Category: Fellowships/Programs

Music Legend Sonny Rollins Endows “Sonny Scholars” Jazz Ensemble at Oberlin College

Jazz Master Sonny Rollins (photo via knkx.org)

via jbhe.com

Sonny Rollins, the legendary jazz saxophonist, has made a generous contribution to establish the Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

Beginning in spring 2018, Oberlin College jazz studies majors may audition for the Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble. Each student’s candidacy will be considered on the basis of four criteria: an audition for Oberlin’s jazz faculty, evidence of academic achievement, thoughtful response to a question about the place of jazz in the world, and service to humanity.

“Sonny Scholars” must dedicate at least two semesters to performing in the ensemble. They must also complete a winter-term project that embodies Rollins’ spirit of giving.

In explaining the rationale for this aspect of the program, Sonny Rollins said “people are hungry for a reason to live and to be happy. We’re asking these young musicians to look at the big picture, to tap into the universal power of a higher spirit, so they can give people what they need. Giving back to others teaches inner peace and inner spirituality. Everything is going to be open for them if they devote themselves in this way.”

Rollins gift to Oberlin grew out of his friendship with author and musician James McBride, a 1979 graduate of Oberlin College. The gift was made in recognition of the institution’s long legacy of access and social justice advocacy. In particular, Rollins was moved by Oberlin’s place as the first institution of higher learning to adopt a policy to admit students of color and the first to confer degrees to women, and by the contributions of alumni such as Will Marion Cook, a black violinist and composer who graduated in 1888 and who went on to become an important teacher and mentor to Duke Ellington.

Andrea Kalyn, dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, stated “that the legendary Sonny Rollins — an artist of truly extraordinary accomplishment, soulfulness, and character — would entrust Oberlin to steward his legacy is the highest honor, and deeply humbling.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2017/11/music-legend-sonny-rollins-endows-a-jazz-ensemble-at-oberlin-college/

NYC Men Teach Initiative Recruits Black Men As Public School Teachers

(Image: iStock/asiseeit via blackenterprise.com)

by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

Efforts are underway to recruit more teachers of color, and one such successful initiative is in New York. NYC Men Teach was started two years ago under Mayor Bill de Blasio; the program is part of the mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

NYC Men Teach, a three-year pipeline program, has a goal of recruiting 1,000 men of color into the teaching profession. Two years into the program, it has already recruited 900 men.

Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, under whose purview YMI falls, said that the program is a priority because of the administration’s commitment to equity. “This is a critically important issue,” Buery stated. “We’re in a crisis in terms of diversity in our nation’s teaching force. The real question is, why aren’t men of color entering the teaching profession and why aren’t they staying there?”

In New York, students of color make up a majority of the city’s public school students; more than 43% are boys of color. Yet only 8.3% of its teachers are black, Latino, or Asian men.

This matters because research shows that, especially for low-income black boys, having a black teacher significantly lowers—by 39%—the likelihood that they will drop out of high school. Interestingly, other studies have suggested all students prefer teachers of color.

It’s also worrisome, Buery pointed out, that 85% of white students in New York State attend a school without a black or Latino principal or assistant principal. Those kids are going to school seeing “no model of black or Latino leadership or authority in the building,” Buery said.

But to get them in the building requires getting over hurdles that can be barriers to entering the profession. “In talking to the teachers, we’ve learned that many men of color have not had positive school experiences themselves,” Buery told me. “That can have an impact on their willingness to pursue a teaching career.”

Anecdotally, Buery is getting positive feedback about NYC Men Teach. The recruited men are being retained and finding support. It’s too early for quantitative results—and some results won’t be apparent for years, not until today’s students are faring well in college.

But in the end, it’s not just about academics, Buery said. “It’s about citizenship and leadership. It’s about having people see a vision of the world where people of all races lead and guide. We need our schools to look like the world we’re trying to create.”

For more about NYC Men Teach, visit its website.

To read full article, go to: http://www.blackenterprise.com/education/3-year-pipeline-initiative-recruits-men-color-teaching-profession/

Rap Video on Instagram by #blackgirlsrock in NY Celebrates STEM and Education

For anyone who needs a pick-me-up, a hot beat and some fresh motivation today, watch the treat of a music video below!

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Rhiannon Giddens, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tyshawn Sorey and Jesmyn Ward Receive 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Grants

2017 MacArthur Fellowship Recipients Dawoud Bey, Rhiannon Giddens, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tyshawn Sorey and Jesmyn Ward (Photo collage via blavity.com)

via blavity.com

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s fellowship, better known as the “genius” grant. 24 fellows were chosen, whose professions range immensely across the board. There are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers, and architects.

What they all have in common is that each of the recipients has been selected for having “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” — and each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation “as an investment in their potential,” paid out over five years with no strings attached. This year, there were six black recipients of the amazing award:

1. Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 34, painter living in Los Angeles

“Njideka Akunyili Crosby is visualizing the complexities of globalization and transnational identity in works that layer paint, photographic imagery, prints, and collage elements.”

2.  Dawoud Bey, 63, photographer and educator living in Chicago

“Dawoud Bey is using an expansive approach that creates new spaces of engagement within cultural institutions, making them more meaningful to and representative of the communities in which they are situated.” Continue reading “Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Rhiannon Giddens, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tyshawn Sorey and Jesmyn Ward Receive 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Grants”

Occidental College in Los Angeles to Create $40 Million Endowment for Barack Obama Scholars Program

Barack Obama in Occidental’s Clapp Library sometime between 1979 and 1981. (PHOTO: THOMAS GRUMMAN)

by Mike McPhate via nytimes.com

It has long been one of the lesser-known facts about the life of Barack Obama. For all the talk about the former president and his Ivy alma maters — Columbia University and Harvard Law School — he actually spent the first two years of his higher education life, from 1979 to 1981, attending Occidental College in Los Angeles.

For Occidental, or Oxy as it is known, Mr. Obama has long been its little-known claim to fame. That may be about to change for this 2,000-student private liberal arts college founded in 1887. Occidental is announcing on Wednesday the creation of the Barack Obama Scholars Program, a $40 million endowment intended to cover the $70,000 annual tab of tuition and board for 20 students a year.

It will be aimed at providing four-year scholarships to veterans, community college transfers and those who are the first in their family to go to college. “My years at Occidental College sparked my interest in social and political causes, and filled me with the idea that my voice could make a difference,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. He said he hoped this program would “train the next generation of leaders and active citizens, and fill them with the conviction that they too can change the world.”

The program has raised $7 million, enough to fund two scholarships, starting next fall. The goal is to create a big enough endowment to fund not only scholarships but post-graduation fellowships for students who head into low-paying fields. Mr. Obama, who has been doing quite well financially since leaving the White House, has not yet written a check, but the president of Occidental, Jonathan Veitch, said the former president was high on his list of asks. “I am going all over the world asking people for money,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I ask him?”

“There are not many liberal arts colleges that educate a president,” Mr. Veitch said. “We are very proud of the fact and very proud of him. We thought this would be a great way to honor him and have our students emulate the values he represents.”

Source: California Today: L.A. College Teams Up With a Former Student, Barack Obama – NYTimes.com

All Star Code Founder Christina Lewis Halpern Exposes Boys of Color to STEM Opportunities

All Star Code founder Christina Lewis Halpern with All Star students (photo via allstarcode.org)

via blavity.com

“We all want and need a seat at the table, and then we want to run the table and then we want to have our own table. Coding is the ticket to that,” says Christina Lewis Halpern, the founder of All Star Code, a six-week initiative for high school boys of color to discover innovative career opportunities through a computer science based curriculum.

According to Atlanta Black Star, the New York activist is the daughter of the late Reginald F. Lewis, a Wall Street attorney who became the first African-American to build a billion-dollar company. Her father, a Harvard graduate before dying of brain cancer in 1993, operated TLC Beatrice International, a grocery, beverage and household products distributor.

The month before he passed, Lewis named Halpern, who was only 12-years-old at the time, to the board of his foundation. “My family foundation is committed to social justice and believes in the power of entrepreneurship and investing in our community,” Halpern said. Two decades into the future and Halpern, a professional business journalist, created the All Star Code program “to help the next generation of youth catch the next wave of opportunity.”

So how did she do it? “We seeded this initiative and provided an anchor grant. About 20 percent of the money invested in All Star Code last year was from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, or Lewis family personal funds,” Halpern explained. Other donors included Bond Collective, Cisco, Comcast, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase, MLB Advanced Media and Yahoo!. These corporations in addition to operational support gave $350,000 in funding.

Because of the lack of opportunities in STEM for men and women of color, Halpern’s All Star Code is designed to change that. The nonprofit raised more than $740,000 in 2016 at the annual All Star Code fundraiser in the Hamptons. Due to the generous contributions of the donors, the organization, which started in New York City and has stretched to Pittsburgh, has expanded and continues to grow rapidly.

The number of boys that participated in the Summer initiative skyrocketed from only 20 in 2014 to 160 this year. Halpern says that their goal is to have at least 1,000 high schoolers in 2020.

To read full article, go to: Daughter Of The First African-American To Build A Billion-Dollar Company Exposes Boys Of Color To STEM Opportunities | BLAVITY

Mélisande Short-Colomb’s Ancestors Were Enslaved by Georgetown University. Now, at 63, She’s Enrolled There as a Freshman

Mélisande Short-Colomb (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

byvia washingtonpost.com

On the first day of class at Georgetown University, the 63-year-old freshman left her dorm room in Copley Hall, carrying highlighters and a legal pad. Walking down the hallway, her gray-blond dreadlocks swinging, her heavy bracelets chiming, Mélisande Short-Colomb gave her schedule a quick look. Today she’d attend the “Problem of God,” a course on the existence and nature of God. And tomorrow would bring the class she’d been waiting for: African American Studies.

It was a subject with which Short-Colomb had recently become more acquainted. The history of her own family was the history of African Americans, and, she has learned, proof of how deeply the roots of slavery go in America’s most prominent institutions and universities. At a time when the nation is undergoing a tumultuous reckoning with the darkest chapter of its past, when protests have turned deadly in Charlottesville and college students across the country are demanding the renaming of buildings linked to slavery, Short-Colomb was quietly coming to terms with her own place in that sweep of history.

Her ancestors were among the 272 slaves Georgetown priests had sold in 1838 to help pay off the university’s debts during a financially turbulent time. Now it was nearly two centuries later, the truth of what happened was finally out in the open and here she was, a member of her family, again in Washington but under very different circumstances. The university has granted legacy status to the slaves’ descendants as part of an effort to atone for the sale of their ancestors. But only two have taken up the offer so far. One is 20 years old. The other is Mélisande Short-Colomb.

To read full article, go to: Her ancestors were Georgetown’s slaves. Now, at age 63, she’s enrolled there — as a college freshman – The Washington Post