Feel Good Friday | 200 Black Men Cheering on Back-to-School Kids

Let's get this school year started right.

Back-to-school motivation from some dapper Dans as kids enter first day of school.

In my best 50 cent “In Da Club” voice…

Go shawty…it’s a school day…we gonna cheer ya on while you stud-yyy. 

Okay, that’s likely not what nearly 100 black Hartford, CT-based businessmen were chanting as local kids attended their first day of school on Tuesday.

The kids–mostly from single-parent homes–were greeted by a tribe (it takes a village, remember) of lawyers, cops, politicians, artists, activists commemorating the back-to-school milestone with high-fives and applause lined up outside their school.  As if they were on the starting lineup of the UConn Huskies rather than  elementary students entering Martin Luther King Junior School. Simultaneously, the same scene was recreated at Simpson Waverly School, a half-mile away.

Local pastor AJ Johnson, pal DeVaughn Ward and community activist Maurice Eastwood banded together to turn an idea on social media into a reality.

Pastor Johnson says the idea was to get 200 Black men to the elementary schools to give kids an inspiring welcome that could foster them throughout the year.

“Most of the kids there are raised by single moms, and you can see that as they were being dropped off, a lot of them had their moms drop them off,” Johnson said. “I think that this is an opportunity for educated black men to go in and grab a young man and show them what it really means to be a black male.”

Feel Good Friday | Shape-Ups, Stories and Scholarships

barber_0_1439548519Summer may be coming to an end ( say it ain’t so) but looking fierce for the first day of school just got more interesting.

An Iowan barber offered the best back-to-school special around: free haircuts to kids that read to him.

Courtney Holmes told Power 105.1 the free promotion is to help the community of Dubuque, Iowa prepare for the upcoming school year.

And as for the eight minute stories as payment?

“I just want to support kids reading,” Holmes said in a statement.

He’s not the only one. King James announced he’s working with University of Akron to sponsor 1,100 full college scholarships through his Family Foundation. The kids are required to complete the “I Promise” program of the foundation–vowing to maintain good grades and attendance, give back to the community–before getting the free ride.

The children range from the third to seventh grades in the program. Current seventh graders are likely to take advantage of LeBron picking up the $9500 tuition tab, if the promise is kept.

Wow Wednesday | Tyrese Picks Up Stranger’s College Tab

tyresezoThe 40 or 50 G’s Zo–Compton-based high school graduate–needed to attend the Black man’s Harvard (Morehouse College) came straight outta Tyrese’s wallet.

Yes, that Tyrese. The subway serenader, the R&B rebel with a cause to revive baby-making music is also investing in future scholars. Like Zo, who took to Instagram to boast about Tyrese’s generosity.

“As of today I begin my journey as a man of Morehouse. I am beyond grateful and thankful to be apart of such a great legacy. None of this would be possible without God, @tyrese, the support from my family and of course, my relentless hard work.” Zo captions underneath an Instagram photo of himself, Tyrese and Rev Run.

He adds, “annually, Morehouse is around 45K-50K and as you can imagine, that is a lot of money. I thank God for placing Tyrese in my life. It is because of him believing in me and investing in my future, that I am able to receive my education.”

The “Black Rose” crooner was motivated to help Zo with his higher learning after listening to Tom Joyner’s 2015 BET Awards acceptance speech. In which the renowned radio personality boasted he put 30,000 Black kids in college with over 65 million dollars donated through his HBCU org.

“…and I decided at that MOMENT I needed to DO something….it’s all about the #Start and this young kid is #StraightOuttaCompton and he started his first day in college yesterday.”

Way to pay it forward, Tyrese aka Vision Implementer (it’s what he calls himself.)

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY | Michelle Obama, Wale Urge Kids to ‘Beat the Odds’

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Just when you think FLOTUS can’t get any cooler, she ups her fab factor. In addition to giving the Oscar selfie some major competition (take that Internet!) Michelle Obama created a summit to help kids better transition into college.

The  “Beating the Odds” summit invited 130 soon-to-be college frosh to the White House. All from different walks of life, but one common denominator is they all struggled to make it into college, which means they’ll likely have more difficulty staying.

Cue Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative that gives first gen college students–like herself and POTUS–the support and tools they need to make it through all four years.

To give her a hand, Entertainment network’s Terrence J, Grammy-nominated rapper Wale shared his story of goofing off in college in hopes of getting into the NFL. The Chicago Sun Times reports Wale eventually ended up on academic probation, but college gave him a good foundation to be “self-made.”

Before Wale hopped on the stage to perform, POTUS Barack Obama introduced him and made this confession.

My rapping skills are terrible. That’s one thing I can’t do is rap. I like rap but I cannot rap.

But he had to do something right to pull Michelle, he added.

I got enough of a rap that I got Michelle to marry me.

Bloop. Yes, you did Mr. Prez.

Good luck, class of 2020 (God, I’m old)

If You Blinked Woman Crush | Pursuit of Haiti

angelahaiti

Angela Simmons–Rev Run’s daughter–nixed R&R for public service while vacationing in Haiti this week.

In between getting outdoor massages, modeling local designers two-piece creations and hiking, Angie made time to visit Mission of Grace orphanage. Twice.  And was instantly attached to  a little boy named Michael that didn’t want to leave her hip. Awwww.

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Angie also visited Mission of Hope that reportedly feeds 90,000 Haitian kids daily.

“I felt really connected to the children. They actually remembered me from the day before. But I was happy I could come and share my love again,” Angela writes on Instagram, where she’s documenting her trip.

Angela Simmons is our woman crush for nurturing needy children and spotlighting an often overlooked place in the world. Even when it’s newsworthy.

Angie isn’t the only one that loves the kids. ‘Power’ star Naturi Naughton paid a visit to her alma mater: East Orange Campus High School to share with the kiddies how to make power moves.

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Just don’t go Tasha and Ghost’s route, kids. Just say no.

IfYouBlinked Women Crush|Dear Graduates…


It’s that time of year again, guys. Our compilation of the four best commencement speeches of 2015. But (plot twist!!) it’s a no boys allowed  theme this year because a) women rule the world and b) it’s women crush wednesday. Sorry, fellas. Not to worry the advice these boss ladies provide is not gender specific.

Award-winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wellesley College

“We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.” 

SNL’s Maya Rudolph, Tulane University

“If I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes, and…and create your own destiny.”

FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, Tuskegee University

“I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves. I want you to ask those basic questions: who do you want to be? What inspires you? How do you want to give back? And then I want you to take a deep breath and trust yourselves to chart your own course and make your own mark on the world.”

GMA’s Robin Roberts, Emerson University

“Don’t worry about the fear factor. Everybody in here has felt it and will feel it. It is something that you have to realize that if you wait for it to pass you’re going to be sitting on the sidelines for a very long time.” 

Tell ’em girls. No wonder their our #wcw. Congrats to all the 2015 graduates. Be bold and carry on.

Learning from the Beauties! Keke Palmer & Alicia Quarles School Youth

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What does Cinderella and an E! news reporter have in common? Secrets to success.

Keke Palmer and E! News’ Alicia Quarles (who got Raven-Symone to admit she’s from every continent in Africa, ‘memba that?) talked to 60 handpicked NYC high school kids at MTV.

The kick it with Keke session was part of an on-going cycle of celeb talks from Get Schooled, a non-profit org motivating students to stay in school by recruiting “influencers” aka our fave celebs to instruct them to keep their heads in the books.

Keke was no different. She told the teens–awarded the event for motivating their younger classmates to stay on the academic fast track–to stay focused on their goals just as much as they do their Instagram pages.

“You’re reality is what’s around you. We get so caught up in Instagram and social media you forget about life around you.”

No one will forget Keke’s breakout solo.

Or, her demonstration on the evolution of twerking. Don’t take notes on that one kiddies.

But, you can quote red-carpet maven Alicia Quarles when she advised networking as the method to get ahead.

“One piece I learned was to network and to keep in contact with the people you meet.”

I hope you guys got business cards. I would…

E! News’ Terrence J Donates to Alma Mater | RHOA’s Claudia Jordan Gives Anti-bullying Speech

This frat's stepping was so slammin' Terrence J pulled out 100 Gs. How is that for gratitude?  Image Source: iamterrencej Instagram

This frat’s stepping was so slammin’ Terrence J pulled out 100 Gs. How is that for gratitude?
Image Source: iamterrencej Instagram

E! News must be doing Terrence J good. The sometimes actor/model turned E! News host plopped down $100 Gs to his alma mater–North Carolina A&T State University.

In exchange, the Journalism and Mass Communication dept. declared April 24th will forever be ‘Terrence J Day’ on the Greensboro, North Carolina campus. Cool. Wonder if that includes a master key…

Not sure, but it definitely warranted some encouraging words from the guest of honor for the soon-to-be graduating class: “don’t follow your dreams, chase them.”

On Terrence’s Instagram page, he shared the $100,000 endowment check was payback for the school taking a chance on him when no one else did. In four years, he graduated with a 3.6 GPA, became student body president and Omega Psi Phi fraternity member.

This is step 1 in doing more, not just at my school but for communities around the country where young people feel forgotten and unheard. I don’t have all the answers-FAR from it. But my goal is to inspire others to give back-in any way-just as I’ve been inspired to do the same.

When I was 17 the world felt cold and lonely. But I didn’t need handcuffs- I needed a hand. Thanks to all that have helped me on my path.

Amen. Amen. Amen. Let the church say amen.

In keeping with the empowering youth theme, Real Housewives of Atlanta star and radio personality Claudia Jordan visited North Clayton Middle School yesterday to talk about the dangers of bullying.

Interesting topic given the antics that go on on her reality show, or even the reunion for that matter.

Nonetheless, this is what the newest housewife said at the #BullyingIsNotHot event hosted by her radio station:

“I want to encourage you all to be responsible. You never know how your one comment may push someone over the top. You never know what someone is going through.”

Very true. Let’s hope the message is echoed to the other housewives because actions always speak louder than words. And you know kids watch those actions like an on-duty crossing guard observes cars.

IfYouBlinked Woman Crush | Malala for Remembering Our Girls

One year, 200 schoolgirls, never forget. Photo Credit: Malala Twitter

One year, 200 schoolgirls, never forget.
Photo Credit: Malala Twitter

To commemorate the one year anniversary of over 200 Nigerian girls being captured, and sold as sex slaves and suicide bombers, Malala penned a powerful letter to friends and family.

She writes their torturous situation is not forgotten. Even though, their viral campaign (#BringBackOurGirls) nearly is. And promises to do everything she can to press the international community to bring them home.

Then goes on to update them on their parents. Malala and her dad visited Nigeria last fall to comfort the families of the missing girls, and urge then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to follow suit. Which he did the following day.

Malala closes the letter by expressing hope they’ll be rescued soon, and joining their escapee classmates in taking advantage of her org’s scholarships to attend school safely.

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari vowed to put an end to terrorist org Boko Haram, but was less than confident on finding the now 2,000 missing schoolgirls.

To hear Malala’s full letter to the Chibok girls, listen below:

To write your own letter to the missing Nigerian girls click here and see how others are raising awareness for the #bringbackourgirls campaign here.

Kevin Hart Offers College Scholarships | NE-YO is Principal for the Day

Photo Credit: Forbes Magazine

Photo Credit: Forbes Magazine

Funnyman Kevin Hart is serious about the higher learning experience. So much so the “Get Hard” actor has teamed up with “your mind is a terrible thing to waste” crew, better known as United Negro College Fund, to reward four students with college scholarships.

The $50,000 scholarship will go to four deserving high school students of Kevin’s choosing. According to Campus Lately, the lucky seniors all happen to be from Philly. It is the city of brotherly love, after all…oh, and it’s also where Kevin hails from. (color that coincidental!)

Kevin said it’s just desserts for the kids hard work, and it’s a much better investment than making it rain over a stripper’s pole.

This is me stepping up to the plate and saying what you’re doing is dope. You’re dope. You’ve got the opportunity to be the dopest of all dopetivity. My money went to a much much more useful cause I guess you would say than what I would have been doing with it at a strip club.

No, in all seriousness, congrats to all the worthy scholars. You can watch them get rewarded on “An Evening of Starts” on BET April 26th.


Who sang it better? NE-Yo or Ang?  Photo Credit: Neyo Instagram

Who sang it better? NE-Yo or Ang?
Photo Credit: Neyo Instagram

NE-YO deserves a pat on the back too. The “Non-Fiction” crooner was brave enough to step into the shoes of a high school principal. (Better him than me.) For one day, NE-YO led the pack at High School of Fashion Industries in New York City.

Lending a hand was The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee, who interviewed the singer in front of an auditorium of teens.

The day kicked off with NE-YO chatting with students in an exclusive meetup. The upstarts–student ambassadors–got access to the platinum singer when they led their school to victory in the Capital One Bank NYC College Challenge. The competition is to get as many teen leaders or ambassadors to motivate their classmates on the path to college. Mission accomplished for High School of Fashion Industries; they got over 1,000 students active on this topic.

Which definitely deserves a NE-YO sing-a-long:

Along with a Q&A session headlined by Angela Yee. NE-YO dropped some knowledge on what it takes to be a success. (Hint: Persistence, Persistence, Persistence)

It took me 12 years to get to the beginning. A lot of people are going to tell you ‘no.’ As opposed to talking to people, you have to show them.

He’s not lying.

Topping off the teens best day ever was a lip sync battle where the kids unleashed their performing talents.

Keep up the good work, kiddos.