Stevie Wonder to be Honored by ASCAP with Inaugural “Key of Life” Award at “I Create Music” Expo in Los Angeles

Stevie Wonder (photo via hookedoneverything.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, announced today that it will honor legendary musician Stevie Wonder with its inaugural “Key of Life” Award at this year’s ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO in Los Angeles, April 13 – 15, where Wonder will also appear in a keynote “I Create Music” session.

The “Key of Life” Award celebrates Wonder’s incomparable, peerless contributions to the world through his music. In the future, the honor will be presented to songwriters and composers who best exemplify his legacy through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication and unparalleled heart.

“Stevie has deservedly been given every award imaginable,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “Yet he continues to innovate and elevate the art of songwriting to the point where no honor can truly capture what he means to his creative kin at ASCAP, and to songwriters and music lovers worldwide. This award has been created as a way to honor his singularly inspirational songwriting career and to recognize his spirit in generations to come.”

The 25-time Grammy winner has been an ASCAP member for the better part of five decades, amassing more than 60 Billboard Hot 100 hits during his time with the performing rights organization, including eternal anthems like “Superstition,” “My Cherie Amour,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Wonder received ASCAP’s highest individual prize, the Founders Award, in 1984, and was honored during the organization’s 100th birthday celebrations with a once-in-a-lifetime Centennial Award.

Now in its 12th year, ASCAP’s “I Create Music” EXPO is the United States’ largest conference for songwriters, composers, artists and producers in all music genres. Last year’s conference was the most well attended in EXPO history, attracting 3,000 participants from up-and-comers to GRAMMY winners.

For more information on the ASCAP EXPO and to register for this year’s conference, visit: https://www.ascap.com/expo.

“Grey’s Anatomy” Creator Shonda Rhimes Offers “MasterClass” on Writing for Television

Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes (photo via black enterprise.com)

article by Carolyn M. Brown via blackenterprise.com

Shonda Rhimes is best known as the creator, head writer, and executive producer of three hit ABC television series—Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder—under her ShondaLand production company banner.

The queen of Thursday night and creative force behind some of television’s most popular shows will offer a writing for television course on the MasterClass online platform. For the first time, Rhimes will give students an intimate, instructional look into how to write a script, pitch a pilot, and run a writer’s room. The class will include over five hours of lessons, along with exclusive access to the Grey’s Anatomy story bible, scripts of Scandal, and much more.  Pre-enrollment is now available at the MasterClass website.  You can also view the MasterClass’ official trailer.

Rhimes on Being an “F.O.D.”

Rhimes made history as the first African American woman to create and executively produce a top-10 network series, with the hit primetime show Grey’s Anatomy. The TV powerhouse also is one of ABC’s top-earning executive producers.

In the past, Rimes has mentioned that she has had to work four times as hard as her peers, while also addressing the pressure of being an African American, female, showrunner—or what she calls an “F.O.D.”: First Only Different. In her book, The Year of Yes, Rhimes writes, “When you are an F.O.D., you are saddled with that burden of extra responsibility, whether you want it or not.” She felt the pressure when she dodged reporters’ questions about diversity or race. “You can’t be raised black in America and not know,” she writes. “This wasn’t just my shot. It was ours.”

To read more, go to: Shonda Rhimes Joins MasterClass to Teach Writing for Television

1st Ever Detroit Startup Week Helps Black Business Entrepreneurs and Hopefuls

The first annual Detroit Startup Week, powered by Chase, kicked off in May featuring over 100 events with some 2,500 participants attending free activities over the course of five days. Detroit’s inaugural Startup Week is expected to be largest first-year event in the global brand’s six-year history.

Ten learning tracks will be offered to entrepreneurs at all levels: technology, entrepreneurship 101, mobility, music, food-preneurship, art+design, civic innovation, neighborhood collaboration, social entrepreneurship, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Our city is unlike any other, with both ingenuity and a welcoming spirit, brilliance and grit, and opportunities abound. Detroit Startup Week is designed to glue together those opportunities, celebrate what’s already working, and lay the groundwork for what’s to come,” notes Kyle Bazzy, lead organizer.

“Entrepreneurs are playing an invaluable role in Detroit’s comeback,” adds Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business Banking, whose firm has committed $100 million over five years to Detroit’s economic recovery. “Detroit Startup Week is a great opportunity to recognize small businesses’ importance to the city’s recovery and to ensure they gain access to the necessary resources to support and grow.”

To read more, go to: http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/first-ever-detroit-startup-week-helps-black-business-hopefuls/

World Economic Forum Names Top 5 African Female Innovators

Three of WEF's top five African women innovators (photo via VenturesAfrica.com)

Three of WEF’s top five African women innovators (photo via VenturesAfrica.com)

article by Fumnanya Agbugah via VenturesAfrica.com

On Friday, the World Economic Forum on Africa presented the five winners of the conference’s challenge to find Africa’s top women innovators. The winners, whose innovations were from the areas including mobile health insurance, solar powered vending carts, bio medical materials and IT training as well as food processing, hail from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Currently, Africa has the youngest population in the world and this is expected to double by 2045. In view of this, several global leaders have attested to the fact that Africa’s future lies in the hands of its youthful population. The region’s start-up businesses are gaining confidence and scale with a growing number of innovations achieving recognition beyond the region’s borders. However, a lot still has to be done in order to create an enabling environment that will allow women to flourish. Due to this set back, the World Economic Forum decided to run this competition to find Africa’s top female innovators especially as the potential of women entrepreneurs is far from optimum.

“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs in Kigali this week,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum.

Here are Africa’s top female innovators, selected based on the criteria for the WEF Africa challenge. This required entrant companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.

Natalie Bitature – Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda

Natalie Bitature - Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda

Musana Carts has used frugal innovation to develop environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. With a price point of $400, each Musana Cart saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.

Audrey Cheng – Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya

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Audrey Cheng established Moringa School to enable an entire generation gain the skills they need to compete in the digital economy. Two years on, graduates work in the top tech companies in the region, earning, on average, 350 percent more than before they completed the course.

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National Society of Black Engineers Receives $2 Million Grant from Northrop Grumman Foundation

(photo via nsbe.org)

(photo via nsbe.org)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinutcherson)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Northrop Grumman Foundation and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) have launched a three-year, $2-million program designed to expand the nation’s engineering workforce through a partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Northrop Grumman Corporation/NSBE Integrated Pipeline Program will provide 72 engineering students with $8,000 scholarship grants, internships with Northrop Grumman and year-round academic and professional development support.

The program’s three HBCU partners — Florida A&M University, Howard University and North Carolina A&T State University — will receive grants, technical assistance and a package of programs researched and managed by NSBE, to increase their already high capacity to recruit, retain and graduate engineers. NSBE is one of the largest student-governed professional societies based in the United States.

“Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to helping improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to ensure a future workforce that can protect our nation and maintain our global leadership,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman vice president, global corporate responsibility and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.  “Our partnership with NSBE will help us achieve that goal and develop the pipeline of diverse talent that is so important to our company and our society’s future.”

“We are delighted to receive this endorsement of our work from one of America’s most innovative companies,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “For years, we have spoken about the vital role that engineering diversity plays in our national economy and national security. Northrop Grumman’s investment in this program illustrates that they understand the need exists and are willing to do something about it. This fact is reflected not only in their longtime support of NSBE but also in the high ratings the company receives from our membership.”

The first cohort of 24 Northrop Grumman Corporation/NSBE scholars will be selected in December, and their participation in the Pipeline Program will be kicked off with a summit meeting in March 2017, during NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention in Kansas City, Mo. Summer internships for the first cohort will begin in May 2017.

Warner Bros. to Address Hollywood Diversity Issue with New Directors Workshop

warner bros WP Warner Brothers

(COURTESY OF WB)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Warner Bros. is continuing its efforts to tackle Hollywood’s diversity problem by launching an emerging film directors workshop, a talent incubator designed to give access and voice to new and underrepresented talent.  The studio will begin accepting applications next month and hopes to have the workshop up and running by the end of the third quarter.

The emerging film directors workshop will provide aspiring helmers from underrepresented communities with the opportunity to showcase their work to the film world after an intensive nine-month fellowship at Warner Bros. participants will be partnered with a Warner Bros. executive mentor as they work through the entire film production process, from pitch to final cut to premiere. The inaugural class will have five filmmakers.

“Our emerging film directors workshop continues Warner Bros.’ commitment to being the industry’s most talent-focused studio,” said Greg Silverman, Warner Bros.’ president of creative development and worldwide production. “There are so many bright, creative individuals at the threshold, who just need access to bring their vision and voice to a bigger audience. By providing that access, as well as a professional network and funding for a short film, Warner Bros. will play a small part in developing the next generation of great storytellers, whether they work in film or television, at our studio or elsewhere.”

Silverman came up with the plan and spearheaded the program, which has been in development for about two years.

Designed to re-create the features production process on a micro level, the workshop will have participants pitch, write or work with a screenwriter, and develop a script for a short film that’s three to 10 minutes long and budgeted at $100,000. Once they have a final screenplay, filmmakers will work with physical production to prep, create a budget, cast, shoot on the lot and edit with a full post-production process. Warner Bros. will cover all production costs and salary for filmmakers for the duration of the workshop.

The workshop will culminate in a film festival showcasing the directors’ work that will be held for agents, managers, producers and film executives from across the industry. More information on the program and the application process can be found here.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/warner-bros-film-directors-workshop-1201727406/

Walt Disney World Resorts, Essence and Steve Harvey Host 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy, Inspire 100 U.S. High School Students to “Dream Big”

Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2016 (photo by Gregg Newton)

Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2016 (photo by Gregg Newton)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Walt Disney World Resorts, in conjunction with Essence Magazine and comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted its 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, Florida.  After selecting from thousands of applications, Disney rewarded 100 U.S. high school students and their chaperones with a four-day seminar (March 3-6) geared towards inspiring, exposing and guiding them on how to achieve their dreams.

Disney Dreamers learning how to build rides in Imagineering workshop (photo courtesy of Disney)

Disney Dreamers in Imagineering workshop (photo courtesy of Disney)

After kicking off the long weekend leading a parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and being welcomed by Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, Walt Disney World Vice President and Executive Champion  Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and host Steve Harvey, the Dreamers are immersed in intensive sessions with motivational speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles and Capital Prep School Founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry to help them understand how to overcome obstacles, learn from failures and how to work hard to make their dreams become reality.

Additionally, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, intensive “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a myriad of career paths ranging from animation to imagineering to marine biology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.

2016 Disney Dreamer Deja Kirk (photo courtesy of Disney)

2016 Disney Dreamer Deja Kirk (photo courtesy of Disney)

Celebrities such as MC Lyte, Tamera Mowery, Loni Love, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Silento and film producer Will Packer also gave their personal time and shared their knowledge with the Dreamers on what it takes to gain and maintain an unconventional career.

“It has literally been so amazing,” said Dreamer Deja Kirk from Oklahoma City, who is interested in becoming an elasmobranchologist (a marine biologist who specializes in sharks and rays).  “I’m not one to be corny at all, I’m usually a very stoic person, so for me to be so excited about this is really huge.  Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just getting the general exposure to everything I feel like not only am I prepared to pursue my career, if I were to change it in any way I still have a really good foundation for whatever I want to do.”

This week, Good Black News will be bringing you even more stories from this unique event, including spotlights on several Dreamers, perspectives from their parents, as well as interviews with some of the dedicated professionals who gave their time and wisdom to DDA this year.

To learn more about Disney Dreamers Academy, go to: https://www.disneydreamersacademy.com or https://www.facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy/