Jill Scott Releases New Poetic Card Collection with Hallmark’s Mahogany Brand

Jill Scott (photo via thegrio.com)

article by via thegrio.com

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand announced that it will be releasing the Jill Scott Collection, a line of new greeting cards with design, sounds and an editorial ‘voice’ from none other than Jill Scott herself.

“The Mahogany brand is genuine, progressive and optimistic – values that are important to me and reflected in my music and poetry, and now, through my card collection,” said Jill Scott. “I was inspired by highlights within my own life – love, marriage, motherhood – in the writing behind these cards, and I am excited to be involved in a project that will give others another way to express their love to the people that matter most to them.”

The collection features 20 cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as cards celebrating graduation, friendship, love and support.  “Ms. Scott is more than a singer, songwriter and actress – among other things, she is a busy mom and wife, like many Hallmark shoppers who cherish and celebrate the important relationships in their lives, and this card collection is a reflection of that,” said Philip Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards.

To read more, go to: Jill Scott releases new poetic card collection with Hallmark | theGrio

Godwin Gabriel Launches Moovn, a Ride-Sharing App to Compete with Uber, Lyft in U.S. and Abroad

Moovn creator and CEO Godwin Gabriel (photo via urbvangeekz.com)

article by Wilfred Ainsworth via urbangeekz.com

Ride-sharing technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry within the past decade with the biggest names being Uber and Lyft.  Now a new platform, led by an innovative chief executive, looks to stake a claim in the global marketplace.  Moovn is a ride-hailing app that is currently operating in 7 U.S. cities and has plans to rapidly expand in both western and emerging markets.

Founded by Tanzanian-born Godwin Gabriel, the mobile application also operates in 3 cities in Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.  In an interview with UrbanGeekz, Gabriel talks about teaching himself to code and developing the software to launch the platform. Still, he admits his beta launch was “amateurish at best” and states, “It wasn’t until we received investor backing that I was able to hire and collaborate with a team of seasoned developers to transform the platform into what we have today.”

When asked what his biggest challenges are, he says, “The market, for the most part, is currently being dominated by Uber and Lyft with these companies enjoying the benefits of having first mover advantage with the transportation technology space. However, we’re confident that the global market remains sizable enough for all of us to fit in and play.”

In fact, operating in Africa has been a smart business strategy, particularly with the rise smartphone usage across the continent. It is also a chance to do business in markets that hadn’t been explored by big name brands. “I believe Moovn is changing lives – particularly in Africa and developing markets,” he says. “For instance, drivers earn more on our platform, are reducing idle time and are able to provide and build their communities.”

Gabriel has an impressive track record climbing the ranks of corporate America. He also has an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Stepping out in faith as a tech entrepreneur, he quickly realized that he had to differentiate his brand to create a competitive transportation technology platform.

Moovn sets itself apart from most ride-sharing applications because it allows the rider to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance, instead of only being able to request one for immediate service. It also allows different vehicle options depending upon local modes of transportation, such as motorcycles and tricycles in developing economies. Other unique features include the movement of products and services from the marketplace to the consumer and the ability to enable businesses to keep track of their transport logistics.

To read full article, go to: African-American Launches Ride-Sharing App to Compete with Uber, Lyft – UrbanGeekz

Entrepreneurs Andrew Colom and David Alade Work to Rebuild Detroit One House at a Time

Andrew Colom (l) and David Alade (r) [photo via Century Partners]

article by Rochelle Riley via Essence.com

Andrew Colom, 33, and David Alade, 29, ditched jobs in real estate and banking to start Century Partners, a development firm aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods in the Motor City. The duo also uses the biz to help Detroit’s Black residents build wealth.

What inspired you both to move to Detroit?

Andrew Colom: About five years ago, when I was a real estate developer in Mississippi, I was raking leaves in front of a house before showing it. I was listening to an audio book, Arc of Justice, about Ossian Sweet (a Black Detroit home owner acquitted of murder after he defended his new home against a White mob in 1925). I was thinking about the stories of people who were struggling during the Great Migration, and it sort of inspired me. So I took a trip up here about four years ago and drove around and fell in love with it. I went to David and said, “Detroit is where it’s at. We’ve got to invest.” He said, “You’re crazy.”

David Alade: As a banker at Credit Suisse in New York City, I covered the Big Three auto companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler. All I ever heard was negative stuff about Detroit. Andrew’s talking about artists and potential, and all I’m hearing is crime and violence and abandonment and bankrupt auto companies. About two years ago, I started thinking that it wasn’t my dream to stay in banking. I’ve seen so much inequity in the world, and it’s all tied to wealth disparity. And whatever I wanted to do next, I knew it had to be somewhere in that area.

How does Century Partners tackle wealth disparity?

Colom: We buy historic, abandoned homes and let neighbors invest in the rehabilitation of those homes and recoup their investment from the fund consisting of rent paid by new neighbors. Investors can also sell their homes to Century for cash and inclusion in the investment pool.

Why was it important for Black residents to be involved financially in the rehabilitation process?

Colom: Detroit is a city where there was such high African-American ownership of homes. That got us thinking about bringing neighborhoods back.

Alade: Mrs. Cox, a Black woman who has lived here for 50 years, will talk to you for hours upon hours about the history of Detroit. Within the context of White flight from the neighborhoods, we have a chance to reinvigorate diversity. Ultimately, we can help bring wealth back to the communities that deserve it the most. People who stuck with Detroit through the depths of crisis are really looking forward to seeing how it looks on the other side when home values go up and neighborhoods are vibrant again and abandonment is gone.

Colom: We want to make the Atkinson Historic District, a historically Black neighborhood that has been dormant, active again. They used neighborhood associations to keep Blacks out. What if we use neighborhood associations to build Black wealth?

To read rest of article, go to: http://www.essence.com/2016/08/16/rebuilding-detroit-century-partners-andrew-colom-david-alade

Airbnb Addresses Discrimination Allegations, Establishes New Operation Policies

The Airbnb logo is displayed on a computer screen Aug. 3, 2016, in London.

The Airbnb logo is displayed on a computer screen Aug. 3, 2016, in London. (CARL COURT/GETTY IMAGES)

article by Breanna Edwards via theroot.com

Earlier this year, home-rental site Airbnb came under heavy scrutiny after black users of the platform took to social media to describe the discrimination they faced. Most noted that after renters saw their photos, which were included in the booking request, they were denied accommodations. The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack popped up on Twitter and went viral. The company needed to do some serious soul-searching.

“Our mission is to allow people to belong anywhere … and that this issue, the issue of racial bias [or] discrimination on the platform, was a big problem and antithetical to our actual mission,” Christopher Lehane, head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, told The Root. “We needed to address this, but to be able to address it, we needed to understand it, consult with the experts [and] listen to people who’ve been on the front line for decades to help us … understand what the challenge was and then, from there, what we can do.”

That aha moment led the company to tap powerhouses such as former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder, along with Laura W. Murphy—former director of the ACLU Legislative Office, who currently serves as a senior adviser to Airbnb—launched a review into the company’s practices with the intention of confronting and dealing with explicit and implicit discrimination and bias.

“What Airbnb made clear from the beginning is that they didn’t want to simply follow the law … but to do that which would exceed what was legally required,” Holder told The Root. “Change comes when you have tough, honest conversations, which I think Airbnb has done; when you have genuine self-reflection, which I think they have engaged in; and when you come up with proposals for bold action.”

Holder, along with civil rights attorney John Relman and Airbnb staffers, spoke with civil rights leaders for input and ideas about policy changes to address the problems and also to position the company to deal with any future grievances.

“The first time I spoke to the executives at Airbnb, there was a palpable demonstration to be willing to have these uncomfortable but absolutely necessary conversations about how these issues arose … and I thought they were interested in solving the problem and not just responding to public criticism,” Holder said.

On Thursday the company is releasing a report detailing its findings and how it plans to remedy the issues that the victims of discrimination have faced. In doing so, Airbnb acknowledges its own lack of workforce diversity, saying that it plans to create a “new comprehensive plan to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.” According to the report, some 9.64 percent of all its U.S.-based employees come from underrepresented communities. The company hopes to increase that number to 11 percent by the end of 2017.

Part of that plan includes implementing the “Diversity Rule,” which mandates that all vacant senior positions at the company include candidates from underrepresented backgrounds before any hiring is permitted to go forward.

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College Student Rodney Smith Jr. Starts Free Lawn Service for Elderly

Rodney Smith Jr. (l) and friends (photo by Mary Chastain via breitbart.com)

article via breitbart.com

An Alabama A&M student started a free lawn service for the elderly and to teach younger kids about community service.

Rodney Smith, Jr., now runs “Raising Men Lawn Care Service” with “about 20 young men ages 7-17.” They cut lawns for the elderly, disabled, and single mothers.

It all started when he witnessed an elderly man mowing his lawn.  “It looked like he was struggling,” he said. “I was watching him and it just hit me. I could do something about it.”

Smith asked if they knew anyone who needed their lawn mowed. Friends gave him names and he wanted to mow 40 lawns by winter. He found a lawnmower on Craigslist and received it for free when he told the owner why he needed it.

Smith will receive his bachelor’s degree in computer science in May. He hopes to return to school to earn a master’s in social work.  “I want to go back and get my master’s in social work,” he explained. “All of this has made me want to do social work. I love helping people.”

Source: College Student Starts Free Lawn Service for Elderly – Breitbart

24 Year-Old Stefun Darts Pays Off Grandparents Mortgage, Sends Them On Vacation to Bahamas

Stefun Darts and grandparents (photo via facebook)

Stefun Darts and grandparents (photo via facebook)

article by Shenequa Golding via vibe.com

Stefun Darts ate microwave pizza for months on end just to be able to give his grandparents the surprise of their lives. The full time college student and founder of the non-profit Caring Heart Youth presented his grandmother and grandfather with a check on March 20th for $15,000 to pay off their mortgage.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Marilyn Roberts, Stefun’s grandmother said. “To have a grandson like that is truly a blessing.”

For more than 20 years, the Roberts have being paying their mortgage on time every month and were well on their way to paying off their house. However, it would’ve taken another four years to do so, which is when Darts stepped in.

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Ann-Marie Campbell Named Head of Home Depot’s U.S. Stores

ann marie campbell home depot

Ann-Marie Campbell of Home Depot (photo via clutchmagonline.com)

article via clutchmagonline.com

She started out as a  cashier in 1985 but now Ann-Marie Campbell is at the top of the ladder at Home Depot. On Feb. 1, Campbell became the executive vice president of all of the company’s stores in the United States.

Campbell, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, graduated from Georgia State University and has a degree in philosophy and an MBA. As executive VP, Campbell will serve as president of the southern division, and is in charge of 2,000 stores and most of the company’s nearly 400,000 employees.

Campbell has received accolades from Black Enterprise and was named one of the 75 Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise, in 2010. She was also named one of  Atlanta’s 100 Top Black Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League in 2012 and in 2014 she was ranked #38 on Fortune‘s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Congrats to Campbell!