Friday, April 27, 2012

Black Men & Boys Insider Gains Added Exposure for Mentoring Efforts

BlackGivesBack's black men and boys movement is growing!  A big thank you goes to sports reporter Eric Woodyard at for featuring an article on our Black Men & Boys series and our first Insider, David McGhee.  One of the goals of this series is to dispel the negative stereotypes often associated with black men and boys, and media can play a critical role in advancing how they are perceived.

In the article, "Flint native David McGhee trades in sports for mentoring to change the lives of young people," Woodyard shares McGhee's journey from playing college basketball to the community leader he is today.

Reta Stanley, the President and CEO at his organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint shared in the article, "It's really cool to connect with other organizations that are doing like work. Those collaborations are really the buzz words that are out there, so Black Gives Back is huge for us."

Read the article here.

Know a remarkable individual or organization to be featured in our Black Men & Boys series? Let us know at info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.

Apollo Theater Chosen to Compete in Partners in Preservation Grant Program

Legendary Harlem Theater Eligible to Win $200,000 In Preservation Funding

Fans Encouraged to Vote to Help Preserve the Apollo and Share Apollo Memories

Special Partners in Preservation Open House to be Held at the Apollo May 5 – May 6

New York, NY - American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have announced that Harlem’s Apollo Theater has been chosen to participate in the 2012 Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant program, an opportunity for the iconic Theater to win $200,000 in funding for preservation initiatives. As one of 40 participating New York City organizations, the Apollo will compete in a month-long contest that invites the public to cast votes for local historic projects they would like to see receive the grant. Built in 1914, the Apollo is a state and national landmark. If awarded, funds from the Partners in Preservation grant would be used to restore the ornate architectural artwork in the main theater.

Voters are allotted one vote per day, which can be cast online from April 26th to May 21st at or  The four projects that receive the most public votes will have their grant requests fully funded, and the remainder of the $3 million in grants will be awarded to a number of the other sites after review by American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and an advisory committee composed of New York civic and preservation leaders.

Additionally, fans of the Theater will be invited to post personal stories and share photos on the Partners in Preservation Facebook page throughout the competition, and through Apollo Memories, an innovative new campaign and website that will serve as an ongoing digital oral history of the Apollo.

“We are thrilled to have been selected to participate in the Partners in Preservation program, a wonderful initiative that helps safeguard national treasures like the Apollo Theater,” said Apollo President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “We encourage our fans in the neighborhood and around the world to support the Apollo by casting their votes for the Theater, and also look forward to hearing about their most memorable Apollo experiences through our new Apollo Memories program.”

The winner of the popular vote will be announced on May 22, 2012.

Apollo Partners in Preservation Open House
May 5-6, 2012, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In celebration of Partners in Preservation, the Apollo will open its doors on Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th to give members of the Harlem community, New York City residents, and visitors a glimpse into the Apollo’s rich history. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the Theater on a free self-guided, tour and see the legendary stage where many of the most iconic names in entertainment launched their careers. Visitors will also be able to rub the famed Tree of Hope for good luck, enter a quiz to name as many Apollo Legends as they can on the famous lobby murals, and take a photograph under the iconic Apollo Theater marquee.

Launch of Apollo Memories
Most significantly, during this Open House Weekend, the Theater will launch Apollo Memories, an innovative campaign that will serve as an ongoing digital oral history of the Apollo. At the Apollo Partners in Preservation Open House, visitors will be invited to share their Apollo experiences by recording a short video which will be uploaded onto the new Apollo Memories website. Memories can include anything from seeing favorite artists at the Theater, to watching “Showtime at the Apollo” on Saturday nights, or participating in the Apollo’s signature show, Amateur Night. The Apollo Memories site will unveil for the first time reminiscences from Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones and other Apollo Legends about their experiences at the Theater.

Everyone who attends the Open House and votes to help the Apollo win the $200,000 Partners in Preservation grant will be entered to win free tickets to Amateur Night at the Apollo or to the Apollo Spring Gala honoring Lionel Richie and Etta James. Visitors will also be entered to win raffles and free giveaways only available on May 5 and May 6, 2012.

Source:  Press release/Apollo Theater

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New York Urban League Young Professionals Pay Homage to Harlem Renaissance with Rebirth! 2012

Kyle Donovan, Founder, NV magazine; Arva Rice, President & CEO, New York Urban League; Dominga Martin, Co-founder, Crème magazine; and Gladymir Leveille, Co-founder of Crème magazine attend Rebirth! 2012.

NEW YORK, NY - On Wednesday, April 18th, over 250 young trendsetters and tastemakers gathered at Taj II for REBIRTH! 2012: The Harlem Renaissance meets The Digital Renaissance, hosted by the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP). The theme for the event focused on the way young professionals connect today digitally.

“REBIRTH! is a party with a purpose where we raise money for scholarships and school supplies at the same time tantalizing the 5 senses,” says NYULYP President Jemar T. Ward.

Proceeds from REBIRTH! 2012 benefited NYULYP's Annual Backpack Drive for low-income families and the Whitney M. Young Scholarship for high school seniors who excel academically and demonstrate a commitment to community service. Hosted by entertainer and model Chasity Saunders, the event honored Kristal High, Editor-in-Chief at Politic365. Musical performances were provided by Amaany Clarke, Charly & Margaux and Keith Jacobs.

Jemar T. Ward, president, NYULYP and Kristal L. High, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of

ReBirth! 2012 Executive Board: Dwayne Neckles, Communications Chair; Olubunmi Awofeso, Civics & Economics Chair; Aisha Taylor, Membership Chair; Jemar T. Ward, President; Symone Edwards, Secretary; Chadwick Roberson, Treasurer; Will Platt, Fund Development Chair; and Clarence Jackson Community Service Chair

Attendees enjoyed drinks from Moët Hennessy, hors d’oeuvres, and musical performances, and had the opportunity to win raffle prizes including a 3-day/2-­night trip to Barbados and tickets to select top cultural and professional New York City events.

The New York Urban League Young Professionals is a premier auxiliary group that works to promote and support the mission of the New York Urban League by training the next generation of leaders through volunteer opportunities, personal and professional development and fund development.

Community Foundation Invites the Public to “Saving Our Sons: A Community Conversation”

20 years after the civil unrest, Black male youth are more at risk than ever

LOS ANGELES – California Community Foundation (CCF) invites parents, educators, employers, community, civic and religious leaders, and all concerned members of the public to participate in a historic town hall on the need to change and improve conditions for Black male youth in Los Angeles that are adversely affecting their futures. “SAVING OUR SONS: A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION” will take place on Wednesday, May 2, at 6 p.m., in the North Tent at Los Angeles Trade-Tech College (LATTC), 1937 Grand Ave., Los Angeles. More than 200 people are expected in attendance.

Twenty years after the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Black male youth have significant challenges related to their educational and employment prospects. Additionally, while Black male youth make up 10 percent of L.A. County’s youth population, they comprise approximately 33 percent of all youth under probation supervision.

The event on May 2 is supported by Brotherhood Crusade, Community Coalition, Liberty Hill Foundation, Los Angeles Urban League, Youth Justice Coalition, Youth Mentoring Connection, the Office of the Mayor, and the City of Los Angeles, and will feature a personal appearance by actor and activist Larenz Tate (TV’s “Rescue Me,” and films such as, “Ray,” “Love Jones,” “Crash,” and “Menace II Society”).

The much-needed conversation in South Los Angeles will culminate with the announcement of a major new initiative by CCF with the support of a community advisory committee. Called BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Black Men), the five-year, multi-million dollar initiative aims to give 14-18 year old Black males hope, education and employment, and an opportunity not to be defined by their past.

Free parking for the event is available at the LATTC parking lots on Grand Ave. in between Washington Blvd. and 23rd St., or in campus lot F. People may register for the free event in advance, at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Black Men & Boys Series: The Insider, David McGhee on Mentoring and Raising Black Boys

Meet our first Insider for our black men and boys series: David McGhee, an award winning change agent, public speaker and advocate for black male achievement. As program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint 100 Men 100 Boys Program in Michigan, David works with male mentors to mentor 100 unmatched boys, annually. This role has also allowed him to produce the agency’s first hardcover children’s book, 100 Men 100 Boys – A Mentoring Program, which focuses on the positive impact mentoring has in the lives of boys.

A native of Flint, Michigan, David graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from Oakland University, and earned a Master of Science degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Upon graduation from Oakland University, he accepted an internship with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Following his internship, David returned to Flint to work with and for at-risk youth.

In recent years, David has received many accolades for his dedication to improving the lives of others, that includes an honor by the Mayor of Flint in 2011 with “David McGhee Day.” He is also a sought after public speaker, frequently called upon to facilitate discussions and present on leading-edge education, nonprofit, leadership, and youth issues by groups that have included the University of Michigan – Flint, TEDxFlint, the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, and other organizations, churches, and universities across the State of Michigan and throughout the country. David’s civic involvement includes serving on the Board of Trustees for the Flint Public Library, serving as a Big Brother, and a 2011 graduate of the National Urban League Emerging Leaders Program. Most recently, David has been active in strategic planning work with the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Read on to learn how his program is addressing the challenge of recruiting black men to serve as mentors, his personal experience as a mentor, and advice for those raising black boys.

Many mentoring programs are facing the challenge of recruiting black men to serve as mentors to black boys. Are you experiencing this challenge, and if so, how are you addressing it?

The recruitment of black males to serve as mentors continues to be an unfortunate reality. We face this concern here in Flint, as do mentor counterparts throughout the country. To ensure that the black male has the opportunity to excel educationally, economically, and socially, we must break the consternation that has been created. Mentoring can no longer be looked at as something nice. It is necessary! This can no longer be looked at as work, but more so a calling. This is a spiritual and moral calling for black men to be intentional about improving life outcomes for young black boys. As mentors, and mentoring organizations, we have to deliver this message to black males – strategically and consistently. Becoming a Big Brother isn’t something that men do off of impulse. To address this issue, I would offer the following:

Peer to Peer Recruitment: Utilize current mentors to recruit their peers. As mentors themselves, they can give a first-hand account to how rewarding it is.

Group Mentoring: Using a 4:1 ratio, group mentoring has many benefits. Group mentoring allows programs to utilize a small pool of male volunteers. It also attracts men who by nature of external circumstances aren’t likely to commit to a one-to-one mentor relationship.

Big For-A-Day”: This works great! Here in Flint we have used this approach for years. Asking a man to serve as a “Big For-A-Day” is a great way to introduce him to the mentoring experience. Pick an outing that guys like (basketball game, auto show, etc.) and ask them to serve as a mentor for a day, and work with a child during the activity. After this, make the ask!

Recruiting men takes strategy. You have to know who you want to recruit, where they are, when you can reach them, and who is best to do the ask. In many cases, the messenger (recruiter) is just as important as the message. Also, keep in mind that many men don’t make this type of commitment overnight. It may various forms of cultivation – so allow yourself time for this.

Lastly, though this may appear lighthearted, tell men this: “We need you!”

As a Big Brother for six years, what has your mentoring experience been like?

Rewarding! Every time I see my Little Brother, or even talk to him, I am amazed by his ingenuity. My Little Brother currently lives with his grandmother and two sisters. At 11 years old, he is the man of the house, and it pleases my heart to be able to walk with him through his adolescent years. What I enjoy most about it is the fact that I don’t have to “find time” to mentor or hang out with him. I just include him in my regular activities. Whether I’m going to the barbershop, grocery shopping, church, or a community event, I can take him along with me. This not only allows me space to mentor, it also lets him see a man, being a man.

I plan to be right by his side as he graduates from high school and prepares for college, and become the man that God is calling him to be. Being a Big Brother is allowing me to send a message to a future that I will never see. I pray the fruits of my labor will manifest in him, and I am laying the groundwork for him to pour into a Little Brother of his own one day.

Please share more about your book, 100 Men 100 Boys - A Mentoring Program.

Working with young people provides you with so many teachable moments. For over six years I have had the pleasure of directing the group mentoring program 100 Men 100 Boys, and it has been a joy. In my current role, I have been blessed with an opportunity to expose hundreds of boys to a wealth of new and life-changing experiences.

The hardcover children’s book, 100 Men 100 Boys – A Mentoring Program, is the first of its kind, in that it is an adventure book that chronicles the mentoring experience of the young boys who have been in the program. The special jewels in this book are the young men. It is a real pictorial of the program participants and the mentoring experience shared by them and their mentors.

I wanted to bring this book to life, so that years from now the young boys can look back and have a tangible piece of literature that represents them.

What advice do you have for anyone working with and/or raising black boys?

Before offering advice, allow me to say God bless you and thank you to all who are working with and/or raising black boys. In the way of advice, so much can be said, but I would like to offer just three things:

  1. Love them anyway. Yes they make mistakes, no they aren’t perfect, and yes their pants may sag, but they still need love. When we don’t love them, we indirectly torment them – not mentor them.
  2. Be consistent. High rates of fatherlessness and broken social systems provide enough let downs for black boys. These youth need consistency in their lives. They can easily tell if someone is “for them” or not.
  3. Give them access. Black boys are resilient, creative, and resourceful. What separates them from their counterparts, however, is access. Given adequate access to education and enrichment opportunities, the black male can exceed statistics and expectations.
Anything else you'd like to share?

The black male in America has been the elephant in the room for quite some time, but there are many local and national efforts underway to eradicate this. Local efforts such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint’s 100 Men 100 Boys Program, and national efforts such as the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, work diligently to support this population.

Access to positive role models, on a consistent basis, makes a difference. If more positive black males would serve as mentors, the outcome can be beneficial to not only the young black male, but to society as a whole.

Visit David's blog, McGhee's Manifesto, where he offers reflections on life and leadership and follow him on Twitter at @DavidRMcGhee.

Black Men & Boys Series: Upcoming Events

BALTIMORE, MD:  The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is currently hosting two special exhibitions, Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity and Global Dandy: Selected Photographs from The Global Africa Project that seeks to combat negative stereotypes about Black men and portray them in eclectic and sophisticated fashions. The museum has two upcoming programs: Dandy Day (April 28) and Style and Swag (May 12) designed to honor and celebrate black male identity and fashion.

Saturday, April 28, Noon to 5 p.m.
Dandy Day: A Celebration of Dandyism

Peruse clothing and accessories by indie designers hosted by Planet Maud Vintage & Co.; join Monica Miller as she discusses her book, Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity; take a gallery walk with curator Shantrelle P. Lewis; listen to monologues by Theatre Morgan students (Morgan State University); and groove to the sounds of DJ Jahsonic.

Saturday, May 12, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Style and Swag: The New Black Male Elegance

Celebrate black male elegance with a “Dress for Success” workshop, fashion show and bazaar for men of all ages. A raffle of men’s care products and gift cards will be available to visitors. Participants include Carlous Palmer of Design LLC; Brian Joyner of Be Better Guys; The Spa Lounge Salon; E. Bannister Couture; Christopher Shafer Clothier; Eric Brewer; Octavius Johnson; and K&G Fashion Superstore. Both events are in conjunction with Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity. Museum admission is required for both events.

About the exhibition: Twenty emerging photographers and filmmakers present refreshing images of young black men who challenge popular notions of urban black masculinity. Guest curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis, this exhibition defies the negative image of the black male as “thug” and explores contemporary expressions of the “Black Dandy,” the sophisticated urban gentleman whose “swagger” engages both African aesthetics and elements of European fashion. The exhibition is showing through May 13, 2012.

BOSTON, MA: Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts to host 23rd Annual Unity Breakfast featuring award winning novelist Touré

Saturday, May 5, 2012
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Boston Marriott Cambridge
Tickets $40 in advance, $50 at the door.
Proceeds benefit the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self Development

For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Mother of Slain VA Tech Student Victim Finds Peace in Service and Giving

By B. Denise Hawkins
BlackGivesBack Guest Contributor

CENTREVILLE, Va.—This April 16, marked five years since Celeste and Grafton Peterson’s only daughter, a freshman, was gunned down while in her French class at Virginia Tech. For Celeste Peterson, the anniversary of her daughter Erin Nicole Peterson’s death last week could have been the first.

“Whether we’re talking year one or year five, it still feels like yesterday,” says Celeste Peterson who also remembers that it’s been five years “since I heard her voice or held her hand.”

The nation’s most deadly shooting spree in 2007—which claimed the lives of her daughter and 32 others, including the shooter—is still too fresh for Celeste Peterson. But on the eve of the fifth anniversary, the Peterson’s gathered with friends, neighbors, family, and faith groups who packed the Mount Olive Baptist Church to honor Erin with a spirit-filled “Gospel Celebration of Life” on April 15.

“We’ve been celebrating with a gospel concert because Erin was a Christian. She was what her friends and I called a cool Christian and a realist. It was an easy thing for her to talk about Christ and to tell people that they needed to pray,” says Celeste Peterson who doubts that her own courage and faith compared to Erin’s when she was her daughter’s age. Each year the gospel celebration has grown, including area soloists, guest church choirs from across Northern Virginia, liturgical dancers and mime groups. But for Celeste Peterson, the concert is more than an event. It’s a way for the community to learn about her daughter and the work that is going on in her name through the five-year-old Erin Peterson Fund, adds Celeste Peterson who manages the non-profit with her husband.

“While some of the victims’ families have established scholarships in the name of their loved ones, many can’t or haven’t had the opportunity that our family has had to share Erin’s memory and legacy in this way,” says Tracy Littlejohn the Fund’s secretary.

Fueled initially with money that flooded in to the family following their daughter’s death, the Erin Peterson Fund awards a variety of scholarships to deserving college and high school students in Northern Virginia and across the nation. Nearly $90,000 has been awarded to date. The Fund’s Legacy Initiative Scholarship, launched in 2009, honors one of the shooting victims, Littlejohn said. This year’s Legacy Initiative Honoree, announced during the gospel concert, was Reema Joseph Samaha. Samaha was Erin Peterson’s Westfield High School friend. They lived next door to each other in their Virginia Tech dorm, and on the morning of the shootings, they died together sitting in the same classroom.

While at Virginia Tech, Erin majored in international studies. Celeste Peterson proudly points out Erin’s passion for wanting to help people and give back, and to the career her daughter dreamed of in non-profits. A scholar-athlete, Erin, was a 6-foot-1 center for her high school's girls' basketball team, helping lead it to a district championship.

An annual benefit golf tournament on June 14, at Westfields Golf Club in Clifton, VA is the Fund’s biggest fundraisers, usually attracting more than 200 golfers, says Celeste Peterson.

“Erin accepted no limitations when it came to helping those in need,” Celeste Peterson recalls. “I understand now, how she felt.”

Learn more about the fund at

Photo caption: Celeste Peterson now heads the Erin Peterson Fund. A photo of her daughter, Erin, is in the background.

B. Denise Hawkins is a writer and editor based in Northern Virginia.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Orleans Museum of Art Honors Legendary Chef Leah Chase with Exhibition and Gala to Launch Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund

NOMA Honors Leah Chase with an Exhibition of Paintings Capturing Her Lifelong Dedication to the Culinary Arts

Leah Chase Gala to be held Monday, April 23 in New Orleans

New Orleans, LA –In celebration of Chef Leah Chase’s longstanding contributions to the city of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) will present an exhibition of 20 paintings that capture Chase at work in the kitchen of her restaurant, Dooky Chase’s. The series, painted by New Orleans-raised artist Gustave Blache III, provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into Chase’s restaurant business, depicting her stirring culinary concoctions, ordering supplies, and greeting restaurant guests.

Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III, is on view from April 24 - September 9, 2012, on NOMA’s second floor Louisiana Galleries. The exhibition is sponsored by Richard C. Colton Jr. and Liberty Bank and Trust.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, NOMA will host a Gala on April 23 that will inaugurate the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund and provide guests with a preview of the exhibition. The Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund is for the acquisition of artworks by African American artists for the museum’s permanent collection as outlined by the Chase family. In celebration of her culinary contributions to the community and beyond, Chase will cater the event.

“New Orleans is known for our unique combination of culinary and visual arts,” said Director Susan M. Taylor. “We are proud to honor Chef Leah Chase, a cultural force within this exceptional city and Gustave Blache, who has been inspired by Chase and New Orleans.”

Known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” Chase is a pillar of the New Orleans community, having contributed in countless ways to the cultural fabric of the city. A talented and tireless chef, Chase began working at Dooky Chase’s after her 1945 marriage to Dooky Chase Jr., the son of the original owner. During the Civil Rights Movement, the restaurant was renowned as a gathering place for civil rights activists and community leaders. Famed for both her expertise in the kitchen and a lifelong advocacy of the arts, particularly by African American artists, Chase is an honorary lifetime trustee of NOMA.

Blache spent countless hours sketching and photographing Chase at her restaurant, capturing the intimate moments that form the subject of his finished portraits. The exhibition provides an authentic view into Chase’s life’s work. “Cutting Squash,” featured in the exhibition, was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

“The images captured in the Chase series depict the less glamorous - but essential - aspects of the restaurant business,” says curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Miranda Lash. “Wearing her signature pink cap, you see Leah cutting vegetables, pouring oysters, even washing dishes. The process of cooking is elevated to its rightful status, as a work of art itself. ”

About the Leah Chase Gala

Leah’s son Edgar Chase and New Orleans restaurateur and proprietor of Café NOMA Ralph Brennan will co-chair the gala honoring Chase’s legacy at NOMA.  The Leah Chase Gala is on Monday, April 23 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets start at $75 and are available at:

About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses over 35,000 art objects encompassing 4,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing temporary exhibitions, are on view in the Museum's 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjacent Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by 62 artists, including several of the 20th century's master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. except for Fridays when it’s open until 8:45 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit

Photo credit: The Sun UK/Source: Press release

New Faces of Philanthropy Making An Impact: Support the Cultures of Giving Challenge!

Board Members from the Community Investment Network, one of 22 organizations participating in the Cultures of Giving Challenge: Lyord Watson, Vice Chair; Kenny Ashe; Charles E. Lewis, Jr.; Barron Damon and Mark Lewis, Treasurer

The Cultures of Giving Challenge has started! This 10-day online giving campaign challenges donors to raise funds for nonprofit organizations that focus on high-priority issues in communities of color. For every donation made to one of the 22 participating nonprofits, up to the first $20,000 per nonprofit will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Donations can be made now through April 26 at Each gift also makes the nonprofit organization eligible for special prizes and awards.

Two participating nonprofits, the Community Investment Network (CIN) and Associated Black Charities of Maryland, have previously been featured on BlackGivesBack.

CIN is a national network of giving circles and everyday philanthropists, founded in North Carolina and rooted in the Southeast. Member giving circles include The Black Benefactors in Washington, DC, Birmingham Change Fund in Birmingham, AL, New Generation of African American Philanthropists in Charlotte, NC, A Legacy of Tradition in Raleigh, NC and Circle of Joy in Atlanta.

“This is giving by design,” says CIN Board Chair, LaDawn Sullivan. “The Giving Donor Challenge directly aligns with the practices of CIN - to be strategic in giving, to pool our individual contributions, and to leverage additional resources.” Chad Jones, executive director of CIN shares, “CIN is contributing to a growing movement of giving circles and community philanthropy. I am confident that all of the participating groups will harness the power of crowdfunding, so it becomes a part of our ongoing development and organizational growth.” The Community Investment Network inspires, connects and strengthens African Americans and communities of color to leverage their collective resources and create the change THEY wish to see.

Associated Black Charities, based in Baltimore, MD, is a public foundation that facilitates the creation of measurably healthier and wealthier communities in Maryland through leadership and philanthropic investment. Read our Insider profile on ABC's President and CEO, Diane Bell-McKoy here.

Visit for a full list of all participating organizations.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Black Men & Boys Series: DC Agencies Join Forces To Host Mentoring and Student Art Weekend

Pursuit, Capital Partners for Education and Visible Men Collaborate for a Cause

On Saturday, March 31, three Washington, DC area agencies joined forces to host a charity basketball tournament and a student art weekend in support of black male achievement.

The 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament served as the signature event of the weekend that offered exciting basketball activities and entertainment, while also highlighting the artistic achievements of the community’s youth. Presented by Pursuit, a consultancy company, over $2,000 was raised to benefit Capital Partners for Education, a non-profit dedicated to helping students of lesser economic backgrounds achieve their academic and professional goals.

“There are so many organizations that have a mission to help those that are underprivileged and I think there could be more synergy between these organizations,” says Romone Penny, the creator of Pursuit. “I like the idea of merging not-for-profit organizations to strengthen resources and ultimately to help empower our community in more ways than one.” Pursuit provides resources and strategy development for organizations to assist with building character, cultivating relationships and hosting charitable social events.

Pursuit not only hosted the charity basketball tournament, but in collaboration with KIPP DC School, it served as the venue for VisibleMen (VM) to announce the winners of its premiere Metro DC Student Art Contest, also created by Pursuit.

VisibleMen is an innovative non-profit dedicated to telling the untold stories of African American male success, while elevating young black males to new heights of achievement and fulfillment. The purpose of the art contest was to engage youth in the process of identifying positive black male role models in the Washington DC area community. VM awarded winners with cash prizes ranging from $150 to $1,000.

"Pursuit is providing an opportunity for those of us seriously committed to empowering youth to come together for a day of sport, art, role modeling and fellowship. I couldn't be more thrilled to prize our VisibleMen Student Art Contest Winners in such a positive environment,” says VM founder Neil Phillips.

The organizers would like to thank their tournament sponsors Deuce Brand, For The Win (FTW), Fro•zen•yo, Source Theater, One-on-One Basketball Inc., VisibleMen, and Shelvin Mack of the Washington Wizards for their generous contributions.

Romone Penny, creator of Pursuit and Neil Phillips, founder of VisibleMen

Neil Phillips (2nd from right) with Christian Herbert-Pryor, Ryan Carter and Ibn Salaam, VM Group Leaders from Hampden Sydney College

Winners of the VisibleMen art contest with Pursuit, Capital Partners for Education and VisibleMen staff and supporters.

Related post: Visible Men Hosts 'Golf & Giving' in Support of Black Males

Photo credit: Yacouba Tanou/YTanou Photography

Monday, April 16, 2012

Black Men & Boys Series: Life Pieces To Masterpieces Transforms Lives Through Arts

Mary Brown (center), serves as the Executive Director and is Co-Founder of Life Pieces To Masterpieces, Inc., a Washington, DC based organization that provides life enriching opportunities to African American boys and young men.  Mary, along with the apprentices and mentors in the photo, are all wearing "Shield of Faith" badges that represents the artistic and spiritual values embodied by the apprentices, staff members and volunteers of Life Pieces.

Welcome to BlackGivesBack’s first feature article for our Black Men and Boys series! Announced in January, the aim of this series is to dispel the negative stereotypes often depicted of black men and boys in the media by showcasing positive stories, and to highlight organizations, individuals, celebrities and foundations who are supporting black men and boys with innovative programs. As you read this article and the many to follow throughout the year, please think of ways you can support those featured, or those in your own community.  Let’s begin in Washington, DC!

Life Pieces To Master Pieces, Inc.

Readers in the Washington, DC area have probably heard of this innovative arts-based organization, that engages African American boys and young men (called apprentices) to channel their life experiences using the creation of acrylic collage paintings, original poetry, prose, oratory, movement/dance and music. Founded in 1996, the organization provides three main programs that includes daily participation in academic tutoring, mentoring, leadership and youth development, along with a specialized curriculum that has helped Life Pieces to achieve a 100% graduation rate for the past six years.

Mary Brown, co-founder of Life Pieces To Masterpieces shares,
“For the past six years, Life Pieces' innovative art and character education process has yielded consistent success - 100% of our apprentices have graduated high school and have been accepted to post-secondary education. Through one-to-one engagement with our boys we are able to impart our principle of shared humanity. Through our activities, our young boys grow up to be global citizens.”
The program addresses three specific critical needs for our young men: Positive role models, closing the achievement gap, and artistic expression.  Selected artwork by their apprentices have been displayed in the Anacostia Community Museum, African American History Museum, and Pepco Edison Place Art Gallery in 2011 and 2012. The organization is always looking for new partners to display their artwork in offices and public spaces.

In addition to their signature arts-based and academic programs, Life Pieces provides specialized programming for high school age students that uses their proven-effective Human Development System, and exposes their apprentices to various foreign cultures through their “Connecting Communities Across the Globe” summer program. The organization knows the importance of establishing strong partnerships that helps them to fulfill their mission. Among their partners are the Corcoran School of Art and Design that provides graduate students to assist with their art/creative expression program, and George Washington University that provides in-kind classroom space for their Saturday Academy.

The organization has had many successes, including Mary Brown named as a 2012 Washingtonian of the Year, and Life Pieces selected as one of the region's best nonprofits by the 2011-12 Catalogue for Philanthropy Greater Washington.

Visit the Life Pieces To Masterpieces website at for information on their upcoming ‘Songs in the Key of Life Pieces’ concert fundraiser on May 5, 2012, 7 pm at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.   Follow on Twitter @LP2MP and Facebook here.  Know an innovative program serving black men and boys?  Let us know by sending an email to info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.

Friday, April 13, 2012

2012 Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon Presented by Greater New York Chapter, The Links, Incorporated, A Stellar Success

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

NEW YORK, NY - Greater New York Chapter, The Links, Incorporated, presented its 62nd Annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon, on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at the scenic Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

The event was attended by 1,000 stylish New Yorkers to honor community servant superstars Tanya Leah Lombard, Vice President, Public Affairs, AT&T and Constance C.R. White, Editor-in-Chief, Essence Magazine. Chapter President Gerri Warren-Merrick led the charge presiding over an outstanding event that raised awareness of domestic violence. Proceeds will be used to develop and sustain transformational programs that help address the needs of those impacted by the issue. Honoree Tanya Leah Lombard referred to her honor as a “selfless platform,” saying it was not about her, but about the work that all the women in the room do in the Black community especially in these trying times.

Generous sponsors included AT&T, ING, Essence Communications and Macy’s. Communications support of the event was graciously donated by Helen Shelton, Senior Partner of global consultancy, Finn Partners, Inc. Featured at this year’s Spirit Awards Luncheon was ZED Sparkling Moscato Rosé, making its national debut “Live from The ZED Carpet” in honor of the occasion. From the blushing pink color and exotic perfume of rosewater to the brightness of fresh-picked grapes from the vine, ZED is an enticing and lingering experience that tantalized Luncheon guests with a feisty effervescence.

The event closed with a fabulous fashion show with veteran beauty journalist and editor Tai Beauchamp as emcee. The latest collections from acclaimed designers Barbara Bates, Bates Designs, Edward Wilkerson, Lafayette 148 New York and b. michael AMERICA RED Collection Ready To Wear brought down the house eliciting cheers, snaps and dancing from the crowd. Spotted among the elegant audience: Cicely Tyson, b. Michael, Mark Anthony Edwards, Rev. Al Sharpton, Gate Maya Haile, PR and Brand Strategist Marvett Britto, Recording Artist Estelle, Erica Liles, Visionary Nonprofit Leader, Cheryl Pemberton, Karen A. Phillips, Phillips Davis Legacy Consultants, Uptown Magazine’s Jocelyn Taylor and former First Lady of New York State, Michelle Paterson.

Greater NY Link and Luncheon Co-Chair Mignon Espy-Edwards and Honoree Tanya Leah Lombard

“I am so pleased to announce that the 62nd Annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon was an unprecedented success,” says Gerri Warren-Merrick, president, Greater New York Chapter, The Links, Incorporated. “More than 1,000 distinguished guests were in attendance, all showing their support and helping us shine a spotlight on a critical issue in our society – domestic violence. Our honorees embody the character, vision, humanity and humility that are an inspiration as well as a great service to us all. In addition, our fashion show this year was one of the most exciting and dynamic yet, featuring the work of three of the most influential designers on the scene today. We appreciate the support of our sponsors and our guests who have helped us further the mission of our organization as we continue to serve and highlight our community.”

About The Links, Incorporated
Established in 1946, The Links, Incorporated, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who, linked in friendship, are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African-Americans and persons of African descent. The Links, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization, which consists of nearly 12,000 professional women of color in 272 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Bahamas.  Visit the website at

Photo credit: Alex Lipowec

Online Giving Campaign Aims to Raise Funds to Address High-Priority Issues in Communities of Color

“Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge” benefits nonprofit groups at the front lines

Via Press Release: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced a new online giving campaign to challenge donors to raise funds for nonprofit organizations that focus on high-priority issues in communities of color.

The “Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge” is a 10-day campaign that will run from April 17 to April 26.  During that time, every donation made to one of the 22 participating nonprofits up to the first $20,000 per nonprofit will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the foundation. Donations can be made to the organizations through, and each gift also makes the nonprofit organization eligible for special prizes and awards.

The Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge is informed by a recent WKKF report on philanthropy. The report, “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color,” indicated that the face of philanthropy is rapidly changing to become as ethnically, culturally and socioeconomically diverse as the country's population, with some of the most significant growth stemming from identity-based philanthropy. Identity-based philanthropy is a growing movement to spark philanthropic giving from a community on behalf of that community. In this movement, “community” is defined by race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

The nonprofits participating in the challenge are powerful resources that focus on a range of issues, including education, preventive health care, women's and children's advocacy and social justice. During the challenge, selected days will be dedicated to specific causes, such as “Educated Kids Focus Day” and “Secure Families Focus Day.”

The goal of the challenge is to get thousands of community donors to support the projects of these well-respected nonprofits that serve a wide variety of communities from coast to coast. Those interested in the Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge can engage with it on Facebook and Twitter.

“Communities of color have a deep tradition of giving to help the causes that hit close to home,” said Dr. Alandra Washington, WKKF's deputy director of programs for the education and learning, and family economic security teams. “This challenge intends to spark that tradition of self-help at a time when nonprofits can rely less and less on government assistance.”

To learn more, visit or follow WKKF on twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn and #culturesofgiving.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ron Brown Scholar Program Hosts 3rd Annual Ronald H. Brown American Journey Awards

Thaderine MacFarlane (center), philanthropist and Ron Brown Scholar Program Board of Trustees member, with Ron Brown Scholar alumni (L to R): Kani Ketta, Stefun Burns, Diarra Lamar and Dorothy Smith.

WASHINGTON, DC - On March 23, 2012 at the JW Marriott Hotel, the Ron Brown Scholar Program hosted its third annual Ronald H. Brown American Journey Awards Silent Auction and Recognition Dinner. The program, named for the late Secretary of Commerce and inspired by his dedication to public service, celebrated his legacy and recognized key individuals for their efforts to create opportunities to help others to reach their potential and to achieve success. This year's honorees are Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, United States Surgeon General and Anthony M. Pilaro, chairman, CAP Foundation & Founder, Ron Brown Scholar Program. The recognition dinner was hosted by Maria Cardona, principal, Dewey Square Group CNN, MSNBC and Fox Political Commentator and David Mercer, president, Mercer & Associates.

Honoree Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, United States Surgeon General and Michael Mallory, President of the Ron Brown Scholar Fund and Executive Director of the Ron Brown Scholar Program

Dinner highlights included remarks from past Ron Brown Scholars who shared their stories of success and giving back, a touching photo book presentation to honoree Anthony M. Pilaro, and remarks from honoree Dr. Regina Benjamin, who shared with guests to "be a Ron Brown for someone else," and "be good at what you do, for you never know who is watching." Michael Mallory, executive director for the Ron Brown Scholar Program shared, “Like the late Ronald H. Brown, our honorees exemplify the value of “giving back” and each recognizes the value of cultivating community in order to change lives. Both honorees took their jobs and turned them into vehicles to change the world in extraordinary ways. That is why they embody the spirit of the Ron Brown Scholar Program mission and serve as models to which Ron Brown Scholars should aspire.”

Prior to her acceptance remarks, Dr. Regina Benjamin shared with BlackGivesBack that receiving this award is special, because she's been with the program since its inception and that she left the Ron Brown Program Board of Trustees to accept her current position as United States Surgeon General. She also shared with us startling findings from her recently released report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, that everyday, 1,200 people die from smoking and each one of those deaths is being replaced by two young smokers, called replacement smokers. Despite all the work that has been done, she stated that there are 600,000 middle school aged youth who are smokers and 90% of them started before the age of 18.

Near the conclusion of the program, the 18 finalists for the 2012 Ron Brown Scholars class were introduced with a standing ovation. This year, the program received 6,300 applications. Scholars are chosen based on academic excellence in high school, financial need and often overcoming great circumstantial adversity in their lives but also a commitment to help others in society. Upon acceptance, Scholars are each awarded $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years) that may be used at the college or university of their choice. Graduating Scholars go on to outstanding careers in the arts, sciences and public service, and many more pursue professional degrees in law, medicine and business. The outstanding characteristic of the Scholars is their readiness to keep connected to the Program and each other, a characteristic which makes the Ron Brown Scholar Program unique. The program's goal is to reach their previous number of 20 new Ron Brown scholars annually, as many applicants are turned away. The Ron Brown CAPtains was launched in June 2011 to help accomplish this goal.

Guests at the event enjoyed a special reception and participated in a silent auction hosted by Helping Hands featuring Judith Ripka jewelry, art and sports/entertainment memorabilia.

Among the guests at the dinner included Kenneth and Kathryn Chenault, silver level sponsors and Tracy L. Brown James, daughter of the late Secretary of Commerce. To learn more about the program and honorees, please visit the Ron Brown Scholar Program website at

Photo credit: Stacey Trammel

Friday, April 6, 2012

Landmark Book on Black Philanthropy Celebrates Success

Valaida Fullwood, author, and Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer of “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists”

In October 2011, the first coffee table style book on black philanthropy was published, Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. We're happy to share that book sales have been very brisk - during the last quarter of 2011, 100 books a week were distributed on average! Due to demand, the authors are now preparing for an immediate reprint of their hardcover, collectible book that reframes portraits of philanthropy.

In just six months, Giving Back was named one of the 10 Best Black Books of 2011; ranked among Amazon's bestsellers in Arts & Photography (Portraits); generated 40+ media stories; and attracted a sizable social media following.

Proceeds from the book benefit New Generation of African American Philanthropists, a giving circle based in Charlotte, NC. The giving circle has participated in over 30 book events, engaged 1,400 people directly through those events and distributed nearly 1,500 books,with each purchase benefiting the circle's mission and grantmaking. Further, enthusiastic book buyers have shared news of donating Giving Back to schools, churches and library collections and giving it as a gift to family, friends and influential luminaries, including college presidents, corporate executives, foundation heads and White House staff.

If you haven't purchased the book, we encourage you to order soon! Back orders are accumulating and new sponsoring partners are being sought to meet public demand. Two new sponsoring partners are Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. and Crossroads Charlotte. Each new funder brings them closer to their vision of a robust and multi-dimensional civic engagement campaign, promoting philanthropy that is inclusive, responsive and community led.

Below are upcoming events for Giving Back and information if you'd like to host a book event in your community.

The Denver Foundation, with The Links, Incorporated-Denver Chapter and Community Investment Network (CIN)

Book talk and reception at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
April 18, 2012
5:30-7:30 pm
Denver, CO
More info here.

North Carolina State University * African American Cultural Center
Panel discussion on Black philanthropy and post-event book signing with Darryl Lester of Hindsight Consulting
April 19, 2012
5:30 pm
Raleigh, NC

The Cleveland Foundation * Annual African American Philanthropy Summit
Co-facilitated discussion during the opening plenary with Darryl Lester of Hindsight Consulting
April 21, 2012
8:00 am
Warrenville Heights, OH

Council on Foundations * Annual Philanthropy Conference
Author appearance and book signing
April 29, 2012
4:30-5:30 pm
Los Angeles, CA

YMCA of Northwest North Carolina * 15th Annual Black Achievers in Business and Industry Awards Gala
Keynote address, with post-event book signing
May 17, 2012
6:30 pm
Winston-Salem, NC

Previous book signings and events have been held in Atlanta and Washington, DC. You can engage in discussions about African American philanthropy in your community by hosting a Giving Back book event. Contact or call 704.516.2819. You can follow happenings via Twitter (@ValaidaF), Facebook,,, the website and the blog  Alex Johnson III

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weeksville Visionaries Preserve the Legacy of Historic Site in Brooklyn

The Weeksville Visionaries L-R: Michelle Wonsley, Yvette Jackson-Bruckner, Vice-Chairperson, Esther Alix and Bianca Mońa.

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

BROOKLYN, NY - On March 31, 2012, The Weeksville Visionaries hosted a special tour of Weeksville Heritage Center’s Hunterfly Road Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn. Often described as being “hidden in plain sight,” Weeksville is one of the only African American historic sites in the Northeast still on its original property and among the ten most prominent African American cultural organizations in New York City.

Weeksville, a village of free African American laborers, entrepreneurs and professionals was a thriving community during the second half of the 19th century. At its height in 1850, Weeksville had 500 residents and the highest rate of property owners of any free black community in the United States. Over time, the Weeksville community faded as the city of Brooklyn developed. Many of the houses were torn down by the New York City Housing Authority to make way for public housing projects, but a remaining few were protected and restored by a group now known as Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC). The Weeksville Visionaries, a group of young professional Black women, are committed to keeping the legacy of Weeksville alive.

“Very little of domestic Weeksville survives,” said Esther Alix speaking on the significance of the site, “so Weeksville Heritage Center is proud to be the steward of the three Hunterfly Road Houses, which date to the original community. I've had a chance now to spend time in these houses and to imagine the families that lived, worked and loved in them. And almost daily, I get to see the faces of the young and old as they walk away from touring the houses, touched, moved and inspired by the historic Weeksville community and all its accomplishments.” Weeksville’s specialized focus on post-emancipation history also makes WHC a primary resource for insight into an underappreciated chapter in American history.

After the tour of the Hunterfly Road Houses, WHC Executive Director Pamela Green unveiled plans for the Center’s new Education and Cultural Arts Building. Set to open to the public in the first quarter of 2013, the impressive 19,000 square foot Gold LEED certified building has been built in partnership with the New York City Council and the Brooklyn Borough President’s office at a cost of approximately $37 million to date. Upon its completion, the building will be a significant green addition to the prominent historic site and will allow the organization to quadruple its audience. The addition of the Education and Cultural Arts Building will transform the Weeksville site into a state of the art cultural campus. In addition to historic house tours, WHC will also offer year-round educational, summer arts and culture programming and rich resources in research and the performing and visual arts. Features include:

  • A research/resource center devoted to African American history with a focus on Weeksville’s history;
  • A dedicated recording studio for telling and preserving oral histories;
  • Performance space for contemporary theater and dance;
  • Exhibition space for contemporary visual arts;
  • Extensive and accessible landscaped open space.

Weeksville Visionaries in front of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses

Now, Weeksville is at a critical juncture seeking $3M in capital funds to finish construction and funds to support programming and operations. The organization has opened a search for a Director of Development to help ensure its future success. You can support this cultural gem by visiting and spreading the word about the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses.

Artist rendering of new Education and Cultural Arts Building

Another easy way to support is to “Like” Weeksville on Facebook by visiting: A generous donor will give $1 for every new like the organization receives.

Photos by Akira Barclay

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Insider: Gerri Warren-Merrick, President, Greater New York Chapter, The Links, Inc.

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

On Saturday April 7, 2012, the Greater New York Chapter, The Links, Incorporated, will present its 62nd Annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon at the scenic Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Our latest Insider, Gerri Warren-Merrick tells us why this event so special.

What is the mission and goal of The Greater New York Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and how does the annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon support that mission?

The Links, Incorporated with 12,000 members across the country is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. The Greater New York Chapter, made up of fifty professional women from all five boroughs of New York City and Long Island, come together first in the name of friendship and service to the community. A minimum of 48 hours of community service is a requirement of membership, one that our members far exceed each year. Our work is focused on 5 areas; National Trends, International Trends, Arts, Services to Youth and Health and Human Services. The Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon generates eighty-five to ninety percent of the funds needed to support these programs. Our members are engaged with a wide range of projects to provide help and healing for women and families dealing with domestic violence. We’ve adopted a women’s shelter and are renovating a children’s space at an urban women’s retreat partnering with Essence magazine. We’re also working with Macy’s to bring life skills and education around bullying to youth and hosting elder abuse workshops for seniors in Harlem with Abyssinian Baptist Church and AARP.

We’re proud of all of the work we do in the community, and we are especially proud of the impact we’ve been able to make internationally for women in Haiti. The struggles people are facing in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake aren’t getting much attention in the news anymore, but people still need help trying to rebuild their lives. Some of them still need the most basic supplies. So we packed 400 women’s toiletry kits and sent them to women in need. Our sister Rev. Dr. Elaine Flake visited Haiti shortly after the disaster and learned that violence and sexual assault was a serious issue for women there. We included whistles and flashlights in our kits to help with safety.

As President of The Greater New York Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, what is your vision of the organization for now and the future?

Currently, we have a scholarship committee and are able to provide deserving students with $1,000-$4,000 scholarships to help support their education. My vision is for us to be able to provide sustained mentorship and financial resources to cover 4 years of student’s undergraduate education or 2 years of graduate school. We aren’t there yet, but being able to do that is something we aim for in the future.

2012 marks the 62nd Annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon presented by The Greater New York Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. What can we expect from this year's Luncheon? Who are the honorees and how many guests are you expecting this year?

Our luncheon on April 7th will be a grand celebration of women and friendship. At 11:00 we open with a fabulous designer/vendor showcase. At noon, the luncheon will begin where we will honor Tanya Leah Lombard, AT&T‘s Vice President of Public Affairs and Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Constance C.R. White. Our Co-Chairs for the 2012 Women of Distinction Spirit Award Luncheon are Donna Jones and Rhonda Joy McLean. Luncheon Vice-Chairs are Mignon Espy-Edwards, Sharné C. Jackson and Barbara North- Lightning. A major highlight will be the fashion show featuring the latest collections from acclaimed designers Barbara Bates, Bates Designs, b. michael AMERICA RED Collection Ready To Wear and Edward Wilkerson, Design Director, Lafayette 148 New York. We are expecting Cicely Tyson to attend as well as Judith Jamison who has joined us in previous years. Dianne Hardison, Eastern Area Director of The Links and others will travel from across the country for this event to kick off the Spring season. We want as many people as possible to join us because the proceeds from this event are used for such an important purpose.

For more information, log on to Greater New York Chapter‘s Web site at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Honor Local Educators at Annual Black Opal Event

Northern Virginia Urban League Professionals Network Current Executive Board (2011 – 2012)

Event recognized teachers under the age of 40 in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M)

ALEXANDRIA, VA - On Saturday, March 31st, the Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network (YPN) hosted its third annual Black Opal gala themed, "Celebrating a New Generation of Leaders Empowering Educators." During the event’s VIP reception, YPN honored two Northern Virginia educators.

Olinka Turner, Special Education math teacher at T.C. Williams High School. Turner is also part of the Special Education Inclusive Strategic Team, whose goal is to ensure that every child with a disability has access to the standard curriculum through a variety of services.

Brandon Edwards, Physical Science teacher at Francis C. Hammond Middle School. Edwards facilitates an after school program that provides computer and Internet access, and enrichment to “at promise” students.

Black Opal 2012 Honorees Brandon Edwards, Olinka Turner and YPN President Gerald S. Padmore Photo credit: Capitol Media USA

Rahshib Thomas, Eastern Region Vice President, National Urban League Young Professionals and Gerald S. Padmore, Northern VA Urban League Young Professionals Network

“Raising money for our community empowerment programs, like our scholarship endowment fund, College Survival 101 (for area high school students) and our annual political forum, is necessary so that we can continue to make a positive impact and do extraordinary work in the community,” said Gerald S. Padmore, president of YPN. ”What makes this event special is that we also take the opportunity to celebrate other young professionals who are truly making strides in the Northern Virginia community through education.”

In a special letter to YPN in honor of Black Opal, Senator Mark Warner stated, “The individuals being honored have reached exemplary heights in the field of education and their commitment to the common good has made a lasting impact on the Northern Virginia community.”

This year, Black Opal was held at the US Patent & Trademark Office at 600 Dulany Street in Alexandria, VA. To learn more about Black Opal and YPN programs visit:   Source: Press release

Acclaimed Opera Company Brings Greater Diversity to the Stage

Glimmerglass Opera Company Hosts Festival Season Preview Reception at Harlem’s 5 and Diamond

HARLEM, NY - On March 29th, the Glimmerglass Festival’s Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and Managing Director Linda Jackson hosted a lovely intimate cocktail reception and a sneak preview of the world-renowned opera festival’s upcoming season at Harlem’s critically acclaimed 5 and Diamond Restaurant.  The restaurant’s owners Lia Sanfilippo and Selene Martinez were on hand to greet guests at their chic restaurant that has become the haunt of the arts set on New York’s new Restaurant Row.  Pictured in the photo are Kevin J. Miller, pianist and 2012 Glimmerglass Young Artist; Chrystal Williams, 2012 Glimmerglass Young Artist; Eric Owens of the Metropolitan Opera and Chase Taylor, 2012 Glimmerglass Young Artist.

Linda Jackson, the first African-American woman to head a major opera company, welcomed the guests and spoke passionately of the Glimmerglass Young Artists Program which this year had over 1,000 applicants for 39 slots in the program. She proudly shared that of this group, 15 are African-American and 5 are from South Africa.

Ms. Jackson then introduced Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello who gave a brief preview of what visitors to the pastoral setting at Glimmerglass would hear this summer and introduced the country’s most prominent African American bass-baritone, Metropolitan Opera star Eric Owens.

Owens launched into a powerful rendition of "Infelice!e tuo credevi" from Verdi's Ernani and at Glimmerglass, he will perform the role of Amonasro in Aida in his debut. Following Owens’ breathtaking solo, Chrystal Williams, a Glimmerglass 2012 Young Artist performed two numbers: Composer's Aria "Sein wir wieder gut" from Ariadne auf Naxos and "C'est ca la vie, C'est ca l'amour" from Toi C'est Moi , an operetta in two acts by Moise Simons.

Her fellow Young Artist, Chase Taylor took to the stage and thrilled the crowd with "Ch'ella mi creda" from La Fanciulla del West and "This is the Moment" from the musical Jekyll and Hyde.

Owens then closed the performance program with the haunting “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific that brought the crowd to their feet. The four singers were accompanied by 2012 Young Artist pianist Kevin J. Miller.

Francesa Zambello, Kevin J. Miller, Chase Taylor, Chrystal Williams, Eric Owens and Linda Jackson

Vevlyn Wright, Diana Zollicoffer, Dawne Marie Grannum, Michelle Ester

Among the guests were Glimmerglass Board President Sherwin M. Goldman and Trustee Martin L. Senzel; composer Jonathan Brielle with his wife Cherie King, founder of The Development Wing; NAACP Award winning playwright & director Kenyetta Lethridge, whose new drama Innocent Flesh is garnering critical acclaim with her producer Diana Zollicoffer; arts patroness Joyce Mullins Jackson and her husband The Honorable Bernard Jackson; The Event Office’s producer Scott Perrin; Dawne Marie Grannum; actress Cassandra Seidenfeld; German producer Markus Behrendt and his fiancé Melanie Konegen (the duo tied the knot in Central Park the next day); writers Owen Levy and Vevlyn Wright.

Gl!mmerata, the 2012 Glimmerglass Festival's spring gala will take place on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at The Metropolitan Club in New York. For more information on the 2012 Glimmerglass Festival mainstage productions, please visit