All Articles Tagged "philanthropy"

University President Tweets Photo With Shirtless Students, Lands In Hot Water

December 22nd, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This


East Stroudsburg University President Marcia Welsh is currently receiving a lot of criticism for tweeting a photo of herself with the Hawthorn Hotties, a student group known for performing erotic dances to raise money for prostate cancer research, domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Many faculty members at the university believe President Welsh did not mean for the photo to have a sexual undercurrent, however they do believe if she were a male president who took a picture with female students dressed in revealing attire, she would have been fired.

Cosmopolitan says the group suggested the photo with President Welsh: “We asked to get a picture with her. She didn’t have any prior knowledge of that. There’s no promiscuous or sexual reference at all within the picture. There’s really nothing to negatively take from that except for the fact that the guys have their shirts off.” Despite this, followers on Twitter were very upset with President Welsh posting the picture:

Several students did note to the Penn Live publication that faculty may be attacking President Welsh because of her decision to eliminate the university’s music program which prompted laying off faculty members from that department.

No matter the reasoning for the backlash, President Welsh seems unfazed by the criticism she’s received. She released the following statement:

“Our campus community is inspired by students who put forth a tremendous effort to raise funds for causes that are close to their hearts. The students who refer to themselves as the ‘Hawthorn Hotties’ were raising money for the American Cancer Society. To exploit the support of our students is not only an insult to them but a malicious disservice to the good work they do for our university and the community.”

Cricket Awards $5K Grand Prize In Community Giving Contest

December 21st, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This
Russell Hicks (center) surrounded by Cricket store staff.

Russell Hicks (center) surrounded by Cricket store staff.

Cricket Wireless, the mobile service provider, has awarded its $5,000 grand prize in the Community Stars: Salute to Solopreneurs contest to Russell Hicks and Ebony Suns Enterprises, which provides business consulting services, mentors young people, and creates social entrepreneurship programs.

The top prize also includes a year of free Cricket service.

“He currently works with more than 75 young entrepreneurs through various green industry sectors including eco-tourism, sustainable real estate, organic apparel design and merchandising,” says the press release announcing the contest winner.

The other finalists were Zondra Hughes, founder of Six Brown Chicks, and Michael Ferrera, founder of Michael Ferrera Custom Clothing, who took the second and third place prizes in that order. All three will receive a Samsung Galaxy S5 device along with a cash prize and limited time Cricket service.

The contest was open to residents of  Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. I served as was one of the finalist judges. Attached is the video Hicks submitted with his entry.

Congrats to all of the contestants!

Silicon Valley Investor Donates $500K To Diversify The High-Tech Industry

October 8th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This


Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen along with his wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen will donate $500,000 to three nonprofits that will invest in recruiting diverse professionals to enter the high-tech industry. The nonprofits that will receive the funds are Code2040, Girls Who Code and Hack The Hood, which have a unified mission to increase the ranks of women and minorities in the high-tech industry.

A portion of the donation came from the Andreessen financial award from the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. Instead of accepting his award, Andreessen allowed two students from Code2040 to accept his prize from Queen Elizabeth II. In offering the award to these children, he believes the young people will be inspired to become engineers.

In an exclusive interview, Andreessen tells USA Today, “Tech is not yet inclusive enough. There is no question that there is a huge opportunity to make it more inclusive and open it up to traditionally underrepresented groups such as women and underrepresented minorities.” The grants given by Andreessen are meant to create momentum in the Silicon Valley to close both the gender and racial gap in the high-tech industry.

Andreessen is known as one of the developers of Mosaic that was the first used Web browser. He also co-founded Netscape Communications, which was one of the first commercial Web browsers. Andreessen sits on the boards of Facebook, eBay and Hewlett Packard. He also is the CEO for the capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. With Andreessen’s help, we may be seeing the first steps toward making the inclusion of underrepresented gender and racial groups the new norm in the tech industry.

Nikia Vaughan Is Fighting Sickle Cell Anemia For All Those Who Suffer, Including Her Family

October 6th, 2014 - By Rachael Devaney
Share to Twitter Email This
Cimone at Mt. Sinai

Cimone at Sinai Hospital

Nikia Vaughan said she will fight to find a cure for Sickle Cell Anemia until there is “no more breath” in her body. The wife and mother of two is the president and founder of “Cimone and Friends,” a website dedicated to uplifting those that suffer from sickle cell anemia.

“’Ladies Who Lunch’ was an idea I came up with after I saw different ladies luncheon’s on social media.  I thought it was a wonderful way to bring the ladies of my city together while raising money and awareness at the same time,” Vaughan said.

Her last endeavor was “Ladies Who Lunch,” hosted by Fox News’ Crystal Berger. On September 13 at Blue Hill Tavern in Baltimore to benefit Sinai Hospital’s 10th annual “Race for Our Kids.” With Berger at the helm, the affair will also feature guest speakers Joan Marasciulo, a pediatric hematology nurse at Pediatric Hematology Sinai Hospital; Kimberly Hemby, founder of Dainty in Pink; Sheri Booker, author and NAACP Image Award winner; and attorney Marilyn Mosby.

The event is just one of many fundraisers that Vaughan hopes to undertake in the future. Her passion surrounding the disease stems from the fact that her husband Charmon Vaughan and daughter Cimone Vaughan both have sickle cell. Vaughan and her son Langston Outlaw both carry the sickle cell trait. While her family continues to battle this disease, Vaughan said that with the help of the doctors at Sinai Hospital and the support of her family, she knows she “can handle it.”

“Six weeks after her birth, it was confirmed that my baby girl had sickle cell. We found out and my husband broke down and blamed himself,” Vaughn said. “I had to be strong and let him know that this is not anyone’s fault. Since then Cimone has had three pain crises and has been hospitalized three times. However, I know what God has set me to do and I will [continue to] advocate until there is a cure.”

As stated in MadameNoire’s earlier piece “The Unusual Business Of Standing Up For Sickle Cell Anemia,” sickle cell is one of the most common genetically transmitted diseases, with two million people worldwide and approximately 100,000 in the United States carrying the disease. Dr. Michael DeBaun, director at Vanderbilt-Miharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease, said the disease can cause an immense amount of pain in child and adult patients alike. With treatment and health care options dwindling for adults with sickle cell in the U.S. and around the world, DeBaun said the problems related to this disease have “become more of a humanitarian issue.”

Vaughan knows the extent of pain her husband and child suffer and said on her website that having the disease can mean a “lifelong fight against health problems like infections, anemia and stroke.”

“Whenever they are hospitalized, it’s tough because I see the pain they go through and its heart wrenching,” she told us.

But Vaughan is determined to not only create a supportive movement surrounding the disease, but also awareness. And with events like “Ladies Who Lunch,” Vaughan said she is on her way towards giving sickle cell the “attention it deserves.”

“I want sickle cell to be recognized for being the most known ‘unknown’ disease and I will continue to raise funds to eventually lead to a summer camp for children with sickle cell,” she said. “My hope for other families is to know that we must work together to bring as much awareness that we possibly can nationwide, ultimately leading to a cure.”

Heat Free Hair Founder Ngozi Opara Offers Tips For Partnering With A Charitable Organization

October 2nd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This
Ngozi Opara Purple

For the second year in a row, Heat Free Hair has partnered with the TigerLily Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A portion of the proceeds from all Heat Free Hair sales during the month of October will benefit TigerLily and its good works. There will also be a custom wig giveaway for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

This sort of support and philanthropy is exactly what this month — and all of the other health awareness months — are about. And while we all want to participate in some way, we want to do it in a way that is generous without intruding upon the normal course of business.

“I have always been a huge advocate of supporting smaller organizations because I believe your donations will go directly to someone in need without having to worry about some of the overhead costs that a lot of larger organizations have. Last year, I researched breast cancer organizations that were doing amazing things and having a great impact and found Tigerlily,” Ngozi Opara, founder of Heat Free Hair, told us in an email.

Finding an organization that you believe does the most good is the first step in a charitable act that makes you feel like you’re making a difference. Then you get into the logistics.

“What I loved the most about the Tigerlily Foundation is that they don’t just raise awareness, they also support the women and their families during and after treatment. They do things like get them groceries and do a lot of the tasks that may be taxing on a patient during treatment and then they continue support after treatment,” Opara continued. “After I researched them I found out that one of my employees at the time was actually cousins with the founder and that made it very easy to connect and after speaking with the founder Maimah Karmo, I knew I had made the right decision to support their efforts.”

For Opara, last year’s commitment was made as the company was still in its first year of business. So “luckily,” she says, they were able to keep their word.

“For other small businesses who want to enter into a philanthropic partnership, a great way to protect yourself financially in the event that sales are slow that month is to commit to donating a flat number or wait until all sales are calculated at the end of the month and then announce your contribution or donation amount,” Opara advises.

If you have a charitable program that you’d like to call out, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Dance This Way: The Felix Organization Host Dance-A-Thon Fundraiser For Foster Children

September 25th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This
Felix Organization Host Dance-A-Thon


Camp Felix and the Felix Organization was created eight years ago by RUN DMC’s Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and casting director, Sheila Jaffe. The nonprofit helps support children growing up in the foster care system.

The Felix Organization will be hosting a dance-a-thon fundraiser called “Dance This Way” this upcoming Sunday in New York City at The Cutting Room.

The fundraiser will cover the cost of sending children to camp and other essentials they need. A donation of  $500 sends one child to camp for a one-week period and the organization has sent 1,000 children to camp for one-to-four week sessions.

Currently, their Dance-This-Way fundraiser has earned $176,226. Their goal is $300,000. You can donate, here.

Last month, MadameNoire traveled to Camp Felix to host a Career Day workshop with their girl campers, ages 8-to-14.

During our workshop our staff gave the girls manis and pedis as we discussed self-esteem, body image, online bullying and social media. Campers also received the opportunity to ask staff about their day-to-day work schedules and how they entered the media industry.

H/T Pix 11

Revolt TV Says “Hello Harlem” With Events Benefiting The Boys & Girls Club Of Harlem

August 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This
Hello Harlem Crowd Shot

Photo Credit: Stephen Knight

By 8pm, the party at the Harlem restaurant Corner Social is in full swing. The DJ is spinning, cocktails are being served, selfies are being taken. There’s even a little bit of dancing happening. How else to spend a Monday night?

It’s another Hello Harlem event. Actually the fifth of 10 that are planned, all to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH). Designed to raise awareness and support for the organization, the events bring together members of the media, philanthropists and other community leaders for a little music, a little food and some mixing and mingling. There’s also been great live music. MN Business has been to a couple of the events, the first featuring Theo Croker and last night’s with special guest Esnavi. They’ll be happening through September 8 (invite-only). Suggested donations are between $500 and $10,000, with money going towards three youth centers and an expansion of the group’s efforts.

“It’s a critical partnership. This helps put us on the map,” Shirley Lewis, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of BGCH told the New York Daily News.

Esnavi performs. Photo credit: Stephen Knight

Esnavi performs. Photo credit: Stephen Knight

Revolt TV, Diddy’s music channel, has been playing a large role in these events. Back in 2011, Sean Combs, a Harlem native, donated $60,000 to the organization, helping to save it from shutting down. And for “Hello Harlem,” Revolt, through a partnership with Sony, has been able to pull together a cool party with artists like the aforementioned live acts.

“He’s somebody who has always been giving, so it’s no surprise to me that Revolt TV would do this project with the Boys & Girls Club,” said Mike Houston, the VP of marketing for Revolt TV. “They’re taking music out of schools so what groups like the Boys & Girls Club are doing is important.”

To bring the point home, some of the beneficiaries of the BGCH’s work, little girls with big dreams, take to the mike to talk about their favorite activities and aspirations for the future.

“We are a network that’s for and inspired by youth culture,” Kai Wright, the network’s VP of communications, told us. “So it makes sense that we would partner with an organization that’s for youth.”

At the same time, Revolt is growing. Events like these are also an opportunity for attendees to get to know them — and each other — a little better.

“We purposely wanted to do something where networking is the focus,” Wright continued. “We’re the influence that influences the influencers.”

With that in mind, “Hello Harlem” evenings bring together all of the things that both organizations are interested in: music, philanthropy and what it means to be a part of modern Harlem.

“As New York changes, we want to remember all of its neighborhoods,” Wright said. “Music is the avenue for mobility, self-expression and empowerment. That’s important for the youth.”

Social Entrepreneur Launches Lingerie Line That Offers Underwear – & Dignity – To The Homeless

July 31st, 2014 - By Andrea Williams
Share to Twitter Email This

PP EFlyer

For women still trudging along the path toward total career and personal fulfillment, it’s easy to focus on what they don’t have, or have yet to achieve: a six-figure salary, a 5,000-square-foot home in the perfect neighborhood, the means to travel the world on a whim. By any stretch of the imagination, though, we are still immeasurably blessed, with the health, creativity and sound mind to strive for that ideal lifestyle we dream of. Yet there are other women who are not so fortunate, whose days are spent securing the most basic of life’s essentials.

After launching her online lingerie boutique, Naomi’s Rose, entrepreneur Katrina McDow looked to the homeless women in her Washington DC, community and instinctively knew a way to help bring a sense of dignity to their often tragic lives. The result is Purpose Panty, a philanthropic effort that provides clean panties for homeless women.

Here, McDow talks about social entrepreneurship and her inspiration for reaching her community’s most forgotten citizens – one pair of clean underwear at a time.

MadameNoire: When did you launch your online lingerie boutique? And where does the name Naomi’s Rose come from?

Katrina McDow: I launched Naomi’s Rose in 2010. The business model works well because I am a full-time career woman, who has an innate entrepreneurial spirit, which directly correlates with the story behind the name Naomi’s Rose. Naomi is my middle name and it symbolizes beauty; I was named after Naomi Simms, the first black supermodel, and, most importantly, Naomi in the Bible, whose name meant “pleasant and sweet.” Rose comes from my grandma Rosabelle, whom I never met. She was an educated business owner in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1940s and 50s.

MN: How did you come up with the idea for the Purpose Panty? I don’t think that clean panties are at the top of the list when people consider ways to help the homeless.

KM: The Purpose Panty was inspired and driven by a young woman I would see every day when I ran after work for my daily exercise. I was in the lingerie business, selling indie lingerie brands, and I felt a yearning to do more. I wondered how I could merge the success and momentum of the Naomi’s Rose brand with philanthropy. I began researching organizations in the nation’s capital and the stats behind the homeless epidemic here. It is astounding: In 2013, there were a little under 7,000 homeless people in Washington DC; 1 in 10 people are homeless. Because I am a woman, I understand how something as small as clean, fresh underwear can improve your self-esteem and self-worth. So the Purpose Panty was born.

MN: What kind of feedback have you gotten from women who have received the Purpose Panty pack? Are clean panties really enough to make a difference for a homeless woman?

KM: The feedback has been one of intrigue. The brand gets people conversing and thinking about homelessness and their own purpose in life.  Our motto is “Giving is sexy.” As women, we sometimes don’t realize the importance of a basic necessity like underwear. When we wake up in the morning to shower, the first thing we do is open our top drawer and slip on clean panties. Nonprofits and shelters actually request undergarment donations. Where there are homeless women, there are homeless children. Young girls are beginning puberty and to have clean panties during this time in your life is so very important.

I always try to put myself in the shoes of these women, and I know for a fact it is an amazing feeling to have a week’s supply of clean panties. It is one less thing as a woman to worry about when you are preparing for a job interview or transitioning into a permanent home for you and your family.

MN: How do you fund the Purpose Panty?

KM: The Purpose Panty can be purchased online at for $19.00. For every purchase of the Purpose Panty, we supply our partnering organizations three packs of a week supply of panties. Because of my insight in the lingerie industry, I’ve established wonderful and supportive relationships with vendors that I purchase the panties from specifically for the homeless women and girls.

The Purpose Panty is also designed and manufactured in NYC. I am very proud of this.  It is worth the price points being slightly higher because we are contributing to job retention in the U.S. and giving back to domestically. It’s an awesome feeling!

MN: What are you plans to expand the Purpose Panty beyond the DC metro area?

KM: Currently, we are hosting Purpose Parties. These are parties that our fans and customers host in their homes with family and friends.  It is a creative, fun and smart way to bond, create purpose boards and also spread the mission of the Purpose Panty. Readers can visit for ideas on hosting Purpose Parties.

By 2016, we envision retail distribution in retailers that align with our business model to expand the brand and have a broader national reach to homeless shelters. Also, we are open to international partnerships that assist women and girls with health and economic sustainability.  Washington, DC, is such a perfect location to launch the Purpose Panty because it is the nation’s capital. It is the city that laws get created and social platforms are exchanged daily.

MN: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their local communities – or beyond – but don’t know where or how to start?

KM: There are some great resources out there. Companies such as Tom’s have done an amazing job inspiring a generation of social entrepreneurs.  My advice is to create a concrete model of giving and sharpen it. Work on explaining your brand in a simple, concrete format so people can grasp and believe in it.  And most importantly, act on your ideas. Every day do something to mold and shape your companies purpose, whatever it may be. It becomes a positive and contagious cycle when you use your blessings to create change and others want to be a part of that change.

Hello Miss March! FDNY Has First-Ever Woman In Its 2015 Charity Calendar

July 17th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This

Each year, the New York City Fire Department sells a calendar of hot fire fighters to raise money for the FDNY Foundation, which uses the funds for fire safety education. Each year, the calendar is filled with buff shirtless men. Next year will not be like other years.

The 2015 calendar features the first-ever female participant: Miss March is Danae Mines. She’s been with the fire department for 11 years and works out of a ladder company in the South Bronx. There are only 41 women on the FDNY, less than one percent of the total department.

Mines auditioned with 100 men. The cover model thinks she “could show a little more skin” (she’s wearing a tank top). But besides raising funds, Mines would like her presence among the guys to drive female recruitment.

The Calendar of Heroes is on sale for $15.99.

h/t ABC News and CBS News

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Raises More Than $500K At Annual Gala Event

May 6th, 2014 - By Rachael Devaney
Share to Twitter Email This
Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Annual Gala raised more than $500,000, according to a press release sent to MN Business. The funds include $45,000 for a VIP package to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game provided by Helping Hand Award honoree Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Programs including the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend will benefit.

Update by Tonya Garcia

Original post published April 25, 2014.

Brandi Harvey said she learned to “work hard and lead with love” from her father, comedian, author and radio host Steve Harvey.

With that motto in mind, Brandi, executive director of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, will present the foundation’s fourth annual gala on May 3 at the Hilton Chicago along with Steve and his wife Marjorie Harvey.

Throughout the evening, the gala will showcase the Chicago Children’s Choir, a youth presentation featuring Erica Vincent and Joseph Foster, a live performance from R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and producer Kem, and an after-party soiree with DJ Timbuk2.

The gala, themed “The Power of 3: Potential, Passion & Purpose,” will also highlight its Helping Hand Award honorees: Pastor Corey Brooks of Chicago’s New Beginnings Church; Clint Culpepper, president of Screen Gems; Steve Pemberton, chief diversity officer of Walgreens; and Cookie and Magic Johnson.

Brandi said the honorees were chosen because of their impact in the lives of young men and women, which in turn encompasses the “Power of 3.”

“This year’s honorees really have shown potential, passion and purpose and they embody these powers through their lives, careers, and philanthropic work,” Brandi said. “It takes a village to raise children and communities and these people are upholding that truth and helping to build that village.”

While Brandi praised all the foundation’s honorees, Brooks captured national attention in 2012 when he camped on the roof of an abandoned Chicago hotel for 94 days, raising an astounding $580,000, even prompting Tyler Perry to donate $100,000. Later that year, Brooks again made headlines when he walked from Times Square in New York City to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where he and his team raised another $450,000. While Brooks hopes to raise $20 million to build a state of the art community center in Chicago, he said the core of his efforts is to uplift Chicago’s youth through his campaigns: The Circle of Influence 2014 and Project Hood (Helping Others Obtain Destiny).

“People don’t realize how much power, gifts and ability they have. Everybody has a circle of influence and if you can work within that circle and take small incremental steps you can make big changes,” Brooks said. “I am both humbled and honored to be recognized by the foundation and I am hoping that I can go beyond my own goals and raise enough money to support Steve and Marjorie with the success of their foundation. We plan on being long term partners in uplifting urban youth.”

Brandi agreed and said the fundraising goal for this year’s gala is to raise $1 million. Funds will go towards its projects like Girls Who Rule the World and Mentoring Weekend for Young Men.

“We want to expand globally so we can offer young people national exposure and business opportunities. We are also planning to build a holistic family center in Dallas, TX, where we can hold our camp and to have a place where people from all over the world can convene and mentor.”

With the foundation’s programs going global, the gala, sponsored by brands like Coca Cola, AT&T, and Morgan Stanley, will be the next step towards forming long lasting partnerships to give kids what Brandi calls a “global mentality.”

“We want to show our kids that service is a part of life and when you give you get so much more. We are going to push a service initiative that will teach our kids how to go out and lead, and to see that the world is so much bigger than their neighborhood,” Brandi said.

Brandi said her ability to lead comes from her father’s “genuine commitment to compassion.”

“My father is the clearest example of hard work. I have had to work hard for whatever it is that I have gotten in life and that is something he always instilled in us and into the boys and girls in our programs,” she said. “I have been blessed to have a father like him and I take everything I learned from him into my family, into my team and sometimes you have to be stern to lead but that’s what love is. It comes with toughness and that’s all right.”