All Articles Tagged "philanthropy"
From Black Voices
With Beyonce on her way to complete world domination this year, her mother, Tina Knowles, is focusing her attention on more altruistic endeavors with a new anti-hunger campaign called “Miss A Meal.”
The project — a partnership with Houston, Tx. non-profit Bread of Life Inc. — aims to feed millions of Americans by encouraging people to skip a meal and donate the money they would have spent to feed those who are less fortunate.
Knowles, who tapped her daughters Beyonce and Solange to get the word out about the campaign, said missing one meal is a small sacrifice for many.
“When we say ‘we are starving,’ we have to remember that there are people who are literally starving,” Knowles said in a release. “If everyone fed one person, one meal, we could make a huge difference.”
Read more at BlackVoices.com
Behind the Click: Veteran and Tech Entrepreneur Sophia Marnell On the “Power Of a Woman With IT Skill”
This installment of Behind the Click features Sophia Marnell, owner and president of Washington D.C.-based Alexton, a software development, network configuration, and system administration company, all under the IT umbrella. Her clients include NASA, just to name one. Not bad, huh? Sophia also participates in some special philanthropic activities as well — and, she’s a veteran! Read on to get the full scoop.
Favorite website: Amazon
Favorite read: The Way We Were by Arthur Laurents
Recent read: 50 Shades of Gray… “Fell into the hype!”
2013′s ultimate goal: Continue to provide our high quality services to our current clients and grow.
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You: To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. – e. e. cummings )
Twitter handle: Do not have one!
Madame Noire: I read in your bio that you attended Maine Maritime Academy. Not your average school! How did you decide upon that institution?
Sophia Marnell: Deciding to go to Maine Maritime seemed like a standard next step to get guidance to becoming a mechanical engineer. My father was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force, career military, and was stationed in Maine. I love the structure, organization, and challenge of attending the school. However, at 17, we are naive on how the world really works, and must learn valuable lessons to build the steps to success. Being the only African-American girl was challenging and it made me adapt to an environment that I was not accustomed to. I realized that hard work and humor was the key to making it through many things.
MN: So it seems you acquired your interest in IT prior to college. How did it come about? I read that you are a veteran — our first as a profile! Did you work somehow in IT while serving?
SM: I was in the Army Intelligence Corp as an intelligence analyst. Being in the Army as an analyst gave me the opportunity to work with high level technology systems and solutions that most people dream about. With knowledge gained from my college courses and an interest in the emerging technology scene, IT became a good fit quite quickly. As a veteran, you have to make hard choices as to where you go next, while remembering all the things you learned. By using my analyzing expertise and technology, it soon became my mission to create and develop IT solutions as a career.
MN: Your earlier positions after school were at places like the the State Department and NASA. Tell me more about what you did.
SM: Government contracting looked to be a promising career. With my background and plenty of agencies looking for good people, the Washington metropolitan area became my home. I worked as a IT consultant developing and creating solutions for identified problems in various aspects of the government spaces such as software, financial, trend analysis, or career development.
Technology was moving quickly, and I worked my full-time job during the day and studied emerging technologies at night while trying to be the best wife and mother I could. I was very lucky to have a strong family support that helped me to get to the next level and understood that at times I was off my game! I tried to keep up with the changes knowing that information technology was going to change the way the government operated. I wanted to be a part of and lead that change.
Wells Fargo presented the United Negro College Fund with a check for $3 million during the “34th Annual An Evening With the Stars” event, which will air on BET on January 27. This is the latest contribution from Wells Fargo to educational programs and, specifically, the UNCF and programs benefiting minorities on the path to college.
The money will be distributed over three years ($1 million each year) with the donation going towards pre-college programs including: raising awareness about the importance of college; helping families with financial planning, working with the UNCF Empower Me Tour; and financial aid for college students, such as those who are taking part in the Wells Fargo Scholarship Program.
Wells Fargo is a sponsor of the two-hour “Evening With the Stars” program. Chaka Khan, Usher, Trey Songz, and Yolanda Adams are among the performers and presenters at this year’s event.
The holidays aren’t just a time for giving gifts to friends and loved ones. It’s also a time to think about the things we can do for others. At times, that support doesn’t take the form of a monetary donation, but rather a bit of support for people we know, folks from the community, or a stranger in need.
I recently stopped by the book launch party for Everybody Paddles: A Guide to Achieving Partnership, Association, Collaboration and Togetherness, a book that’s a collaboration in and of itself. The collection of essays focuses on the personal experiences of a variety of writers who tell stories about how families and communities of people came together to achieve a goal.
Post-party, we sent a few questions to Charles Archer, CEO of the Evelyn Douglin Center for Serving People in Need (a nonprofit that helps the developmentally challenged) and the “chief instigator” of what he calls the “Everybody Paddles movement.” The email Q&A is below. Tell us what you think of the mission.
Madame Noire: Why did you decide to publish this book now? And how did you decide on the writers who would contribute?
Charles Archer: Over the past year, there has been economic, climate, health, legal and political shifts in our society. With these discussions, there was a tone of misplaced accountability. I believe that the accountability belonged to EVERYBODY. This is now the appropriate time to disseminate this message about time, direction and goal.
The contributors to the guide were people that I witnessed EP moments within their lives and each of them making a difference in the lives of others.
MN: Can you elaborate a little on the “Everybody Paddles”mission.
CA: The mission of Everybody Paddles is to create open dialogue, action opportunities while understanding that everybody is required for everything. There is not one unifying goal. Within each of our lives –professional, personal, communal and social – whatever the intended goal, interest or desired outcome that the group has identified requires an active commitment from all.
For example, as a CEO, my organization’s mission is to enhance the lives of others. It’s important for all employees to understand our purpose, act in accordance with our values, and execute our mission. Everybody! I need all of the great staff of the organization to paddle daily for others. The goal will be different for each organization, each family, each state and each sports team.
MN: In the book, you say, “Society is being divided by economics, education, classism, ageism, gender differences, religion, and partisan politics. Despite these challenges, I believe there is opportunity.” What opportunity? Where do people find common ground to further this idea?
CA: The opportunities have always existed but conveying the message about these opportunities did not exist. The opportunity is if we want to create better, improved, unifying companies, families, communities, cities and states we need to work together, find strong partnerships, associate with visionary people and find innovative collaboration. The common ground is found within us to connect in every area of life with others who share our belief and vision. This is no more evident in that the book contributors want to call people to unification and not division.
MN: People are in a good mood around the holidays. In what ways should they come together in the “Everybody Paddles” spirit as we approach the new year?
CA: Think about those in need. Think about the disadvantaged. Think about the homeless and newly displaced. Think about the elderly and disabled. Think about those with health-related concerns or have lost love-ones. Even think about a family member, friend or colleague you have not spoken to in a while. And then do something. Anything.
Volunteer at a soup-kitchen. Donate old clothing. Purchase a food item for a man, woman or family on the street. Take a cooked dish to a neighbor affected by hurricanes. Call, Skype, Face Time or visit a family elder or other member. And pray for comfort and peace for families who will gather without someone. These are all simple things that we can all do. It does not take hours. It takes minutes.
You know those clothes you plan to give away to the Salvation Army/Goodwill in the holiday spirit of cleaning out your closet? The charity probably won’t be able to sell them to anyone in the States. Mostly because it is already inundated with the literally tons of secondhand clothing donations that come in every day, not to mention the spike it takes in over the Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year period. Textile recyclers will take the bulk of your donation off the charity’s hands, then sell it to rag merchants who go on to sell it to African entrepreneurs. These African businessmen and women then retail the used clothes to a ready market.
In Ghana, these secondhand retail points are known as “bend down boutiques” in reference to the fact that buyers have to stoop to browse the bins of clothes for sale, spread out on the ground. Ghanaians call the clothes in the bins “obroni we wu” or “white man’s deads” and in Togo, they are also nicknamed “dead yovo” or “dead white person” for their assumed former white owners. But in Kenya and Tanzania, they are known for their sheer volume—“mitumba” or “bales”—a good indication of their impact.
Between 1989 and 2007, the U.S. exported nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothes to over 100 countries. These clothes are Tanzania’s number one import from the States. With recyclers netting an approximate $2 per pound for wearable clothing, and even the dregs fetching in the neighborhood of 25 cents per pound, the global trade in secondhand duds is a multi-billion dollar industry.
According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, America exported over $605 million worth of used clothes in 2011 alone. The market is so lucrative, SavannahNow.com reports, some charities and for-profit clothing recyclers are engaging in a donated clothing war, with the latter looking to cut charities out as drop-off middlemen.
This booming market disproportionately favors the American and European players—and in many ways, undermines the ability for an Africa-based fashion industry to grow. With most Africans living on less than $3,000 a year, designers, seamstresses, tailors, and retailers based on the continent are competing with the low prices of used clothes. Add the fact that imported secondhand threads enable African fashion-philes to rock the global styles they see touted on countless blogs and in international fashion magazines, and the competition becomes steeper.
Though more and more fashion weeks are sprouting across Africa with Vogue Italia and Mercedes Benz sponsoring high-profile events in Ghana and South Africa respectively within the last few weeks, the lack of a widespread buying infrastructure where retailers buy and distribute designers’ wares make it difficult for more than a handful of African fashion industry stakeholders to thrive.
So what’s the solution? Should you donate those clothes to Goodwill after all?
New York-based journalist Abi Ishola visited Ghana and Nigeria to report on the issue. In her opinion, African governments need to subsidize the homegrown fashion industry, from designers to retailers to exporters. “China…has come in and they’re counterfeiting a lot of the wax print and… selling them at cheaper prices,” she observed, explaining they can do this because the Chinese government subsidizes their fashion and exports. “So it’s easier for the Chinese to, you know, not charge as much as the designers in Ghana or in Nigeria.”
Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, says part the solution lies in promoting the craft—and value—of fashions specific to different regions. “What we’re seeing even in the United States is, ‘Oh wait, yes we are able to walk into a store and buy a $5 dress,’ but,” Cline continues, “we lost all of these incredible craftspeople, and people with so much knowledge and skill.” Cline adds, “In America where we’ve gotten to the point where that history has almost virtually been erased and now we’re trying to reconnect with it, hopefully, in other countries it won’t go that far before someone says, ‘Wait, this heritage needs to be preserved. This knowledge is important.’”
Aisha Obuobi, founder of the wildly popular Ghana-based fashion label Christie Brown, would agree with Cline. “Although our clothing has a modern/contemporary feel, the whole idea is to infuse African elements in each piece… this is something that can’t be found in “secondhand” clothing.” She says designers and all stakeholders in a successful African fashion industry need to understand that the African market is not the American or European market, and treat it accordingly. “It is important to observe and understand the African consumer’s buying behavior and retail needs and tailor our products, services and merchandising efforts.”
With so many Africans earning wages below the poverty level, the main consumer need is affordable price. Obuobi says, “Being able to mass produce is really what will drive down the cost / retail prices of the clothing. Once that takes off, I am certain that will birth retail outlets that can easily support lower income consumer needs.”
To that end, Nora Bannerman, CEO of Ghana-based Sleek Garments, has opened a factory in Accra with the capacity to mass produce garments at competitive prices. This needs to happen en masse across Africa with the support of government and private sector investment.
In the meantime, Ishola says go ahead and give that old coat to Goodwill. Even with all the challenges, your donated clothing has potential to benefit the African economy. Textile recyclers say the secondhand clothing trade has created over five million jobs in Kenya alone. In Nigeria, where the government has banned the import and retail of secondhand clothing in a move to protect their homegrown fashion industry, the trade thrives on the black market, also creating jobs. One used clothing trader told Al-Jazeera, “If you close [the] Nigerian border today, within two, three weeks, the Republic will be shaken.” He said the countries that supply the secondhand traders with the illegal clothes would feel the pinch too. “The revenue they get from Nigerians who import these goods in this country goes a long way.”
Sheila C. Johnson has built an empire and living legacy that is more than worthy of the accolades and positive adjectives that are so often used in her presence. That legacy includes co-founding BET, running Salamander Hospitality’s bevy of hotels and resorts, producing prominent documentary and feature-length films (she’s currently an executive producer for Lee Daniel’s feature film The Butler), becoming America’s first African-American female billionaire, and becoming the first African-American woman to own a sports team (Washington’s Mystics, Wizards and Capitals).
And now, this serial entrepreneur and philanthropist is getting into the fashion game with the Sheila Johnson Collection, a line of luxury scarves that feature one-of-a-kind photographs from her travels.
I recently caught up with Mrs. Johnson to learn more about the Sheila Johnson Collection and its philanthropic mission, the story behind the recurring salamander theme in her businesses, and what her advice would be for young women who are interested in starting their own businesses.
Madame Noire (MN): How would you describe the Sheila Johnson Collection to someone that was hearing/reading about it for the first time?
Sheila Johnson (SJ): It reflects my passion for beauty, women’s empowerment, and artistic expression as captured through the lens of the camera.
Everywhere I go, I take my camera. It forces me to slow down, and really look, and really see. And what I’ve seen is so inspiring, from the raw beauty of the natural landscape in my hometown of Middleburg, VA, to the courage of Haitian communities as they rebuild from disaster, to the resilience and strength of women in Africa. I’ve tried to capture those moments in time through my photography, and to share those stories with other women and men through wearable art.
MN: You’ve experienced considerable success with both BET and Salamander Hospitality. Why launch a new business at this stage in your life?
SJ: I am a woman who does not like to sit still. When I see opportunities where I can continue to express myself and continue to challenge the boundaries of sharing my life with others — that’s what gets me out of bed every morning.
MN: In a recent interview you shared that photography has been one of your passions for a long time. What made you choose scarves as the medium for you to share your photos?
SJ: A scarf creates a lasting emotion of feeling nurtured and embraced. Scarves give warmth and tenderness, plus they are accessories that women can use anytime and anywhere. I wanted to draw on that feeling of closeness to give meaning to the stories represented in each scarf.
MN: You also revealed that you recently formed a street soccer team called the Lady Salamanders and that proceeds from the Sheila Johnson Collection will benefit the team. How did you get involved with the team and how have these women impacted your life?
SJ: I first became aware of the street soccer movement when I served as executive producer of the documentary film Kicking It, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. I was inspired by the story of the players in that film, and realized there wasn’t the same focus on the women as on the men, even though they were struggling with the same problems of homelessness and addiction. Through the eyes of these women, you understand how vulnerable life is—and, also, how resilient the human spirit can be. I wanted to help support and empower them as they worked to overcome their challenges, find employment, and build stable, hopeful lives. So I sponsored and helped start the women’s national team, which is called the Lady Salamanders. I’m proud to say, they recently returned from Mexico City, where they competed in the Homeless World Cup!
To celebrate her new book Profit With Purpose: A Marketer’s Guide to Delivering Purpose-Driven Campaigns to Multicultural Audiences, author and EGAMI Consulting Group founder Teneshia Jackson Warner teamed up with Dinner With Bevy‘s Bevy Smith for a dinner party/awards ceremony/”discotheque” (Smith’s word) at New York’s Beauty & Essex. The soiree was also focused on the cause-related work of the night’s honorees: P&G’s program My Black is Beautiful; Budget Fashionista and founder of digitalundivided (DID), Kathryn Finney; Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond; celebrity stylist and host of ABC World News’ Cause Celeb with Phillip Bloch, Phillip Bloch; Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a program working in partnership with Essence and Steve Harvey to help high school students reach their career goals; and chef/reality TV star Chef Roble.
We’re going to have more from Warner about cause marketing and her book later this week. But the need for good works in the world is strong enough that we wanted to give the awards ceremony its own little shout out.
The 2012 Purpose Awards Dinner (#profitwithpurpose) was meant, according to the evening’s program, to celebrate with “a night of purpose” and “continue to drive the conversation.” The evening highlighted the social responsibility initiatives of the honorees, and the innovative approach with which they’re tackling their businesses, organizations, or passion projects.
When accepting his award, Bloch said, “When someone shines a light, we all shine a little brighter,” speaking to why it’s important for everyone to do what they can and then cheer that work to take it even further.
But before the accolades, one has to get started. In her acceptance speech, Bond said she only wanted to make a cool t-shirt when she started. Today, Black Girls Rock! has a televised awards ceremony that uplifts not just young girls, but women also.
When presenting the award, Warner thanked Bond for answering her calling. “We’re so happy that you said yes,” said Warner.
“We’re all connected and we’re all affected,” said Bond during her acceptance speech.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was good food, good music (Talib Kweli was DJing, with Bond jumping into the booth for a few minutes), and cocktails aplenty. Party with a purpose…
When it comes to community service, African Americans give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites, according to findings by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Root recently looked at the top 12 philanthropists and included were a number of black celebrities and businesspeople.
Most people are aware of Bill and Camille Cosby’s long history of philanthropy–in 1988, they donated $20 million to Spelman College, the largest gift ever given to a black institution. This is just one of their major donations. They also run the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation to fulfill the goals and dreams of their son, who sought to initiate change through education.
But did you know Alicia Keys was a top philanthropist as well? She co-founded Keep a Child Alive with AIDS activist and film-television producer Leigh Blake in 2003. It is committed to providing AIDS medicine and care to children and families in India and Africa. In 2010, Keys’ Digital Death campaign raised over $1 million for Keep a Child Alive through Twitter and Facebook donations.
A black philanthropy list wouldn’t be complete without Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey. Simmons, in fact, has been called the “Godfather of Hip-Hop Philanthropy,” for raising millions of dollars to benefit urban youth through his Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Hip Hop Summit Action Network.
Oprah, of course, is the top African-American philanthropist. She has donated more than $300 million through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Oprah’s Angel Network and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. “Forty million dollars alone went toward the creation of Winfrey’s leadership academy for girls in South Africa. One hundred percent of proceeds from Winfrey’s Angel Network funds charitable projects and grants globally,” states the Root.
But you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to give back. It is not only money to donate but time as well. Donate time to a homeless center or a grassroots community organization. But if you do want to give money to an organization, research first.
“They are not all 501(c)3s. You want to understand the type, and know what it means for the public and you, the prospective donor,” says Amanda Ebokosia, executive director and founder of The Gem Project, a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated in building leaders through the development of educational enrichment programs for youth and young adults. Find out what type of nonprofit it is, either contact them directly or visit sites like Charity Navigator, for organizational information if listed. And check out sites like Volunteer Match to find a listing of organizations that suit your interests, advises Ebokosia. “Above all, you want to know the intentions of the organization, how they’re governed, and what they’ll offer for the community.”
And, you don’t have to have a lot of money to donate. “With the spark of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, we’ve found how great impact can be measured, by small contributions,” says Ebokosia.
Another option are giving circles, groups of individuals who donate money or time to a pooled fund for charity or community projects. “It focuses on the collaborative efforts of individual contributions… to yield a bigger impact to support and fund a shared interest,” Ebokosia points out.
Interested in getting involved even further, check out Friends of Ebonie, a full service social responsibility and career enrichment firm for millennials of color. And right now, given the ongoing relief effort for Hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross is always an option.
It has quickly become one of the most respected awards shows highlighting the successes of African-American women in almost any field but particularly the media and finally, we get to see what is going to unfold during the 2012 Black Girls Rock! awards show.
Hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis-Ross and Regina King, the show will air tonight on BET at 7p/ET. This year’s honorees include: singers Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae, magazine legend Susan L. Taylor, activist Dr. Hawa Abdi and actress Kerry Washington. There will also be performances by Ciara, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, India Arie and Alicia Keys. Men are allowed in on the act this year with performances from Luke James and Eric Benet.
The awards show is an extension of Black Girls Inc., founded by DJ Beverly Bond. The purpose of BGR is to foster the healthy development of young women and girls. They aim to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons and helping them to empower themselves. It has been quite amazing watching the organization grow over the last few years.
Will you be watching?
The Roots’ Black Thought may be best known for his work with the band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and elsewhere, but he’s also making a name for himself in the world’s of philanthropy and women’s health.
In 2010, he and a friend, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, a sociology professor at John Jay College, partnered to raise awareness about health issues affecting women and girls.
“She laid out for me the ways in which women and girls were dying from breast cancer, suicide and other chronic diseases and explained to me that these things were all connected to obesity and physical inactivity. It was her vision that if we merged the power of hip hop with social science, we can change the way things are,” Black Thought tells Black Enterprise in a one-on-one interview.
As a dad, Black Thought says he was drawn to this effort, as much as he is to certain cities around the country where these illnesses are prevalent; places like Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, and Jackson, MS.
For more about the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, upcoming events and how you can launch a nonprofit effort in support of a cause you care about, read more on BlackEnterprise.com.