Wednesday, February 27, 2013

UNCF Leaders’ Luncheon Brings Together Chicago Education and Civic Leaders to Discuss the State of Minority Education

Organization Previews New “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”® PSA Campaign Featuring UNCF Chicago Scholarship Recipients

Chicago, Illinois – UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, and 300 Chicago education, civic leaders and students gathered on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency to hear a panel of experts discuss the state of education in the city and the country.   The event also previewed a new edition of the iconic “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”® public service announcement campaign featuring real students sharing their stories, including two from Chicago.

Among the guests were Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF; Annette Gurley, Chicago Public Schools Chief of Teaching and Learning; Andrea Zopp, president, Chicago Urban League; Paul La Schiazza, president, AT&T Illinois; and Tim King, founder, Urban Prep Academies.

UNCF is working with leaders in Chicago and the country to ensure African American students receive the education the nation needs them to have.   The latest version of the “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”® campaign echoes this message through the stories of real students designed to provide inspiration and role models for young people.

Urban Prep Students and Representatives with Tim King

Priscilla Stratten, Development Director, UNCF; Annette Gurley, Chief of Teaching and Learning, CPS; Jann Honore, Regional Development Director, UNCF

Annette Curley, Paul La Schiazza, Andrea Zopp, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, Tyronne Stoudemire, Principal & Senior Diversity Consultant, Mercer; Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, III, Trinity United Church of Christ

Sekou Biddle, Vice President of Advocacy, UNCF; Urban Prep Students; and Dr. Michael L. Lomax

In related news, UNCF's A Mind is Gala will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2013 in New York City.  Ingrid Saunders Jones, Chair, The Coca-Cola Foundation; and Senior Vice President of Global Community Connections for The Coca-Cola Company, soon to be retiring, will be presented with the President's Award.  The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, President of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, and Chairman and Founder of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, will be presented the Shirley Chisholm Award for Community Service.   To purchase tables or tickets, call 212-820-0140.  See highlights from the 2012 A Mind Is Gala here.

Photos courtesy of UNCF Chicago

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

JPMorgan Hosts Daughter of Reginald F. Lewis for Exclusive BlackGivesBack Philanthropy Event

Inaugural event for BlackGivesBack to feature Christina Lewis Halpern, daughter of the late business titan and Valaida Fullwood, author of “Giving Back”

NEW YORK, NY – This week, will host its first ever event presented by JPMorgan Chase and its Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD) Business Group.  The black philanthropy themed invitation only event will feature an interview with author, journalist and philanthropist Christina Lewis Halpern (pictured left), daughter of Reginald F. Lewis who was the first African American to build a billion dollar company. 

Today, many institutions are named in honor of her father's philanthropic legacy: the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture and the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center at Harvard University.

Halpern is the author of Lonely at the Top, a memoir written about her father.  She will be interviewed by Valaida Fullwood, author of the award winning book, Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.

Valaida shares, “Christina Lewis Halpern and Tracey Webb of BlackGivesBack are both fellow writers with interests in philanthropy, and I’m thrilled about joining them for this event. I’m also proud to be a part of Community Investment Network, which is supporting the event and which values philanthropists across spans wealth, income and socioeconomic status.”

JPMorgan cites findings on giving in communities of color, that with over $500 billion in buying power, over 60% of African American households give to charity; and 45% of pre-civil rights African Americans focus their philanthropy on the African American community, while the majority of younger African Americans focus giving on communities of color, minorities and the underprivileged. These will be among the major themes during the discussion.

The event, which is being hosted for JPMorgan employees and special guests, will be held on Thursday, February 28th from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at JPMorgan in New York City. The first hour will feature the interview followed by a question and answer period and a networking reception. This event will serve as the first of several national events to be hosted by BlackGivesBack on black philanthropy.

For more information on Christina Lewis Halpern, visit her website at and connect with Valaida Fullwood via her blog at

The Insider: Jamel Robinson, An Advocate for New York's Foster Care Youth

In New York City, there are nearly 14,000 children in foster care, with almost 6,000 new youth entering the system every year.   Of those youth, approximately 1/3 are between the ages of 13-19, and less than 20% expect to be adopted. That equates to 1,100 youth aging out of the foster care system in New York each year without a permanent home, family or support network.

Data has shown that the older a child gets, the more difficult it is to find a permanent home.   The impact of this has resulted in higher rates of teen pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment and involvement in the criminal justice system for this population.

One of those youth who aged out of New York’s foster care system is making it his life’s mission to ensure that no other child has to experience the challenges he had to overcome due to the lack of a stable, loving and nurturing adoptive family.

Meet Jamel Robinson, founder of the Jamel Robinson Child Welfare Reform Initiative (JRCWRI).   After spending 21 years in the foster care system without being adopted, he beat the odds and is now a successful child welfare reform advocate.  Established out of personal experience, great loss, and significant triumph, JRCWRI’s mission is to advocate and empower at-risk youth and the adults that nurture their potential.   Ultimately, the organization’s goal is to prevent homelessness and recidivism while promoting self-sufficiency and independence, responsibility, outreach and volunteerism.

Jamel is a sought after speaker and advocate, and is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the 2008 Hero Award from The Book Bank Foundation.  He has received proclamations from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former New York Governor David Paterson, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, United States Senator Charles Schumer, United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and a presidential proclamation from the Honorable Barack Obama.

This year, JRCWRI will launch “We Deserve Love Too!,” the first youth-led campaign of its kind in New York that aims to draw attention to the high number of teens in the foster care system and their need for permanent, loving homes.

Read on to learn more about this upcoming campaign, Jamel’s journey that led him to create JRCWRI and how you can get involved.

As a youth in the foster care system, what support and mentorship did you receive that led you on your journey to become a social entrepreneur?

It was just the opposite. Due to the lack of adequate support and mentorship I felt I received after spending 21 years of my life in the New York City foster care system, I founded the Jamel Robinson Child Welfare Reform Initiative to lead the voice in reform, in an effort to improve outcomes and the quality of life for my former peers in, and transitioning from care.

Studies have shown that African American children and youth are overrepresented in child welfare and foster care systems. How is your organization bringing attention to this issue?

Our organization is bringing attention to this issue by conducting innovative foster and adoption recruitment campaigns to encourage potential foster and adoptive parents to consider taking in a child and/or teen. The truth is that the primary goal for a child taken from their birth parents is re-unification. However, in some cases this is not possible, then the alternative is kinship care, to place the child with a relative, and if not promising, the last option is to place that child in a foster boarding home and free the child up for adoption.  The definitive goal is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child, in due course safeguarding their potential in a healthy, loving, and nurturing environment.

Since the founding of your organization in 2008, what are some of your successes?

One of our greatest successes as an organization was our staunch advocacy in ensuring that a local law protecting youth from transitioning from foster care to homelessness will be upheld and enforced by the court, whereby, the court would mandate the City to create pathways for greater opportunity for housing and transitional supports for youth on the verge of discharge from care.   In October 2011, the City settled the case, approved by State Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright.  Through this settlement, the City has agreed to put in place essential services to prevent these vulnerable young people from being discharged from foster care into homelessness.  This settlement will benefit young people ages 18 to 21 that are discharged from foster care in New York City each year.  Services these vulnerable young people desperately need in order to transition to independence.

Another one of our greatest successes is our relationship with New York City Human Resources Administration, a relationship that has led to several hundred youth securing the income necessary to obtain supportive housing in an effort to reduce homelessness and ensure stability for youth after their discharge from foster care.  And, another success will be the launch of our We Deserve Love Too! campaign.

Jamel Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the (JRCWRI) rang The Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, January 28, 2013 to highlight the pre-launch of its We Deserve LOVE Too PSA Campaign focused on identifying more foster and adoptive homes for teens. (View video here.) 

Please share more about your new PSA campaign, “We Deserve Love Too.” What do you hope to accomplish and how can readers get involved?

We Deserve Love Too! is the first youth-led campaign of its kind in New York City history, designed to draw attention to the high number of teens in foster care and their need for permanent, loving homes that can provide stability, a sense of belonging, the support necessary to grow into healthy, productive adults, and HOPE!   Our goals are to spread awareness of how many teens are in need of homes and how adoption at this pivotal point in a child’s life can yield positive influence; to address the most common reasons families give for avoiding the adoption of teens and show that teens deserve love too!; and to increase the number of teens 13-19 that are adopted or placed with foster families that may not have considered taking in a teen before.   We were recently informed by a prominent law firm that specializes in family law that their firm will donate pro bono legal services to finalize any teen adoption during the campaign.   And, we received word that General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) former Secretary of the United States and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs will be endorsing the We Deserve Love Too campaign!

Furthermore, we are working with a plethora of grassroots organizations, colleges and universities, corporate volunteers, youth in foster care, high schools, civic groups, and elected officials to mobilize for the cause.  A movement indeed, we are working tirelessly to give youth in care an opportunity to dream, lead and succeed!

Please be sure to check out this video, our initial PSA of the We Deserve Love Too! campaign, which outlines our purpose and our plea. Any support you can provide toward this endeavor is immensely appreciated.

JRCWRI believes that teens and young adults aging out of the foster care system, given the same opportunities for education and the same access to critical services, can thrive as well as individuals growing up outside of the foster care system. When it comes to teens, JRCWRI knows their future is boundless with the right influence!

The We Deserve Love Too! campaign will officially launch this May, in observance of National Foster Care Month.  Visit and for more information. Sponsors for the campaign include Haier, Macy's, Kohls Cares, and Mirror NYC.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Apollo Theater Holds 3rd Annual Dining with the Divas Luncheon

Diva Committee 2013: Michele Gadsden-Williams, Joannie Danielides, Yolanda Ferrell-Brown, Star Jones, 
Jonelle Procope, Rita Jammet, Carolyn Minick-Mason and Jacqueline Nickelberry, Esq.

Fundraiser Celebrating the Achievements of Extraordinary Women in Media, Music, Fashion and Business Raises More Than $200,000 for Non-Profit Theater’s Education Programs

Harlem, NY – On February 14, 2012, the world famous Apollo Theater held its third annual Dining with the Divas luncheon, a fundraiser celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of women in the arts and in business.  Hosted by Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Star Jones, Dining with the Divas benefits the Theater’s education and community programs.  Held on the Theater’s iconic stage, where legendary Divas such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight have enchanted audiences, Divas offered participants an opportunity to connect with some of the country’s most powerful, accomplished, and influential women.   Attendees included: Gayle King, Bari Seiden, Erica Reid, Connie Ann Phillips, Sheila Newman Johnson, Loida Nicholas Lewis and Thelma Golden.

Dining with the Divas raised over $200,000, which will support the non-profit theater’s education and community programs, which include career day panels, in-school enrichment programs, a summer internship program, a Saturday workshop series, and the Apollo’s Oral History program.  Sponsors for Divas include Credit Suisse, Estee Lauder, Ferrell-Brown Design, Hearst Magazines, Lane Bryant and Viacom.

Dining with the Divas is a moment for the Apollo to spotlight women impacting the world through their work, and to acknowledge their role as mentors for the next generation,” said Apollo president and CEO, Jonelle Procope. “The Apollo is all about paying it forward, and our audience included some young women who have participated in our education programs.  It is important that we let our young people to have access to inspirational women, and to stand on our shoulders as we have all stood on shoulders of others.”

Apollo Theater president and CEO Jonelle Procope and Fairview Capital Partners managing partner and Apollo Theater board member JoAnn Price

During the event, Procope was surprised with a special presentation in honor of her 10th year as President & CEO of the Apollo.   The presentation included a special video created by staff that highlighted all of her milestone Apollo moments, such as Bruce Springsteen’s concert and the unveiling of their new Walk of Fame in 2010.  It also included speeches by Apollo Board members Yolanda Ferrell-Brown and JoAnn Price, a letter of congratulations from Mayor Bloomberg, as well as lovely remarks from Jonelle’s husband Fred Terrell and Ken Knuckes of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.   She stated about the honor, “This means so much coming from my friends, my colleagues and the amazing Apollo staff.  They say it takes a village to build something and indeed I am proud to be a part of such an amazing village.  I am so excited about where this institution is and I’m very hopeful about the future.  And I hope you continue to be a part of the Apollo family and come on this journey with us.”

Author Crystal McCrary, Erica Reid and Alicia Bythewood
 attend 2013 Dining with the Divas.

Ferrell-Brown Design president Yolanda Ferrell-Brown and Karen Phillips

Apollo Theater Academy Students Shantel Destra (left) and Sonya Mattis (right)
 with Dining with the Divas Host Star Jones

About the Apollo Theater
The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world.   Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage.

The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on its legacy.  New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations.  The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work.   Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit

Related postsApollo Theater Announces New Board Members and Young Patrons of the Apollo Hosts Southern Soiree

Photos courtesy of the Apollo Theater

Thursday, February 21, 2013

NBA Stars Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony Host "Catalyst Brunch" During All Star Weekend

NBA All Stars Carmelo Anthony and  Chris Paul with ESPN analyst Chris Broussard and Open Society
Foundations' Shawn Dove at the Catalyst Brunch held during the 2013 All Star Weekend in Houston, TX

HOUSTON, TX – NBA players, celebrities and their fans look forward to the excitement every year that is the NBA All Star Weekend, best known for its many events and festivities leading up to the All Star game. But two NBA All Stars hosted a different kind of event. Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony joined forces along with the Admiral Center to host a discussion on strategies to improve life outcomes for black men and boys before they took to the basketball court later that day.

On Sunday, February 17th, nonprofit, philanthropy, corporate and community leaders gathered for the Catalyst Brunch, an invitation only breakfast at Hotel Zaza to discuss what is working in the field of black male achievement and how everyone can meaningfully engage in tangible strategies that work.

Among the guests were Ben Hecht, President of Living Cities; Shawn Escoffery, Surdna Foundation; Susan Taylor Batten, President of Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE); Shawn Dove, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Open Society Foundations; Ralph Smith, Annie E. Casey Foundation; James Anderson, Linebacker for Carolina Panthers; Chris Broussard, ESPN Analyst; Dr. Howard Stevenson, University of Pennsylvania; Leon Rose, CAA Agent; Diann Valentine, wedding and event planner and husband Damon Hayley; Dale Allen, Brand Jordan; Anthony Dicosmo, Nickelodeon/MTV Networks; Joe Jones, Center for Urban Families; Marcus Paul & Brennan Rabb, The Sartorial Collective and Lincoln Stephens, Marcus Graham Project.

Pastor Michael McBride, Executive Director of Admiral Center Sherrie Deans and Chris Paul

Chaka Zulu and Lala Anthony
President/CEO of ABFE Susan Taylor Batten and CAA Sports Agent Leon Rose

Ben Hecht, President of Living Cities and Shawn Escoffery, Surdna Foundation

Ralph Smith, SVP, Annie E. Casey Foundation and Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade Level
Reading with Chris Paul

Dale Allen, Brand Jordan with Charles and Robin Paul (parents of Chris Paul)

Isha Price (left), Principal and Co-Founder, Wishbone Consulting Group and sister of Venus and
Serena Williams with guests

Latesha Williams and Tragil Wade (sister of NBA star Dwyane Wade)

Chris Paul, stylist Rachel Johnson and Victor Cruz, NY Giants

Evelyn Burnett and Sherrie Deans

After presentations and discussion, guests were provided two opportunities for engagement to continue the work in the areas of gun violence and literacy, specifically third grade reading level achievement. 

Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are both members of the Admiral Center, and are heavily invested in this initiative. The Admiral Center, co-founded by former NBA star David "The Admiral" Robinson, helps celebrities use their resources and influence to develop sustainable and impactful solutions to improve the lives of low-income people in America. For more information, visit and see highlights from the inaugural Catalyst event here.

Photos courtesy of the Admiral Center

Creating the Next Generation of STEM Professionals of African Descent

By Tokiwa T. Smith - San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

This week is National Engineers Week, which focuses on encouraging youth to pursue careers in engineering.  As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important that we encourage youth of African descent to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers by telling them the stories of past and current STEM professionals of African descent.  There are several reasons that I am choosing to use the term African descent instead of African American.  The first reason is that when our ancestors arrived in this country, most of the people of color that were categorized by the racial identification of “Black,” originated from one of the countries on the African continent.  The second reason is that most, if not all of the foundations of science, engineering and mathematics come from ancient African civilizations such as Kemet (Egypt), Mali and others.  I had the privilege of learning this in college by my mentor Dr. James Grainger.  Therefore, when we use the term African descent, it not only connects our past, present and future, but it connects us to people no matter what country we originate from.

The first step to creating the next generation of STEM professionals of African descent is a concept and term I have created and am currently working on a publishing a paper on; called “the continuum of learning.” The “continuum of learning” is an environment where children are constantly learning because there are educational experiences that take place at school, at home and in the community. There is no “designated” place for learning; instead children are constantly engaged in learning experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.  When this continuum of learning takes place, children achieve academically and are prepared for post-secondary opportunities.

The second step to create the next generation of STEM professionals of African descent is exposure and engagement. If we want kids of African descent to pursue STEM careers, we have to expose them to STEM careers at an earlier age.  The exposure is two part; providing opportunities for them to learn what STEM professionals do and exposing them to STEM professionals of African descent. Engagement is ensuring that youth engage in diverse STEM educational experiences.  These experiences should include engaging in hands on STEM activities in the classroom and in the community, visiting STEM museums and participating in STEM based academic programs.

In order to create this next generation of STEM professionals, each individual that believes in STEM education should give their time and/or resources to support STEM education.  Your giving back can be as simple as purchasing and donating school supplies that are connected to math or science courses such as calculators, protractors, rulers, gloves, science supplies and equipment for your local school.  It can be volunteering your time or making a financial contribution to an organization that supports STEM education.  If you want to ensure that our youth are a part of the future STEM workforce; find a way to give back with the resources that are available to you.

About Tokiwa:
A native of Miami, FL and an alumnus of Florida A & M University, Ms. Tokiwa T. Smith is a social entrepreneur and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educator with over 10 years’ experience working in education and philanthropy. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. and CEO of Kemet Educational Services, a STEM education consulting firm.  Tokiwa was recently named as one of 10 Black Tech Twitter Tweeps to Watch by

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Evidence, A Dance Company to Host Torch Ball with Honorary Chairs Tonya Lewis Lee and Spike Lee

Filmmaker Spike Lee and choreographer Ronald K. Brown, artistic director of Evidence, A Dance Company at the 8th annual gala in February 2012.  Lee will serve as an honorary chair for 2013 alongside actress Lynn Whitfield will serve as the evening's host.

Event Features “Evidence After Dark” Young Patrons Reception

NEW YORK – Evidence, A Dance Company will host its 9th Annual Gala on Monday, March 25, at New York City's The Plaza Hotel in celebration of the life and legacy of Beth Young, a phenomenal dance enthusiast and supporter of Evidence, A Dance Company, and to support the dance company's mission to promote understanding of the African Diaspora through dance, music and storytelling.

Goldman, Sachs & Co.'s Valentino D. Carlotti will receive the 2013 Corporate Philanthropy Award for their support of the arts, the community and work of Evidence, A Dance Company.  All proceeds from the gala will benefit Evidence's outreach programs.  Carlotti, a Senior Partner of Goldman Sachs, will accept the award on behalf of the global investment banking and securities firm.

Distinguished guests from the arts and entertainment industry and business community will attend the star-studded benefit gala.  The black-tie affair will begin with an elegant cocktail reception, followed by dinner, a special performance by Evidence, dessert and Evidence’s signature “Dancing with the Dancers.”  The evening will also feature “Evidence After Dark,” a Young Patrons reception, which begins at 8:30pm.

Actor and director Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee will serve as the gala’s Honorary Chairs.  Actress Lynn Whitfield will lead the awards gala as the Evening Host.  Reginald Van Lee, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and Chairman Emeritus of the board of Evidence, A Dance Company is this year’s Gala Chair.

The Torch Ball will present Evidence's performance of its latest work, Torch, in honor of the legacy of Beth Young.  Choreographed by Founder and Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown, this fervent dance tribute was created as a celebration of her perseverance and self-determination.  Young studied with the dance company for over 15 years before losing her battle with cancer on January 6, 2012.

The dance company, which blends African, modern, ballet and social dance styles to tell stories about the human experience, will perform the work to the music of various artists including DJ Zinhle.

“Evidence is deeply humbled to present ‘Torch’ at our annual benefit gala,” said Brown.  “This new work seeks to understand legacy and the idea of passing the torch.  We are dancing to celebrate Beth’s legacy.  We dance for her, with her, and are the torch that pays homage to everything that she is and was.”

An internationally-acclaimed and highly sought-after choreographer, Brown was the choreographer for Tony Award-winning THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS on Broadway where he won the Fred and Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreographer for a Broadway Musical.  He has also choreographed works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company and Philadanco, among others.

Evidence board members include: Ronald K. Brown, President; Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Chairman; Larry Satterfield, Treasurer; Gail Monroe-Perry, Secretary; Reginald Van Lee, Chairman Emeritus; Alvin Adell; Dwayne Ashley; Monica F. Azare; Reginald Canal; Spike Lee; Leslie Mays; James Sullivan; Jocelyn Taylor and Dr. Ancy Verdier.  The “Evidence After Dark” co-chairs are James Nixon and Curtis D. Young; and the young patrons host committee members are Ashley Alston and J. Stratford Dennis, Stuart Archibald, Keenan Davis, Veronica S. Dawkins, Jason W. Draper, Kirk Hudson, Sekou Kaalund, James Powell, Javier R. Seymore and Phaon K. Spurlock.

See last year's gala highlights here.

For tickets to the gala performance and dinner, please visit or call The JFM Group LLC at 914-235-1490 x11 or email for more information. Individual tickets begin at $1,000, table packages begin at $10,000. Tickets for “Evidence After Dark” are $125.

Source:  Press release

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wells Fargo and Museum of the African Diaspora Presents the Kinsey Collection contributor Tokiwa Smith (left) with philanthropist Shirley Kinsey,
February 8, 2013 at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco

By Tokiwa T. Smith, San Francisco /Oakland contributor

As a Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) alum, it is always a pleasure to meet my fellow FAMU alumni; especially those who have made great contributions to the world.  Bernard and Shirley Kinsey are among those alumni that have not only made great strides in their careers, but have given back to the community as philanthropists and educators. The Kinsey’s have raised over 22 million dollars for charitable and educational organizations, including a donation of 11 million to FAMU.  I had the pleasure to meet them at the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, which is the first stop in the Kinsey Collection's National Tour sponsored by Wells Fargo to honor the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect, is a national touring exhibit of authentic and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that tell the often untold story of African American achievement and contribution.

The Kinsey’s have been collecting art for 35 years and have one of the largest private collections of African American art, having amassed artifacts, documents and artwork spanning 400 years of history.  Mrs. Kinsey shared with me that their collection of African American artwork was inspired by their son Khalil. When Khalil was in the third grade, he was given a class assignment to trace his ancestral roots.  He was not able to go as far back as his classmates of other ethnic backgrounds.  This class project was the beginning of the Kinsey’s quest to tell the story of the African American experience beyond what African American publications such as Jet and Ebony could tell.   The Kinsey Collection gives their ancestors voices, names and personalities so that everyone can understand the triumphs and accomplishments despite the challenges and obstacles they faced. “We want to stimulate conversations about African American achievement not the struggle… and want you to leave the exhibit saying I didn’t know that...” said Bernard Kinsey.

“Wells Fargo embraces the arts as a voice for history and culture,” said Brenda Wright, Wells Fargo senior vice president of Community Relations. “We are excited to present The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect as a way to share an important story involving the rich history of African Americans, a history of identity and struggle for equality that is both unique and shared by others.” Learn more about the Kinsey Collection by visiting

The collection is on view at MoAD, 685 Mission Street in San Francisco through May 19, 2013. General Admission $10; Students and Seniors $5; Members and Children 12 and under w/adult FREE. Hours: Wed–Sat: 11:00 am–6:00 pm / Sun 12:00–5:00 pm / Mon–Tues Closed.

The exhibition is organized by The Bernard & Shirley Kinsey Foundation for Arts & Education and KBK Enterprises, Incorporated.

AT&T 28 Days Campaign Celebrates 5th Year with Concert and Speaker Series During Black History Month

Author and activist Kevin Powell inspires the crowd as the featured speaker at AT&T's 28 Days Campaign at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC

2013 campaign kicks off in Washington, D.C. with activist and author Kevin Powell and new host Rickey Smiley

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, February 7th at the historic Lincoln Theatre, AT&T kicked off its 28 Days campaign that aims to motivate consumers to take a forward look at Black History Month as they create their own history.  Celebrating its fifth anniversary, AT&T 28 Days features a multi-city speaker series and concert tour with comedian and radio personality, Rickey Smiley serving as host.   The free speaker series and concert tour blends together a roster of performers, thought leaders and innovators that are taking a forward look at making history.    Also new for 2013, the campaign will showcase musical performances from R&B sensation, Elle Varner.

“We believe it's what you do, with what we do, which is why 28 Days keeps coming back.  AT&T 28 Days is five years strong because of the response and support we've received from our African American consumers,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of Diverse Markets, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.  “Each year, we look at new ways to move people to act on their dreams today.  By adding new speakers and musical performances to 28 Days, we hope the campaign remains fun and relevant.”

Jennifer Jones, vice president of Diverse Markets, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets addresses the crowd.

For the campaign’s first stop in the nation’s capital, the featured speaker was hip-hop commentator, activist and author Kevin Powell, who has dedicated his life to public service since the age of 18. BlackGivesBack caught up with Kevin while in DC to learn more about his community involvement and his organization, BK Nation.

It was Kevin's experience running for Congress in 2008 and 2010 that made him aware of the lack of resources available to community residents.  It also reaffirmed his commitment to community service. He would often hear on the campaign trail, “what are you going to do for me?” In an effort to serve as a bridge to information, resources and services in communities nationwide, Kevin created BK Nation (BK stands for Building Knowledge), a national organization that will focus on major issues that arose during his campaign, such as education, health, art and culture, the environment and entrepreneurship among others. He hopes that this platform will serve as a major hub to inspire individuals stating, “All movements are local. You don’t have to be FLOTUS, you can be a leader.”

Upcoming stops on the AT&T 28 Days speaker series and concert tour includes:
  • MC Lyte, hip-hop icon and pioneer female lyricist; Tabernacle Theater; Thursday, Feb. 21 in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Jeff Johnson, social activist and political commentator; Millennium Centre; Wednesday, Feb. 27 in Detroit, Mich.
The speaker series events are free and open to the general public.  Tickets are available at on a first come first serve basis.

And as part of this year's campaign, AT&T has added a 28 Days to Inspire photo sharing contest at that allows consumers to submit and share photos of their inspirational moments for a chance to win a grand prize of $1,000 to purchase tickets to any Live Nation concert in the U.S. taking place in 2013, and $1,000 cash.  On the website, consumers will be able to submit their photos through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  The contest runs from January 21 and continues throughout the month of February.  All submissions will be judged based on creativity, uniqueness and their relevance to Black History Month.  Only one entry can be made per person. A complete list of contest rules can be found at

Photo credit: Nicole N. Mosley

Connecting with the Black Philanthropic Community

In a guest blog post for Giving in L.A., a blog hosted by the California Community Foundation, BlackGivesBack's NY contributor Akira Barclay shares insight on how community foundations can make meaningful connections to the African American community.   A community foundation is an organization that is supported by donations from its local residents that distributes funds in a specific geographic area.

Akira states that although blacks give more than any other racial group in the country, tapping into the generosity of this group remains a mystery for many including community foundations looking for ways to connect with new donors.  She offers three ways to begin building bridges to the Black philanthropic community.   One is to expand the definition of wealth:

“While media reports of recent megagifts to a handful of community funds dominate the headlines, ultra high net worth individuals are not the only population worth pursuing.   Welcome simple and significant wealth by reaching out to middle class donors of color.   Establishing meaningful relationships in the early wealth-building stages, particularly with entrepreneurs creates history.  That history breeds trust and makes you a more likely recipient of future largesse.”

Read the entire blog post here.  Learn more about Akira at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tour for Diversity in Medicine and Aetna Foundation Rev Up Third Bus Tour to Mentor Med-School-Bound Minority Students

Doctors, Dentists Travel to Six Texas Universities to Advise Future Providers & Help Diversify the Health Care Profession

The Tour for Diversity in Medicine, a volunteer program started by two young doctors, will launch its third bus tour the week of February 11, this time traveling to six Texas universities to help minority students pursue careers in medicine and dentistry.  Thanks to a grant from the Aetna Foundation, 15 doctors, dentists and medical school students from across the country will travel more than 1,000 miles to provide full-day, hands-on workshops to undergrad students on six different campuses.

The Tour for Diversity in Medicine hopes to help diversify the health care profession by giving minority students the advice and tools they'll need to pursue medical careers.  Although African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans compose more than 26 percent of the U.S. population, they represent only 6 percent of practicing physicians and 5 percent of dentists, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.  In 2011, African-American and Hispanic students made up only 15 percent of all U.S. medical school applicants. Yet research shows that patients who receive care from doctors of the same background are more satisfied with their care and more engaged in their treatment.

"Not only does today's physician workforce not reflect the growing diversity of our country, but this health equity gap is often most apparent in the at-risk minority communities that need help most.  We are trying to make a tangible difference by going directly to students and showing them the changes that they can make for themselves and their communities by considering a career in medicine," said Alden Landry, M.D., co-founder of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and an emergency department physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.  "Our tours address the national need for a more diverse physician population at a grassroots level--school by school and student by student."

The week of February 11, the Tour for Diversity in Medicine will travel to the following universities in Texas:
  • Monday, February 11: The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Tuesday, February 12: The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Wednesday, February 13: Texas A&M International University, Laredo
  • Thursday, February 14: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • Friday, February 15: Prairie View A&M University
  • Saturday, February 16: Texas Southern University, Houston

"As the United States becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, our nation's health care providers must be able to respond to the wide variety of patient perspectives in order to provide the best possible care," said Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr.PH., the Aetna Foundation's vice president and director of national grant making.  "The Aetna Foundation is pleased to be a founding sponsor of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and once again support these dedicated doctors as they help achieve more diversity in the next generation of health care providers.  Our support for the tours is part of our ongoing work to develop health care leaders from underrepresented communities."

Alden Landry, M.D. and Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D., co-founders of Tour for Diversity in Medicine

About 150 students from each school are expected to participate in the full-day program.  There are sessions on the medical school application process, admissions tests, financial aid, interviewing skills, and an overview of health disparities.  Students will interact one-on-one with mentors who will offer personal insights and share their experiences about how to build a successful career in medicine or dentistry.

"We're excited to be back on the road and traveling to Texas to reach Hispanic and African-American students.  We recognize that many students may not have the resources or information to seek out medical school recruitment fairs on their own, so we come directly to campus to help spark interest in health care careers," said Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D., co-founder of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and medical director of the Division Street site of Erie Family Health Center in Chicago. "By offering student workshops with doctors who come from similar backgrounds, we are helping students overcome perceived barriers to entering the medical profession and showing them what steps they'll need to take to build a fulfilling career."

Additional support for the Texas Tour comes from the U.S. Army, AAMC, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and American Dental Education Association.  For more information, follow the Tour for Diversity in Medicine on Facebook and Twitter @Tour4Diversity or visit

University of Maryland's Driskell Center Receives 2.2 Million in Artworks from Black Philanthropists

COLLEGE PARK, MD - The University of Maryland's David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora (Driskell Center) has announced a bequest of more than 225 collected artworks valued at more than $2.2 million from the estate of the late Sandra Anderson Baccus and her husband, Lloyd T. Baccus, M.D.  Mrs. Baccus, who passed in 2012, and her husband, who passed in 2006, lived in Roswell, Georgia where they led their medical business, Correctional Medial Associates, Inc., for more than 25 years.  Mrs. Baccus served on the Driskell Center board from 2004 to 2006.

Highlights of the collection include paintings, drawings, collages, mixed media, and sculptures by Charles Alston, Richmond Barthé, Romare Bearden, Radcliffe Bailey, John Biggers, Eldzier Cortor, Aaron Douglas, David C. Driskell, Clementine Hunter, W.H. Johnson, Loïs Mailou Jones, Hayden Palmer, Charles White and Hale Woodruff, to name a few.  The gift also included important artist books and portfolios from Benny Andrews, Jacob Lawrence, Betty Saar and more.

"The Center, established in honor of one of America's most accomplished artists and historians, Professor David C. Driskell, is honored to have received this wonderful gift," said Curlee R. Holton, Driskell Center interim executive director. "This gift illustrates in full measure the impact that the dedicated collector plays in ensuring the safe guarding of our cultural legacy."

David C. Driskell recalls meeting Mrs. Baccus in 2000 at an event held at the M. Hanks Gallery in Santa Monica, California.  Later that year, they met again at the High Museum of Art when the exhibition "Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection," organized by the University of Maryland, was on display at the High. They quickly became friends.

"We shared the same goal of promoting the art of African-American artists," said David C. Driskell about his friendship with Mrs. Baccus.  "Thanks to generous gifts like Sandra's, the center is better able to fully realize its goals."

She was also among the main supporters of the David C. Driskell Prize, established in 2005 at the High Museum of Art, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African-American art and art history. At the time of her passing, her board memberships were the Georgia Primary Bank, the HistoryMakers, the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Service, and the Community Relations Committee of the High Museum of Art.

The current Baccus's in-kind gift of more than $2.2 million ranks them among the top benefactors of the center to date.

About the Center
The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, honors the legacy of David C. Driskell, distinguished university professor emeritus of art, artist, art historian, collector and curator, by preserving the rich heritage of African-American visual art and culture. Established in 2001, the center is committed to preserving, documenting, and presenting African-American art, as well as replenishing and expanding the field of African-American art. The center's exhibition program is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council. For further information regarding the collection and future exhibitions, please call 301.314.2615, email, or visit

In photo: Neil Barclay, CEO National Black Arts Festival congratulates philanthropist Sandra Anderson Baccus in 2011 as she receives a heart-shaped diamond Chopard necklace from Cathie Wilson, General Manager, Saks Fifth Avenue. Photo by Ninh T. Chau via

Source: Press release

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jessye Norman Honored with Ambassador of the Arts Award in Washington, DC

Attorney General Eric Holder and wife Dr. Sharon Malone with guest of honor Jessye Norman (center).

Famed opera singer feted during Inauguration weekend by the Washington Performing Arts Society

WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, January 19, 2013 at the Top of the Hay in the Hay-Adams Hotel, Jessye Norman was presented with the Ambassador of the Arts Award by Attorney General Eric Holder on behalf of Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), an arts organization that provides arts presentations and education in the Washington, DC region.

Overlooking expansive views of the White House and Washington Monument, guests were treated to entertainment by Tony-Award winner Audra McDonald and members of WPAS’s Children of the Gospel Choir.   Prominent attendees among the 150 guests were White House Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch, BET President and CEO Debra Lee, Ambassador Ramon Gil-Casares of Spain, Ambassador Michael Oren of Israel, and Ambassadors of Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany and Morrocco; Calvin Cafritz, Cora Masters Barry, President and CEO of Marriott International Arne Sorenson, Congressman John Dingell, and Broadway star and film director Will Swenson.

WPAS Board Chair Reginald Van Lee (center) with Debra Lee and Dr. Sharon Malone

Paxton Baker and Rachel Stuart Baker

Michael and Tysha Hyter, and James Nixon

WPAS's Children of the Gospel Choir perform.

Tony Award winning performer Audra McDonald

Jessye Norman supports many organizations, among them Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, Dance Theatre of Harlem, National Music Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, an after school arts program in Augusta, Georgia.

Learn more about WPAS at

Photos courtesy of Chris Burch

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Book Aims to ‘Redefine the World’ for Black Males

By Tokiwa T. Smith, San Francisco/Oakland Contributor

For several years, there has been much attention on the state of African American males in the country, as they are disproportionately represented by negative statistics in educational attainment, school suspensions, unemployment, violence, incarceration, and negative images in the media.

Mr. Brandon Frame, the Chief Visionary Officer of the website, The Black Man Can, aims to change these negative images through features such as ‘Positive Black Male News’ and ‘League of EXTRAordinary Black Men.’   A native of Hartford, Connecticut and a graduate of Morehouse College, he is also the Director of Business Partnerships and Program Development at High School Inc. and the co-owner of Final Frames, a line of men’s neckwear.

The Black Man Can’s newest project is Define Yourself Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men, a book created to motivate, enlighten, inspire, and to get young black men to think about their future.  The book includes inspirational quotes and bios from African American men who can serve as positive role models for its readers.   It also includes Essential Questions for the readers to plan their future in areas such as Education, Career Advice, and Leadership and Relationships.  This journal gives the readers plenty of space to write down their thoughts and is a great guide towards self-discovery for any young man that reads it. “The more you become aware of yourself, the easier it becomes to have a meaningful impact on others,” says Brandon Frame.

Read on to learn more about Brandon’s goals for his new journal and how it aims to counteract negative images of black males in the media.

With the current focus on African American males and their achievement, how does your new book and website counteract negative images of black males in the media?

Define Yourself Redefine the World and counteract the negative images by providing the positive contradiction to the prevailing Black Male image of today.  The journal makes a point to assist in turning statistics into solutions.  The concept of manhood is the call of a lifetime and through self-reflections via writing in the journal, Black males will be able to learn more about who they are, build their critical consciousness and show up in the most vibrant and authentic way possible. is the #1 source for positive images and narratives of Black Men and Boys.  The different sections all contribute to actively promoting a positive Black Male image.  I receive lots of emails from people thanking me for providing them with a media outlet in which they can see black men making a difference in the community and bringing out the best in boys.

Your book has quotes from a diverse set of African American men. Why was it important for you to include these quotes as well as the bios of these men?

It was important to include these quotes because all of the men I quoted are featured in the League of EXTRAordinary Black Men section on It is because they allowed me the honor and privilege to feature them that the journal exists.  Now, their words can transcend time and empower black boys and men everywhere.

What do you hope the young men will walk away with after reading the book?

It’s all in the title. After reading and writing in the journal I expect a young man to have defined himself so he can go out and redefine the world.  He will see all of his potential and go forth to make measurable contributions to society.

Visit the website at and for more information on the book, visit here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Survey Reveals Top Charity Influencer is The First Lady, Not a Celebrity

Americans are twelve times more likely to donate to a charity endorsed by Michelle Obama than by a famous actor or singer

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, DC –, the fastest growing crowdfunding platform for causes, has announced survey findings that Americans are 12 times more likely to donate to First Lady Michelle Obama’s charities over causes endorsed by major entertainment celebrities.  Of the 2,059 adults aged 18 and older surveyed online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Razoo in November 2012, 65% say that they would not donate to any celebrity’s causes.

For those who may be looking to the famous for charity choices, Michelle Obama ranked highest out of a given list of public figures as the celebrity’s cause to which Americans would most likely donate (12%).  Against superstar Alicia Keys, U.N. Ambassador Angelina Jolie and media mogul Oprah Winfrey – Mrs. Obama wields more influence to motivate charitable donations.

Americans are more likely to give to Mrs. Obama’s charities over causes endorsed by the following:

  • 3 times more likely than Oprah Winfrey (4%)
  • 4 times more likely than Taylor Swift (3%)
  • 6 times more likely than Angelina Jolie or Alicia Keys (both 2%)
  • 12 times more likely than Justin Bieber (1%)

“We applaud everyone, whether you’re famous or not, who stands up for the causes they care about,” said Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo. “One certainly doesn’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference. Anyone can make a difference by giving either their money, time, or influence.”

For more information on Razoo, go to; follow on Twitter at @Razoo, or like on Facebook at