FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | The Four Year Posse | Help is on The Way

Photo Courtesy: The Posse Foundation

Photo Courtesy: The Posse Foundation

I know what you’re thinking, there is not a lot to feel good about in this week’s roundup. Preteens are still having crying spells over Zayn Malick going the opposite direction of One Direction bandmates by exiting the group. A German co-pilot purposely crashed a commercial airline, carrying 150 souls, into the French Alps. And the bad news goes on and on and on. Yet, I found something to interrupt that cycle.

An effective way to discourage school dropouts. A New York City teacher Deborah Bial created the Posse Foundation–an org that selects driven high school students with higher learning chops overlooked by the traditional college selection process to be taken under a posse of 10 college students wing, and in the process are awarded four-year, full college scholarships–after noticing scholarship undergrads not getting the support they need.

It takes a village to raise a child and I suppose create a college scholar as well.

The Posse Foundation has been around for 25 years and during that time over 50 colleges and universities have partnered with the org. According to DailyGood, Bial’s innovative program has sent nearly 5,000 students to 48 colleges, full tuition deferred, in groups of 10 and have a 90 percent graduation rate.

We recognized early on,” Bial says, “that SAT and ACT scores do not capture every student’s aptitude for college-level work. There are many students who could perform competitively and succeed in college, but who might be missed by such traditional measures.

What’s the winning formula?

Communication, communication, communication. It’s not just necessary in relationships. Students attend meetings leading up to their on-campus move in. Leadership training and on campus support systems is what gets them to the four-year finish line.

However, the Posse Foundation is very selective on who they allow in the program. Because it’s less about SAT scores and more about kids interaction in group interviews that test problem solving and team work skills.

Bial’s cup runneth over with worthy candidates now she needs more campuses to host them.

We are simply turning away too many highly qualified students,” she says. “We cannot add partners quickly enough to take all the talented students we have in our pipeline.

Let’s hope she finds them.


Help is on The Way

Yesterday, media outlets flocked to lower Manhattan when four buildings collapsed; a result of a gas explosion. A few seconds before they did an off duty firefighter raced to the building to rescue a woman hanging on her fire escape. He scaled the building and managed to get the woman and her pet out safely. According to the New York Daily News, he got the woman out in less than a minute before it exploded in a ball of flames.

The unidentified hero wasn’t alone. A construction worker was sitting in his truck when the building went ablaze. After the first floor restaurant was in rubble, he raced to help out survivors. This is what he told the Daily News:

I was pulling people out … I pulled out about eight people, but it wasn’t just me. There were others (helping) too,

As horribly tragic as the situation is–two people are still missing and four out of 22 people are in critical condition–it’s nice to see New Yorkers lending a hand to help one another.

She’s Baaacccckkkk!! Viola Davis Continues Fight Against Hunger

violahungeris

V.D. is back! And I don’t just mean on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” although I’m dying to know the second season premiere date. I’m referring to her continuing to be the ambassador on the ‘Hunger Is’ campaign.

Viola joined the campaign, to stomp out childhood hunger in America, during its roll out last year. Drawing on her personal experiences as a starving child, Davis wanted to put her well-deserved star power to good use, again.

The program raised over $4.6 million last year that went towards children’s access to healthy meals and creating long term solutions for childhood hunger.

Viola Davis said this about her continued support of the campaign:

After an incredibly successful inaugural year with Hunger Is, I am grateful to keep the momentum in finding a solution to a problem that is too often forgotten. We have the opportunity to change so many young lives for the better and I look forward to the day when this is no longer an issue in our country.

There is still time to donate to this worthy and necessary cause online at the Safeway Foundation and in Safeway stores.

Rapper Common Makes Surprise Visit to Chicago High School

Common praising Dunbar Academy students for their good grades and attendance. Photo Courtesy: @ChiPubSchools Twitter

Common praising Dunbar Academy students for their good grades and attendance.
Photo Courtesy: @ChiPubSchools Twitter

In between doing press for new movie “Run All Night” and organizing a fundraiser for his Common Ground Foundation–which he and new musical sidekick John Legend performed for—Common squeezed in a mentoring session.

Last week he spoke to honor roll students at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in the South Side of Chicago. The rapper congratulated them on their excellent grades and I’m sure they tossed praise his way for his recent Oscar and Grammy wins. Even if he didn’t bring the trophies for a show-and-tell. Tsk Tsk what a wasted opportunity that could be used to illustrate what the kids possibilities look like. And have them hold it in their hands so they know it’s real.

Oh well.

Instead he chatted with the teens about his past and the value of education.

All issues he covers in his Common Ground Foundation that emphasis’ leadership, money management and artistic expression. Skills that are sharpened the most during high school years.

A few days after the classroom visit, Common held his “Evening of Glory” fundraiser. And posted highlights on the org’s YouTube page.

IFYOUBLINKED Woman Crush | ‘Scandal’s’ Kerry Washington Tackles Homophobia in Black Community

Kerry at this year's GLAAD Media Vanguard Awards.  Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Kerry at this year’s GLAAD Media Vanguard Awards.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Image

Just when you think Gaga has the LGBTQ community cornered, Olivia Pope..ahem Kerry Washington threw her white hat into the mix. Accepting the GLAAD Media Vanguard Award earlier this week, she took the opportunity to get some “stuff” off her chest in regards to gays, lesbians, trans… a whole crop of “others” consistently blackballed in media. The Scandal star demands more of them be brought to the forefront to have their stories told. Because without them expressing their journey “in front of and behind the camera” the palette of diversity is incomplete.

To say she had the crowd–including How to Get Away with Murder‘s Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Ellen Degeneres, Portia DeRossi and Glee‘s Alex Newell aka Unique–on their feet is an understatement. K Dub had them eating out of the palm of her hand. And rightfully so. There are so many varying perspectives in the world in regards to sexual orientation, identity and race that are just now, like it’s 2015, people, being explored on the large and small screen.

Choosing Kerry Washington as this week’s Woman Crush was not only based upon her advocacy for LGBTQ rights, but also for her outspokenness when it comes to homophobia in the Black community. It’s a topic akin to airing out a family’s dirty laundry. You just don’t do it. But, Kerry did and I applaud her for doing so.

On Black people not accepting gay marriage:

The first thing that I say is please don’t let anybody get you to vote against your own best interests by feeding you messages of hate.

She continues:

And, you know, people use to say stuff like that about you and your love. And if we let the government legislate love in our lifetime, who do you think is next?

Just to give background, Kerry has being fighting the LGBTQ and Race fight loooonnnng before she became a Shondaland darling. Two years ago she did Q&A with Advocate.com about her personal experiences in the gay community. She talked about growing up in a progressive household with gay and lesbian friends floating in and out. And working among the gay community in theater camps and mentoring workshops.

When asked if she came across closeted actors, this was her response:

Sure. I’ve actually talked with friends about the similarities between being closeted and the idea of passing in the black community. Those in the black community who could pass for white often did so to get more opportunities in life, but it came at such a great cost. When you buy into the cultural idea of what’s acceptable and unacceptable, you reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices. That wouldn’t work for me.

What does work is her need to speak out on Twitter–against anti-gay laws in Russia and support for marriage equality–to enforce change.

I urge you to watch her full GLAAD Media Award acceptance speech below. It will be worth your while.

Russell Simmons Donates 100 Percent of Clothing Line Profits to Black Empowerment

Russell Simmons and Kanye West want to change the fashion industry, but have conflicting ways on doing it. Photo Courtesy: unclerush instagram

Russell Simmons and Kanye West want to change the fashion industry, but have conflicting ways on doing it.
Photo Courtesy: unclerush instagram

Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons is putting his money where his mouth is.

Earlier this month the yogi took to Instagram to gripe about minorities not getting a fair shake within the fashion industry. Somewhere Kanye West is rolling his eyes and saying “duh.”

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But instead of storming on an established designer’s runway and claiming to have the best line of all time. Or ranting at a music concert, Russell decided to take all,I mean every last cent he makes with his Arglyeculture line he sells at Macys and donate it to Black empowerment.

“I want to help create space for more black designers to have access to sell their lines in big American department stores,” he writes on Instagram.

In another Instagram post he writes about donating profits to black empowerment designers and education programs. And giving neighborhood antiviolence programs a cut as well.

It wouldn’t hurt to have more faces of color being on the stage, rather than in the audience.

APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE |Ludacris Honored by Georgia Lawmakers for Charity

In black in white..er..okay orange and white, Luda is officially on Georgia's lawmakers' minds. Photo courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

In black in white..er..okay orange and white, Luda is officially on Georgia’s lawmakers’ minds.
Photo courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

Ludacris goes to Washington. Not quite, but he did cozy up to a Bush (Jeb, if you’re interested) right after being honored at the Georgia state Capitol for the Ludacris Foundation’s work with kids.

Lawmakers patted the Rollin Out rapper on the back for inspiring at-risk children to look beyond their circumstances with his philanthropy.

Ludacris told Fox News his Foundation teaches kids to not wait on “government institutions, social programs and politics alone” to solve community issues.

Following Luda on the podium was 2016 presidential candidate–and brother to George Bush who the rapper once called “mentally handicapped” in a song–Jeb Bush.

He took advantage of the opportunity to snap a shot with the rapper and tweeted this:

Also there to stand by her hubby was Eudoxie. Awww her pregger bump is starting to show.

Ludacris surrounded by lawmakers and pregnant wife Eudoxie. Photo Courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

Ludacris surrounded by lawmakers and pregnant wife Eudoxie.
Photo Courtesy: ludacrisfdtn instagram

The Bridges have a lot to celebrate.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | Basketball Team Refuses to Play Against Rival Team for Good Reason

The Gainesville Texas  Tornadoes make a surprising entrance into the game. Photo courtesy:  CBS News

The Gainesville Texas Tornadoes make a surprising entrance into the game.
Photo courtesy: CBS News

In honor of the NCAA tournaments (how’s your bracket looking?) that are hijacking TV screens across the nation, this week’s FEEL GOOD Friday story is about two rival basketball teams and redefining what un-sportsmanlike behavior means.

The basketball team at Vanguard College Prep—-a private school in Waco, Texas—-turned down a showdown with the Gainesville,Texas Tornadoes, a juvenile detention center team, because they would have an unfair advantage. Not in terms of their skills on the hardwood but with crowd participation.

Instead of taking advantage of the Tornadoes Achilles heel, Vanguard players recruited volunteers from their school to cheer on the opposing team. Watch what happens next below:

Source: CBS News

IF YOU BLINKED Woman Crush | Mo’ne Davis Creates Kicks for Charity

Mo'ne Davis holding her newly unveiled sneaker collection.  Photo Courtesy: ShoesbyMade Instagram

Mo’ne Davis holding her newly unveiled sneaker collection.
Photo Courtesy: ShoesbyMade Instagram

moshoes

Mo is reinventing the throw like a girl stereotype. Photo Courtesy: shoesbymade instagram

As if we needed another reason to love Mo’ne Davis. The Little League legend gives us one more. The 13-year-old is creeping into pro athlete territory by releasing a custom sneaker–with a baseball styled stitch–that will benefit other young girls like herself.

I never thought at the age of 13 I’d be a role model, but having young girls look up to me is pretty cool!

ESPN reports Mo is working with shoe company M4D3 and the “Because I am a Girl” initiative to unveil a limited edition sneaker collection, which 15 percent of sales will go towards helping impoverished girls.

As if that’s not enough. Mo has a memoir in the works.

Girls really do run the world.

Drake Donates $75,000 to Struggling High School

Drake performing in the studio. Now he's going to give Strawberry Mansion High Schoolers that same opportunity. Photo Courtesy: ChampagnePapi Instagram

Drake performing in the studio. Now he’s going to give Strawberry Mansion High Schoolers that same opportunity.
Photo Courtesy: ChampagnePapi Instagram

Strawberry Mansion High School is getting a PR boost from lovesick rapper Drake. He donated $75,000 to open a recording studio for students at the troubled high school that was ranked one of the worst in the country.

“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” rapper cashed in (literally) on a promise he made to the teens two years ago. In a surprise appearance to Strawberry Mansion High School, he told the kids,

This is about you. This is about your principal. This is about your future. I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed.

Now they can in a newly designed booth–Huffington Post reports finished construction last summer–the Strawberry High principal christened; playing a song from the studio over the PA system.

Let’s hope they go the way of famous Strawberry high alum Meek Mill.

Ludacris and Chance the Rapper Make Surprise Visit to Chicago School

Chance giving out laptops  at the #getconnected event at Chicago's Alcott Prep. Ludacris looks on.

Chance giving out laptops at the #getconnected event at Chicago’s Alcott Prep. Ludacris looks on.

Luda and Chance the Rapper rewarded Chicago’s Alcott high school with brand new laptops for participating in the #getschooled Internet essential project. The goal is to rev students up to use the Web proactively–not just for Instagram and Snapchat–to prepare for college.

Alcott ranked second in the project’s success rate of using the Internet to help pave a career path. So, Chi town native Chance made a surprise appearance and brought along a famous friend…LLLOOOUUUDDDAAA.

Once the excitement died down, somewhat. Ludacris gave the teens these wise words of advice:

Life is all about competition. If I made my dreams come true you can make your dreams come true.”

Chance the rapper’s sage words were more to the point, this is what he told the young’uns.

If you are an aspiring artist, use the internet to promote your work.

Luda helped pass out laptops donated by Comcast Illinois. Followed by meeting all the teens requests to take selfies with him and Chance.

Saaayyyy Chheeesssee Ludacris taking a group selfie at #getconnected event held at Chicago's Alcott Prep.

Saaayyyy Chheeesssee Ludacris taking a group selfie at #getconnected event held at Chicago’s Alcott Prep.

But not before Luda took a group shot.

No doubt Luda and Chance made these kids week.

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