Disney Pledges $1 Million to United Negro College Fund

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.19.10 PMThe Walt Disney Company recently announced a $1 million commitment to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

The UNCF, one of the leading minority scholarship organizations, will use the money to provide scholarships to outstanding African American students in underserved communities across the country, while expanding educational and career resources for them.  The UNCF traditionally serves low-income youth who are the first in their families to go to college, with more than 50 percent coming from families whose incomes are less than $30,000 per year.

The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars will be selected based on a competitive application process administered by UNCF. To be considered, applicants must be enrolled full-time at a four-year college or university, demonstrate financial need, have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and have an interest in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

The application process opens March 16 and closes May 15. Preference will be given to students attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to ensure 50% of each group are derived from these schools.

“UNCF works to ensure our future leaders have the opportunity to obtain the college degrees they need, and our nation needs them to have,” UNCF president and CEO Michael L. Lomax said. “The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars Program expands their academic training into practical experiences, to create a diverse pipeline of college educated professionals poised to assume fulfilling careers in the entertainment industry. The investment we are making in better futures for them now will pay dividends in years to come when they become our next generation of leaders.”

article by Joe Otterson via thewrap.com

Howard University To Pay Students Who Graduate On Time

Howard University

Seniors gearing up for graduation at Howard University can breathe a little easier now; the Mecca is implementing a new practice that will surely lower some of those Sallie Mae student loans.

Starting next year, the university will cover 50 percent of a student’s final semester if they graduate early or on time. Now there’s some incentive to fast-track your matriculation. Students pay about $11,900 per semester — that leaves students who graduate on time with an extra $6,000 floating around. And as Derek Kindle, Howard’s executive director of student financial services points out, the program actually saves students more money, since they won’t be spending dollars on additional semesters.

According to CNN Money, about 46 percent of Howard University students graduate in four years. The national average is 39 percent.

That means close to half of students graduating from the university will be able to participate in the program. As CNN points out, however, the famous school isn’t the first to offer such a program.

Howard’s tuition rebate program is “relatively uncommon,” said Robert Kelchen, an education professor at Seton Hall University.

At public colleges in Texas, students earn a $1,000 rebate if they finish on time. And some schools, such as Eastern Illinois University, offer a guaranteed tuition rate for four years. After that, the cost for any additional credits would go up.

But Howard is adding some icing to the cake — the university will freeze tuition next year, sticking with the $22,737 education price tag.

article by Christina Coleman via theurbandaily.com

Usher, Missy Elliott Join the Essence Festival Lineup for July 2015

usher, missy elliott,

Usher and Missy Elliott were both added to the Essence Festival lineup. This comes after a first round of entertainers were chosen, according to the Singersroom.

Elliott and Usher are joining R&B/soul artists Mary J. Blige, Erykah BaduFloetryIndia.ArieElle Varner, Kelly Price, TweetTankRaheem DeVaughn and many more who have been confirmed for the 21st annual celebration.

Hip-hop artists Kendrick LamarCommonSlick Rick, Kool Moe DeeDoug E. Fresh and Mystikal were also confirmed.

Comedian Kevin Hart is headlining the “Now Playing” Concert on the first night. The festival will be on July 2 – July 5 in New Orleans, La.

“On the heels of the ESSENCE Festival’s epic 20th anniversary celebration in 2014, we’re delighted to announce a selection of the best artists and biggest names in entertainment who will take the stage at the Superdome this summer,” Essence President Michelle Ebanks said in a press release.

“From first-time Festival performer Kendrick Lamar to return appearances from fan favorites like Kevin Hart, Common and Mary J. Blige, the ESSENCE Festival offers the definitive entertainment and cultural experience for our passionate ESSENCE community every Fourth of July weekend,” she added.

article via eurweb.com

Raheem DeVaughn Turns Domestic Violence Survivors Into “Queens For A Day”

Originally posted on BlackDoctor:

rdBlack women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence/intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) than White women. And while Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to Black Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35.

Many of these women’s stories go unnoticed or live in shame, but award-winning R&B singer and activist Raheem DeVaughn decided to do something about it.

Raheem DeVaughn held a “Queen For A Day” event through his Love Life foundation for a room full of women–strong, determined women who survived domestic abuse and now share their stories of triumph.

MUST READ: The NFL Finally Decides To Do Something About Domestic Violence

DeVaughn partnered with Lyn Twyman of the L.A.S.E.R.S. domestic violence awareness foundation to…

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“True Blood”‘s Rutina Wesley Books Lead Role in ABC’s Cop Drama Pilot “Broad Squad”

Rutina Wesley

This marks the second TV casting for Rutina Wesley during this pilot season – the first, although not for a pilot, was announced a month ago, when she joined the cast of NBC’s “Hannibal” as a pivotal character from Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon” novel, for the next season. She’ll play Reba McClane, a blind woman who enters into a relationship with the psychotic Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), and helps soothe his murderous urges – at least at first. “Hannibal” will return to NBC this summer.

The “True Blood” actress has now landed a lead role in ABC’s cop drama pilot titled “Broad Squad,” which, inspired by real-life stories, follows the first 4 women to graduate from Boston’s Police Academy in 1978.

Wesley will play Joanne, a lesbian, described as strong, strict and reserved, who prefers to keep her personal life private, in large part because she’s gay. She’s also a hard worker – a character trait that’s influenced by the fact that she’s black and a woman, and believes that, given her skin color and gender, she will have to work 10 times as hard as her fellow squad members, in order to be recognized and move up the proverbial ladder.

Wesley joins a cast that also includes Charlotte Spencer and Cody Horn, who play 2 of the other “broads” in the “Squad.”

“Broad Squad” will be written by Bess Wohl (“CSI: NY”) which will be executive produced by Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein and Aaron Kaplan.  Coky Geirdroyc will direct the pilot.

Wesley will next be seen on the big screen, alongside Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan and Morris Chestnut in Sony/Screen Gems thriller titled “The Perfect Guy,” which follows a woman (Lathan) who meets an IT expert (Ealy), who seems to be the perfect guy. But after a sexually-charged courtship, she sees a violent side of him and dissolves the budding relationship. In a jealous rage and fueled by insane revenge, he disrupts her life.

article by Tambay A. Obenson via blogs.indiewire.com

Obama Heads To Selma For 50th Anniversary Of Voting Rights March on Saturday

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Fifty years ago, several hundred peaceful protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery to underscore the need for Black voting rights.

Demonstrators were brutalized and beaten by White police officers in what has become known as “Bloody Sunday.” This weekend, scores of civil rights leaders, clergy, elected officials, and peaceful demonstrators will converge on Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the march that helped spark a movement.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will be there just as he was on March 7, 1965, when he was hit on the head, left bloody and unconscious. He will be accompanied Saturday by President Barack Obama. A second march, organized by local leaders, is scheduled for Sunday.

The event comes at a time when voting rights are once again under attack in the U.S., especially after the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. It also comes at a time when protesters have launched an online petition to change the name of the historic bridge, which was named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a Confederate general and U.S. senator who lived in Selma after the Civil War.

“Fifty years ago this week, brave activists embarked upon the Selma to Montgomery March to bring attention to the fight for voting rights,” NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said.

The Selma to Montgomery Jubilee is more than a commemorative occasion—ever present in our minds is that voting rights continue to be impinged,” Brooks continued. “And this new assault on voting rights is being ignored by the same lawmakers who are coming to Selma to celebrate the jubilee. Selma is now—and the NAACP will not rest until every American has unfettered access to the ballot box. I stand with NAACP state leadership in demanding that our most vulnerable voters be protected by the law—in every state.”

Lewis said in an interview last month with USA Today that he and U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Martha Roby (R-Ala) have assembled what will be the largest congressional delegation participating in the pilgrimage to Selma in its 17-year history. The delegation will participate in a series of civil rights-related events in Birmingham on March 6, Selma and Marion on March 7, and Montgomery on March 8, the report says.

“When President (Bill) Clinton came (in 2000) we had more than 20,000 people,” Lewis said, according to USA Today. “With President Obama, it could be many more. It’s going to be wonderful.”

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Mike Epps and Nia Long to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot “Uncle Buck”

mikeepps

Mike Epps has been cast in the title role in Uncle Buck, ABC‘s single-camera comedy pilot based on the classic John Hughes film starring John Candy. Also cast in the project, from Universal TV and Will Packer Prods., is Nia Long.

nialongLike the movie, the series adaptation, written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, centers on Buck Russell (Epps), a childish man who learns how to be an adult by taking care of his brother Will’s kids in a very childish way. Long will play Will’s strong-willed and smart wife.

The new Uncle Buck TV remake (there was a short-lived 1990s Uncle Buck CBS series starring Kevin Meaney) had been conceived with Buck as African American, giving the format a new twist. Packer is known for producing hit feature comedy franchises with Black leads, like Ride Along and Think Like A Man. On ABC, Uncle Buck would be a suitable companion for another single-camera African American family comedy, Black-ish.

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

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