locker Ken Hicks, Executive Director of the Shawn Carter Foundation Dania Diaz and author Demetria Lucas. The room was decorated in UNCF colors of orange, purple and blues. Guests dined on pumpkin soup and salad for the starter, Halibut with mushroom risotto and asparagus for the main course and a decadent dessert platter of chocolates, mousses and nugget.  Pictured is host Bill Bellamy with gala honoree Justin Tuck.

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) and ExxonMobil helped UNCF exceed its fundraising goal and raise $1 million more than last year’s inaugural “A Mind Is” Gala. The money earmarked for CESA (Campaign for Emergency Student Aid), will provide emergency education assistance to college juniors and seniors impacted by the changing economy and challenges they face with college expenses that must be paid before they can graduate.

ExxonMobil, who began contributing to CESA three years ago with an initial contribution of $1 million dollars, announced a $500,000 matching grant. LCEF announced an additional $1 million contribution to CESA, which brings their giving total to $1.75 million.

In a moving tribute to the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, UNCF president and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax presented the inaugural UNCF Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award for Innovation in Education to students he called, “the civil rights education activists of our generation. They are gifted, they are driven, and they are committed to succeeding where the education system has failed.” Award recipients were corps members of Teach For America who attended UNCF member institutions. They were joined on stage by Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America who also applauded their commitment to ensuring students in disadvantaged areas have a chance at receiving the education they need to prepare them for the future.





Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America

Two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck and his wife Lauran were also honored with the UNCF President’s Award for literacy work through their Tuck’s R.U.S.H (Read, Understand, Succeed, Hope) for Literacy Foundation.

The New York City crowd knew very well about the work Justin has done on the football field. “If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you saw that Justin had two key sacks that turned that game around,” said Dr. Lomax. “This is a man who changes games! But what you may not know is that behind each one of those sacks is his Foundation’s matching funds initiative. To date, and with accompanying donations, R.U.S.H for Literacy has raised over $370,000 through this effort! This is the kind of philanthropist that turns accomplishment and charity into active solutions.”





Tamara L. Harris, UNCF "A Mind Is" Gala Chair urged the crowd to be game-changers, sharing, “Speak to everyone in your world about this important cause to change the game for the students who need it the most.” Harris is Vice-Chair of the UNCF Board and Chairwoman of the Development Committee, and President of the Tamara L. Harris Foundation. An instrumental force who helped to raise the $3.7 million donated to UNCF, Harris will be profiled in an upcoming Insider feature on BlackGivesBack.

To help a UNCF student stay in school, visit http://www.uncf.org/ and click on the Campaign for Emergency Student Aid icon.

Source: Press release/Photo credit: Earl Gibson III

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dance Theatre of Harlem Raises Nearly $400,000 at Vision 2012 Gala Honoring the Legendary Harry Belafonte


Honoree Harry Belafonte, actress and honorary chair Lynn Whitfield, and philanthropist Reggie Van Lee attend the Dance Theatre of Harlem's 2012 Vision Gala on February 28, 2012 in New York.

NEW YORK - The Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) held its Vision 2012 Gala honoring actor/social activist Harry Belafonte on February 28th at the Mandarin Hotel in New York City. The Vision Gala raised $390,000 and the proceeds will benefit the Next Generation Fund and the Community Engagement Fund. “It was a magical evening. We showcased the talented, hard-working young dancers that we’ve been nurturing at the Dance Theatre Harlem and paid tribute to the iconic trailblazer, Harry Belafonte,” says Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director. “It was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate the return of the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem Company by debuting two of the dancers who will be an important part of our future.”

More than 250 corporate sponsors, supporters, friends, alumni and members of the board attended the event, including renowned opera singer and board member Jessye Norman, actor Delroy Lindo, Tonya Lewis Lee, DTH co-founder and artistic director emeritus Arthur Mitchell, Chairman of the Board Kendrick Ashton, Jr., Gala Committee Chair Leslie Wims Morris, Gala Committee members, Smokey Fontaine of Interactive One, Alpha Mom’s Isabel Kallman, Olivia Scott Perkins of Carol’s Daughter, Anne E. Robinson, and Asha Richards.  DTH Vice Chairman of the Board Michael Armstrong, along with board members Zandra Perry Ogbomo, Trey Muldrow, Don M. Tellock, and Jai Jai Ramsey Greenfield were on hand to fete Mr. Belafonte and his extraordinary life of art and service.

CNN Starting Point’s Soledad O’Brien served as the special guest host and actress Lynn Whitfield, who offered a charming story about her mother’s sentiments about the “gorgeous” Harry Belafonte, served as honorary chair.



Leslie Wims Morris, Dance Theatre of Harlem Board Member and Gala Committee Chair



Guest; Arthur Mitchell, DTH co-founder and artistic director emeritus; Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre soloist; Jessye Norman, DTH Board Member



Valentino Carlotti, Partner at Goldman Sachs, a platnium sponsor for the gala; Leslie Wims Morris; and Dr. Warner Wims


Delroy Lindo, Soledad O'Brien and Harry Belafonte



Meshea Ashton and Kendrick Ashton, Chairman of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Board



Lynn Whitfield with Darren Walker, a vice president at the Ford Foundation and Jessye Norman



Virginia Johnson, Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director and Harry Belafonte






Newly announced Dance Theatre of Harlem Performance Company Members Ashley Murphy and DaVon Doane



Dance Theatre of Harlem School Performance

The Vision Gala’s platinum sponsors were BET Networks; The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation; Siris Capital Group, LLC; Valentino D. Carlotti/Goldman Sachs & Co; and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. “We are thrilled and very grateful for the wonderful support shown by so many corporations and individuals,” remarked Laveen Naidu, Executive Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem. “This gala marks an important turning point and will have a lasting impact on our programs and the institution as a whole.”



Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble Performance

ABOUT DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
Now under the leadership of Artistic Director Virginia Johnson and Executive Director Laveen Naidu, Dance Theatre was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim encompassing performance, training in ballet and the allied arts and arts education and outreach. Each component of Dance Theatre of Harlem carries a solid commitment to enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts.

Dance Theatre of Harlem has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world. Serving as cultural ambassadors and representatives of the people of the United States they have participated in high profile tours abroad, notably to the former USSR in 1988, South Africa after the fall of Apartheid in 1992; and to China in 2000 following the signing of the 2000 US-China trade treaty. The DTH School and its arts education and outreach programs serve over 25,000 students and educators each year. Over 65% of students study on scholarship or tuition assistance at the school with an overwhelming number singling out their DTH experience as among the most important in their lives. In 2008, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, a 14-member touring group, was commissioned to carry the DTH legacy to wider American audiences and have impacted over 70,000 audience members since.

Dance Theatre of Harlem is located at 466 West 152nd Street in a landmark district in Harlem. The organization’s award winning building houses four dance studios, administrative offices, library and archives, gift shop and a physical therapy facility. Visit the website at http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/.

Source: Press release/Photo credit: Brokaw Photography