Rihanna Calls for Universal Education

Rihanna has written an op-ed for The Guardian to ask others to join her in the fight for universal education.

“The lack of access to education for children around the world is a massive problem, but that does not mean we should throw up our hands in despair and surrender,” Rihanna said in the piece.  “Instead, we need to take on as much of the challenge as we can manage to set an example and see the difference. This is what has driven me to prioritize global education in my philanthropy and advocacy work.”

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While growing up in Barbados, Rihanna added, she now realizes she took her access to education for granted. In many parts of the world, children are prevented from that same access due to poverty, politics, war, sexism, and more. To help make these inequalities a thing of the past, Rihanna has renewed her call for support for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and their efforts toward fighting the education deficit around the world.

“We are grateful for the generous contributions of those such as the EU and France, and countries that doubled their contributions such as Canada and Ireland,” she said of her GPE ambassador role and this year’s GPE financing conference. “I look forward to seeing additional contributions from countries I know can step up even more, such as Germany and Japan, and seeing those that didn’t contribute – the Netherlands, Finland and New Zealand add their support to help us reach our target.”

Rihanna also discussed her own Clara Lionel Foundation and called on readers to join her in hitting up world leaders and politicians on Twitter and elsewhere to share the message.

Steph Curry Rallies for Women’s Equality

NBA superstar Steph Curry has been surrounded by “incredible and fiercely principled” women his whole life. Now, that he is the father to two daughters, Riley and Ryan, he fit it high time to speak out about women’s equality and closing the gender pay gap. On Sunday, The Players’ Tribune published “This Is Personal,” an essay written by the two-time MVP about wanting his daughters to grow up in a world that treats them fairly.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the idea of women’s equality has become a little more personal for me, lately, and a little more real,” Curry wrote. “I want our girls to grow up knowing that there are no boundaries that can be placed on their futures, period. I want them to grow up in a world where their gender does not feel like a rulebook for what they should think, or be, or do. And I want them to grow up believing that they can dream big, and strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly.

Curry’s essay comes on the heels of many prominent figures in the WNBA and NBA speaking about the growing gender pay gap between the two leagues. Former NBA star Jalen Rose spoke up about WNBA players being treated as “second-class citizens,” and Skylar Diggins-Smith blasted the low earnings female players receive for the same amount of work as NBA players.

The three-time NBA champion called for all people, “not just fathers of daughters,” to fight for equality. “I’m feeling more driven than ever — to help out women who are working toward progress, in any way that I can,” Curry wrote.

He continued, “Let’s work to close the opportunity gap. Let’s work to close the pay gap… I mean, ‘women deserve equality’ — that’s not politics, right?”

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Last week, Curry hosted his first all-girls basketball camp and vowed to help make a change for women across all platforms.

 

 

 

Taraji P. Henson Wants To Change How We View Black Mental Health

Taraji P. Henson has revealed that she has launched a new foundation specifically geared to the minds of the black community.

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after her late father, will specifically fight to change the stigma of mental health within the black community. Her foundation—her best friend Tracie Jenkins will serve as the Executive Director—will offer scholarships to black students majoring in mental health, as well as provide mental health services for youth in urban schools.

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Her father was the inspiration for this undertaking. According to People, her father, a former veteran battling mental health issues, fought liver cancer up until his passing in 2006 at the age of 58. “I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues,” she said. “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support. I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation officially launches on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles at her event, Taraji’s Boutique of Hope. Continue doing the work, Ms. Henson.

 

 

 

LeBron James Opens School in Akron

Today a new elementary school in Akron opened with the help of the LeBron James Family Foundation. Here’s what you need to know:

1. It’s part of Akron Public Schools, with some big private money backing its launch

The school was the idea of James, an Akron native and NBA All-Star reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The school is getting the same public funding per pupil as the other schools in the district, but it is also backed by large donations from organizations including James’ foundation and others who are covering the extras not paid for by the school district.

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2. The students will be children considered academically at risk.

There will be smaller class sizes, a curriculum with STEM and social-emotional learning priorities, and a resource center to support students, according to Akron Beacon Journal. The students starting Monday are 240 third- and fourth-graders. More grades will be added and by the 2022 to 2023 school year, there will be first through eighth grade students at the school.

3. The proposal was first unveiled April 2017

James’ foundation already funded the I Promise Network, which at the time was supporting 1,100 students in grade schools in the Akron area. The idea for the school was first introduced last year as a way to take what works in the I Promise Network to build a curriculum and bring it under one roof.

I am so for this! Congrats to King James on truly making a difference and good luck to the students this coming school year!

 

 

Michelle Obama Launches When We All Vote

Michelle Obama has assembled an all-star team of celebrities to help register voters across the country.

Th initiative is called, When We All Vote and it’s a national, nonpartisan not-for-profit which, “brings together citizens, institutions, and organizations to spark a conversation about our rights and responsibilities in shaping our democracy. Namely, the responsibility of registering and voting.”

When We All Vote’s co-chairs are some big-name celebrities, including Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw.

According to a press release, When We All Vote will work to recruit and train volunteers to register new voters in communities across America. The organization will also host IRL events and make online efforts to reach and inspire unregistered voters, making it easy for them to register or request a voter registration form on-site.

Chrissy Teigen & John Legend Donate $288,000 to ACLU

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend found a unique way to celebrate President Trump’s 72nd birthday yesterday (June 14): they donated nearly $300,000 to the ACLU in the real estate mogul’s honor. The $72,000 gift in the name of each member of their family was intended as a loud and pointed protest to what Teigen said was the “inhumane” immigration policies by the Trump administration that have resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.

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“John and I are outraged to see and hear the horror stories of immigrant families seeking asylum and refuge in America being ripped apart due to the inhumane policies of the Trump administration,” Teigen tweeted, a reference to the administration’s policy that has been separating children and parents at the southern U.S. border. “These actions are cruel, anti-family and go against everything we believe this country should represent.”

More than 1,300 children have reportedly been separated from their parents so far as part of the Trump White House’s “zero tolerance” border policy, an action that has drawn rebuke from a number of members of Congress and the religious community, and which inspired thousands of people to take to the streets in dozens of protests around the country to protest the actions in marches coordinated by Families Belong Together.

Teigen said she and Legend decided to make the sizable donation on behalf of themselves and children Luna and Miles because of the ACLU’s commitment to “defending the rights and humanity of these vulnerable families.”

 

 

Beychella. That’s All.

If you missed Beyonces’s two-hour set at Coachella this past weekend, shame on you. The Queen Bee made history.

She is the first African American woman to headline the festival (and made a comment on that point). She was accompanied by 150-plus performers, most if not all of whom were people of color; many of those performers were part of a marching band, majorettes and drumline styled on those from black colleges and universities, and she and her performers often wore collegiate-type outfits bearing the Greek letters beta delta and kappa, her initials with the delta referencing her favored number, four; and the set was loaded with references and quotes from the likes of Malcolm X and Nina Simone.

Today, she took it one step further.

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Yonce revealed that the set’s collegiate theme was pointing to a scholarship program: Through her BeyGOOD initiative, the singer announced the four schools to receive the newly established Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 academic year. The Universities, Xavier, Wilberforce, Tuskegee and Bethune-Cookman, are all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

One winner from each school will receive $25K for the 2018-2019 academic year for study in various fields. This is the second year for a scholars program created by the singer: The Formation Scholars Awards Program, a merit scholarship program was established in April 2017 in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade.” The awards encouraged and supported “young women who are bold, creative, conscious, confident and unafraid to think outside of the box.”

The Homecoming Scholars Award Program for 2018-2019 will expand to all qualifying students at the four universities, regardless of gender. The disciplines will include literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science and engineering. All applicants must maintain a 3.5 GPA or above. All finalists and winners will be selected by the universities. Winners will be announced in the summer.

 

 

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital Invest $3 million in Bail Reform Startup

Nationwide, 62 percent of the jail population accounts for people who can’t afford bail, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. A lot of these incarcerated individuals are behind bars because they allegedly committed crimes at the misdemeanor level or lower. This is a significant statistic from a human rights perspective, as well as an economic one. It costs about $38 million a day to keep these largely nonviolent people behind bars, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute.

This is where Promise, a de-carceration startup that just raised over $3 million in a round led by First Round Capital with participation from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC and Kapor Capital, comes in. Last Father’s Day, Jay-Z penned an op-ed about the bail industry and pre-trial incarceration. He noted how every year, $9 billion is wasted incarcerating people who have not been convicted of crimes.

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Promise, which is part of Y Combinator’s  current batch of startups, offers counties and local governments an alternative to holding low-risk people behind bars simply because they can’t afford bail.

For each participant, Promise provides counties with a comprehensive intake procedure and then sets up each participant with a care plan specific to them. Promise will then monitor and support participants by helping them ensure they know when they’re supposed to appear in court, and remind them of obligations like drug testing or substance abuse treatment needed. The app also helps participants access job training, housing, counseling and referrals.

Instead of a county paying to incarcerate someone simply because they can’t afford to post bail, they can use Promise to monitor compliance with court orders and better keep tabs on people via the app and, if needed, GPS monitoring devices. Counties, courts, case managers and other stakeholders can also access progress reports of individuals to monitor compliance.

Already, Promise is onboarding one county this week and is in talks with another three counties. Instead of a county jail paying $190 per day per person, Promise charges some counties just $17 per person per day. In some cases, Promise charges even less per person.

 

Bill Gates is Paying Off Nigeria’s Debt

Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates will pay off $76 million of Nigeria’s debt through their namesake foundation. The payments, which will be made over the course of 20 years, are due to begin this year.

In 2014, Nigeria borrowed the money from Japan to fund its fight against the preventable disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “agreed to repay the loan after Nigeria met the condition of achieving more than 80% vaccination coverage in at least one round each year in very high-risk areas across 80% of the country’s local government areas.”

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No new cases of polio were reported in the country in 2017. That’s a drastic change from 2012, when Nigeria had over half of all polio cases worldwide, according to the publication.

 In a recent blog post, Gates acknowledges the significant strides made towards wiping out the disease globally — 30 years ago, there were 350,000 cases of polio per year worldwide, while last year, that number dropped to just 21.
Among those paralyzed, two to 10 percent die. The Gates Foundation spent $3 billion in 2017 to help stop the spread of the disease, and names polio eradication one of its “top priorities.” In 1988, the virus was present in over 125 countries, paralyzing about 1,000 children per day. Since then, cases of polio have decreased by over 99 percent.

Charles Barkley Pledges $1M to Black Women in Tech

Charles Barkley was one of the most vocal and active supporters of Doug Jones in the race to defeat Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama. Along with that, he showed his appreciation for the overwhelming turn-out of Black women at the polls in Alabama, by announcing that he will be making a hefty donation to fund the ambitions of Black women who wish to start up tech businesses.

“I’m announcing right now, I am pledging $1 million to black women in Alabama to start I.T. startups,” Barkley told the Inside the NBA panel while giving his reaction to the political developments in his native state.

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In the past, Barkley was criticized for taking stances that were contrary to popular opinion in the Black community, but many of his deeds have shown him to be a charitable man.

In the past, Barkley has supported such organizations as Ante Up For Africa, ENOUGH Project, Hillsides, LIVESTRONG, Not On Our Watch, Stand Up To Cancer, United Service Organization, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Back in 2016, he pledged his commitment to Black education by donating $3 million to four HBCUs (Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, Morehouse College and his alma mater Auburn University).