Category: Philanthropy

Spelman College Student Deanna Hayden Works to Raise Literacy Rates with “House of Knowledge” Project

by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

It’s National Library Week, and at Spelman College a student is changing lives by improving a community’s literacy. Deanna Hayden, a junior Comparative Women’s Studies major, volunteers in an impoverished neighborhood in Atlanta, the West End community.

“I grew up in rural Mississippi,” Hayden said, “where there was an overwhelming lack of educational resources. When I started volunteering at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School in the West End, I noticed parallels between the education system here and in Mississippi.”

BOOKS TRUMP POVERTY

Hayden relayed there are students with low reading scores, ironically in a school named after a literary giant. “I sat in on third-grade classes and could see that there is a need to improve their literacy,” she says.

Hayden had noticed that in wealthy communities there are what she calls “free libraries”—not library buildings from which books can be borrowed, but small, house-shaped structures full of books that can be taken for keeps, or added to. (Hayden was most likely referring to the Little Free Library book exchange.)

Regular reading is critical to raising literacy and reading levels, but book ownership also makes a huge difference. According to a 2014 study cited in a New York Times article, the number of books in a home is “the most important predictor of reading performance” after gross national product. “The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance.”

Astonishingly, a home library appears to matter more than the family budget. The Times article goes on: “… in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10% of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10%.”

THE HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE

Spelman
(Courtesy of Spelman College)

Similar to both the Little Free Library and Barbershop Shops, which sets up books targeting black boys from age 4 to 8 in barbershops, the House of Knowledge is a literacy initiative that Hayden developed in response to the struggling readers she encountered.

There are now seven Houses of Knowledge throughout the West End community “in places frequented by children, such as churches, recreation centers, and doctor’s offices,” Hayden told me. Each holds 25 books targeting readers in kindergarten to eighth grade.

“Each House of Knowledge has its own theme,” Hayden says. “Some offer books on science and technology—others are all about black women.” Each box has a sponsor which is responsible for monitoring the box to make sure there is always a selection of books inside. The sponsor—organizations like the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and others on the Spelman campus—determines what books will be offered.

Hayden, who graduates next year and plans to study public health and educational policy in graduate school, still has plans for the House of Knowledge project. “I’d like the kids to do surveys and quizzes on the books,” she says. “Eventually I’d like to develop an after school component as well.”

In the meantime, she’s also hoping for a grant that will make the program more sustainable.

To learn more, visit the House of Knowledge website.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/spelman-student-raising-literacy-skills/

Denzel Washington Paid for ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman to Study at Oxford

"Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman
“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman (Albert L. Ortega | Getty Images)

by  via cnbc.com

Chadwick Boseman, the 41-year-old star of Black Panther, may have Oscar-winner and 2018 nominee Denzel Washington to thank for some of his success. While studying at Howard University in the late ’90s, Boseman and some of his peers applied to a prestigious summer theater program at The University of Oxford. The group of students got in, but they couldn’t afford to go.

One of their acting teachers at Howard, actress Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show, “pushed for us,” Boseman told Rolling Stone. “She essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go.” It wasn’t until after the program when he got a beneficiary letter and found out who funded the program: “Denzel paid for me. I’m sure he has no idea. … I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him.”

Boseman wrote Washington a thank-you letter, but he didn’t tell anyone else about it for two decades. “I’ve basically been holding this secret my whole career,” he told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, explaining that he didn’t want Washington to feel like he owed him anything else.

Boseman wanted to meet Washington in person before saying anything. He hadn’t met him before the Rolling Stone interview but, after 20 years, he figured it was OK to reveal the detail. As Boseman told Fallon: “I think I’ve made it to the point where he’s not going to think I’m trying to get something from him by saying it.”

Coincidentally, just before the Rolling Stone feature came out, Boseman got to meet his benefactor. Washington came to the New York premiere of “Black Panther,” and, “I met him, before the article came out,” Boseman told Fallon. “So I actually lived up to what I originally wanted to do. It was amazing.”

When Fallon asked how the introduction went, Boseman recalled how he thanked him for paying for Oxford a while back, to which Washington jokingly replied: “Oh, so that’s why I’m here. You owe me money! I came to collect!”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/02/denzel-washington-paid-for-chadwick-boseman-to-study-at-oxford.html

Matt Barnes Launches Scholarship Fund For Stephon Clark’s Sons

Matt Barnes (image via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

Ex-NBA player Matt Barnes announced that he will be launching a scholarship fund for Stephon Clark’s two sons to ensure that they can afford to go to college.

Barnes, whose lengthy basketball career included stints with the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, made an impassioned speech at a rally in Sacramento on Saturday while holding one of Clark’s children. He spoke about the fraught relationship between police officers and black America, and the need for reform.

“We fear what we don’t know. We don’t know these cops, so we fear them. They don’t know us, so they fear us,” Barnes said. “When you get out and know someone on a first-name basis, when you are called to the situation, next time you may be able to defuse the situation.”

Clark, 22, was killed on March 18 when Sacramento police officers shot him eight times in his grandparents’ backyard. The two officers, responding to reports of car break-ins in the neighborhood, said they believed Clark to be armed, though he was found with only his cellphone in hand.

Since Clark’s death, protests have roiled Sacramento and led to yet another uprising by a community imploring the government to do more in investigating deadly police shootings and prevent them.

Saturday’s march was organized by the Sacramento Black Lives Matter chapter. Barnes was involved in the rally because he heard of Clark’s death from one of his two 9-year-old sons. The child apparently asked his father if police were “bad” for what they did to Clark.

“I had to pause for a second because the emotion of me wanted to say yes, but at the same time cops aren’t bad, one cop doesn’t make every one bad,” Barnes said.

“But one black man doesn’t make everybody guilty. It’s more than color. It comes down to wrong and right.”

Barnes said of his sones, “I fear for them. I fear for the streets and now I’ve got to fear for the cops. How do we explain to our kids that because of the color of your skin people aren’t going to like you? That’s not fair, but that’s what we have to explain to our kids every day.”

He added: “This isn’t a Sacramento problem, this is a nationwide problem.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/matt-barnes-launches-scholarship-fund-for-stephon-clarks-sons_us_5ac23676e4b0a47437ac86ea

Salvation Army Opens Its 1st Nonprofit Grocery Store in Baltimore to Combat Food Deserts

The Salvation Army’s DMG Foods held its grand opening on Wednesday in the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Abell. (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Nina Golgowski via huffingtonpost.com

The Salvation Army is adding healthy grocery shopping to its list of charitable endeavors.

The nonprofit opened its first full-service grocery store in Baltimore on Wednesday in what it hopes will be the first of many stores to help combat the nation’s number of “food deserts,” which are disadvantaged neighborhoods lacking stores that sell fresh meats and produce.

DMG Foods, which is named after the organization’s promise of “doing the most good,” opened in northeast Baltimore with the goal of providing local residents with nutritious, low-cost food as well as nutrition guidance, meal planning and job training. “If this works, Baltimore wants us to open two or three more stores,” Maj. Gene A. Hogg, the Salvation Army’s Central Maryland area commander, told HuffPost on Monday.

The store, which has an on-site butcher and deli, as well as prepared meals and salads by Maryland’s Food Bank, is in a former Salvation Army warehouse that was renovated to offer what Hogg described as “that upper-end grocery store experience” at affordable prices. Inside, it’s bright and spacious, he said, and it features food samplings, recipe ideas, cooking demonstrations and visits by guest chefs and city health department nutritionists.

Because it’s across the street from an elementary school, it also allows parents to pick up or drop off their children and shop for their family’s meals in the same trip, Hogg said. Previously, he said, people would have to travel more than a quarter of a mile to find a grocery store or market, which fits within the city’s definition of a food desert. The definition also includes more than 30% of the surrounding households having no vehicle access and the medium household income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. “The idea is to strengthen the family table,” he said. “We want to do more than just sell groceries.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh attended the store’s opening ceremony to cut the ribbon. She encouraged the Salvation Army’s efforts. “This serves as a beacon for the rest of this community. If we can do this here, we can do this in other parts of the city,” she said, according to local station WJZ.

In addition to providing fresh food, the store will also offer a workforce development program that will help train prospective employees. It will also have special offers and discounts for those who are part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.  Any money that is made from the operation will be donated to Catherine’s Cottage, a local facility run by the Salvation Army that offers support to human trafficking survivors, Hogg said. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment where the community feels welcome and where they’re engaging for the betterment of their community,” Hogg said.

The Baltimore store is considered the Salvation Army’s test site. It hopes to open more stores around the country if this one succeeds and there is eagerness among outside communities to get involved. Thus far, Hogg said, he’s received calls from around the world inquiring about their efforts.

“We think that we’re going to be successful, but you can’t make any judgment calls after four days of work.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/salvation-army-opens-grocery-store_us_5aa6a6b7e4b087e5aaec85d4

NBA Star Kevin Durant Invests $10 Million to Help Maryland Youth Get into and Graduate College

Kevin Durant (photo via kulturehub.com)

by Thomas Heath via washingtonpost.com

Kevin Durant knows about starting at the bottom rung. But he is blessed with a gift to play basketball, which is not just a paycheck, but a ticket to worlds with other possibilities. He has used that access to create business opportunities beyond the world of sports, such as in technology.

What I love about tech is, I love watching the world advance,” said the 29-year-old star of the Golden State Warriors, who invests through his Durant Company. “I love the connections of people on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. I would look at it like [Cornelius] Vanderbilt, who built the railroad. He connected us. The next advancement connecting us to each other is social media. I want to be part of that.” His interest in technology connected him to Laurene Powell Jobs and has led to a new philanthropic venture.

Durant has committed $10 million and partnered with the Prince George’s public schools on a program called College Track, which was created more than 20 years ago in California by Powell Jobs and others. College Track helps disadvantaged kids — like Durant once was — attend college and get launched into life.

A Kevin Durant Charity Foundation rendering. Durant is launching a College Track chapter in his former Prince George’s County neighborhood. (Kevin Durant Charity Foundation)

Durant is dropping a life-ladder called the Durant Center smack in the middle of the Seat Pleasant, Md., area where he grew up. It isn’t an elevator. The 60 students in the initial group must climb the ladder themselves.

But it’s a path.

“I want them to see the world,” Durant said in a phone interview this month. “I want them to see where people are from and see that there are things outside their world. I don’t know exactly or at what pace that they will get it, but there is a world outside that they need to see.”

Durant’s $10 million will seed construction and operating expenses of a local chapter of College Track, which is scheduled to open this year.

“This hits home, because it’s right in the neighborhood where me and my buddies lived,” said the 6-foot-11 “small” forward.

College Track is a 10-year program that provides the basic infrastructure — tutoring, test preparation, picking a college that is a “fit” and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often don’t have.

“These are all the things that middle-class families deliver if your parents went to college,” said Elissa Salas, College Track’s chief executive. “If your parents didn’t go to college, we fill that gap.”

Continue reading “NBA Star Kevin Durant Invests $10 Million to Help Maryland Youth Get into and Graduate College”

Professor and Poet Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Mellon Foundation

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Elizabeth Alexander (photo via elizabethalexander.net)

by Robin Pogebrin via nytimes.com

Elizabeth Alexander, whose memoir was a finalist in 2016 for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and who wrote and recited an original poem at Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural, will be the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest humanities philanthropy.

“All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does,” said Ms. Alexander in a telephone interview, citing areas like higher education and scholarship, arts and cultural heritage, and diversity.

She added that “arts and humanities are not the most protected entities right now.”

Ms. Alexander succeeds Earl Lewis, who has served since 2013. She will start in March, becoming the foundation’s first female president.

“She has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision,” Danielle Allen, the foundation’s chairwoman, said in a statement, adding that Ms. Alexander “brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose.”

Ms. Alexander, who has written six books of poetry and two essay collections, was most recently a humanities professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Before that, she served as the director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation, where she helped design Agnes Gund’s $100 million Art for Justice Fund.

“This appointment is a milestone in the history of American philanthropy,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. “It’s the combination of being both rooted in the arts and grounded in the humanities and understanding philanthropy that is going to make her a success.”

Ms. Alexander has also worked closely with the Poetry Center at Smith College; the nonprofit Cave Canem, which trains aspiring poets; and Yale University, where she spent 15 years on the faculty and helped rebuild the African-American Studies department.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/arts/design/mellon-foundation-president-elizabeth-alexander.html

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/

Noted Political Scientist Dr. Charles V. Hamilton Establishes Research Institute at DuSable Museum in Chicago

DuSable Museum in Chicago (photo via timeout.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, a political scientist, activist and Professor Emeritus at Columbia University best known for his 1967 book co-written with Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America, has established The Drs. Charles V. and Dona C. Hamilton Institute for Research and Civic Involvement at the DuSable Museum of African American History.  The DuSable is scheduled to open the Hamilton Institute’s Reading Room on Monday, February 19, 2018 with a special dedication event.

The Hamilton Institute will provide a range of opportunities for visitors to peruse its non-circulating reference collection, including a special collection of rare books, to research the DuSable Museum archives and to attend scholarly lectures and history & policy discussions, many of which will be directed toward youth audiences to inspire their interest and encourage their involvement in topics that affect the African American community. Visitors to the Hamilton Institute’s Reading Room will include educators, authors, photo researchers, independent scholars, journalists, students, historians, community members and others. Visitors will be allowed access to the DuSable Museum Archives, one of the oldest and richest African American archival collections in the nation, which includes manuscripts, books and journals, photographs, slides, and other printed materials.

Dr. Charles V. Hamilton (photo via columbia.edu)

“I was interested in combining academic studies with political action. My concern was not only to profess but to participate. I see the DuSable Museum as a repository of study of those efforts; and people will come look at them with those eyes; that people will see someone who not just wrote books but participated,” said Dr. Charles V. Hamilton.

Although Dr. Charles V. Hamilton was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, raised on the South Side of Chicago, and educated at Roosevelt University, Loyola University and the University of Chicago. The contribution to establish the Hamilton Research Institute and Reading Room is one that supports the continuation of progressive development for the city of Chicago—a place near and dear to Dr. Hamilton. His donation represents one of the largest individual gifts in the DuSable Museum’s history.

When President Truman integrated the military (1948), Hamilton served for a year. A chronicler of the Civil Rights Movement, he was a young adult at the time of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56). He lived through the Jim Crow era and witnessed the political transformation that made possible the election of Black officials in the South. Watching the unfolding of civil rights history informed and enriched his scholarship as he created a role for himself as an intellectual amongst activists.

In 1969, Hamilton arrived at Columbia University as a Ford Foundation funded professor in urban political science and became one of the first African Americans to hold an academic chair at an Ivy League university. It was the height of the turbulent 1960s and the nation was reeling from assassinations, demonstrations and riots. Hamilton was at the peak of his fame as the intellectual half of the “Black Power Duo.”

The activist half was Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), a former leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, self-professed Black Nationalist and nascent Pan-Africanist. In a brilliant stroke, Hamilton had teamed up with Carmichael, a folk hero and icon for his generation to write what would be Hamilton’s most famous book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (1967).

“This is a game changer for the DuSable Museum,” said Perri Irmer, President and CEO. “The over-arching mission of this institution is the education of all people through African American history, art and culture. The creation of the Hamilton Institute gives concrete form to this education mission, allowing us to present a commitment to a superior level of scholarly activity and engagement. Now, thanks to Dr. Hamilton, we will have the infrastructure and a vehicle for the engagement of young audiences and visitors of all ages, from around the world, in what I believe will become a center for black thought leadership and intellectual exploration. What better place to do this but Chicago, and in what finer institution than the DuSable Museum of African American History?”

About The Hamilton Research Institute and Reading Room

The Drs. Charles V. and Dona C. Hamilton Institute for Research and Civic Involvement’s Reading Room will be open by appointment only, Tuesday through Saturday to anyone who is at least 14 years of age or in the ninth grade (younger visitors must be accompanied by an adult). The Hamilton Institute staff will provide a range of services to visitors interested in conducting research in the Museum. Reading Room Procedures and Policies will be made available on DuSable’s website, and visitors will be able to make follow-up appointments as related to research needs during the time of their visit.

About The DuSable Museum of African American History

The DuSable Museum of African American History is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the country. Their mission is to promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs and activities that illustrate African and African American history, culture and art. The DuSable Museum is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. For more information on the Museum and its programs, call 773-947-0600 or visit at www.dusablemuseum

Michigan State University Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Build Slave Trade and Ancestry Database

MSU African Studies Center Facebook Cover Photo (via facebook)

via newsone.com

$1.5 million grant gifted to Michigan State University by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will go towards the cultivation of a database that harbors information about former slaves, MSU Today reported.

The database, which is part of the institution’s Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade initiative, will encompass data surrounding those who came to America during the Atlantic slave trade; giving individuals the opportunity to explore their ancestry, the news outlet writes. Individuals who utilize the database will also be able to view maps, charts, and graphics about enslaved populations.

The project is being spearheaded by Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History and Ethan Watrall, who serves as an assistant professor of anthropology at the university.

MSU Today reports that the project will go through several phases and take nearly a year and a half to be completed.

Hawthorne believes that the database will allow scholars to delve deeper into the dark history of slavery. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world,” he said in a statement, according to the source.

Michigan State University has one of the top African history graduate programs in the country and leaders at the institution believe that this new project will further its impact in this space. Institutions who have partnered with MSU for the project include Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland and others.

Slavery has been a common topic at colleges and universities across the country with many institutions coming forward to acknowledge and come to terms with their ties to slavery. Rutgers University recently paid tribute to former slaves by renaming parts of its campus after individuals who built the university from the ground up.

Source: MSU Today

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/