Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sphinx Organization Hosts 2012 Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall & Announces SphinxCon to Promote Diversity in the Arts

NEW YORK - On Tuesday, October 6th, the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit based nonprofit that transforms lives through the power of diversity in the arts, hosted its 2012 Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall in New York City.   Co-presented by Bloomberg and the Sander and Norman K. Buchman Fund, the annual concert showcased the critically acclaimed all Black and Latino Sphinx Virtuosi and featured performances from Sphinx Competition alumni.  The event’s Honorary Chair, Yo-Yo Ma, is a celebrated cellist, educator, and a distinguished member of Sphinx’s Honorary Committee and the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities.  Sphinx Board Members Andrea Hoffman and Diana Bianchi Moison, and Sphinx Advocate Kristen Denner served as co-chairs for the memorable evening.

The Sphinx Virtuosi was joined by guest artist American jazz trumpeter and bandleader Irvin Mayfield, and the concert also featured Catalyst Quartet, Gabriel Cabezas, and Elena Urioste in this year's eclectic program titled “Music of the Americas.”  After the performance, which received rave reviews from the NY Times, Sphinx hosted an ‘Afterglow’ reception:

Reginald Van Lee, Guest, Aaron Dworkin, founder of Sphinx and featured event guest, Rocco Landesman, NEA Chairman
Adé Williams (left), first place junior division winner of the 2012 Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players
Guests at the 'Afterglow' reception

Sphinx was founded by Aaron Dworkin, a social entrepreneur, author and visual and performance artist.  Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, Dworkin is a Member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts.  The organization was recently granted $1 million from the Knight Foundation to support their development of young musicians of color through their annual Sphinx Competition.  See previous highlights here.

Sphinx Announces Inaugural SphinxCon: February 15-17, 2013 

Did you know that less than 1% of repertoire presented by American orchestras today is that by composers of color?  And that Blacks and Latinos comprise less than 5% in our orchestras?   To address this, the Sphinx Organization has created SphinxCon to convene a critical mass of performing arts leaders and practitioners on the topic of diversity and create a space for discussion and sharing.  Among the featured speakers are Delroy Lindo, actor; Farai Chideya, author, and journalist; David Baile, CEO, International Society for the Performing Arts; Chris Genteel, Google; and Shirley Stancato, New Detroit.  SphinxCon will be held February 15-17, 2013 in Detroit at the Marriott Renaissance Center.  Get inspired, build connections: make a difference!   For more information and to register, visit here.

Photos courtesy of Sphinx

Friday, October 26, 2012

Steve Harvey Kicks Off Call For Mentors with Launch of National Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign

Steve Harvey talks Dream Building and Manhood at the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men in Los Angeles in 2011.

The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Partners with Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement to Seek Mentors in Cities Nationwide

CHICAGO, IL – On November 17, 2012, radio host, author and Family Feud host Steve Harvey will kick off a powerful new initiative in Chicago driving the need for mentoring around the country - the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign.  Created in partnership between The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation and the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign is leading the way to create and expand stronger mentoring relationships impacting African-American boys around the country, with nationwide events to inspire men to become mentors. Driving a nationwide initiative for 2012 and 2013, the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign will host mentor recruitment drives in Los Angeles on October 27th and in Chicago on November 17th, with additional mentor drives scheduled for 2013 in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., Dallas, New Orleans, and Atlanta.

An unforgettable experience that creates a lasting impact on both mentors and their mentees, Steve Harvey is launching a call to action at the Chicago event, for men ages 18 and older to join the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign, become a mentor and inspire African-American boys to achieve their maximum potential, empower their communities, and develop their purpose and leadership.  Featuring informational sessions and more at the mentor recruitment drives, the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign continues to expand upon The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s mentoring initiatives, which has served over 1,000 young men and women around the country to date with their cornerstone mentoring programs for young men and young women.

Steve Harvey says, “I’ve seen first-hand what a powerful impact mentoring can have on our youth. To empower the next generation, the guidance and wisdom that mentors provide is a one-of-a-kind experience that can’t be found in any classroom.  Anyone has the power to become a mentor, and one person can spark a change in the lives of young men now, building a brighter future together with the next generation.”

Addressing the economic, social, and educational needs of everyday life, the partnership between The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation and the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement for the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign will also feature national and local partner support from NBC, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National CARES Mentoring Movement, Mentoring USA, Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, New Beginnings Church of Chicago, KJLH-FM Los Angeles, V-103 Chicago, WHUR-FM Washington D.C., Q93.3-FM New Orleans, KRNB-FM Dallas-Ft. Worth, and interviews on The Steve Harvey Morning Show between Steve Harvey and Shawn Dove, Campaign Manager for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign Events 2012
Los Angeles – Saturday, October 27 - University of Southern California
Seeley G. Mudd Building, Gate 5 – 8 AM to 2 PM

Chicago – Saturday, November 17 – Chicago State University
University Library – 10 AM to 2 PM

For more information on the Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign and getting involved, stay tuned to The Steve Harvey Morning Show and visit The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s website,, for updates on Steve Harvey Mentoring Campaign event dates for 2013 in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., Dallas, New Orleans, and Atlanta.

Source: Press release

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

California African American Museum Hosts ‘An Artful Evening at CAAM,’ Honoring Actor Sidney Poitier & Artist John Outterbridge

(Top Left) Honoree, Actor Sidney Poitier and Actress CCH Pounder (Top Right) Actress CCH Pounder, CAAM’s Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson & Honoree Visual Artist John Outterbridge (Bottom Left) Sidney Poitier (Bottom Right) Honoree John Outterbridge

Hosted by Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum

LOS ANGELES – Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum presented An Artful Evening At CAAM on October 6th, its annual gala and awards ceremony.  Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to two icons in the fields of film and visual arts – Sidney Poitier, the first Black Academy Award® winner, and United States Gracie Fellow for Visual Arts winner, John Outterbridge.

Funds raised for An Artful Evening At CAAM supported the California African American Museum’s (CAAM) Young Docents program. The black tie affair included a resplendent lounge, hosted bars, silent auction, vocal and dance performances, and special tributes to the two honorees.

During An Artful Evening at CAAM, guests were treated to indulge all their senses. Visually, their eyes feasted on a lyrical dance performance and video tributes to both honorees, their ears took in the captivating vocals of singer, actress Nita Whitaker LaFontaine, and Broadway star Norman Lewis as their appetites were delighted by a fine cuisine catered by Wolfgang Puck.

The night was hosted by the charming, Emmy® nominated actress, CCH Pounder, who provided humorous anecdotes throughout the evening while exuding genuine admiration and respect for the honorees.  John Outterbridge was dignified with quiet humility as he accepted his Lifetime Achievement award with the closing words, “Thank you, thank you, all of you, thank you.” Many artists came out to support Mr. Outterbridge including Artis Lane, William Pajaud, Betye Saar and Samella Lewis, among others.  Also present were Anna Cabarello, Secretary & Consumer Services Agency for the State of California, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor and Bernard Parks, Los Angeles City Councilman.

The stage was set for Sidney Poitier to accept his Lifetime Achievement award with a musical introduction by Norman Lewis who performed a moving rendition of “Go The Distance,” from the “Hercules” soundtrack.  Gala attendees were treated to a video montage of some of the most memorable moments in the body of Poitier’s cinematic work over the course of his career. Poitier, who was at turn eloquent and humble, took the podium and immediately a hush fell over the assembled.

Poitier spoke of his early life and how he’s always been a dreamer, how the desire to become an actor grew stronger and stronger until he honored it, and how persistence and a strong character played roles in the success of his goals.  Uncompromising in the roles he’d take on in his career, he knew what he wanted to achieve within the African American community and the larger culture.  Poitier received a standing ovation as he accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by CAAM’s Executive Director, Charmaine Jefferson.  Poitier closed his acceptance speech with the following statement: “It has been my intent to earn your respect as a little boy.”

The California African American Museum (CAAM) researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans.  Chartered by the California State Legislature in 1977, CAAM is a state supported institution and a partner with the 501(c)(3) non- profit organization Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum.  In addition to its permanent collection of over 3,000 objects of art, artifacts and historical documents, CAAM also houses a research library containing more than 20,000 volumes, employs and trains high school students through its Young Docents program, and hosts in-house curated exhibitions and traveling exhibitions on a regular basis.  The museum also tours CAAM exhibitions throughout California and the nation.  For more information on CAAM visit

Photos Courtesy of Earl Gibson and Valerie Goodloe
Source: Press release

Boris Kodjoe, Soledad O’Brien Honored at 2012 ADCOLOR Awards

LAS VEGAS, NV - This month, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Boris Kodjoe joined an illustrious group of industry innovators when he received the 2012 ADCOLOR® All-Star Award presented by Omnicom Group.  The award was presented in recognition for his exceptional work with his charity dedicated to his daughter, Sophie's Voice Foundation, and his contributions to film, TV, stage, business and media. 

“We're so thrilled to be honoring Mr. Kodjoe this year; deciding who to name All-Star is never an easy decision with so many game-changers out there, but after meeting with Boris, learning more about him and the amazing philanthropic work he does, I knew he really exemplified what we look for in an All-Star,” Tiffany R. Warren, Founder of The ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference and senior vice president, chief diversity officer for Omnicom Group Inc., shared.

Additionally, Soledad O’Brien, Host of CNN's “Starting Point” & Co-Founder of the Soledad O'Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation also received The CATALYST award presented by Draftfcb in honor of her exceptional track record in the media industry.  In attendance at the 2012 ADCOLOR Awards were David Banner, rapper/ entrepreneur; Michele Thornton, Vice President, TV Adsales, Centric TV; and Harry Shum Jr., dancer, actor-Glee, choreographer and singer.  Pictured is Michele Thornton, Tiffany R. Warren and Soledad O'Brien.  The awards were presented at the 2012 ADCOLOR® Awards and Industry Conference held from October 18-20th at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  For a full list of honorees, please visit

ADCOLOR® is a nonprofit 501(c) (6) organization that seeks to support and inspire professionals of color and diversity champions within the advertising, marketing, media and related industries by celebrating the accomplishments of diverse role models and industry leaders. ADCOLOR® strives to create a network of outstanding diverse professionals and champions of diversity and inclusion by honoring their accomplishments and leveraging their stories as a road map for others to follow.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Harlem School of the Arts Hosts Fall 2012 Benefit Gala Honoring Herb Alpert

Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) president Yvette L. Campbell (center) is joined by HSA Board Members Lydia Carlston and Janice Savin Williams at HSA's Fall 2012 Benefit.

Submitted by Akira Barclay, NY Contributor

NEW YORK – The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), the community-based cultural and educational institution serving children and families of all backgrounds for nearly 50 years, hosted its Fall 2012 Benefit at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse on October 10th amidst a buzz-worthy atmosphere with leaders drawn from the philanthropic, civic, business, social, cultural, entertainment and media sectors. Hosted by FOX News Channel’s Arthel Neville, the Harlem School of the Arts Fall 2012 Benefit raised more than $200,000 to support HSA’s world-class arts training programs.

The event honored legendary musician, sculptor, painter, producer, recording industry executive and philanthropist Herb Alpert. Along with his wife, singer Lani Hall, Mr. Alpert recently gifted the Harlem School of the Arts with a landmark $5,050,00 donation, bringing their total giving to HSA to more than $6 million since 2010.

Through this unprecedented grant – the largest single gift to any cultural institution in Harlem – the Harlem School of the Arts will create an endowment providing scholarships for needy students, further enhance its programs and retire its inherited debt. To commemorate the occasion, the Harlem School of the Arts building will now be known as The Herb Alpert Center, home of the Harlem School of the Arts.

Herb Alpert accepts the inaugural HSA Leadership Award

Joining Harlem School of the Arts President and CEO Yvette L. Campbell, Board Chairman Charles J. Hamilton, Jr. and Vice Chair and Secretary Janice Savin Williams, were a host of notable individuals. These included: Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies; New York City Councilwoman Inez Dickens; New York City Councilman Robert Jackson; Dr. Henry Jarecki; Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Kate Levin, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Reynold Levy, president, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Bill Moyers, veteran television news journalist who presented Herb Alpert with the inaugural Harlem School of the Arts Leadership Award; celebrated Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance Founder and musician Arturo O’Farrill, John Rhea, Commissioner of the New York City Housing Authority; Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; Grammy-winning songwriter Valerie Simpson; stage and screen star Tamara Tunie and her husband Gregory Generet; filmmaker Melvin van Peebles; and, Assemblyman Keith Wright, among other notables.

Charles J. Hamilton stated, “This is a remarkable time for the Harlem School of the Arts as we commemorate an historic occasion in the near 50-year history of the School.”  Yvette L. Campbell commented, “Thank you, Herb Alpert. Because of you, the lives of the students at the Harlem School of the Arts will be forever transformed due to your generosity and the vision of the Herb Alpert Foundation.”

HSA students perform

The event featured live performances by the Harlem School of the Arts Advance Jazz Combo and song and dance excerpts from Disney’s The Lion King. Guests enjoyed the performances and atmosphere with views of Manhattan’s West Side skyline in the background while passed hors d’oeuvres were served amidst a lovely fall setting of dahlias and candlelight.

Tamara Tunie, Valerie Simpson and Gregory Generet

Pamela Carlton and HSA Board Chairman Charles J. Hamilton, Jr.

Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation added, “The gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation was designed to put the Harlem School of the Arts on a path to recovery and bring in other funders. We allowed them to own their building again and help establish a strong future. It was exciting to see the Harlem School of the Arts kids perform at the Lincoln Center benefit on Wednesday night.”

National Endowment of the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman with HSA Fall 2012 Benefit Honoree Herb Alpert

Event Co-Chairs were: Cahill Gordon & Reindell LLP and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Wealth Management. Sponsors included: Barnes & Noble; Michelle & Marc Goldfarb of Goldfarb Properties; Mac LaFollette and Dawn Davis; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Janice S. Williams and Christopher J. Williams; Lawrence S. Zilavy.

Additional support was provided by: Pamela Carlton and Charles J. Hamilton, Jr.; Judith Gallant and Scott Metzner; Latham & Watkins LLP; MiYoung Lee and Neil Simpkins; Ann and Alton McDowell; Liz Moller and Robert Lemons; Hee-Jung and John Moon; Steven P. Henry; Dr. Henry Jarecki, Falconwood Foundation Inc.; Erin and Christopher Keogh; Celia and Henry McGee; Courtney Lee-Mitchell and Marcus Mitchell; Michelle Fizer Peterson and Julio Peterson; and, Reginald Van Lee.

The HSA Fall 2012 Benefit Committee: Councilman Robert Jackson; Wynton Marsalis; Phylicia Rashad; and, the Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker.

About the Harlem School of the Arts
Located in Harlem’s historic Hamilton Heights, the Harlem School of the Arts was founded in 1964 by pioneering concert soprano Dorothy Maynor. Since then, the Harlem School of the Arts has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of children from across the City and surrounding areas in an award-winning 37,000-square-foot facility. HSA's mission is to empower young people, ages 2-18, to find and develop the artists and citizen within themselves in an environment that teaches discipline, stimulates creativity, builds self-confidence without prejudice, and adds a dimension of beauty to their lives. HSA stands unique among the major cultural institutions in New York City as the sole provider of quality training in five disciplines without an audition.

Photos: Alex Lipowec; Source: Press release

Friday, October 19, 2012

Executive Leadership Council Presents 2012 Annual Recognition Gala “Blue Carpet & Cocktail Reception”

Actors Boris Kodjoe and Gabrielle Union, hosts for the 2012 Executive Leadership Gala with gala Achievement Award honoree Christopher J. Williams, Chairman & CEO, The Williams Capital Group, L.P.

With Washington, DC’s historic monuments and the Potomac River as backdrops, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) hosted its’ annual Recognition Gala on Thursday, October 18th at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, MD.

African American corporate executives joined leaders from the non-profit and philanthropy sectors, politics, finance and media, among others as they mingled during the pre-gala cocktail reception. Many attendees walked the “Blue Carpet,” hosted by Actor Boris Kodjoe, including Laysha Ward, Board Chair, The Executive Leadership Council Foundation and President of Community Relations, Target; Bernard J. Tyson, ELC Board Chair and President and Chief Operating Officer, Kaiser Permanente; Gabrielle Union, Actress and Emcee of the evening’s event; and gala honorees Christopher J. Williams; Williams Capital Group L.P. and Edward Lewis, Founder, Essence Communications, Inc. and Senior Advisor, Solera Capital.

The Executive Leadership Council, comprised of current and former Fortune 500 African-American CEOs and other business executives, leads the call for diversity and inclusion by strategically supporting its membership who work at the highest echelons of corporate America, as well as building a pipeline of future leaders through its various development programs.

Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, CA and Stacey D. Stewart, President of United Way USA

Johnnetta Cole (right), director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art with guests.

Debra L. Lee (right), Chairman and CEO of BET Networks with guest.

Laysha Ward(center), Board Chair, The Executive Leadership Council Foundation and President of Community Relations, Target, and Julia Brown (right), chief procurement officer and senior vice president for global procurement, Kraft Foods.


For more information on ELC and its’ initiatives to increase the presence of African Americans in corporate leadership positions, visit its website at   For more photos from the event, visit

Photo credit: Stacey Trammel/Buzzology

Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Hosts 3rd Annual Girls Who Rule The World Mentoring Weekend


STONE MOUNTAIN, GA - The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation recently hosted their 3rd Annual Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend, gathering over 100 young women ages 13-18 from Atlanta and surrounding areas for an impactful, empowerment-filled weekend.

Addressing vital issues and life experiences to spark dialogue, bolster their dreams, self-confidence and success for the future, the mentoring weekend included inspiring sessions with actress Terri Vaughn, singers Kimberley Locke, Nicci Gilbert and The EriAm Sisters, Lieutenant Colonel Keisha Flagg, Essence Magazine/Author Mikki Taylor, youth motivator Jackie Brewton, The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a mountain hike at Stone Mountain Park, and more, with Foundation Co-Founder and President Marjorie Harvey leading the charge.

Marjorie Harvey has one on one conversation with the young ladies.


The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation’s 3rd Annual Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend was sponsored by Choice Hotels, U.S. Marines, Ford Motor Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Evergreen Marriott, Coca-Cola, K&G Fashion Superstore, Legendary Events, Stone Mountain Park, Timeless Brands, Frito-Lay, and Mary Tipton Corporation.

Since 2010, Marjorie Harvey has spearheaded an energy-filled weekend to spark change and address self-confidence, education, health and wellness, common pressures and more that young women face today. Bringing together a team of inspiring and powerful women, previous weekends have included CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and Fredricka Whitfield, The View’s Sherri Shepherd, five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, and more.  Empowering mind, body and spirit with guidance addressing the social, emotional, educational and cultural experiences they face today, the young women who took part in this weekend sustain a role with The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation that include mentor pairing and other educational experiences, to ensure continued enhancement and positive growth in helping young women to achieve their maximum potential and build successful futures.

For more information about The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation programs, please visit: and view a video from the mentoring weekend here.

Source:  Press release

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Inaugural Emerging Leader Award in Philanthropy Presented to Vincent Jones of Liberty Hill Foundation

Deputy Director of Common Agenda of Liberty Hill Foundation Receives Award at National Conference on Children, Youth, and Family Grantmaking

EL PASO, Texas -- Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families (GCYF) has announced that Vincent Jones is the recipient of the 2012 Emerging Leader Award in Philanthropy for Children, Youth, and Families.

The Emerging Leader Award is a new award that GCYF will give annually in recognition of exemplary performance, significant contributions, and the potential for leadership and continuing service in children, youth, and family philanthropy by grantmaking staff, trustees and donors under 40 years of age or with less than seven years of full-time experience in philanthropy. Jones is deputy director of common agenda and senior program officer of Liberty Hill Foundation, a Los Angeles community foundation with a mission to identify, invest in and empower community leaders at the frontlines of change in order to advance social justice.  “Vincent Jones is one of philanthropy's rising stars,” said Stephanie McGencey, Ph.D., MPH, executive director of GCYF.  “His fresh ideas, problem-solving skills, and immense ability to communicate with, organize and empower diverse constituencies have made--and promise to continue making--a significant impact on the lives of children, youth, and families in his community.”

At Liberty Hill, Jones has brought a unique approach to Brothers, Sons, Selves, a campaign aimed at reducing the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline on boys and young men of color.  He manages and co-created the campaign in partnership and collaboration with The California Endowment, other foundations, a group of eight Los Angeles community-based organizations, and a dozen additional advocacy, research and media organizations.

Jones also developed a vision for and leads implementation of Uplifting Change, a Liberty Hill initiative that uniquely addresses the challenges facing black children, youth, and families.  The initiative empowers philanthropists in the black Los Angeles community with tools, resources and networking opportunities to build their organizational capacity and identify new solutions and leaders, in order to increase their impact on social justice.  Under Jones' leadership of the initiative, Liberty Hill's grantmaking to black-led organizations doubled the first year and has been sustained at that level, and the increased investment has implications for positive, long-term outcomes for black children, youth, and families.  Jones also led Liberty Hill's realignment of its strategy to advance LGBTQ justice and equality, following the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

Additionally, Jones currently serves on the boards of the National Teen Leadership Program (NTLP), co-chairs Southern California Blacks in Philanthropy, and is a member of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. He previously co-chaired the NTLP board and was executive director of the Center for Health Justice.

The national award was presented to Jones at the GCYF 27th annual national convening, the 2012 Annual Conference on Investing in Promising Futures for All, that took place last week in El Paso, Texas.

About Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families: GCYF, a membership association of grantmaking institutions, promotes effective grantmaking that integrates research, policy and practice to bring about systemic change for children, youth, and families.  Headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metro area, GCYF supports a nationwide network of more than 500 private, corporate, community and family foundations, which fund programs in early childhood, youth development and family support. For more information, visit

“Insights on Diversity” Grants Awarded to Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Philanthropy

CHICAGO — This week, three organizations were awarded Insights on Diversity Grants to conduct research that will provide actionable insights for leaders who want to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of philanthropy.  The grants were awarded by D5, a broad-based effort to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the field within five years.

“Philanthropy exists for the common good.  Leaders from foundations large and small are taking action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion because it helps us live up to that value,” said D5 Director Kelly Brown (pictured).  “But there is a void of conclusive research on this subject in philanthropy.  We’re excited to be a part of a renewed effort in the field to gather the data needed to help make the case that diversity, equity, and inclusion increases effectiveness—and to track the field’s progress.”

Brown continues, “These three innovative research projects are an important step in tackling the field’s data deficiency.  They’ll also help identify the most effective policies and tools philanthropic leaders can draw upon to help drive meaningful change.”

The Insights on Diversity Grant recipients include a consulting firm, a nonprofit, and a regional association of foundations.  Each will receive awards of roughly $50,000 for research to be completed over the next year.

The complementary projects, focusing on regional association support practices, grantmaking and grantee interactions, and support for professional trajectories, were selected from a competitive pool of applicants to fill gaps in existing tools and research, and to offer the field tangible lessons for strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

Study 1: What are the career paths of people of color in philanthropy?
Forward Change, Oakland, CA,

Forward Change will study the career paths of people of color who work in philanthropy in order to identify the obstacles and opportunities for people of color to achieve mid- and senior-level management positions. The result will be increased knowledge of tools and support that work to retain and develop philanthropy professionals of color.

Study 2: How are philanthropies in the Northwest addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and adapting to changing demographics?
Philanthropy Northwest, Seattle, WA,

Philanthropy Northwest, in partnership with the Institute of Public Service at Seattle University, will explore how foundations in their region are adopting new approaches that increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations, and will analyze what the tipping points are for how and why practices change.  The participatory research project will engage high-level executives in a peer learning network and study additional foundations to identify the practices, barriers, and organizational cultures that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Study 3: Can foundation and grantee interactions provide opportunities to increase diversity?
OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, Philadelphia, PA,

OMG Center for Collaborative Learning will examine how foundation and grantee activities intersect to broaden diversity, equity, and inclusion in grantee practices.  The project will determine where there are opportunities for foundations to reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusion through interactions with grantees.

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.  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:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Executive Leadership Council Hosts 2012 Recognition Gala; Calls for Greater Diversity & Inclusion in Fortune 500

Photo:  The Women’s Leadership Forum of the Executive Leadership Council in Minneapolis, MN on July 10, 2012.  The event focused on increasing diversity in Fortune 500 companies and on corporate boards.

Celebrity guests include Actors Boris Kodjoe and Gabrielle Union with a performance by Charlie Wilson

Washington, DC – The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), comprised of current and former African-American CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 and equivalent companies, will issue a “call to action” to corporate America during its 2012 Recognition Gala on Thursday, October 18, 2012, at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, MD outside of Washington, DC.

The ELC is making the business case for diversity and inclusion to corporate leaders, in particular that investing in diverse senior leadership teams, including African Americans, leads to greater innovation, profitability and success for corporations. Specifically, the ELC will call for support for its pipeline development programs and five-year strategic goals to add 500 African-Americans to the CEO position and one to two levels below in Fortune 500 companies as well as 200 African Americans to the boards of publicly traded companies by 2017. It is the first time that any organization has embarked on such an ambitions initiative to promote diversity, inclusion and executive leadership.

“Diversity of thought is critical to ongoing innovation and success of global business,” said Bernard J. Tyson, ELC Board Chair and President and Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser Permanente. “It’s no secret that diverse teams increase shareholder value by bringing unique perspectives and diverse solutions to deliver bottom-line value. Our role as ELC members is to realize the important role we have as corporate executives to help CEOs and other leaders understand that African-American and other diverse leaders help build an environment of inclusion, where every perspective is value-add to the organization.”

The ELC is taking the lead on elevating the issue of diversity and inclusion in corporate America because recent statistics have raised concerns about minority representation, specifically for African Americans, at the senior levels in corporate America. In fact, of the more than 35,000 senior executive positions at the CEO level or those one and two levels below CEO within most Fortune 500 companies, it is estimated that only 3.2 percent – or fewer than 800 – are African American. This trend not only negatively impacts the advancement of African Americans in the Fortune 500, but the future of American business.

In addition to outlining its vision for the future, the ELC will also announce its scholarship winners for its Foundation programs including the Alvaro L. Martins Scholars, National Essay Competition, and the National Business Case Competition. The organization also will recognize the night’s honorees including Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence Communications, Inc.; Chris Williams of the Williams Capital Group L.P.; and Sodexo, a leading provider of integrated food and facilities management services in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

“The Annual Recognition Gala is our opportunity to recognize our scholarship winners and celebrate the achievements of African Americans in corporate America as well as Fortune 500 companies that promote a diverse and inclusive environment,” said Ronald C. Parker, ELC Interim President and CEO. “We look forward to an engaging evening where we recognize our progress, but also present the roadmap for the future.”

During the gala, the ELC also will promote the work of its Foundation, which invests in education, leadership training and executive development programs, including providing scholarships and mentoring young people interested in corporate careers. In particular, the ELC will highlight its Community Impact Initiative, in which the organization is providing grants to LEAD, INROADS, and A Better Chance, which are working to close the achievement gap for African-American high school and middle school students and prepare the next generation of corporate leaders.

For more information on the Executive Leadership Council and the Recognition Gala, visit

Related post:  African American Female Executives Gather to Increase Representation on Fortune 500 Companies and Corporate Boards

Pictured in above photo: Ronald Parker, interim president and CEO, The Executive Leadership Council; Laysha Ward, board chair, The Executive Leadership Council Foundation; Desiree Rodgers, CEO, Johnson Publishing Company; Linda Johnson Rice, chairman, Johnson Publishing Company; Yanick Rice Lamb, editor-at-large, Heart & Soul magazine; and Women’s Leadership Forum Co-Chairs Leilani Brown, vice president and chief marketing officer of Starr Companies; Nicole Lewis, vice president of global marketing, Kelly Services; and Julia Brown, chief procurement officer and senior vice president for global procurement, Kraft Foods.

Source: ELC/Press release

‘Secret Supper Club’ Gathers Male Executives, Influencers to Pay It Forward

Charles Johnson, Keith Miles, Kojo Bentil, James Nixon and John Dokes attend the launch of the Secret Supper Club in Washington, DC.

Philanthropy and mentorship take focus at exclusive gathering in the nation’s capital

WASHINGTON, DC - On October 10th in a private dining room at a downtown Washington location, a distinguished group of local male executives and influencers gathered for the launch of the Secret Supper Club; an invite-only dinner program created to deepen existing friendships, foster new ones, and stimulate intellectual and social discourse among guests. The aim of this global dinner program is to encourage attendees to discuss philanthropy, mentorship, leaving a legacy and paying it forward.

Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier sponsored the evening, as representatives were on hand to discuss the philanthropic and mentorship programs that the brand supports. Their slogan “Life is About Moments,” was a perfect fit for the evening’s theme. Guests were treated to dinner along with special South African wines generously donated by Kaia Wine Bar. As a thank-you for attending, guests were given a one-of-a-kind Baume & Mercier branded Lancel travel bag.

Attendees included prominent business leaders Ernie Jarvis, Larry Irving, James Woodyard, Tony Rome, Michael Pickrum, James Nixon, Oral Muir, Keith Miles, Anthony Junior, Tim Simons and Kojo Bentil Esq.

James Nixon, Oral Muir and Larry Irving

Roger Richmond, Ernie Jarvis and Michael Pickrum

James Woodyard and Maurice Bellan

The Secret Supper Club was conceived by Diversity Affluence and produced by Influence Events along with the help of David Sutphen, Partner at Brunswick Group, Ed Dandridge, CEO of National Association of Investment Companies and Troy White, Founder of Wytehouse Marketing.

Andrea Hoffman, CEO of Diversity Affluence and Troy White



Menu for the evening

Travel bag provided to guests courtesy of sponsor Baume & Mercier

About Diversity Affluence
As the only company of its kind, Diversity Affluence is a New York-based diversity research, marketing communications and business development consultancy that helps brands and businesses understand and market to affluent ethnic consumers - a group coined as “Royaltons™.” For more than 25 years, Andrea Hoffman, Diversity Affluence's founder and chief executive officer, has been a marketing strategist and trend forecaster.  For more information, visit

Photo credit: Allix Wright

Politics & Policy: Your Gateway to Effective Philanthropy Webinar

Learn how to move from a do-gooder to a changemaker! Join Friends of Ebonie along with guest experts for an informative webinar on Sunday, October 21st at 7pm EST. Read below for more details:


The point of your community work, advocacy and leadership is to make things better, right? You don’t want to be a volunteer for the same cause forever, right? If you were, then that means the core of the problem is still there. The reality is that for every dollar you donate and every hour you sacrifice, there is a policy and a portion of politics that will either change the problem or help it remain the same.

How can you become a stronger philanthropist, advocate and leader? By being knowledgeable of the factors of influence around your cause! When it comes to understanding the cycle of philanthropy, we have to comprehend all aspects of it - starting with the facts.

This perspective changing webinar will discuss how politics and policy impact your work and what you can do to be more effective. Featuring guest experts: L. Joy Williams of LJW Strategies and Christal M. Jackson of Christal Jackson & Associates.

Visit here to register and reserve your space:

Friday, October 12, 2012

We Are Family Foundation to Host 2012 Celebration Gala

Hosted By Rosie Perez and Touré

NEW YORK – The We Are Family Foundation® (WAFF), a not-for-profit organization founded by legendary songwriter and producer, Nile Rodgers, will host its annual Celebration Gala, on Monday, October 29, 2012, at Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  Hosted by actress Rosie Perez and Touré, co-host of MSNBC's "The Cycle," the evening will include a concert featuring Sting, Nile Rodgers & CHIC and other special guests, to celebrate extraordinary global citizens who are dedicated to making the world a better place and who have helped WAFF make a positive impact on more than 15 million people worldwide.  Arrivals and reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony, dinner and a concert at 7:30 p.m.

Artist and activists Sting and Trudie Styler will receive the Humanitarian Award, which honors those in the public eye who have made tremendous efforts and inroads into improving the human condition throughout the world.

Daniel Stern, founder of Reservoir Capital Group, will be honored with the Visionary Award for his local and global philanthropic contributions.  Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, will receive the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award, named in honor of her late son, 13-year-old poet and peacemaker, Mattie J.T. Stepanek, for her significant contribution toward promoting a peaceful society.

The We Are Family Foundation was founded by Nile Rodgers as a result of 9/11. He shares, "My song, ‘We Are Family,’ was the inspiration to bring people together, celebrate our differences and share ideas across borders in order to solve some of the bigger problems facing our world.  We are inspired by each of our honorees this year, as their dedication and passion to making the world a better place are their lifelong missions."

The funds raised at this year's Celebration Gala will support WAFF's mission and existing programs including Three Dot Dash – WAFF's signature program, which identifies, supports and mentors Global Teen Leaders actively working on programs that address basic human needs and promoting a more peaceful world; and TEDxTeen, a global educational platform for extraordinary teens to share their stories and inspire millions.

Tables of 10 can be purchased in advance by contacting Michelle Posadas via phone at 212.397.4333 or email at contact[at]wearefamilyfoundation[dot]org. To purchase individual tickets, please visit

Philanthropists Charles and Karen Phillips Announce Donation to East Harlem Organization

Phillips Charitable Organizations Contributes A Quarter Million Dollars to East Harlem Tutorial Program

NEW YORK, NY - Charles and Karen Phillips, founders of the non-profit Phillips Charitable Organizations (PCO), generously contributed $250,000 to East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) last month, becoming Lead Sponsor for its Robotics Program.

The Robotics Program helps to transform the lives of East Harlem students and families as a core component of EHTP’s STEM program.  Charles Phillips is thrilled to be able to contribute in support of the young engineers of tomorrow. His non-profit, Phillips Charitable Organizations, focuses on quickly and efficiently distributing donations to disadvantaged engineering students, single mothers and wounded veterans.

By significantly boosting the Robotics Program, PCO will be recognized on all robotics-related promotional activity as well as on the program’s robot named “Jackie.”  PCO will also receive significant recognition at EHTP’s Annual Benefit at the highest level of giving: 105th Street Society.

Charles Phillips, who heads PCO, also serves as CEO of Infor, a customer relationship management software maker headquartered in New York. Prior to joining Infor, Mr. Phillips served as CEO of Oracle Corporation during a time when the company saw over 70 acquisitions and experienced significant growth, becoming a world leader in business to business software.

Charles and Karen Phillips are thrilled to support East Harlem Tutorial Program. They have served as philanthropists for several years, and with Charles Phillips’ experience in the computer software industry, he pays particular attention to assisting young engineers who may find themselves in disadvantaged situations.

The $250,000 grant to EHTP will be distributed over three years to the organization and will be utilized for EHTP’s charitable and educational activities.  Visit the foundation website at

Source: Press release

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bay Area Blacks In Philanthropy to Host 2012 State of the Race Conference & Gala Reception

2011 Gala Reception: Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy Board Members & Staff: Marlon Evans, Carolyn Doelling, Sharifa Rohlehr, Cedric Brown, Pam Ulmer, Billy Manning, Ruth Williams, Jason Trimiew, Summer Jackson

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Registration is now open for BABIP’s annual State of the Race Conference and Celebrating Black Philanthropy Gala Reception. The theme of this year’s conference is “Politics, Power, and Philanthropy: A Bay Area Perspective.” Both events will take place on Friday, October 19th from 1 to 7pm at the historic One Leidesdorff building in San Francisco, named after San Francisco’s first African American millionaire William Leidesdorff.

Featured conference speakers include Dana King, CBS News Anchor; Timothy Alan Simon, Public Utilities Commissioner; Carol Burton, Executive Director, Centerforce; and Nwamaka Agbo, Campaign Director, Ella Baker Center.

The gala reception will feature a presentation and book signing by BlackGivesBack’s Charlotte contributor, Valaida Fullwood, celebrated author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, and an awards ceremony honoring local African Americans for their philanthropic efforts. Colin Lacon, President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. 2012 Honorees will be announced soon.  See last year's highlights here.

For ticket information visit here.

About Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy
BABIP is a regional, nonprofit membership organization that works to advance the interests of African Americans in philanthropy, and to address the impact of racial disparity within philanthropic institutions and African American communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. BABIP is also a member of the Black Philanthropic Network hosted by the Association of Black Foundation Executives.

Top 25 Women of Houston Awards Honor Corporate and Community Leaders

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee presents Comerica Bank's Vanessa Reed with a Special Recognition Award

HOUSTON, TX - On Friday, October 5th, The Steed Society held their 7th Annual Top 25 Women of Houston Awards presented by Comerica Bank. Tenacity, discipline and diligence are just a few of the criteria for making the list. This year’s honorees have broken barriers in their respective fields and leave an indelible mark on the face of Houston.

“Comerica Bank is proud to present the Steed Society's 2012 Top 25 Women of Houston Awards, which honor the superlative work of some of our most influential corporate and community leaders,” said Irvin Ashford, Jr., Comerica's Senior Vice President and Director of Community Development and External Affairs. “We congratulate this year's honorees, who have demonstrated core values of hard work and integrity, and have helped improve the Houston community through their tireless efforts.”

The 2012 Top 25 Women of Houston

Friends, family and colleagues congratulated these outstanding leaders during an awards dinner at The Houstonian Hotel. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee served as the keynote speaker for the evening offering sage words of wisdom to the honorees.

The Top 25 awards also honored The Steed Society’s Junior Youth Initiative Mentoring Program, in which 25 Jack Yates High School junior and senior girls attended workshop sessions on leadership, etiquette, financial literacy and college planning led by past Top 25 honorees.

The Steed Society Mentoring Program students from Jack Yates High School

Additional sponsors of the 7th Annual Top 25 Women of Houston Awards presented by Comerica Bank are the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation, Lane Staffing, Amerigroup and McDonald’s. Media partners include rolling out, D Mars Business Journal and

About The Steed Society, Inc.
The Steed Society, Inc. is a 501c3 organization with a mission to empower the community through motivational, educational and cultural initiatives. The organization works to empower women and youth through various programs, including the Female Success Factor Business Seminars, The Top 25 Women of Houston, Seeding Minds Children's Literacy Program and the Junior Youth Initiative Mentoring Program, that focus on education, leadership and mentoring.

Photos Courtesy of Tony Gaines Photography
Source:  Press release

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

‘Genius for Men’ Celebrates Men’s Empowerment, Achievement in Washington, DC

Washington, DC - On October 13, 2012, the 4th annual ‘GENIUS FOR MEN’ will bring honor and innovation to Washington, DC through a men’s empowerment forum that encourages community between men and women, celebrates male achievement, and honors men who seek to transcend the limits within their professions. GENIUS FOR MEN is hosted by executive producers and sisters, Alisha and Angela Jones, who were positively influenced by their father, as well as various male role models who encouraged them to find their voice as strong women.

This year’s theme is “Social Justice and Direct Action.” The honorees are such notables as Educator and Arts Activist Lamman Rucker of Black Gents of Hollywood, Rev. Otis Moss III of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, Maestro Darin Atwater of Soulful Symphony, Activist and Journalist Jeff Johnson, Byron Nichols of BNFit Personal Fitness, Boys and Girls Club of Greater DC, and Impact Your World, and Designers Bruce and Glen Proctor of BruceGlen.

Hundreds of young professionals and leaders are expected to attend this event that will address the issues that men face along with wealth building training and civic mobilization by decision makers, innovators and community organizers. The GENIUS FOR MEN conference is a signature program of the non-profit organization, InSight Initiative, Inc.

Past recipients include neuro-surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, Jazz Critic A. B. Spellman, Musician Richard Smallwood, Alfred Edmond of Black Enterprise, Michael Grant of the National Bankers Association, Composer Rev. Nolan Williams, Congressman John Lewis, Gerard Bonner of, Edgar Brookins of the Afro-American Newspaper, Darnell Lee of W & T Travel Services, Photographer Bill Lee, Mo'Nique Show's Daniel Moore of BET, Rev. Tony Lee, Pastor of Community of Hope A.M.E. and radio personality of WPGC FM, Community Organizer Delyon Gigger of Good Ground Good Life, Michael Melton and Marvin Dickerson, D.C. Chapter, 100 Black Men, Cameron E. Miles of Mentoring Male Teens in the Hood, Elder Jimmy Grant, and William Keyes of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship.

The 2011 class of Genius for Men Honorees: Michael Grant of the National Bankers Association, Gerard Bonner of, Nolan Williams, Jr. of, Alisha Jones and Angela Jones, Exec. Producers, Darnell Lee of W & T Travel Services, Edgar Brookins of the Afro-American Newspaper and Alfred A. Edmond of

Online advance registration is $15 and is open until October 12 at 5 pm EST. Conference officials are also accepting donations for deserving young men to be their guests and take part in this day of celebration. For more information, please call 1-888-422-9179 or visit

Photo credit: Yanny of

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

UMD School of Business Hosts Verizon Foundation President Rose Stuckey Kirk

COLLEGE PARK, MD - On Monday, September 24th, the Center for Social Value Creation of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland (UMD) hosted a conversation with Verizon Foundation president Rose Stuckey Kirk to discuss corporate social responsibility and how the company applies its capabilities to help solve critical issues. Gathered before a group of Master’s and PhD students majoring in business, Kirk shared her personal journey and life experiences, how Verizon embraces core values in its approach to giving, and words of wisdom for the students as they embark on their own professional journey.

Verizon Foundation’s mission is to use its technology and financial resources to solve for education, healthcare and sustainability. As president of the foundation, Kirk leads the organization’s philanthropic strategy with an emphasis on projects that leverage the use of technology in addressing social issues.  For instance in education, the foundation recently launched a program that focuses on innovatively integrating technology in the classroom to change the way teachers teach and students learn to increase student achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.  She oversees employee volunteerism and coordinates efforts to communicate Verizon's overall corporate responsibility messaging. She has more than 25 years' experience in telecommunications with numerous leadership positions at Verizon. A graduate of Arkansas State University, Kirk is a member of the university's Advisory Board for the College of Communications and has spent more than 30 years working with organizations in Alabama, Missouri and Texas on the prevention of domestic violence. She currently chairs the Board of Directors for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Kirk grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which she shared now has the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous metro areas, and one of the 10 most impoverished cities in the nation. She left 30 years ago in pursuit of her dreams, but is still actively involved in her hometown by serving on local boards and speaking to community groups. She will return in January to participate with a mentoring project.

Kirk shared that Verizon’s work aligns with UMD’s Creating Value’s mission – to build a better world through business principles. The discussion on corporate social responsibility centered on the view of American business commonly touted as the engine for future economic growth, but many also view it as the villain who created the country’s economic downfall with a profit-taking -- not profit-making strategy. She cited the work of Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, who concluded that the key to restoring America’s confidence with business is to invest in models and enterprises that solve the very vexing and real problems that are important to the very real people they serve.

She witnessed this model being implemented early on among local businesses while growing up in Pine Bluff, stating, “the bank had programs that taught us financial literacy skills and created a number of banking programs aimed at youth that were designed to help individuals begin to pull up from poverty… the paper mill visited our schools and taught us about pollution control and green initiatives before “green” was the sexy color it has now become. While the work was simplistic, it was heartfelt and designed to help heal what even then were hurts in the community in which I grew up. They were investing in us because they were taking responsibility for our long-term success, and they saw their long-term value tied to us. They needed the communities to stay stable...they needed a pipeline of well educated, well-paid employees and consumers…and we needed them to be profitable so they could continue to contribute to the infrastructure of our community.” Using this same approach, Kirk believes, grounded on the commitment to strong core values will restore faith and trust in the power of business.

Among the foundation’s current projects are Thinkfinity, a free online platform for educators that receives 2 million hits monthly, and 12 Verizon Innovative Learning Schools with a STEM focus that involves Verizon employees and partners.

In closing, she shared words of wisdom on how one can effect change now, and by doing so, be the leaders of the new generation:
  • Only work for a company that aligns with your values.
  • Work for a boss that challenges you and has a strong compass. Learn from him or her. Learn from success and learn from failures. Calibrate your own compass.
  • Understand what it means to be a good follower. Trust leadership but verify; think for yourself, speak up, and be constructive by offering the value-based, sustainable alternative.
For more information on the foundation, visit

Photos courtesy of UMD and Verizon

Monday, October 1, 2012

Case Foundation Seeking America’s Fearless Changemakers

“Finding Fearless” Campaign Aims to Recognize, Reward and Inspire Unsung Community Innovators with Bold Solutions

There’s a difference between do-gooders and changemakers, says Michael D. Smith, Senior VP of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation. He describes changemakers, individuals addressing complex social challenges, as those who make big bets, experiment early and often, make failure matter, reach beyond their bubble and let urgency conquer fear. Smith mentions individuals such as Geoffrey Canada, social activist, educator and founder of Harlem Children’s Zone as a fearless changemaker. Does this describe you or someone you know? Read on to learn more about the “Finding Fearless” campaign and enter today for a chance to win a grant and great prizes!

In 1997, Jean and Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, established the Case Foundation that invests in people and ideas that can change the world. The foundation supports initiatives that leverage new technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to drive innovation in the social sector and encourage individuals to get involved with the communities and causes they care about. In conjunction with the Foundation’s 15th anniversary, they’re searching for America’s most fearless changemakers as part of their Be Fearless initiative. A total of $650,000 in grants, software and technology prizes and outdoor adventures is at stake. In partnership with Microsoft and national outdoor retailer REI, the Foundation is looking for the unsung individuals in communities across the country that have a successful track record of tackling social challenges because their approach is bold, uncommon, experimental and unconventional.

From now until October 15th, you can nominate yourself or someone you know at

After an open nomination process, a “Fearless Academy” of judges will award the top 10 submissions $10,000 grants and the next 10, $1,000 grants. All projects will receive a $25,000 software grant from Microsoft and a $100 REI gift card. The public will then have the opportunity to vote on their favorite fearless projects to determine which ones will receive an additional $10,000 grant, an REI Adventure Trip to Bryce Canyon and more. Those voting will be eligible for prizes such as a $500 Network for Good gift card.

Smith shared with BlackGivesBack that the foundation is taking a more fearless approach to philanthropy, as challenges facing society are getting more complex. He hopes that the campaign will help the nominees get lifted up by their communities, help to share their stories, and that people will use the “Be Fearless” resources and discussion guide to host community conversations and move them from being do gooders to changemakers. You can begin by taking the “Be Fearless” pledge – over 7,000 people have signed on.

The grant recipients and prize winners will be announced on November 13th. In addition, the Case Foundation is serving as the principal partner for TEDxMidAtlantic 2012 on October 26-27 in Washington, DC that will celebrate the power of ideas to positively change the world. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

About Michael D. Smith
SVP, Social Innovation, The Case Foundation

Michael leads the Case Foundation’s Social Innovation team, which oversees social investments, programs and partnerships. He works with senior leadership to set the programmatic direction of the Foundation and manages an investment portfolio designed to spark civic participation and promote innovation in the social sector.

Michael’s current major areas of focus include working with the Chairman and the White House to accelerate entrepreneurship through the Startup America Partnership and leading the Foundation’s efforts to tap citizen-centered solutions to social challenges, with an emphasis on open innovation.

Before joining the Case Foundation, Michael spent nearly a decade building “digital divide” organizations and held key positions at local and national organizations developing empowered youth. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Marymount University, is a frequent contributor to industry publications and gatherings and serves on the boards of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), and Public Allies. Visit the website at