John Legend Unlocks Futures

John Legend and his nonprofit, FreeAmerica, teamed up with New Profit and Bank of America to scan the country for the most impactful returning citizen social entrepreneurs. This partnership resulted in, Unlocked Futures, a 16-month accelerator for social entrepreneurs impacted by the criminal justice system.

After analyzing hundreds of applications, eight were selected including Flikshop, an app that allows you to send postcards to an inmate from your phone, tablet, or the web.

“Though 1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, too often are formerly incarcerated individuals locked out of job opportunities because of their past. I have seen that entrepreneurship is a viable way for formerly incarcerated individuals to build sustainable livelihoods and contribute to their communities and neighborhoods,” said Legend in a statement. “We hope Unlocked Futures will serve as a powerful tool to break through the barriers to opportunity that exist for so many who have criminal records.”

Legend seems incredibly hopeful when it comes to these entrepreneurs and assisting in the process of giving them an opportunity to grow their businesses. “It’s clear that we’ve got a long way to go but, with people like you working tirelessly to change the system, I’m optimistic.”

Check out the video below, showcasing highlights from the entrepreneurs.

Google Donates $1 Million to Chance The Rapper’s SocialWorks

Today, Grammy-winning Chance The Rapper stood among executives of Google’s charitable arm to announce a $1.5 million donation to both Chicago Public Schools and Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks.

“Our grant with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans,” Justin Cunningham, executive director of SocialWorks, said in a press release. “While every student doesn’t need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”

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SocialWorks is co-founded by Chance and aims to empower youth through the arts, education and civic engagement, while fostering leadership, accessibility and positivity within the youth throughout Chicago, according to its website.

With $500,000 going to Chicago Public Schools’ CS4All Initiative and $1 million to SocialWorks, Google.org Principal Justin Steele said in a press release that the grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classrooms, giving the chance for students underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” Steele said.

“There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve—and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions into something bigger.”

Support Victims Via Hand In Hand Now.

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The one-hour Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief telethon airs live from Los Angeles, New York and Nashville Tuesday night (Sept. 12) at 8 p.m ET with a 8 p.m PT rebroadcast on the West Coast via ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CMT and more. You can watch it here.

The televised fundraiser — which will also air on BET, Bravo, E!, HBO, iHeart Media, MTV, Oxygen, SiriusXM, Univision and Westwood One — will be raising money for those affected by both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The telethon can also be streamed live online through AOL, Apple Music, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Beats 1 and Huffington Post.

Hand in Hand has already announced more than a hundred performers and celebrities set to make appearances throughout the show, including BeyonceJustin BieberTravis Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio and many, many more. Proceeds will benefit a wide array of charities such as the Rebuild Texas Fund, ASPCA, Save the Children and DirectRelief.

https://handinhand2017.com/

Beyoncé Teams Up With UNICEF

Beyoncé is giving back in a big way to help better the lives of African children.

 

The singer recently announced that she has teamed up with global humanitarian organization UNICEF to launch BEYGOOD4BURUNDI, an initiative to help supply water to kids in need in the landlocked East African country.

 

As part of the multi-year partnership, Bey plans to support programs that aim to improve the quality of and access to water in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of a country, where nearly half of the population struggles to find a supply of safe water. This deeply affects children, who not only become more susceptible to diseases because of a lack of water but are also forced to skip school in order to walk long distances in search of it.

“Access to water is a fundamental right,” Beyoncé said in a statement. “When you give children clean and safe water, you don’t just give them life, you give them health, an education, and a brighter future. I am committed to helping drive lasting solutions to the water crisis in Burundi.”

 

The singer is leading this effort on behalf of her philanthropy-focused brand BeyGOODwhich she started in 2013 as a way to give back and pay it forward. Now, in teaming up with UNICEF, she plans to help support the construction of new, easy-to-use wells and to improve the water and sanitation facilities in schools in four priority regions across the country.

 

“Addressing the global water crisis is one of the defining challenges of our time, and the children of Burundi are among the most vulnerable,” Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, said in a statement. “This unique partnership combines UNICEF’s decades of expertise in providing clean water to children in Burundi and around the world with the power and influence of the entertainment world to bring about social change.”

Jay-Z Pens Urges Fans to Fight For Social Justice

Jay-Z has published an essay addressing the importance of social justice titled “This Is Our Power.”

Written for The Hollywood Reporter, the essay begins with Jay-Z writing about Kalief Browder, the young black man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit and served at Rikers Island for three years.

“The post-traumatic stress disorder he came out with led him to suicide two years ago, but not before he had the chance to talk about what happened to him,” Jay-Z writes. “…He’s just one example in a system that is broken. We need to be the ones who fix it.”

The rapper and entrepreneur then talks about the documentary series he made on Browder, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, and the importance of demanding change from the people we put into office.

“But social justice isn’t a political issue. It’s a human issue. It’s a story of empathy. When we are able to identify that we are all not perfect and have compassion for someone else, we can move forward as a society,” Jay-Z concludes. “Look around at what’s happening in your town and your city right now. Think small, and you can do much bigger things.”

Read more here.

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Nicki Minaj Has Been Quietly Donating

A few weeks ago draws dropped when Nicki Minaj was promoting a fan contest, and a Twitter user asked for an unconventional prize: tuition assistance. Minaj agreed and promised funds to a host of high-achieving scholars who slid into her DMs. This isn’t the first time that Nicki has done good, though.

Recently, Nicki Minaj posted video and photos on IG from an unnamed village in India that she’s been donating money to for the past few years through her pastor Lydia Sloley. Minaj wrote that her donations have provided the village with “a Computer Center, a Tailoring Institute, a Reading Program and 2 WATER WELLS.” She promised to reveal more about the charity work she’s been doing over the past few years in case anyone would like to join her. She’s also reportedly planning to set up a charity to help students pay off their loans.

Go ahead, girl! Here are the posts:

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Barack and Michelle Obama Give $2M to Summer Jobs Programs

Former President Barack Obama hosted a community event at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago on Wednesday — and made some big announcements about the future plans for his center’s campus.

The 44th president announced he and his wife, Michelle Obama, will be donating $2 million to summer jobs programs in Chicago.

“One of the things that we will be starting this year is Michelle and I, personally, are going to donate $2 million to our summer jobs programs here in the community, so that right away young people can get to work, and we can start providing opportunities to all of them,” Obama said.

Check out some of the details here:

Beyoncé is Helping Young Women Get in Formation

By way of her  website, Queen B has announced she is awarding four college students with scholarships under her recently launched “Formation Scholars” program. In celebration of the one-year anniversary of her award-winning album Lemonade, this scholarship was formed to “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.”

The college and universities selected for participation are Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parson School of Design and Spelman College.

The scholarship will be awarded to one female student, incoming, current or graduate, pursuing studies in creative arts, music, literature, or African-American studies during the 2017-2018 academic year.

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Speaking of Lemonade, It’s been a little more than a year since B’s album by the same name had its surprise release on April 23, 2016, following an HBO special that featured videos for every track on the record. The album was actually the world’s best selling in 2016. To celebrate, the Queen has assembled “The How to Make Lemonade Box Set,” described as a “momentous tome and comprehensive look” at her “’Lemonade’ journey.”

Selling for $299.99 in a limited edition of 2,500 copies, the set will offer “unprecedented insight” into the making of the album, with a numbered, collector’s, 600-page coffee table book, a first pressing of the double-vinyl LP, and assorted audio and visual album downloads.  The vinyl discs come in a lemon color, of course.

Chicago Students Thank Chance the Rapper

Mere days after a vague sit-down with Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, Chance the Rapper pledged $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. “I’m not a politician, I’m here because I’m a dad,” the Grammy Award-winning artist said of his efforts to push for a funding increase in his native city. “I’m an after-school teacher, I care about the kids.”

Lil Chano’s commitment to education hasn’t gone unnoticed. Today three CPS 10th graders publicly thanked the Coloring Book emcee for his good deed via an open letter on Billboard.

“First and foremost, we as Chicago Public School students would like to thank you for the supportive donation to our schools. As we all know, CPS has been struggling financially, and your donation has really given us a push to get to where we need to be and possibly motivate others to give back to the community as well. This is only one of the many things that you have done to improve our Chicago,” Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros and Annelisse Betancourt began.

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Photo by: Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS

The Lake View High School students went on to applaud Chance for his humility as a celebrity, who hasn’t turned a blind eye to his community in the midst of his success. “We just want to thank you for not forgetting where you came from and helping the city of Chicago in more ways than just being an inspirational rapper. You’re using your fame for good and not just to look good. You gave $1 million dollars of your personal money to Chicago schools and that’s something no one has done for us.”

Chance not only reciprocated the appreciation, but he also promised there’s more to look forward to. “Huge things to come over the next 2weeks,” he tweeted.

 

Michael Bennett Invests In Inner Cities

Seattle Seahawks’ defenseman Michael Bennett has announced that he will be donating all endorsement money he gets in 2017 to causes that are aimed at communities of color around the nation.

Following the lead of Chance The Rapper, who recently donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools, Bennett says that not only would he give his financial support to communities in need, but encouraged other pro athletes to do the same.

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Source: Getty

“The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids,” Bennett said in the statement. “Any company that decides to invest in me, just know that you’ll be investing in opportunities and providing inspiration for these families — many who feel unnoticed or go unmentioned.”

The money Bennett is donating will go to help minority communities through STEAM educational programs and initiatives targeted at women of color.

In addition to the endorsement money donations, Bennett said he would donate half of his jersey sale proceeds to inner city garden projects to encourage good nutrition and healthy living.

Bennett is known for having a socially active voice. Earlier this week, he came out in support of the women’s strike for International Women’s Day and last month, he pulled out of a trip to Israeli government-sponsored trip to that nation in which he was scheduled to travel with a group of NFL players, due to human rights concerns in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.