Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black Men & Boys Series: Documentary Highlights Black Males and Mentoring in New Orleans

Mentees participate in a tie-tying ceremony at Chill's Barbershop in New Orleans, the subject of the award winning documentary film "Close Ties: Tying on a New Tradition."

Rites of passage ceremony connects teenage boys with male role models

In an effort to combat low academic performance among black male teens in New Orleans, two men joined forces to create a unique mentoring project. Dr. Andre Perry, Associate Director for Educational Initiatives at Loyola University, and Wilbert “Chill” Wilson, owner of Chill's Barbershop, brought together local men from the community and black male teens to participate in a tie-tying ceremony. The aim of the project is to bring a rites of passage ceremony to the community that encourages self-actualization, college attendance and professionalism among urban males. The ceremony is the subject of the award winning documentary, "Close Ties: Tying on a New Tradition."

Produced and directed by Gemal Woods for Park Triangle Productions, the documentary features the boys participating in a tie-tying demonstration, where role models from around the city instruct the youngsters on how to create distinguishing knots with their neckwear. The boys also receive the opportunity to get professional grooming with a haircut, a shoe-shine, and one-on-one mentorship from a male role model in the community. The ceremonies are held in Chill's Barbershop, a place where men from various professions and walks of life come together.

According to Dr. Perry, “Teaching a boy how to tie a tie requires a closeness that is often the missing ingredient in transforming boys to men.” It is Perry's and Wilson's hope that the ceremony will strengthen communities struggling with crime, poverty and alarming high school drop out rates.

To learn more about the documentary and view the trailer, visit the website at And check out this cool instructional video created in partnership with Close Ties, "How to Tie a Tie." Learn how to tie three popular knots: the Half Windsor, 4-In-Hand and a Bow Tie. Created by Gemal Woods of Park Triangle productions, the video is part of the company's eclectic docuseries "The Angle."

Thanks to reader Staci for the story tip! Have a story to share for the Black Men and Boys Series? Let us know! Email info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.

Photo credit: Park Triangle Productions

Friday, May 25, 2012

Black Men & Boys Series: Meet “The Good Sheppard”

"The Good Sheppard" (center) with Anthony Stewart and Trooper Carl Wright, President of San Diego Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry at Veteran's Village of San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, CA - On Saturday, May 19th, Sean Sheppard, also known as "The Good Sheppard," received an honorary membership from the San Diego Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers for his service to the nation's homeless and veterans. Trooper Carl Wright, president of the San Diego Chapter of Buffalo Soldiers shared, “Sean has demonstrated values that make our community stronger by encouraging family and friends of all ages to get involved and make a difference, serving the homeless and veterans, getting high school and college students involved in community service, and supporting the American Legion and the Buffalo Soldiers.”

The Buffalo Soldiers, comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers, were members of the U.S 10th Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army. The San Diego Buffalo Soldiers mission is to provide a historically accurate account of the Buffalo Soldiers' contribution to American history, specifically the participation of the 9th & 10th Horse Cavalry. Honorary memberships are awarded to any person who has performed distinguished service for the United States, local communities, or for the Buffalo Soldiers.

Sean founded Embrace in 2000, an organization that uses community service to bring diverse groups of people together to bring about social wellness in our society. Embrace focuses on the utilization of college students and recent graduates to develop their leadership qualities and remedy community problems such as health disparities and homelessness on a volunteer basis. His ultimate goal is to bring about legislation that makes community service mandatory for all college students that attend state funded institutions of higher education.

Sean's organization caught the attention of ‘The View’ co-host Sherri Shepherd, when she learned that Sean moved a homeless woman into his own home in an effort to help her and her son rebuild their lives. That homeless woman happened to be a star on the former television show ‘American Gladiator.’ Shepherd was so moved by the story, that she asked her wedding guests to donate to Embrace in lieu of gifts (view the video here).

Sean shared about his honor, “I haven’t always had the highest regard for active military and veterans because of the negative effect the Vietnam War had on my father who saw combat in the Army (91st EBC, 1st US Army). For my life to change to the point of being honored by the legendary Buffalo Soldiers is surreal and beyond humbling. It's the most significant personal recognition I've ever received.”

Sean Sheppard, standing with the San Diego Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry as the second official Honorary Member at Veteran's Village of San Diego.

Visit to learn more.

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Honors Exceptional Men Serving the Community at Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala

Spirit of Democracy honorees: David Honig, Minority Media & Telecommunications Council; Shawn Dove, Campaign for Black Male Achievement Open Society Foundations; Al Dotson, 100 Black Men of America; Melanie L. Campbell, The National Coalition; Jonathan McDaniel, actor; Vivica A. Fox, host; and Richard Womack, Sr., The National Coalition.

WASHINGTON, DC - On May 17th, hundreds gathered at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation's (The National Coalition) 15th Annual Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala that honored six phenomenal men doing constructive work to empower the African American community.

Hosted by actress and producer Vivica A. Fox, musical performances were provided by Demetria McKinney, recording artist and star of Tyler Perry's House of Payne who performed her newest song "Take Away," and the People's Community Baptist Church Men's Choir from Silver Spring, MD opening the event with soulful gospel hyms.

“It was important to take a moment to lift up and celebrate what the brothers are doing in our communities across the country,” said president and CEO of The National Coalition, Melanie L. Campbell. “The men who dedicate their lives to mentoring, social justice, training and creating opportunities for our youth - especially those running black male initiatives - are truly the fabric of our community.”

In accepting the Visionary Leadership and Community Empowerment Award, Shawn Dove, Campaign Manager for Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement said, “There is no cavalry coming into our community to save the day. The iconic leaders that we are waiting for are already here.” Dove continued, “The answers lie in the hands, the hearts, and the heads of young black men that are in our community everyday. We've got to applaud them, we've got to lift them up and we have to support them.”

In addition to Dove, the 2012 Spirit of Democracy Award recipients are Jonathan McDaniel, actor, recording artist and technology advocate; David Honig, founder and president, Minority Media & Telecommunications Council; Joshua DuBois, executive director, The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Gerald Hudson, executive vice president, Service Employees International Union; and Al Dotson, chairman of the board, 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Demetria McKinney, recording artist and actress performed a medley of hits from Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston.

Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala 'Celebrates Our Brothers' honorees and special guests: William Kellibrew IV, The National Coalition; Richard Womack, Sr., The National Coalition; Jonathan McDaniel, honoree; Debra Speed, Verizon; Al Dotson, honoree; Donna Frisby Greenwood, Knight Foundation; Melanie L. Campbell; Tanya Lombard, AT&T; Shawn Dove, honoree; Joshua DuBois, honoree.


Founded in 1976, the NCBCP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing African American participation in civil society. The current programs and initiatives of the organization include Black Youth Vote!, Black Women's Roundtable, and a Black Men & Boys Initiative. The National Coalition has trained and engaged African American leaders and community activists in overcoming institutional barriers that have hindered the growth of Black communities politically, socially and economically. For more information on The National Coalition and to view video from the event, visit

Photo credit: C-it Visual

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New York Urban League Hosts 47th Annual Frederick Douglass Awards Fete

Michael Robinson, Board Chairman, NYUL;  Arva R. Rice, President & CEO, NYUL and Honoree KEM

Honoring Charles Blow, Zane Tankel, KEM and Educational Activist Michele Cahill

New York, NY – On Wednesday, May 16, the New York Urban League bestowed its most prestigious awards on New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Charles Blow, Applebee’s Apple-Metro Chairman and CEO Zane Tankel, recording artist and philanthropist KEM and educational reformer Michele Cahill at its 47th Annual Frederick Douglass Awards dinner.

Named in honor of the former slave who rose to prominence as one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists, the black-tie affair was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. The New York Urban league was joined by prestigious guests including NYPD Chief Philip Banks, III, State Senator Kevin Parker, Howard and Jane Berkowitz, NYC Partnership President Kathy Wylde, CBS-2 Anchor Maurice DuBois and NBC 4 NY Anchor Shiba Russell, author Crystal McCrary and actress Phyllis Yvonne Stickney. The event was hosted by David Ushery of NBC 4 New York and featured a musical performance by the “First Lady of the Flute” Bobbi Humphrey.

“Every year we have a very daunting task of finding a group of individuals who exemplify the heart, the tenacity, the intelligence and courage to stand with someone who prolifically said, ‘power concedes nothing without struggle.’ We could not be more thrilled than to honor these four incredible people” said NYUL President and CEO Arva R. Rice.

Honoree Charles Blow, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Gala Chair, Alicin Williamson; Ann S. Kheel Award Recipient, Michele Cahill; and President & CEO, Arva R. Rice

The New York Urban League chose this year’s four honorees to acknowledge their efforts to promote equal opportunity and civil rights. Michele Cahill is Vice President for National Programs and Director of Urban Education at Carnegie Corporation of New York and has dedicated her life to fight for a core tenant of NYUL – education. Zane Tankel, owner of 34 Applebee's in the New York Metro area uses his entrepreneurship to employ thousands of New Yorkers. Charles Blow, New York Times op-ed columnist continues to bring issues to light through his pen highlighting the power of advocacy. R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and producer, KEM whose personal battle to beat the odds while creating healing in music is a poetic tribute to those served every day.

Board chairman Michael Robinson noted the importance of the dinner, “Our goal is to ensure that no child or adult who wants to learn, who wants employment, who seeks economic stability and self sufficiency, will not go without education and training, for the lack of financial resources.”

First held in 1965, the NYUL’s Frederick Douglass Awards dinner has recognized a wide range of private and public-sector leaders – from Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to Dr. Betty Shabazz to Russell Simons to Bud Selig – whose contributions have helped break down racial obstacles and promote opportunities for the less fortunate.

Maurice DuBois, CBS-2 Anchor; Shiba Russell, NBC-4 Anchor; Michael Jack, General Manager, NBC-4 New York; Crystal McCrary Anthony, Author; Kyle Donovan, NV Magazine

About the NYUL

The mission of the New York Urban League (NYUL) is to enable African Americans and other underserved communities to secure a first class education, economic self-reliance and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, services and advocacy. Today, the League directly serves approximately 15,000 residents annually through employment, education and empowerment services. In 2010-11 the League awarded $131,500 in Whitney M. Young Scholarships to 43 scholars as a result of their annual Football Classic held at MetLife Stadium; served over 3,200 students and their parents through academic support and college readiness programs; over 5,000 residents in Harlem were able to access technology and classes at their NYUL Technology Center; financial literacy workshops and online tax prep aided nearly 800 residents in becoming more financially self sufficient; and 650 residents sought job placement and counseling from NYUL employment counselors. The NYUL serves Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan.

BlackGivesBack Named Among 50 Blogs for African Americans

Thanks to the team at for naming BlackGivesBack as one of their 50 blogs for African Americans. The website was created to help black men and specifically black fathers find the information they need to survive and succeed in today's society.

Darrell Garrett of AfroDaddy shared, "I felt like there really wasn't a resource website out there that directly answered the "real" questions that most people have about how to succeed and prosper in America. As an African American single father, I had a lot of questions just like most people do, but there wasn't a site addressing those basic issues (ex: "how to feed your family on a budget," "where to find shoes if you wear size 15," etc.). We know inherently that ALL the answers are out there and if we can centralize and share those answers we can all benefit. That was the basis for our "Community Project."

In addition to sharing knowledge we also believe that by creating positive articles and highlighting the positive people of our past and present we can give African Americans hope and inspiration to be whatever we want to be because we will see that there are others who are happy and successful. In addition, we try to highlight those who give back to the community in the hopes that it will show others that they can give too, not just through money, but by answering a question, contributing an article or simply being visible."

View the full list of all 50 blogs by visiting here and read their profile of BlackGivesBack here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Denver Foundation Announces First African American Men’s Giving Circle in the Nation’s West

DENVER – On May 15th, over a dozen African American men launched the Denver African American Philanthropists (DAAP), a giving circle that is the first of its kind in the nation’s west. The group is comprised of men from all ages and backgrounds that bonded from a love of community and a strong desire to give back.  A giving circle is a philanthropic vehicle where individuals pool their monies and time, and decide collectively where to give them away.

The group has worked with the Denver Foundation over the past several months to develop the fund, which will be housed at the Foundation, where their contributions will be pooled. They have also consulted with LaDawn Sullivan, Associate Program Officer for the Foundation‘s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, among other staff, to develop a good working structure and to begin determining their long-term goals. The Foundation administers well over 900 donor funds, but none are quite like this.

“We are heartened that these men have forged a bond in the interest of the community,” said David Miller, President and CEO of The Denver Foundation. “We believe that philanthropy is not about wealth, it’s about giving, and we hope that more people will come to realize that each of us is capable of playing a role in shaping the community in a very significant way, and that The Denver Foundation is here to support each person’s philanthropic goals.”

Charles Lewis, Birmingham Change Fund; Herman White (DAAP); David Miller, CEO of The Denver Foundation; Chad Jones , Executive Director, Community Investment Network; Stephan Gater (DAAP) and Anthony Hicks (DAAP) at The Denver Foundation's Annual Celebration

Giving Circles are a burgeoning phenomenon, primarily on the East Coast and mostly comprised of female members at this time, but, they are built on traditions dating back hundreds of years to mutual aid societies and other forms of community giving. Another example of an African American male giving circle is A Legacy of Tradition (ALOT). Established in 2006 and based in the Triangle area of North Carolina, its members are collectively engaged and focused on impacting and bridging the societal gaps faced by African-American males in the areas of education, collective giving, and community responsibility.

The spark for the Denver group began when Stephan Gater and Herman White, co-chairs of the giving circle, were connected to the Community Investment Network (CIN), a national network of giving circles and everyday philanthropists led by Executive Director Chad Jones. The two participated in CIN’s Leadership Summit, at which giving circles from around the country gathered to share best practices and strategies.

All have agreed that economic status should not be a barrier to involvement with the circle—there are no limits to the amount members can contribute to the pool, but the minimum expected is $365 a year.

“The greatest impact is achieved by selflessness,” says Herman White. “We are all driven by knowing that none of us achieve extraordinary feats alone. None of us is as strong as ALL of us."

Ryan Ross (DAAP), Ed Fields and Charles Lewis (Birmingham Change Fund) and Anthony Hicks (DAAP)

The group will leverage their philanthropic efforts through an investment of time, talent, and treasure, offering not only financial contributions, but their vast array of professional and technical expertise as well as their voice and their presence to impact and inspire others to address issues that affect the community. To solidify their bonds with each other and to strengthen bonds collectively within the community, the members have already invested volunteer time in the Black Education Summit, presented by Brother Jeff Fard in March of this year, and the Black Male Initiative Summit, held at the University of Denver in April.

“The Denver Foundation has worked for years within diverse communities to enhance leadership, inclusiveness, and overall quality of life,” said LaDawn Sullivan. “So often people of color are viewed only as beneficiaries of philanthropy, but the Foundation recognizes the capacity of individuals to also give back in a variety of ways. That is why we are working to engage with communities of color in the‘supply side’ of philanthropy.”

About Community Investment Network (CIN): The Community Investment Network is a national network of giving circles and everyday philanthropists, founded in North Carolina and rooted in the Southeast. CIN inspires, connects, and strengthens African American communities of color to leverage their collective resources and create the change THEY wish to see. For more information, visit

For more information on giving circles, check out these resources:

Black Enterprise:  "How to Start A Giving Circle"
Foundation Center DC:  "Three Reasons to Join A Giving Circle"
Friends of Ebonie:  "Why Giving Circles, Why Now?"

Source:  Press release

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol Hosts 8th Annual VOICES Benefit

Wyclef Jean (Musician), Harry Belafonte (Actor/Humanitarian/Former Honoree), Soledad O’Brien (CNN Anchor) and Pamela Frank, wife of Harry Belafonte

By Akira Barclay
BlackGivesBack NY Contributor

NEW YORK - On Thursday, May 17th, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (BHSS), a leading nonprofit that empowers young Black and Latino men and women by helping them to become critical thinkers and community leaders, hosted their 8th annual VOICES benefit at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Actor Boris Kodjoe hosted the special evening. Artist and Humanitarian Harry Belafonte, a former BHSS honoree and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, a previous VOICES host presented awards to Bill Lynch, Former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee and Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation. Other honorees included Theodore V. Wells, Jr., Partner and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Nina Wells, former Secretary of the State of New Jersey. Black Girls Rock! Founder and celebrity DJ Beverly Bond provided the evening’s music. Musician Wyclef Jean and former Mayor David Dinkins were also in attendance for the festivities.

“We’re very excited about this year’s VOICES event; Voices 8 is a unique opportunity for us to celebrate our members and honorees’ achievements. Our honorees are all individuals who embody the ideals of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, which are Positivity, Community, Knowledge and Future. We strive to offer long term, intensive involvement for our members and provide unique services that support their personal development and academic achievements which is why 95% of BHSS Alumni are working full time or enrolled in college,” said Khary Lazarre-White, Executive Director & Co- Founder of BHSS.

Khary Lazarre-White ( Executive Director & Co-Founder of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol) , Harry Belafonte and Pamela Frank

Former Mayor David Dinkins and Khary Lazarre-White

For more information on The Brotherhood/Sister Sol organization and Voices 8, please visit here.

About The Brotherhood-Sister Sol
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol is locally based, with a national reach, as the organization publishes assorted curricula and collections of its members’ writings; trains educators from throughout the nation on their approach; and their leadership is invited to speak and present at educational and policy convenings and conferences across the country. VOICES is the organization's signature annual benefit highlighting their youth and life changing programming. Founded in 1995, BHSS provides comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-one. The organization offers wrap around evidence-based programming, providing four-six year rites of passage programming, five day after school care, school and home counseling, summer camps, job training, college preparation, employment opportunities, community organizing training, and international study programs to Africa and Latin America. BHSS has earned national recognition for their evidence-based model, receiving awards that include Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award, and awards from such institutions as the Ford Foundation, the New York Women’s Foundation, Abyssinian Development Corporation, Oracle, the New York State Department of Education and Brown University’s inaugural Alumni Association Young Public Service Award.

Photo credit: Andrew French

Friday, May 18, 2012

Student Excellence Takes Center Stage at Northern Virginia Urban League’s Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner

Northern Virginia Urban League Board of Directors attends the organization’s 22nd Annual Community Service and Scholarship Awards Dinner in McLean, VA on April 27, 2012.

$50,000 in scholarships awarded to region’s top high school students

ALEXANDRIA, VA - On Friday, April 27, 2012, more than 650 guests gathered for the Northern Virginia Urban League’s (NOVAUL) 22nd Annual Community Service and Scholarship Awards Dinner at the Hilton Tysons Corner in McLean, VA where ten of Northern Virginia’s top high school seniors were awarded a collective $50,000 toward their college education. NOVAUL recognized African-American high school seniors who have succeeded at the highest levels of academic excellence and leadership, and provided funds for those students to attend major colleges and universities. Whether serving as president of their school’s student government association or training to become a licensed pilot, the students being honored by NOVAUL prove that when given opportunities, African-American students can achieve great success.

Under the theme “Empowering, Engaging, and Educating for the Future in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” NOVAUL’s annual awards dinner emphasized the critical importance of increasing minority participation in the STEM fields. Two companies—Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin—were recognized for their exemplary commitment to advancing opportunities for African-Americans and other minorities in the STEM industries. Accepting for Northrop Grumman was Cheryl L. Janey, Vice President for Communications and accepting on behalf of Lockheed Martin Corporation Shani Allen, Director, Diversity and Inclusion.

Kenneth Bynum, Chairman of the Northern Virginia Urban League (center) honors Cheryl Janey (left), VP of Communications for Northrop Grumman, and Shani Allen, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Lockheed Martin (right) for their corporate leadership.

CNN and MSNBC political panelist and the evening’s Master of Ceremonies Jamal Simmons (right) congratulates Eugene James Coleman III of Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, VA

Dr. Shirley Malcom, Director of Education & Human Resources for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (right), Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, Pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA and Danyelle Taylor of Lockheed Martin & Dinner Co-Chair

Keynote speeches were given by Linda Y. Cureton, Chief Information Officer of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Dr. Shirley Malcom, Head of Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Encouraging students to challenge themselves in the STEM fields, Dr. Malcom emphasized the fact that a journey to a STEM career would not be easy. “You may meet people who consider the phrase African-American scientist or engineer oxymoronic. But it is important that you see yourself, first, as embracing STEM as roots to empowerment,” Malcom told the scholarship winners. “We're all different,” Malcom continued, “That's what makes us wonderful as a country and as a community. We have to use that difference as an asset. It's not a liability.”

Ten Northern Virginia high school students are honored with $5,000 scholarships for their academic achievements

Scholarship award winner Eugene Coleman of Mount Vernon High School provided a response on behalf of all of the student honorees. “As we progress into life after college, we will never forget what has been done for us here tonight,” Coleman said. “We will never forget this tremendous opportunity to help us reach our full potential and we will dedicate time and effort to do the same for others.”

For more information on the Northern Virginia Urban League, visit

Photo credit: Garrett James of Capitol Media USA

Mitchell Kapor Foundation Celebrates College Bound African American Young Men in the San Francisco Bay Area

Event highlighting black male achievement part of $1 million effort aimed at boosting number of college-ready black male youth

OAKLAND, CA – African American young men from the San Francisco Bay Area who are graduating from high school and heading to college will take center stage June 3rd at a unique graduation ceremony aimed at celebrating and amplifying their achievements.

The event is part of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation’s CollegeBound Brotherhood, a college readiness program that aims to expand the number of young black men in the San Francisco Bay Area who are prepared for college. Youth participating in the event will be eligible for a $100 stipend to defray the cost of college books.

“African American young men are assets that we can’t afford to lose, and when they earn college degrees, the economic and social benefits impact all of us,” said Cedric Brown, CEO of the Kapor Foundation. “All too often, these young men and their accomplishments are overlooked and dismissed. The Kapor Foundation is proud to celebrate young black men who are on their way toward creating change for themselves, their families and our communities.”

Across the nation and locally, African American young men are graduating from high school at alarmingly low rates, and even fewer are ready for a college education. In 2009, for every 100 graduating Bay Area seniors, only four were African American males, and only one African American male was eligible to attend a California State or University of California institution.

Since the launch of the College Bound Brotherhood in 2008, the Kapor Foundation has distributed more than $1 million in grants to organizations that support young black men through college readiness workshops, college tours, academic coaching, mentoring and much more. The Foundation has issued a call for another round of $25,000 grants to community organizations working on college readiness for young black men. Information on how to apply is available on

“Black males are underemployed, undereducated and undervalued,” said Monique August, executive director of the Choose College Educational Foundation, a Kapor Foundation grant partner. “By investing in these youth, we are not only uplifting the lives of the young males, but enhancing the livelihood of our entire society. The Graduation celebration combats stereotypes and statistics of black male achievement, and is a catalyst of hope and pride in our communities.”

In addition to strategic grantmaking, the Foundation builds a college-bound culture for young black men through, a public database of college-readiness programs; the Brotherhood Leadership Advisory Council; and the annual “Black & Proud to be College Bound” conference.

The 2012 College Bound Brotherhood Graduation Celebration, which takes place at 5 p.m. at the Kaiser Center, is supported in part by Mechanics Bank. Please visit  to RSVP.

About the Mitchell Kapor Foundation

Founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Mitchell Kapor in 1997, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation supports organizations that provoke social change in communities of color en route to equality. Through strategic grantmaking, the Foundation currently supports efforts in three areas of work: Voting Integrity and Civic Engagement; the College Bound Brotherhood; and Information Technology for Social Impact. The Foundation also provides assistance and advising to build the capacity of the organizations it serves. For more information,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Using Imagery To Tell Your Story – A Must Read for Nonprofits

A child from Bright Beginnings, a school in Washington, DC that offers a bright start for homeless infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their families, paints with classmates. Photo by Leigh Vogel

“If pictures can’t tell your story, you most likely won’t get the opportunity to tell your story through words. You have seconds to get people’s attention, not minutes.” -- Joan Woods, Director of Development and Communications at Bright Beginnings

Over the past five years, I have featured many organizations on BlackGivesBack with the goal of promoting their good work. However, I wish I could feature more. The problem? The majority of photos sent to me I cannot use. Most often they’re poor quality, too small, or they don’t adequately capture the atmosphere of an event or mission of an organization. Did you know that imagery can help to build your organization’s capacity? When used strategically, imagery can help you to attract prospective donors, obtain local and national media exposure and most importantly, tell your story. Let’s say your organization doesn’t have the funds to hire a professional photographer, or you're seeking to enhance your images? Well, there’s a free resource just for you!

Leigh Vogel, a Washington, DC based photojournalist, has written a great resource on this very topic. ‘Communicating Via Imagery’ is an easy to read, 44-page guidebook geared toward nonprofits that has everything you need to get started. Need suggestions on the best type of camera to use? Things to consider when selecting a photographer? How to create a photo database? Best practices for taking event photos? Tips on working with celebrities and the media? This guide will answer these questions and more! Never before has such a resource existed for nonprofits that incorporate these best practices.

Leigh completed the guidebook as a Nonprofit Imagery Fellow at Georgetown University.  She found that just 18 percent of the nearly 140 organizations surveyed for the guidebook integrate photography into their planning.  I was so excited when I read the guidebook that I contacted Leigh to thank her for putting together such a valuable resource. She shared with me, “As a photographer and former editor in chief and media relations director, I have created and worked with images from several perspectives. I have hired photographers, taken the images, organized the event, submitted to press, and photo edited. As a result, I see unfortunate, missed opportunities for organizations to create, obtain, and utilize imagery strategically.” Leigh was gracious to share some of her photos as examples and provides three tips for BlackGivesBack readers! In addition, I’ll share my favorite photos and more tips as well.

Leigh’s tips for nonprofits to best capture mission and events via imagery:

Tip 1. Always use a camera that can produce high-resolution images in all settings (e.g. daylight and darker rooms). High-quality images have a better chance of making an edit into a magazine or website. Low-quality imagery has less of an impact on viewers.

Tip 2. Create a photo database that includes head shots of executive staff, event imagery (preferably with your organization's signage), and images of staff and/or volunteers working toward the mission of your organization.

Students from Bright Beginnings watch The Great Zucchini perform.  Photo by Leigh Vogel

Tip 3. Engage your audiences strategically with images that are authentic to your organization. Utilizing your own imagery helps relay your messages more succinctly to your target audiences. Update your website and social media accounts with captioned images that are credited to the photographer. Encourage social media followers to tag themselves, comment, and share the images. (Make sure you have the rights to use images.)

Work to Ride Program at Courage Cup, 2008

Here’s one of my favorite photos from over the years. Joseph Allen of Joseph Allen Images in Washington, DC took this photo featuring the young men of the Work to Ride Program, an all-black polo team based in Philadelphia. He shared, “The Work To Ride program is a very inspirational story and the young people that participate in it have a very powerful presence. When I was asked to capture an image of the polo players, I really wanted something that made a strong statement. The day that I shot the kids was a very sunny day with some partial clouds. As the day progressed and the players completed their polo match we had a fair amount of overcast.

I wanted to use the environment to enhance the image of the Work To Ride kids standing tall and accomplishing things against certain odds they face in their lives. I decided to take the approach of the kids being rock stars, because, simply they are rock stars. By shooting with the camera almost at ground height, looking up at the kids, in concert with creative lighting in broad daylight I was able to capture the strength and fortitude of these inspirational young people.”

Joseph also shares additional tips for event planners and selecting a photographer:

“The value of quality images for conveying the purpose and direction of an organization cannot be overstated. When a nonprofit organization is selecting a photographer for event coverage, an organization should look for someone that has an eye for the action that has created images that really speak to the viewer and make them say, “I really wish I was there” and “that is a great charity.” Often, nonprofits do not have a budget for photography, this can sometimes be offset by a photographer having the willingness to donate their time to cover an event. Regardless of the actual investment, an event planner needs to recognize that the images captured by the photographer become artifacts necessary for telling the story about the event as well as the charity. As such, event planners really need to have an appreciation for the value of the work provided by the photographer for generating ongoing interest in an event and charity.

Event planners need to look for a photographer that is capable of delivering both photojournalistic as well as staged group photos. To a certain degree, staged group photos may seem easy, but to get the best photos the photographer needs to know how to best utilize the available ambient light and their flash so that the viewer will get a feel for the actual location, while still making the subjects look their best.”

Another one of my favorite photos is this environmental headshot of Mary Brown, Executive Director of Life Pieces to Masterpieces in Washington, DC. An environmental headshot is a great alternative to a traditional headshot. Leigh explains: Headshots can be captured in a variety of ways. You can utilize headshots of staff members (and animals!) that your organization represents. They can be utilized in websites and be incorporated into collateral materials. Environmental portraits showcase individuals in a particular setting unique to them. Unlike traditional headshots in which the individual is the sole focus, the backgrounds in environmental portraits are equally important as the person. In the background you can incorporate branding elements such as distinctive colors or details unique to your organization’s mission. Photo courtesy of Life Pieces to Masterpieces

A quote from Leigh’s guidebook sums up the importance of using imagery effectively: “Your organization has a story to tell and to show. You may use mission statements, press releases, websites and social media platforms to communicate with your stakeholders, but the strategic use of imagery can showcase your mission in ways that words alone cannot.”

To download the ‘Communicating Via Imagery’ guidebook, visit here. And visit the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Moving Pictures blog for more great tips on imagery here.  I hope these tips have been helpful and I look forward to seeing your photo creations!  Please send them to info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com.

Report Cites Best Practices, Resources to Make Philanthropy More Effective

Leadership, Funding, and Data Key to Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

CHICAGO – D5 has released State of the Work 2012, a report tracking efforts over the past year to recruit new foundation leaders who more closely reflect U.S. demographic trends; increase funding within diverse communities; and become more transparent about data collection to track the progress of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the sector. To view the full report, click here:

“We need philanthropy to look more like America, so we can better respond to the complex issues facing Americans today,” said Sterling K. Speirn, president and CEO, W. K. Kellogg Foundation. “The 2012 State of the Work report shows how far we’ve come and the lessons learned along the way—and will help inform our strategies moving forward. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that philanthropy, as a sector, can really have impact and drive meaningful change in our communities. But we’re on our way.”

D5 was launched in 2010 to help foundations achieve greater impact in an increasingly diverse world. It is comprised of community, corporate, family and independent foundations, as well as other philanthropic organizations.

“Philanthropy is in the change business; it is what we do and with this report, we wanted to show that implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives is doable, innovative, and supports our common goals,” said Kelly Brown, executive director of D5.

State of the Work 2012 offers innovative examples of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at work, including:

A growing number of regional associations of grantmakers are working to establish stronger links with diverse communities so that foundation CEOs, executives and boards of trustees better reflect the nation’s diversity regarding race and ethnicity, gender, LGBT communities, and people with disabilities. The work of these associations is a key part of the strategy for growing a national alliance of 200 leaders who can instill a coordinated, sector-wide approach to diversifying foundation decision-makers.

The Association of Black Foundation Executives is offering knowledge and practical tools to create successful funding strategies, through its Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities Toolkit that includes an organizational self-assessment, and a racial equity impact analysis to support black foundation trustees in their efforts to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in black communities.

A partnership between Philanthropy Northwest, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and the Potlatch Fund, the first community foundation of Native Americans focused on grantmaking in Indian Country, became an opportunity for learning, better connections and mutual trust to achieve more equitable funding strategies.

In the year ahead, D5 learning and implementation activities will include leadership development efforts of affinity groups and other partners, capacity building for population-focused funds through the Philanthropic Inclusion Fund, and support for additional regional diversity studies.

“Foundations want practical tools for engaging in this work and examples of how others have done it, accounting for differences in grantmaker type, asset size, staffing size, and regional circumstances,” said Judy Belk, senior vice president, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “Identifying new diversity models and programs has educational and coalition-building value in that many of the developers of good policies and practices have become essential leaders in D5’s broad efforts to help philanthropy increase its effectiveness in a changing world.”

About D5
D5 envisions a philanthropic sector in which foundations draw on the power of diverse staffs and boards to achieve lasting impact, forge genuine partnerships with diverse communities, and increase access to opportunities for all people. Formed in 2010, D5 represents the collective efforts of dozens of leading foundations, regional associations of grantmakers, joint affinity groups, and philanthropic infrastructure organizations. D5 is a fiscally sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

For more information:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Screen Gems Presents the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala, Raises Over $700,000

The Harveys Honor Debra Lee, Spike & Tonya Lee, Dr. Steve Perry, and Richard and Kyle Petty

NEW YORK, NY – On May 14, 2012 at Cipriani Wall Street, multi-faceted entertainer Steve Harvey and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien co-hosted the Screen Gems Presents The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala to support The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend. Formerly The Steve Harvey Foundation Gala, this gala’s third year was a rousing night full of laughs, inspiration and more, with over 400 friends, family members and supporters on hand including Gayle King (CBS This Morning anchor), Terrence J (host of BET’s 106 & Park), actor Romany Malco, actress/model Selita Ebanks, Hollywood producer Will Packer (Think Like A Man) and more to applaud honorees Richard and Kyle Petty, BET’s Debra Lee, Capital Prep Magnet School Founder Dr. Steve Perry, and Spike and Tonya Lee, who were all recognized with The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s Helping Hand Award. The event raised more than $700,000 to benefit The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation and their staple programs for young men and women, The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend.

A night of laughs, entertainment and a stirring call to action from the Harveys and O’Brien, the evening recognized the honorees for their powerful actions in serving youth and inspiring social change. Says Steve and Marjorie Harvey, “We continue to be inspired by the generosity shown by all the friends and supporters who came out for this amazing night. Anyone has the power to make a difference, and we are so grateful for this support, to continue empowering the futures of young men and women around the world.”

Honorees Tonya and Spike Lee

Bill Cosby and Steve Harvey; Gala Co-Host Soledad O'Brien and Honoree Steve Perry

Marjorie and Steve Harvey with Honoree Debra Lee, CEO of BET Networks

Soledad O'Brien and Steve Harvey with Honorees Richard and Kyle Petty

Sponsored by Screen Gems (Title Sponsor), Essence Magazine (Print Sponsor), with additional support from The Coca-Cola Company, Neiman Marcus, Black Entertainment Television (BET), and Ford Motor Company, the fundraising evening was highlighted by a rare comedic set from Bill Cosby and a rousing performance from the dynamic Rachelle Ferrell.

About The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation
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. Two cornerstone programs include The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, which mentors young men who are without fathers, and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend. For information about The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend or to make a donation, please visit

Source: Press release/Photos: Getty Images

The Black Doll Affair and Macy’s at Lenox Square Present a “B’huetiful” Fashion Show

By Lisa Brathwaite
BlackGivesBack Atlanta Contributor

ATLANTA, GA - The Black Doll Affair (BDA), a philanthropic organization and self-esteem movement for Black girls and women, presented a fashion show in celebration of beauty diversity at Macy’s Lenox Square on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

Appropriately named B'huetiful, The Black Doll Affair Fashion Show was hosted by multi-media personalities Nina Brown and Rashan Ali. Pictured in the photo are Bill Hawthorne, Macy's senior vice president, Diversity Strategies and Legal Affairs, on the “B'huetiful” red carpet with Dana "Mama Doll" Hill, Founder of The Black Doll Affair.

Amid all the spring style gazing, the event paid tribute to guest honorees Monica {Kaufman} Pearson, veteran WSB-TV Channel 2 News Anchor, for being the first woman and the first Black anchor on a daily evening news program in Atlanta; Nan Orrock, State Senator, District 36 Georgia, for leading the way in the civil rights movement; and Yvette Caslin, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development at Steed Media Group for being the first media person in the Atlanta community supporting BDA.  All honorees exemplify the confident beauty, grace and tenacity of women.

“Macy's and The Black Doll Affair share a couple of key interests - we are fashion and community oriented. We are pleased to partner with the BDA in this endeavor to showcase and celebrate diversity of an important part of our customer base and the community,” said Bill Hawthorne, Macy's senior vice president, Diversity Strategies and Legal Affairs.

Founded by Dana Hill as a solution to the infamously documented ugly doll test results, The Black Doll Affair [BDA] is an organization driven by its members, The Black Dolls. Banding together to tackle the black family’s issues with shadeism, self-hatred and low self-esteem, the organization prides itself on being “pretty… philanthropic.” Eighteen years and older, from college students to grandmothers, career women to ladies of leisure, The Black Dolls deliver their message of internal and external b’huety by donating toy black dolls to toddlers, hosting tween self-esteem summits and producing special events that promote and uplift black women. For fun, The Black Dolls enjoy each other at social play dates. To express the importance of community service,  they donate hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars annually to charitable causes that affect all races.

Official chapters exist in Atlanta [HQ], Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, New Orleans and Washington, DC.

View video footage from the event by visiting here - thanks to Joshua Peltier for Brightcomm Entertainment, LLC for the wonderful video created for BlackGivesBack!

For more information visit

Egypt Cares Family Foundation Hosts 3rd Annual Mommy Makeovers Celebration

Egypt Sherrod,  founder of Egypt Cares Family Foundation with Kandi Burruss,  Real Housewives of Atlanta Co-Star and GRAMMY Award winning singer/songwriter, and Lisa Wu,  formerly of Real Housewives of Atlanta, at the 3rd Annual "Egypt's Mommy Makeovers" Celebration in Atlanta.

ATLANTA, GA - This past weekend, the Egypt Cares Family Foundation in partnership with Atlanta's #1 Radio Station, V-103 FM, Black Opal Cosmetics and Hair Design by Future Vision Salon presented the 3rd Annual "Egypt's Mommy Makeovers" Celebration.

Ten deserving women from throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area were selected to receive a day of pampering and complete transformation from head to toe by some of Atlanta's top hairstylists and make up artists including Bridget Criden, Carmen Harris, Tekoa Hash, Nickey Martin, and Trent Simmons.

While receiving their beauty transformations, the winners enjoyed catering provided by Cake Cafe. The winners were surprised throughout the day by Atlanta's television stars that included: Kandi Burruss (Real Housewives of Atlanta Co-Star and Grammy Award Winning Singer/Songwriter/Entrepreneur), Terri J. Vaughn (Actress), Deshawn Snow & Lisa Wu (Formerly of Real Housewives of Atlanta), and Tameka Raymond (Notable Fashion Stylist/Entrepreneur).

Egypt Sherrod and Tameka Raymond (3rd from right) poses with Mommies after makeover reveals.

As their new looks were revealed through a cat walk strut, the women were the recipients of fabulous gifts that included an award, roses, a gift basket full of goodies, and a necklace from Tiffany & Co.  As a keepsake from the celebration, the winners received a custom beauty photoshoot courtesy of JR Photography. Additional photography and videography services were provided by Taren Marsaw of Pure Conceptions Photography.

“Egypt Cares Family Foundation is honored to have bought some joy into the lives of these deserving women. We sincerely appreciate the donation of time and service by our partners to make this a memorable Mother's Day. We look forward to continuing this tradition of impacting lives,” shared Egypt Sherrod.

For more information on Egypt Cares Family Foundation, please visit For more information on Egypt Sherrod, please visit,,, and Twitter: @EgyptSaidSo.

Source: Press release/Photo credit: Taren Marsaw-Pure Conceptions Photography

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Mother's Day! Enter to Win "OH, BABY!" A New Book by Actress Tia Mowry

TV’s Favorite Sister Dishes on Pregnancy, Babies, and Joys of Motherhood

We've teamed up with Avery/ Penguin Group for a Mother's Day book giveaway! Actress (and new mom) Tia Mowry, star of hit television shows "The Game" on BET and "Tia and Tamera" on the Style Network, has published her first book, OH, BABY!: Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another.

OH, BABY! is a pregnancy guide like no other! Tia leaves no topic off limits while helping expectant moms stay empowered, pampered, and laughing out loud. From her endometriosis scare to caring about pooping, Tia walks her readers through the highs, lows, joys, and fears of pregnancy, birth and mommyhood with her own personal story.

The guide includes tips from makeup artist Stacey Gibson on keeping your skin healthy and a menu plan from nutritionist Melissa Larson to keep mama full and satisfied. Also, Tia’s own doctor answers the most difficult (read: embarrassing) questions all expectant mothers need to know.

OH, BABY! will be available at all major book retailers on May 15th, but you can win a copy by entering our contest.  Just send your name and address to info[at]blackgivesback[dot]com by 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, May 13th with "OH BABY" in the subject line.  Good luck and Happy Mother's Day!

Photo credit: Dimitry Loiseau

Young Patrons of The Apollo Theater Host Southern Social Soiree

Apollo Theater Foundation’s Young Patron Steering Committee members: Atiba Edwards, Michael Brams, Jumi Falusi, Teal Black and Seitu Jemel Hart host the Southern Social Soiree.

NEW YORK - On Tuesday, April 24th, the Apollo Theater Young Patrons hosted a Southern Social Soiree at Neely's Barbecue Parlor in support of the Harlem landmark, the Apollo Theater. Guests enjoyed cocktails while learning more about the Young Patrons program, and entered to win raffle prizes to the Apollo Spring Gala, Amateur Night, Music Cafe and more.

The Apollo Young Patrons plays a pivotal role in the Apollo Theater’s philanthropic sustainability and growth. As the next generation of philanthropists, the Young Patrons are donors under the age of 40 that have demonstrated their commitment in support of the Apollo’s mission and artistic programming, and are supporting the theater towards becoming a robust world-class performing arts center. Young Patrons experience the Apollo intimately with year-round programming, access to the organization’s leadership and an opportunity to network amongst peers. Members recently participated in the Apollo’s 2nd Annual Dining with the Divas Luncheon and will continue to participate in many of the Apollo’s special events, including the upcoming Spring Gala – where members receive premium access to the Awards Ceremony and post-performance party.

Blair Ecton (new member), Daniel Patton and Jumi Falusi

Seitu Jemel Hart, Kelvin Ward, Natika Soward, Wardell Mila

Arthur Smith, Merrin White (new member), Teal Black, Ashley Booker and Daniel Patton

For more information on the Apollo Young Patrons, contact or call (212) 531-5341.  You can also help the Apollo Theater win $200,000 in preservation funds and enter to win Spring Gala tickets by submitting your vote here.

The Insider: Gladys Washington, Program Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

Meet our latest Insider, Gladys Washington, Program Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, a private family foundation based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  In her role, Gladys helps people and places across the southeastern United States to move up and out of poverty.  The Foundation supports organizations and networks working in low-wealth communities that are poised to expand their scale of impact and are working across racial, ethnic, economic, and political differences to build just and caring communities. Gladys works with the Foundation's applicants and grantees in the Gulf Coast and Delta regions of the South, and she has directed the Foundation’s programs in grassroots leadership development and community problem solving.

Gladys's own background gives her first-hand knowledge and experience in working with those living in poverty and low-income communities. Before her career in philanthropy, Gladys worked in Corrections at an all male prison as a means to lift herself and young son out of poverty. However, she realized that the position was not uplifting to the Black community and subsequently resigned to return to school, earning a Master's degree in Public Administration.

Read on to learn how Gladys got her start in philanthropy, her advice for those pursuing a career in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, and tips for grantseekers.

Hometown: Ocala, Florida

Education: BA in Political Science from the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC; Masters in Public Administration, Universities of South Carolina and Charleston (dual degree)

Previous Positions: Senior Program Officer, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation; Program Officer, Community Foundation Serving Coastal South Carolina

Civic Involvement: Chair, Board of Directors – Association of  Black Foundation Executives

How did you get your start in philanthropy?

In a previous life, I ran a maximum security unit at an all-male prison in South Carolina. As a young, undereducated, underemployed single mother, I began working in Corrections as the means to lift myself and my young son out of poverty. At some point during my career, I realized that I was not uplifting African American people in that role. I understood, up close and personal, the revolving door of the prison industrial complex and its impact on African American and low-wealth people in this country. I resigned from my position and returned to complete my undergraduate degree. I was then offered the opportunity to pursue a master's degree with a graduate assistantship at the Institute of Public Affairs and Policy Studies at the University of Charleston. I chose not to conduct research and was assigned to work with the local community foundation to support the development and integration of a neighborhood development program into the focus areas of the foundation. It was there that my exposure to philanthropy developed into a passion and career.

What advice do you have for those pursuing a career in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector?

I sincerely believe that a career in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector is, to some degree, a calling. Certainly, one must have an educational background that validates learning and matriculation through an organized system. However, philanthropy is about learning every day. Learning every day requires an open heart, strong listening skills and most of all, humility. I am a generalist not a specialist, meaning that I know a good deal about a number of strategies that assist people and communities along pathways out of poverty. I did not learn those things in a classroom. I learned them from folks on the ground doing the work and changing people’s lives in real and deep ways. Working with people is a great deal more fulfilling and effective than doing for people. Be humble!!!

What are your thoughts on diversity and inclusion in philanthropy?

I believe that philanthropy and the nonprofit sector have a ways to go toward equity. Fairness requires that race and ethnicity be honored and valued as fundamental elements of inclusiveness. Philanthropy is not excluded from the systems and policies that support the unfair treatment of people of color. Conversations at the institutional and sector levels must continue and policies must be implemented to ensure changed behavior and outcomes.

What are three tips for organizations seeking grants?
  1. Do your homework: Research funding matches for your work and don't waste time on those foundations whose priorities do not match with the work you are doing.
  2. Avoid mission drift: Do not change your primary mission and focus to meet the needs of a foundation. Foundations change priorities and nonprofits are often left without sources of support because the organization has translated their work through the priorities of a foundation.
  3. Build your internal capacity: Strengthen the governance and operational structures of your organization to weather both good and bad times. Strengthen your organization's capacity to represent investment in itself by creating diverse funding streams, engage the board in fundraising, and build in systems for continuous evaluation and impact.
What is one of the greatest career lessons you’ve learned?

The greatest career lesson I have learned is that above all else I must be my authentic self. I am an African American woman with strong values about integrity, honesty, humility and a hopefulness that positive change can occur in the lives and communities of people I care deeply about. That is who I am, my true soul and spirit, personally and professionally. The two cannot be separated.

Learn more about the work of the Foundation by visiting

Monday, May 7, 2012

African American MBA Students Compete in 2012 Business Case Competition on Corporate Philanthropy & Black Nonprofits

University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business Takes First Place

ALEXANDRIA, VA - On Friday, April 20th, African-American MBA students from three of the nation’s leading business schools competed in the finals of The Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) 2012 Business Case Competition, which focused on corporate partnerships and support for African-American non-profits. Sponsored for the third year by Exxon Mobil Corporation, the competition invites MBA teams at select business schools to analyze compelling business issues that challenge their critical thinking, analytical, and communications skills.

The 2012 finalist teams were Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, and the winning team - The University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business. ELC’s Business Case Competition challenged this year’s teams to develop strategies for strengthening ties between the corporate social responsibility community and African-American nonprofits during tough economic times. Specifically, the competition examined how corporations can expand their global philanthropy efforts, and at the same time, maintain their commitments to African-American non-profits and other community groups at sustained or higher levels.

ExxonMobil's Jeffrey Webster, left, and Joann Lee, 2nd from right, join ELC president and CEO Arnold Donald (right) and
 first place winners Emeka N. Akpunonu and Clyde McNeil of the University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business

Emeka N. Akpunonu, left, and Clyde McNeil of the University of Houston's C. T. Bauer College of Business were the first place team in the 2012 Executive Leadership Council Business Case Competition 
sponsored by Exxon Mobil Corporation. They will share a $35,000 scholarship award for their proposal for strengthening corporate support for African-American non-profits.

This year’s competition required the teams to: conduct an assessment of the state of corporate minority philanthropy and devise five -year and 10-year projections of how to best increase support so that it will grow to 15 percent of total philanthropic giving; develop a business plan to help African-American and other minority nonprofits strengthen relationships with corporate partners to secure corporate support; develop a management plan for corporations to identify lapses in current philanthropic giving to minority nonprofits and develop appropriate processes for intervention; devise a branding and media plan that both corporations and African-American and other minority charitable organizations can leverage to promote their partnerships; and develop a rationale for having African-American and other minorities lead corporate social responsibility programs.

“Our team knew we had a strong case, and we were honored to be selected for the finals,” said team captain Emeka N. Akpunonu, a second-year MBA candidate at C. T. Bauer College of Business. “This was an important case that resonated with each of us; and just as much as we wanted to win, we also wanted to make a difference. It was our intention to offer sustainable solutions for continuing strong corporate support for African-American non-profits.” The winning team was selected by a distinguished panel of judges that included leaders from corporations and non-profits, such as the Compass Group, 100 Black Men of America, AETNA, Inc., Aztec Worldwide Group, United Way Worldwide, the Silver Parker Group, and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“I would like to congratulate all of the teams for their strong showings in the ELC’s Business Case Competition and for placing in the Finals. However, the team from University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business made a strong case, presenting exceptional recommendations on the steps corporations and African-American non-profits need to take to strengthen their ties,” said Arnold Donald, ELC’s president and CEO. Donald added, “Emeka and his teammate Clyde McNeil offered powerful solutions for helping corporations retain and increase charitable giving to African-American non-profits while expanding their philanthropic footprint around the globe.”

Both members of the Bauer team will share a $35,000 scholarship cash award and will be recognized during ELC’s 2012 Annual Recognition Gala in October before an audience of more than 2,000 corporate, education and government leaders. The second place team from Emory’s Goizueta Business School will receive a $20,000 scholarship cash award with the third place team from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business receiving $15,000.

ExxonMobil has a long history of supporting ELC’s mission to develop African-American corporate leaders, especially in the areas of math, science and technology. For the past three years, ExxonMobil has sponsored the Business Case Competition on topics such as innovative STEM education for middle school students and devising an energy plan for the US by the year 2030.

About The Executive Leadership Council

The Executive Leadership Council is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(6) corporation founded in 1986, comprised of current and former African-American CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 and equivalent companies. For more than 25 years, the ELC has worked to build an inclusive business leadership pipeline and to empower African-American corporate leaders to make significant and impactful contributions in the global marketplace and their communities. Their programs develop future business leaders, filling the pipeline from the classroom to the boardroom. It is the preeminent organization that recognizes the strengths, success, contributions, and impact of African-American corporate business leaders.

The ELC’s related charitable organization, the Executive Leadership Foundation, focuses on improving local communities and helping disadvantaged groups within the broader society. The 501(c)(3) affiliate supports education programs and provides scholarships to deserving students interested in business and corporate careers. For more information about The Executive Leadership Council, please visit

Top photo caption: First, second and third place winning teams in the 2012 Business Case Competition with Executive Leadership Council president and CEO Arnold Donald (Center). From left to right: Emory University Goizueta Business School second place winners Joe Faxio, Rae Oglesby (Team Captain), Olatorera Majekodunmi, Onix Ramirez and Lesha Scott; University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business first place winners Clyde McNeil and Emeka N. Akpunonu (Team Captain); and, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business third place winners Kate Kastenbaum, Patricia Beasley, Heather Rae Martin, Stephanie Shapiro and Brittany Claud (Team Captain).

Source and photos: Executive Leadership Council