Category: crowdfunding

Entrepreneur Noëlle Santos Brings Bookstore to the Bronx By Opening Crowdfunded The Lit. Bar

Noëlle Santos (photo via thelitbar.com)

There is an article by Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times this morning about inspiring Bronx native Noëlle Santos, who is opening The Lit. Bar, the Bronx’s first general bookstore since Barnes and Noble shuttered its store there in 2016.

According to the article, Santos, a self-described millennial Afro Latina who was working in human resources at the time, came across a petition on Facebook in 2014 to save the Bronx’ Barnes and Noble (which it managed to for two more years). The petition pointed out how alarming it was that the Bronx was getting more and more cellphone stores and chain restaurants but would be left without a place to buy novels or training manuals or SAT preparation guides.

Santos, who grew up and went to college and graduate school in the Bronx, suddenly felt a radical need to do change things.

“Up to that point I had measured my success by how far I could get away from the Bronx,’’ she is quoted as saying. “I was disappointed in myself for thinking about leaving a community in no better condition that I had found it,’’ she said.

“I had never been inside an independent book store before I decided to open one.”

Santos took that inspiration and worked to make her dream real by calling the American Booksellers Association to learn how to do just that. From ABA Santos learned about a course called “Owning a Bookstore” – which was held in Florida. Undeterred, Santos pooled her vacation days and sick days to fly there and take it. In that course, she learned how to calculate sales projections, negotiate a lease, think about layouts, floor plans, foot traffic, etc.

When Santos returned to New York, she furthered her education by volunteering at small bookstores around the city in exchange for mentorship, and entered a statewide competition for entrepreneurs with promising business plans. She won, and with that prize money, opened a pop-up bookstore in the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

To open an actual store, however, Santos needed much more capital, so she started a crowdfunding campaign and called it, “Let’s Bring a Goddamn Bookstore to the Bronx.’’ With it, she quickly raised $170,000.

To read more of Santos’ story, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/nyregion/bronx-bookstore.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage

To support The Lit. Bar in person, visit: 131 Alexander Avenue, Bronx, NY 10454

The Lit. Bar online: http://www.thelitbar.com

Kayla Michele and Chisa Egbelu, Founders of Crowdfunding Site PeduL, Work to Change How Students Pay for College

Afrotech.com‘s feature story on Kayla Michele and Chisa Egbelu, Founders of PeduL, a college scholarship crowdfunding platform, is not to be missed. The disparities in this nation’s higher education system have been in the headlines nonstop as of late, so reading about people who have been working to create and expand equity and opportunity for middle and lower-income students is a joy. So is learning of a new way to possibly support struggling college kids.

To quote from Afrotech.com:

Those systemic barriers can’t be magically waved away, but sites like PeduL help to promote equality in education. From helping students raise money to expanding to provide scholarships and different opportunities, PeduL is a useful tool that all college students should be aware of.

“Our government has slowly enabled college to shift from accessible, yet dispensable, commodity to a necessary luxury,” Michele said. “We’re creating the one-stop shop for scholarships to ensure that all students have equal access to quality education — regardless of the resources and networks available to them.”

To check out PeduL, click here.

To read the Afrotech.com story, click here.

Below is video of Kayla, a Rutgers graduate who was inspired in part to create PeduL from what she learned in her university’s Black and Latino tech program:

Planting Justice: Urban Farming Nonprofit in Oakland Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society

Anthony Forrest spent 25 years in prison before joining Planting Justice. “Working in the garden calms me down,” he said. (Credit: Jason Henry for The New York Times)

by Patricia Leigh Brown via nytimes.com

OAKLAND, Calif. — Even by the standards of the Bay Area, where sourcing local, organic chicken feed is seen as something of a political act, the spectacle of 30,000 fruit and nut trees being tended by formerly incarcerated orchardists is novel.

The green thumbs are there because of Planting Justice, a nine-year-old nonprofit that combines urban farming with environmental education and jobs for ex-offenders. From its headquarters in a pair of salvaged shipping containers on a dead-end street in East Oakland, Calif., Planting Justice has forged a trail in which revenue-generating businesses help subsidize the group’s core mission: hiring former inmates, many from nearby San Quentin State Prison, and giving them a “family sustaining” wage, along with health benefits and a month of paid leave annually. About half the total staff of 30 have served time in prison.

Two years ago, the group’s founders — Gavin Raders, 35, and Haleh Zandi, 34 — established an orchard on a weedy, vacant lot in this area of stubborn poverty, where the pruning is serenaded not by birds but droning trucks from the adjacent freeway. Planting Justice’s Rolling River Nursery now sells and ships some 1,100 varieties of potted trees and plants — among them, 65 different kinds of pomegranates, 60 varieties of figs, and loads of harder-to-find species such as jujubes (Chinese dates), Japanese ume plums and rue, an aromatic herb used in Ethiopian coffee. Signs warn visitors that they have entered a pesticide- and soda-free zone.

Though still young, the organic orchard generates roughly $250,000 of Planting Justice’s yearly $2 million operating budget. Another $250,000 comes from an edible landscaping business, in which roving horticulturalists hired by well-off clients install beehives, fruit trees, chicken coops, massive barrels for harvesting rain water and “laundry to landscaping” systems that funnel used washing machine water into the garden. The money helps subsidize pro bono edible landscapes in low-income neighborhoods.

In addition, there are the 2,000 or so “subscribers” who make monthly pledges to Planting Justice, which brings in another $450,000 annually, and grants from a variety of nonprofit organizations, among them the Kresge FreshLo program, the Thomas J. Long Foundation and Kaiser Permanente’s community benefit programs.

Planting Justice cultivates metaphors along with the food. “We’re composting and weeding the things in our lives we don’t need and fertilizing the parts of ourselves we do need,” Mr. Raders explained, sitting on a eucalyptus stump.

The guiding principle: kale, not jail.

Continue reading “Planting Justice: Urban Farming Nonprofit in Oakland Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter Society”

Waffle House Hero James Shaw, Jr. Has Scholarship Named in His Honor at His Alma Mater, Tennessee State University

James Shaw, Jr. with TSU President Glover; mother, Karen Shaw, and father, James Shaw, Sr. (photo via tntribune.com)

by Clare Bratten via tntribune.com

NASHVILLE, TN — Just in time for Mother’s Day week, James Shaw Jr. was honored in the presence of his parents Karen and James Sr. with a reception on Monday at Tennessee State University, his alma mater.

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover, who helped honor Shaw with a scholarship in his name, said in a statement. “The TSU family is extremely proud of alumnus James Shaw, Jr. for his bravery and courage. His actions saved the lives of many others.”

Karen Shaw’s reaction to the public accolades from politicians, community leaders and media at even the national level was one of “amazement.” 

“I spent some time just thinking about this in conversations with friends and my husband –  what it is about this terrible event that caused this reaction – being in the news nationally and even internationally? My son’s life was spared and for that I am completely grateful. I believe with all of the ugliness going on in the world people just needed something good to hang onto,” said Karen Shaw.

“Whether your beliefs are spiritually based – that James was covered and protected by God, which is my belief, or that he has a higher calling – this has really brought our community, the state of Tennessee, maybe even the U.S. or globally – where people gather around one message – helping others to survive.”

But as a mother to James, she also has concerns along with her appreciation of the outpouring of support. That outpouring has included $240,000 in donations to a GoFundMe campaign James started to help the families of the victims of the shooting, and appearances on national cable TV news. Shaw was honored at a Nashville Predators game, and, appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where he met his sports hero Dwyane Wade who donated $20,000 to the GoFundMe Campaign and received another $20,000 from the show’s sponsor Shutterfly. The Steve Harvey Show announced it planned to send him on a trip to Barbados.

In the world of politics, James Shaw Jr. was honored with a resolution at the state capitol by Tennessee legislators the day after the shooting calling him a hero “twice over” and Vice President Pence called him a ‘national hero.’

Still Karen Shaw shows the steady focus of a mother for the long term health and well being of her son after the trauma of the initial event. “We are very appreciative of the attention and the opportunities that have come to James and are being offered to James. But at the end of the day, what I want is for my son’s emotional and mental health to be the same as it was on April 21st [the day before the Waffle House shooting].”

“When I saw him on CNN, I could see that he was re-living the event in his mind as he was talking about it. It is just unfair a stranger can come and ruin the lives of so many people and damage the lives of others who just happen to have been there. Not just for James but for anyone who was present.”   

“We have some supports in place and we are doing our best to be sure he has the appropriate means and support. That’s the best Mother’s Day I can have – making sure he comes out of it as a healthy human being mentally and emotionally.”

To read more: http://tntribune.com/community/local/nashville/james-shaw-jr-hero-to-his-mother-his-alma-mater-his-community/

Taylor Richardson, 14, Raises $17,000 To Help 1,000 Girls See “A Wrinkle In Time”

Credit: Getty Images

by J’na Jefferson via vibe.com

Taylor Richardson, a 14-year-old aspiring astronaut from Jacksonville, Fla., exceeded her goal of raising money to send 1,000 girls to see the upcoming film A Wrinkle In Time. As of press time, her GoFundMe page for the goal has raised $17,455 of her $15,000 goal.

“This campaign is so very important to me because it will give me the opportunity to change not only girls perception of STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] and space exploration but boys as well,” explains Richardson in her original post about her goal.

A Wrinkle In Time stars Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, and is directed by Ava DuVernay. The story tells the tale of a young girl, her friend and her brother, who are transported through time and space to a new world to rescue the girl’s father, a scientist who is being held prisoner on another planet.

Richardson was recently named a member of Teen Vogue’s Class of 2017 21 under 21 for girls who are changing the world. The self-proclaimed “STEMinist” recently attended the publication’s first ever Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles, and also spoke on the panel of TEDxFSCJ [Florida State College at Jacksonville] Salon: Rediscovering Space. Last year, Richardson raised money to have 1,000 girls see the science film, Hidden Figures.

“This campaign [“Send 1,000 Girls To Wrinkle In Time”] means a lot to me because it shows a female protagonist in a science fiction film,” she wrote in her most recent update. “Girls will know that the possibility of going into space, exploring other planets, being rocket scientists, engineers, mathematicians and astronauts for them is not that it is limited but limitless!”

A Wrinkle in Time is based on the 1962 science fiction novel by Madeleine L’Engle.

Source: https://www.vibe.com/2018/02/a-wrinkle-in-time-gofundme/

Ex-NFL Player and Teacher Aaron Maybin Raises Money to Keep Freezing Baltimore Public School Students Warm

Former NFL linebacker-turned-educator Aaron Maybin has raised money and national awareness about Baltimore students in desperate need of heat and warm gear.

Last week, Maybin, who currently works as a teacher at Baltimore’s Matthew A. Henson Elementary School, shared on Twitter a video of young students complaining about the frigid conditions inside of their classroom. “I’m super, super cold,” said one boy. “Yesterday, I had frostbite,” revealed another little boy who appeared to be wearing a winter coat. “This is unacceptable,” wrote Maybin as the caption of the tweet, which went viral.

In another tweet, the former player and Baltimore native expressed outrage about the way taxpayer dollars are allocated and prioritized.

According to BaltimoreBrew.com, the temperature inside of his classroom hovered around 40 degrees. “How would your kids concentrate if you sent them to school in a refrigerator for eight hours? With failing lighting. Two classes in one room?” Maybin told the site. “We tried our best as educators. They tried their best as scholars. But they are dealing with a lot already. And now they are supposed to learn in the dark and in the cold.” He added that about half of the school has been without electricity since the beginning of the month. “I’m told it was due to nobody being there during the holidays to make sure the heat stayed on and pipes didn’t freeze.”

In addition to voicing concern about the horrid conditions, the 29-year-old artist and activist also encouraged his Twitter followers to donate to a GoFundMe campaign, titled We Need Heat In Our Public Schools, that aimed to raise $20,000 to purchase 600 space heaters and winter clothes for students.

“Baltimore City Public Schools are currently operating with an inadequate heating system,” reads the GoFundMe page. “Students are still required to attend classes that are freezing and expected to wear their coats to assist in keeping them warm. How can you teach a child in these conditions?”

On Thursday, Maybin tweeted that the page raised over $8,000 after he shared a link on Twitter. That same day, he shared a photo of himself picking up clothing and other donations for the children. By Monday afternoon, the page had raised more than $76,000.

In response to the crisis, the Baltimore City Public Schools system released a statement on Sunday assuring that the heating issues were addressed late last week when city schools were closed. The statement also promised that “every student will be in a safe, warm learning space, or the school won’t be open.”

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/aaron-maybin-freezing-students-baltimore/

Last of Philadelphia’s Black-Owned Bookstores Work to Make a Comeback

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Yvonne Blake took over Hakim’s Bookstore from her father Dawud Hakim after he passed away. It is thought to be the oldest surviving black-owned bookstore in the country. (Photo credit: GENEVA HEFFERNAN via philly.com)

by Valerie Russ @ValerieRussDN via philly.com

At Hakim’s Bookstore in West Philadelphia, there are signs of life for what is believed to be the oldest black-owned bookstore in the country. Only a couple of years ago, the store was near death’s door. There is fresh, yellow paint on the walls, brand-new bookshelves, and a newly renovated office space at the back of the store. “I finally got a website about three months ago,” said Yvonne Blake, daughter of Dawud Hakim, who founded the store in 1959.

Two years ago, the landmark at 210 S. 52nd St. was in danger of closing: Competition from internet booksellers and its limited hours — a family member was ill — led many people to falsely believe that Hakim’s was no longer in business, Blake, 66, said. But after attention from a column by Inquirer and Daily News writer Helen Ubiñas, Blake said, “I had a lot of people offer to help.”

She had already launched a GoFundMe campaign (more than $1,140 has been raised), but hearing from people all over the country gave her even more hope — and help. Joel Wilson, the owner of a computer-consulting firm who went to elementary school with her daughter, created the new website and offered a reorganization plan. And Ron Green, founder of a clothing company featuring T-shirts and other apparel aimed at young black activists, paid her a visit.

“I had never heard of Hakim’s,” said Green, CEO of What’s Up African? “I told her, you don’t have social media. You’re not online. You have to go to festivals and events. You have to be visible.” And he advised her: “How can we expect the next generation of readers and leaders to access this store if they don’t know you exist?’

Now, some of Green’s T-shirts, items that appeal to a younger generation, are available at the bookstore.

Yvonne Blake holds a photo of her father, Dawud Hakim, in front of the store in the 1970s. (Photo credit:  GENEVA HEFFERNAN via philly.com)

Troy D. Johnson, president and founder of African American Literature Book Club, said only Marcus Books in Oakland, Calif., founded in 1960, has been around as long as Hakim’s.

Johnson also said he was pleased to learn that Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill just opened Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books at 5445 Germantown Ave in Philadelphia.

Hill’s store, “along with the opening of at least seven new black-owned independents this year, is a very positive sign,” Johnson wrote in an email. This is the first year his website added more bookstores than it flagged as having closed. “As Amazon becomes a near-monopoly for online book sales and eBooks, they are certainly having an adverse impact on not just black independents, but all booksellers online and brick-and-mortar,” Johnson wrote.

Joshua Clark Davis, a professor of history at the University of Baltimore who has studied black-owned bookstores in the country, said that the “rise and fall of black radical politics has always had an impact on the popularity of black bookstores.”

The first big boom was during the height of the Black Power movement, from the late 1960s until the mid-’70s.  “Then came a big decline, but another upswing in black bookstores was when Afrocentrism and Malcolm X and black nationalism boom again in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” Davis wrote in an email.
Continue reading “Last of Philadelphia’s Black-Owned Bookstores Work to Make a Comeback”

Scholarship Fund Established for Children of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson

Sgt. La David Johnson (Photo: Department of Defense)

by David J. Neal via miamiherald.com

The death of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, FL, one of four soldiers killed Oct. 4 by ambush in Niger, wasn’t just another tragedy involving a constituent to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson. So, she and her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program decided to do something for Johnson’s survivors.

Wilson knew Johnson, his parents, his two kids and wife Myeshia Johnson, who is pregnant with their third child. Johnson hadn’t just gone through the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program Wilson founded in 1993, he’d been a leader among leaders. Johnson’s cousins went into the program also, saying they were followed his example. Wilson couldn’t help but recognize the numeric parallel of Johnson being killed at 25 early in the program’s 25th school year. “He was a true role model,” Wilson said of the young man known as Wheelie King for his bicycle tricks before he enrolled in the Army.

While part of an advisory group in Niger, Johnson didn’t make it out of an attack the Department of Defense blames on The Islamic State. ISIS increasingly teams up with fellow extremist Islamic group Boko Haram, the terrorists in Wilson’s prime international cause, the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria. So, the 5,000 Role Models of Excllence program has established Role Model Army Sgt. La David Johnson Scholarship to ensure Johnson’s three children will have money for college.

A gofundme page has been set up for those who wish to contribute.

Source: Scholarship fund for kids of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in Niger | Miami Herald

Hurricane Maria: Here’s How to Help Victims in the Ravaged Caribbean

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/GETTY

by Jason Duaine Hahn via people.com

On early Wednesday, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the 100-mile-long island of Puerto Rico, causing such tremendous damage with its 155-mph winds that it knocked out power for all 3.5 million residents.

Maria killed at least nine people on Dominica before it moved to Puerto Rico, where it toppled trees, tore roofs from buildings, and damaged reservoirs and rivers that—along with heavy rain—have caused severe flooding.

Though the hurricane is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, Puerto Rico and Dominica will feel the effects of the storm for a long time to come. This comes just two weeks after ferocious Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the U.S. Virgin Islands and killed three people in Puerto Rico.

If you’d like to help out in helping victims of the storm, here some verified organizations assisting in the efforts.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico First Lady Beatriz Rosselló helped to establish Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help victims of Maria on the island, and donations can be sent by way of their website.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund

Much of Dominica is in need of aid after Maria destroyed much of the small island. Officials say 70 to 80 percent of the island’s structures sustained storm damage, whether it be ripped-off roofs or complete destruction. Donations can be sent to the JustGiving page of the organization here.

ConPRmetidos

The nonprofit is based in Puerto Rico, and is accepting donations that will be first be used for the immediate needs of food, shelter and water, and later transitioned to long-term recovery efforts. You can donate to the organization here.

UNICEF

The United Nations fund is currently leading efforts to help young victims of both Irma and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. “We put children first in emergencies, committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable kids in the world,” the organization says. You can donate to them through their website.

GoFundMe

The fundraising website has collected a running list of dozens of pages that are collecting funds for hurricane relief in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund

Started by a collection of Los Angeles-based groups connected to the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund will collect money until September 29, 2017, when they will pass the donations to nonprofits on the island.

To read more, go to: http://people.com/human-interest/hurricane-maria-heres-how-to-help-victims-in-the-ravaged-caribbean/

UPDATE: Hurricane Harvey Telethon on Sept. 12 to Include Beyoncé, Oprah, Kelly Rowland, Michael Strahan and More

Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, and Oprah Winfrey (photo via oprah.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, the telethon announced last Thursday on Instagram by Jamie Foxx will now also include appearances by Beyoncé, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Barbra Streisand, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey, among others, that on Sept. 12 will raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief.

“Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” will air live at 8 p.m. ET across ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and basic cable channel CMT. Country superstar George Strait will appear on the telecast in concert from the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas. The telecast will originate from the Universal Studios lot, Times Square and Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Money raised from the event will be distributed to a range of charities aiding recovery efforts in Houston, which was devastated last week by the storm and widespread flooding left in Harvey’s wake. The organizations include the United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Feeding Texas and the Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

The death toll from Harvey has hit 63, according to CBS News. Tens of thousands of people in the southeast Texas region have been displaced from homes that were damaged or destroyed after days of torrential rain and winds.

Other celebrities set to appear in live or taped segments include Karlie Kloss, Rob Lowe, Matthew McConaughey, Dennis Quaid, Adam Sandler, Ryan Seacrest, and Blake Shelton.

“Hand in Hand” was the brainchild of music manager and producer Scooter Braun’s SB Projects. Braun and Allison Kaye will serve as executive producers along with Den of Thieves’ Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager and Houston-based rapper Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman.