Category: Philanthropy

Barack Obama Receives RFK Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award in NYC

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy presents former President Barack Obama with the foundation’s Ripple of Hope Award at a ceremony, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, in New York. (Jason DeCrow/Associated Press)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Washington Post, Former President Barack Obama was honored with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award during the foundation’s gala in midtown Manhattan last evening.

“I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but I’ve been on this hope kick for a while now. Even ran a couple of campaigns on it. Thank you for officially validating my hope credentials,” Obama said during his acceptance speech.

Kerry Kennedy, RFK’s daughter and the organization’s president, presented Obama with the award, which celebrates leaders “who have demonstrated a commitment to social change.” Past recipients include Bono, George Clooney, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Robert De Niro.

“If we summon our best selves, we can inspire others to do the same. It’s easy to succumb to cynicism, the notion that hope is a fool’s game,” Obama said.

“When our leaders are content on making up whatever facts they want, a lot of people have begun to doubt the notion of common ground,” Obama said. “Bobby Kennedy’s life reminds us to reject such cynicism.”

Also honored with Ripple of Hope Awards this year were New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard. Speakers last night included actors Keegan-Michael Key, Alfre Woodard, Alec Baldwin, and journalist Tom Brokaw.

Shaq-A-Claus Surprises Students at Two Georgia Schools, Gives Out Backpacks – theGrio

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 12.50.40 PM

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Shaquille O’Neal’s one big ole’ holly, jolly good guy who spent the day doing good and giving out backpacks to kids at Eagle’s Landing Middle School in Henry County Georgia last week, WSBTV reports.

Shaq-A-Claus shared the love and surprised the school with an unplanned visit. He greeted kids in the National Junior Beta Club and congratulated them on a job well done, said school district spokesman JD Hardin.

Then he attended a pep rally and spoke to students about making good life choices, before handing out some backpacks, Hardin said.

Shaq took to Twitter to thank his partners for teaming up with him.

“Again.. I would like to Thank  all my partners for their support with Shaq A Claus 2018. This will be an awesome event for the kids Merry Christmas”

Read more via Shaq-A-Claus surprises students at two Georgia schools and gives out backpacks – theGrio

Keke Palmer, Questlove, Ciara and Others Encourage Students to Apply to College Via Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative’s “Laundry” Campaign

Keke Palmer, Nick Cannon, Questlove and Kelly Rowland urge students to pledge to apply to college via Reach Higher’s “Laundry” campaign (screenshot via youtube)

It’s November! And that means it’s National College Application Month. Celebrate by joining former first lady Michelle Obama alongside Keke Palmer, Ciara, Bailee Madison, Karlie Kloss, Nick Cannon, Questlove, Kelly Rowland and many more for the launch of Reach Higher’s all-new “Laundry” campaign!

In the hands of college admissions offices across the nation are applications for entrance into college. Why not be one of them? Students across the country are encouraged to pledge to apply. After all, Knowledge is Power and Reach Higher has rolled out a fun, encouraging campaign to get students to apply.

The celebration began Thursday, November 8th, as celebrities and other notable figures shared social media posts encouraging students across the country to pledge to apply to college. In exchange for making this commitment, celebrities are pledging to do students’ laundry for an entire semester. (In reality, the celebrities will not be able to do anyone’s laundry, but they do care a lot about students’ education.) Here’s what they have to say:

Reach Higher is an initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House, dedicated to inspiring every student in the U.S. to complete their education past high school by attending a professional training program, a community college or a traditional university.

This video is brought to you by Reach Higher’s student-facing campaign, Better Make Room, in partnership with Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment experiences and services for the world’s top talent, digital influencers, brands and avid fans.

You can take the pledge here: https://www.bettermakeroom.org/laundry/

For more info about Better Make Room : https://www.bettermakeroom.org

Be sure to follow Reach Higher’s Laundry campaign on social media:

@BetterMakeRoom: https://twitter.com/BetterMakeRoom/status/1060547502271676417

@BetterMakeRoom: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp7GFTunInI/

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Pledges $1 Million to Fund New School in the Bronx

Sean "Diddy" Combs
CREDIT: COURTESY OF COMBS ENTERPRISES

by Rachel Yang via Variety.com

Sean “Diddy” Combs announced Tuesday that he’s pledging $1 million to the Capital Preparatory Schools network to help provide children from underserved communities access to high-quality education. The school has been approved to expand to a third location in the New York City’s Bronx borough, and is set to open in September 2019.

Capital Prep Schools is a free, public charter school network, currently operating in Harlem and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The schools provide students in grades K-12 with a year-round, college preparatory education and has sent 100 percent of its low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006. Capital Prep Bronx will open to serve 160 students in 6th to 7th grade and will grow to serve 650 students in 6th to 11 grade during an initial five-year term.

“Mr. Combs’ commitment and leadership continue to inspire us. On behalf of the Capital Prep students, parents and teachers I want to express our sincerest gratitude for such a generous gift,” said Dr. Steve Perry, the founder of Capital Prep Schools. “Mr. Combs wanted to open schools to develop leaders. What he’s done with his investment is embody what we expect students to do, which is to invest their resources in our communities.”

Combs is a Harlem native and worked closely with Dr. Perry to expand the school to new locations as well as enlist a team of educators, parents, and business leaders to bring the idea to life. He is also a benefactor.

“I came from the same environment these kids live in every day,” Combs said. “I understand the importance of access to a great education, and the critical role it plays in a child’s future. Our school provides historically disadvantaged students with the college and career skills needed to become responsible and engaged citizens for social justice. We don’t just teach kids to read, write and compute, we teach them how to make a difference and nurture them to be future leaders of our generation.”

Read more: https://variety.com/2018/music/news/sean-diddy-combs-pledges-1-million-dollars-capital-prep-schools-1202990036/

Jussie Smollett Surprises Kayden Kinckle, a 6-Year-Old Double Amputee, With Accessible Van

by Latifah Muhammad via vibe.com

Kayden Kinckle is quite the inspiration.

The 6-year-old bilateral amputee, who has been motivating people to “do great things” with his daily Instagram videos and children’s books, got a huge surprise on Monday (Oct. 15) thanks to Jussie Smollett.

Smollett bought Kayden a brand new van complete with a wheelchair lift so that he can get to school without delay. The Empire star stepped in to help Kayden after the Englewood Public School District (where he attends school) failed to provide a proper bus to pick him up on the first day of school.

“He’s the only double amputee in Bergen County [New Jersey] where we live,” Kayden’s mom, Nicole Sessoms, told VIBE on Tuesday (Oct. 16). “They had a bus the prior two years and this year they forgot about him, [after] he switched to a new school.”

Before the van, Sessoms had been putting Kayden’s wheelchair in her small Nissan sedan to drive her son to another school where he was forced to wait for a standard school bus to pick him, once all the other students were dropped off. An aide was on hand to carry him on and off the bus, according to CBS New York. The school district blamed the mishap on a paperwork mix-up and promised to provide Kayden with a proper lift bus.

Smollett, who learned about Kayden’s story through social media, has become a family friend. He tries to spend time with Kayden whenever his schedule permits, Sessoms said.

When Smollett found out about the transportation issue, he reached out to Sessoms with a solution. “He saw what was happening with the bus and he called me and said ‘Kayden needs his own van!’”

The 35-year-old actor arranged to have the van delivered while Kayden and his family were hanging out with him in New York City.

To read more, go to: https://www.vibe.com/2018/10/jussie-smollett-kayden-kinckle-wheelchair-accessible-van/

Beyonce and Jay Z Help Raise Over $6 Million for Cancer Research at City Of Hope Charity Event

by Zoe Johnson via vibe.com

Apart from giving away more than $1 million dollars in scholarship funds to students across America, The Carters have been working overtime to raise more than $6 million dollars for the City Of Hope charity, Forbes reports.

The organization, which specializes in cancer treatment and research, held a gala earlier this week in Santa Monica, California. The power couple was in attendance to help raise money for the non-profit organization.

JAY-Z and Beyonce partnered with Warner/Chappell Publishing CEO and Chairman Jon Platt to combine their efforts to bring forth a well-rounded event with top-notch industry players. According to Forbes,  Dr. Dre, Tiffany Haddish, Usher, Quincy Jones, Wiz Khalifa, Timbaland, Kelly Rowland, and Rita Ora showed up in support of the event.

With more than 1,200 members of the entertainment industry present, Beyonce performed “Halo” and “Ave Maria” for the crowd.

The combined billionaires have greatly given back to their communities over their decades-long careers and constantly prove why they are considered the king and queen of hip-hop and evidently philanthropy.

If you would like to donate to City of Hope’s cancer research and treatment fund or find out more about the organization, click here.

Source: https://www.vibe.com/2018/10/beyonce-jay-z-city-of-hope-charity/

Chance The Rapper Donates $1 Million to Improve Chicago’s Mental Health Services

Chance The Rapper (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Associated Press, hip hop artist and philanthropist Chance the Rapper has announced he’s donating $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago.

Chance, a Chicago native, made the announcement Thursday during a summit for his nonprofit organization SocialWorks, saying those involved “want to change the way that mental health resources are being accessed.”

Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called “My State of Mind” to help connect people with treatment. Members of the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Chicago Department of Public Health were present for the announcement.

On Thursday, Chance also announced plans to give money to 20 additional Chicago Public Schools. His nonprofit has given millions to Chicago schools in recent years.

WNBA President Lisa Borders Leaves League to Become 1st CEO of Advocacy Group Time’s Up

Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders (photo via thegrio.com)

by Jay Scott Smith via thegrio.com

Lisa Borders has spent the last three seasons leading the WNBA but just announced on Tuesday that she is stepping down from her post to become the first president and CEO of the advocacy group Time’s Up.

The league, which is a subsidiary of the NBA, made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“It has been an honor and my absolute privilege leading the WNBA and being part of what it stands for,” Borders said in a joint statement with the NBA. “I want to thank [NBA Commissioner] Adam [Silver] for giving me the opportunity and support to help grow this league.

“I am most proud of the players for their amazing talents on the court and their dedication to making an impact in their communities. I look forward to continuing my support for the W in my new role with Time’s Up. I will always be the WNBA’s biggest advocate and fan.”

Time’s Up was formed in January after a series of sexual harassment allegations in the entertainment industry involving Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis CK, Matt Lauer, and others. The organization advocates for safer and more equitable work environments for women in Hollywood and in other industries.

The organization is also pushing for Hollywood to reach gender pay equity. Borders had overseen the WNBA since 2016 after serving as Coca-Cola’s Vice President of Global Community Affairs.

“We are extremely grateful for Lisa’s leadership and tireless commitment to the WNBA,” Silver said. “This is a natural transition for Lisa knowing what a champion she is for issues involving women’s empowerment and social justice and fortunately for us, she leaves the league with strong tail winds propelling it forward.”

Under Borders, the WNBA inked a new jersey deal with Nike, signed an agreement with Twitter to stream games on the social media platform and helped bring women to into the NBA Live video games for the first time through a deal with EA Sports.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will serve as interim WNBA president while the search for a new president begins.

TIME’S UP is actively working with various industries including advertising, entertainment, healthcare, press, tech, music, venture, and advocacy groups representing farmworkers, restaurant workers, domestic workers to ensure safer workplaces and economic parity for women.

Under Border’s stewardship, TIME’S UP will continue its focus on creating solutions that increase safety and equity at work for women of all kinds.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/10/03/wnba-president-lisa-borders-steps-down-to-become-first-times-up-ceo/

Denzel Washington Headlines Event in Pittsburgh Marking Renovation of August Wilson Home

Denzel Washington greets August Wilson’s daughter, Sakina Ansari-Wilson, at the groundblessing for August Wilson House. (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

by Wes Venteicher via triblive.com

Actor Denzel Washington headlined a rainy ceremony Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to mark the start of renovations at playwright August Wilson’s childhood home.

Washington led a $5 million fundraising effort to restore what is now called the August Wilson House. Renovations are expected to be completed in 2020, when the house is set to become a center for art and culture in the neighborhood.

“It is a privilege and an honor and a responsibility … and a joy to play a small part in keeping him alive,” Washington told an audience that huddled under umbrellas in the yard of the house at 1727 Bedford Ave.

Paul Ellis, Wilson’s nephew, led an effort to restore the nearly 200-year-old building to its 1950s-era look, matching how it appeared when Wilson lived there with his mother and five siblings. Wilson, who died in 2005, last visited the house in 1999.

Denzel Washington speaks at ground blessing of August Wilson House in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

When renovations are complete, the building — which is now on the National Register of Historic Places — will house displays and artifacts from Wilson’s life and plays. Wilson said he wanted the building to be “useful,” not only a museum, Ellis said. It will incorporate artist studios and will continue to host plays in its yard.

Duquesne University has launched a program to award fellowships to emerging writers who will live and study at Duquesne and spend time working at the House, Duquesne President Ken Gormley said.

Washington, who starred in a 2016 film production of Wilson’s play “Fences,” called Wilson one of the world’s great playwrights and talked about a familiar feeling in visiting the Hill District house. “I love August Wilson,” Washington said. “He touches my soul, our souls, in a way that no one else I know has. This is just like coming home.”

He identified some of the project’s big-name donors, noting Oprah Winfrey and actor Tyler Perry each gave $1 million and writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, director Spike Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson all contributed.

Washington is producing nine more of Wilson’s plays — the rest of the 10 plays in the playwright’s Century Cycle.

Duquesne University has already selected its first fellow, former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey. Trethewey read her poem “Pilgrimage” at the ceremony, which included short performances of Wilson’s work by student Jamaica Johnson and Pittsburgh actor Wali Jamal.

Read more: https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14120687-74/denzel-washington-headlines-event-marking-renovation-of-august-wilson-home

J. Cole’s Dreamville Foundation Raising Funds to Aid Hurricane Victims in Hometown of Fayetteville, NC

J. Cole (photo via billboard.com)

by Melanie Eversley via thegrio.com

Rapper/singer J. Cole is raising funds through his Dreamville Foundation to help people from his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., who have been affected by Hurricane Florence.

“The Dreamville Foundation is looking to lend a helping hand to the community, children, and families affected by Hurricane Florence,” the nonprofit which is based in Fayetteville, N.C., said on its webpage. “There will be hot food stations placed throughout the city, temporary housing options for families and stocking of food pantries/shelters (as) well as supporting other local nonprofits who help provide services for the people in Fayetteville.”

According to CBS News at least, 42 people have died as a result of Florence, which barreled through the Carolinas last week.

The goal of the 4-year-old organization is to inspire urban youth, according to the website. Cole is quoted on the homepage as saying, “I want to start the process of showing them there are other options besides what’s on the screen. They don’t have to be a rapper or an athlete, there are people who manage the rappers, who book the shows. There are so many jobs you can do, this is about expanding their minds to those possibilities.”

The hurricane forced the cancellation of J. Cole’s inaugural Dreamville Festival, which was slated to take place in Raleigh and include not only J. Cole but also Big SeanSZANelly and Young Thug. The festival has been rescheduled for April 2019, according to the Dreamville Festival Twitter account.

Cole, born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, was born on a U.S. military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville. Along with the foundation, he is the founder of Dreamville Records, with his manager, Ibrahim Hamad.

Read more: https://thegrio.com/2018/09/22/j-cole-launches-fundraiser-florence-victims/