Screen Actors Guild Foundation to Honor Rashida Jones with 2017 Actors Inspiration Award for Philanthropy

Rashida Jones (photo via lifetailored.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Screen Actors Guild‘s SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced today that Emmy®-nominated actor Rashida Jones will receive its Actors Inspiration Award, an honor recognizing artists who give back to the community by championing worthy philanthropic causes which make a difference in the world. On Monday, June 12th, the award will be presented to Ms. Jones at the Foundation’s 8thAnnual Los Angeles Golf Classic, an event benefiting its assistance and children’s literacy programs.

Rashida Jones is an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, musician and activist. Her philanthropy includes work with the International Rescue Committee, traveling around the world as an advocate for the nonprofit which delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster; serving on the board and as a celebrity ambassador for Peace First, a youth organization that encourages the development of the world’s next generation of peacemakers; and supporting Oceana in its mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. In addition, she lends her voice to several other important charities including Amnesty International, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and The Trevor Project. Ms. Jones is also a supporter of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s online children’s literacy program Storyline Online (storylineonline.net) and will be filming a new video for Storyline Online following the Actors Inspiration Award ceremony. She will join the ranks of actors Viola Davis, Lily Tomlin and Chris Pine as Storyline Online advocates. Rashida Jones’ commitment to supporting vulnerable populations around the world, the environment, and children’s literacy embodies the spirit of the Actors Inspiration Award. Continue reading

Super Soaker Inventor Lonnie Johnson Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams

Discbots at FRC 2017 World Championships (photo via Facebook.com)

by Gabe Gutierrez via nbcnews.com

He created one of the most popular toys on the planet — but the inventor of the “Super Soaker” isn’t done making a splash. Lonnie Johnson is now focusing on new battery technology, but his most rewarding pursuit may be sharing his knowledge with a new generation of engineers.

The mild-mannered Johnson grew up in Mobile, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. “There was a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress,” he remembered. “When I was a child the ‘White-only’ bathrooms were still very prevalent.” He turned that fear into motivation — and a career as a NASA rocket scientist.

But his “a-ha” moment came unexpectedly while he was designing a water pump. He had built testing the pump out in a bathroom when he noticed something.”I thought to myself, ‘Geez, this would make a neat water gun!'” he said. “At that point I decided to put my engineering hat on and design a high performance water gun.” That idea would change his life.

He built the first prototype for what became “The Super Soaker.” The toy, which first went on sale in the early 1990’s, eventually topped $1 billion in sales. Johnson also went on to come up with the NERF gun and other toys. “It’s interesting that the Super Soaker gets so much attention,” he said. “I really like to think of myself as a serious engineer!”

Now, he’s getting serious about giving back. His nonprofit helps fund high school robotics teams. One of them — the DISCbots from the DeKalb International Student Center — is made up of refugees from nine countries. Kalombo Mukuca fled the Central African Republic a year ago. “Even babies — they kill them,” he said. “So we don’t want to get killed.” Emanuel Tezera came to the United States from Ethiopia. “I want to fix something in this world,” he said.

Incredibly, in just its second year, the DISCbots qualified for the world-wide robotics competition in Texas. For Johnson, this idea may be his most rewarding. “If I can have a positive impact,” he said, “clearly it’s something I want to do.”

Source: Super Soaker Inventor Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams – NBC News

Muslim Groups Raise Money for Portland Stabbing Heroes Ricky Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher

(photo via essence.com)

by Lilhe Z. Mtshali via essence.com

Nearly a week after a white supremacist killed two men who were trying to protect two teens, Muslim groups have banded together to raise over $500,000 to support the families of the brave men and one survivor.Army veteran Ricky Best, 53, and college graduate Taliesin Namkai-Meche were stabbed to death Friday by Jeremy Christian while protecting 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and her friend, who was wearing a hijab. Mangum told reporters that Christian was shouting at them to “go back to Saudi Arabia” and to “leave his country.” When Best, Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, stepped in to intervene, Christian stabbed all three men.

Fletcher was wounded but survived.

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The Muslim groups, CelebrateMercy and the Muslim Education Trust, created a LaunchGood online fundraising campaign on Saturday to raise money to help with funeral costs for Best and Namkai-Meche and Fletcher’s medical bills. The initial target of the campaign, which was dubbed Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes, was $60,000 and that was raised within five hours.

The total raised so far is over $516,000.

Christian appeared in court on Tuesday and faces charges including two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, Think Progress reports. Federal authorities are still deciding whether to prosecute him for hate crimes.

Source: Muslim Groups Raise Money For Portland Stabbing Victims | Essence.com

Nicki Minaj Funds Village in India to Create Access to Clean Water, Computer Center And More

CREDIT: Getty Images

by Latifah Muhammad via vibe.com

Nicki Minaj is quite the giver.  A week after paying off college loans and tuition for some of her fans, Minaj revealed more of her philanthropic efforts, via social media. Apparently, the Queens native has been quietly sending money to an impoverished village in India for the last couple of years. And her kindness is already paying off.

Thanks to the “No Frauds” rapper’s generosity, villagers now have access to a computer center, a reading program, two water wells, and more.“This is the kind of thing that makes me feel the most proud,” Minaj wrote on Instagram Saturday (May 20).“The money I’ve sent to this village in India for the last couple years [via my Pastor Lydia Sloley], has gotten them a computer center, a tailoring institute, a reading program and two water wells.“

“We complain about the most ridiculous little things when some [people] don’t even have clean water,” she continued. “Blessings to India. Our work is far from done.”Minaj added that she’ll be dropping more details about her charity work in the “near future,” in case fans want to get involved.

To read more, go to: Here’s Why Nicki Minaj Sends Money To A Village In India

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

Nicki Minaj Offers to Pay College Tuition, Students Loans for Fans

Nicki Minaj (photo via money.com)

by Jennifer Calfas via time.com

Award-winning rapper Nicki Minaj has offered to pay college tuition fees and student loans for several of her fans.

Minaj made the offer on Twitter under several conditions, asking for verification of 4.0 GPAs and confirmation from their schools.

Minaj responded to tweets from fans late Saturday evening and into the early morning. The series of tweets came after Minaj promoted a contest for a fan to join her at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas later this month.

The contest had fans tweeting at her with #NickiBBMAs, and eventually escalated into pleas to the multiplatinum artist for help with college tuition fees and student loans.

The requests went beyond tuition and student loans, with some fans asking for less than $1,000 for books and other supplies for school. Minaj appeared to grant those requests, asking for the contact and bank info for some of her fans.

By the end of the evening, Minaj said she would pay for about 30 fans’ college tuition, student loans or other education-related fees. The fees ranged from $500 to books to $6,000 for tuition.

She said she’d make these payments Sunday, “then see if I have any money left.” She also promised to respond to more requests from fans to help pay college fees in a month or two.

The rapper said she plans to help pay for more of her fans’ college fees in the future.

Source: Nicki Minaj Offers to Pay College Tuition for Fans | Money

Obamas Pledge $2 Million for Summer Jobs, Apprenticeships for Chicago Youth

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via chicagotribune.com)

by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz via chicagotribune.com

Barack and Michelle Obama are donating $2 million toward two Chicago programs that provide summer jobs and apprenticeships, setting the stage for the coming Obama Presidential Center‘s mission to help employ and train South Side youth.

One Summer Chicago, which is the city’s summer jobs program, and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, a collaboration of foundations and corporate funders focused on employment equity, each will receive $1 million from the Obamas. The former president made the donation announcement Wednesday when unveiling early design plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a complex with a museum, library and public park to be built over the next four years in South Shore’s Jackson Park.

While the center itself aims to boost employment in the community — through jobs, during construction, and once open, through youth-focused employment programming — “we can’t afford to wait four years to start working together,” Barack Obama told the audience at the South Shore Cultural Center.

He cited the city’s violence and the need to “reach young people who might be at risk if they don’t have something to do during the summers.””We want to make sure that some of those young people can get trained so people don’t say, ‘Why didn’t you hire anybody from the neighborhood?’ And the contractor says, ‘We didn’t have anybody who was trained.’ Well … let’s start the pipeline now, so that we can start getting some of those folks trained,” Obama said, according to excerpts of his remarks provided by his office.

To read more, go to: Obamas pledge $2 million for summer jobs, apprenticeships for Chicago youth – Chicago Tribune