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.
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.
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.”
“I care deeply about issues of incarceration and criminal justice reform,” says Tulaine Montgomery, managing partner at New Profit, a philanthropic venture capital fund. It’s a passion she shares with Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend.Like Legend, whose mother cycled “in and out of jail for charges related to drug addiction” when he was growing up, Montgomery has seen the impact of prison on families firsthand.
“This idea that there is a group of people we can *other*…that we cannot advocate for – that’s not something I’ve been able to entertain,” she explains.Montgomery believes that when someone who’s been incarcerated faces barriers preventing successful re-entry into society, it doesn’t just damage them alone.On the contrary, it wreaks havoc on their extended family, community and nation, often for multiple generations.
In addition, she says that treating entire groups of people as “expendable” and “counting them out” of making productive contributions makes zero economic sense. The USA spends $80 billion a year to keep people behind bars.Once paroled, even non-violent, first-time offenders struggle to find housing, jobs, or chances for further education.Feeling locked out of opportunity and unable to sustain themselves, many end up right back in prison.It’s a costly revolving door.Providing a path to success rather than creating a class of “throwaway people” is not only morally redemptive, it’s also economically sound.
Transforming inequities and imbalances in the criminal justice system is part of the larger mission behind Unlocked Futures, a partnership between New Profit, John Legend’s Free Americacampaign, and Bank of America.A 16-month accelerator program that supports entrepreneurs who have been previously incarcerated, Unlocked Futures provides funding, leadership training, business skills building, executive coaching, content development and peer support to eight members or cohorts.
The program identifies innovative entrepreneurs whose businesses solve problems that affect those impacted by the criminal justice system.They are uniquely qualified to address the “most pressing challenges” and break down barriers, precisely because they’ve been there, Montgomery says.
It’s her belief that “someone who has served time—one of the most dehumanizing conditions we pay federal dollars to create—and emerged mentally intact and ready to lead a business, that’s a leader I want to know.”
Topeka Sam is one of the eight inaugural Unlocked Futures cohorts and a case in point.Her organization, Ladies of Hope Ministries, helps women transition from incarceration back into meaningful participation. She knows the terrain and has insight into how to navigate the road to re-entry because she’s lived it.
Marcus Bullock, CEO of Flikshop, a mobile app company that delivers postcards to inmates from loved ones, says the idea came to him because it was “connection” with family and his mother in particular that gave him a thread of hope during imprisonment.
As he drove to the school he was helping open in his hometown, LeBron James’ emotions brought him back to when he was the same age as the kids who were starting school there Monday.
He remembered school meaning nothing to him. He remembered it being too far away for him to get there, especially when his mother didn’t have a car. He missed 83 days of school in fourth grade. “It was a surprise to me when I woke up and I was actually going to school,” James said.
As he got older he learned about the value of an education, and how important that was to break poverty cycles. That’s why Monday mattered so much to James, the NBA’s biggest star who recently left Cleveland for the Lakers.
At 8 a.m., 240 at-risk third- and fourth-graders started at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. It is a public, non-charter school, just like the ones James attended as a child, but it seeks to offer all the things kids growing up like James did need to succeed. The LeBron James Family Foundation is the top donor and worked with Akron Public Schools to meet all its standards and regulations. And here, the staff attends to not just the children’s education, but also the outside factors that might interfere with that education.
The kids received high-fives from the staff. They begged their teachers to know if “Mr. LeBron” was going to visit their classrooms. Some parents who’d lost jobs asked if the school could help them find new ones. A homeless family asked if they could get help, too. The answers were yes, yes and yes.
“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,” said Brandi Davis, the principal. “We are letting people know that it is about true wraparound support. True family integration, true compassion.”
It began as an idea inside a monthly brainstorming session between James and Michele Campbell, the executive director of James’ foundation.
Sometimes her job is to manage the expectations of a man who believes, on and off the court, that he can accomplish anything. In this case, she let slip an idea he latched on to right away. Maybe their reach would improve if they created a school, she mused. “Well, why aren’t you doing that?” James asked.
She told him the foundation wasn’t ready for that kind of project. He told her to get started anyway. “There’s nothing that she can’t do,” James said. “If I tell her to go build a rocket and take it to outer space, Michele can make it happen.”
Like the early days of space travel, this was uncharted territory. The school district worked with the foundation. They brought together 120 stakeholders — parents, corporate sponsors, students, teachers, administrators and volunteers — to find out what students in their district really needed. Akron public schools are some of the lowest-performing in Ohio.
They settled on a program that helped teach the skills children need to handle trauma they see in their daily lives, combined with a hard math and science curriculum that would help further their education.
The school’s “wraparound” services help reduce stress kids might feel when their parents are struggling financially. That includes job and family services, a GED program, a food pantry from which they can shop and choose their meals, and help with housing if needed. They have a seven-week summer camp program to help avoid the trouble that comes with too much free time.
Every student gets a bicycle because when James was growing up, he used one to get away from the more dangerous parts of his community. The students also get a Chromebook to complete their homework. “I wanted to keep it as consistent and as authentic to when I was a kid,” James said, while adding generous touches and technology.
The children were randomly selected from a pool of Akron students whose reading levels were a year or two behind where they should be.
“And then we got to make these awesome phone calls to parents to say, ‘Hi, would you like to be a part of something new, something different? The I Promise School,’” said Keith Liechty-Clifford, the coordinator of school improvement for Akron Public Schools.
This renovated, stately brick building sits between a McDonald’s and a convenience store. Inspirational quotes wallpaper the interior and the entrance is decorated with James’ game-worn shoes, which will be sold as a fundraiser. Some walls are painted with murals of such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.
To truly provide emotional and psychological services for at-risk children and their families requires well-trained and supported teachers. The I Promise School gives teachers access to psychological services. Every Wednesday afternoon will be reserved for career development. James even hired a personal trainer to work with teachers who want a guided workout.
All their supplies also are provided by the school. That was a pleasant surprise for Angela Whorton, an intervention specialist at the I Promise School. She’s been a teacher for 10 years and almost always had to spend her own money to properly stock the classroom.
She’s spent her own money here, too, but for personal touches. She bought a black rug that functions like a red carpet and put stars on it so the students feel special walking into the room. The writing utensils in her room are topped with white artificial flowers.
From her classroom on the second floor, Whorton pointed out of a window to a neighboring home’s modest backyard. She moved to Akron when she was in eighth grade.
“Through those trees was my backyard,” Whorton said. “And I used to dream big. At the time my mom was struggling as a single parent. She promised us that if we had an education we could be and do anything we needed to be.”
When they didn’t have electricity, Whorton’s mom lit candles so she and her brother could do their homework. When the plant where she worked shut down, Whorton’s mom went back to school and took two jobs to care for her children. She’d stand in line at the food bank to make sure she had something to feed her kids.
Whorton knows just how valuable the school she works in can be in this community. Sunday afternoon her family got a closer look at the school and she couldn’t stop her tears.
“The family wraparound approach is going to help the community,” Whorton said. “Right from my window. Looking at my backyard where I used to dream. There’s nothing more electric than that.”
A two-hour ceremony followed the end of the first day of school. At its conclusion, James spoke to the crowd. He laughed at someone who shouted “wee wee,” his mother’s nickname growing up. He paused for a moment when a man in the back of the audience shouted, “We love you!”
On his humanitarian trip to Haiti last month, Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus attended the groundbreaking ceremony on a three-classroom building that will be named after him.
He was greeted by government dignitaries and school officials and toured monuments and museums. And like last year’s trip when he met more than 800 children, Dareus was struck again by the emotions he saw.
“It is one thing to give money to something and hope for the best; it is quite something else to witness your efforts and see the gratitude and thankfulness of not just the children, but the whole community, for doing what you’re doing,” Dareus said.
″To receive their blessings and hear their words of appreciation directly was something I could have never imagined several years ago. Their gratitude and happiness was overwhelming and showed me that what I am doing is going to have a tremendous impact on their lives.″
It is the second consecutive offseason Dareus has visited Haiti to reconnect with his late father’s homeland and give back through the U.S.-based charity, Hope for Haiti, that serves as an implementing partner for school construction, teacher training, teacher salary subsidies, mobile clinics and back-to-school support for students.
Haiti is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010 and damages caused by the 145 mph winds from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Through the Dareus Foundation, he donated $125,000 to fund the three-classroom building at the Christ-Roi Primary School of Cammy.
In addition to giving the kids a new school, his monetary efforts will go to funding teachers’ salaries, school supplies and some of the necessary infrastructure to sustain education. Dareus donated $25,000 to Hope for Haiti during last year’s visit.
Dareus was 6 years old when his Haitian-born father, Jules Dareus, died from prostate cancer. His mother, Michelle Luckey, died in 2010 from heart failure shortly after Dareus won a national championship with the Alabama. Jules Dareus lived in Haiti until early adulthood before coming to the United States.
“I promised my mom that I would support Haiti in any way I could and now I am using my platform to keep my promise,″ Dareus said. ″It’s a beautiful country with incredible people and children who need help. I want to make sure I do everything I can to lift them up. This is just the beginning of what we’re looking to accomplish here. I plan to come back after next season to see the new school and decide what else I can do to continue to build a legacy of hope for Haiti.”
Chicago’s Black Fire Brigade—a group of the city’s African American firefighters and EMTs—wants to inspire youth to pursue careers in fire science. The group recently opened a new center in Ashburn designed to train the firefighters of tomorrow, ABC Chicago reported.
The brigade pays homage to firefighters and paramedics of color who have lost their lives while serving, the news outlet writes. The group hopes that the legacies of these fallen heroes will live on through youngsters who come to the center and show interest in joining the fire department when they get older. At the center, they will provide mentorship and training to help Black men and women prepare for the firefighter’s exam.
Founder and president of the Black Fire Brigade Quention Curtis says that he hopes the new center will serve as a haven for Chicago’s Black youth and prevent them from getting involved in the streets. “This is about saving these kids’ lives who are dying in the streets every day,” he told the news outlet. “It’s about bringing these firefighters together so we can do that.”
The center was also created as an avenue to overcome racial inequalities that Black firefighters have experienced in the department. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the city has shelled out $92 million in settlements due to the Chicago Fire Department’s discriminatory hiring practices against people of color and women. “There are so few of us, and we’ve been so separated. We’ve never come together as a whole to discuss our issues, how to address them. My thing is to end all that,” said Curtis.
The center will live at 84th and Kedzie. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Saturday.
An Alabama teen was determined to obtain his high school diploma, despite the fact that his family doesn’t have a car. Images of Birmingham, AL teen Corey Patrick walking and taking the bus to his graduation have gone viral, with a few stars promising to buy the determined student new wheels for all of his hard work and dedication to his education.
Speaking to WBRC, Patrick revealed that his mom suggested he take the bus to his commencement since she had no way to get him there. “I told Corey, well the best thing to do is just get on the bus and we will work from there,” said Felicia White, Corey’s mother.
Patrick proceeded to pound the pavement and caught the bus in his graduation cap and gown, with the bus driver snapping photos of the young man that eventually spread all over the internet. His family eventually found a ride and met him at the school. “I had to do what was necessary for me to walk this year,” Patrick said.
His mother revealed that Corey was determined to graduate with his friends after moving to a new neighborhood. “Corey was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and had to be at the bus stop at 5:41 in the morning for the last year. Even when he would get out of school he couldn’t get from that side of town until 5:19 when the bus runs back over there. So he doesn’t make it back this way until about 6:30 or 7 o’clock.”
The Shade Room is now reporting Da Brat, Tyrese and Rickey Smiley have committed to buying the young man a new ride so he’ll never have to worry about making it to an important event again.
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!”