Tupac Keeps on Giving.

“Measure a man by his actions fully from the beginning to the end.” – Tupac Shakur

Recently Allhiphop.com highlighted the top ten charitable doings of the late Tupac Shakur. Here are a few that I absolutely loved reading about:

A Place called Home 

Tupac put together a benefit concert to help a growing non-profit organization, A Place Called Home, raise money for a new building. Founded in 1993, A Place Called Home is a safe haven in South Central LA where at risk youth are empowered to take ownership of the quality and direction of their lives through programs in education. More here.

Tupac Goes to the Prom 

Pac at Prom.

Pac at Prom.

A Tupac fan wrote a letter to his fan club, asking the late rapper to be her prom date. About a month later, Tupac showed up at her doorstep. He came inside the home and talked to her family and offered to purchase her prom dress & escort her to the dance. Before leaving her home, Tupac gave the family $1500. When her prom day came, Tupac arrived in a limo to pick up his fan. At the school function Tupac signed autographs, took photos, and even got on the dance floor with her for five songs before he left.

Tupac’s Partnership with J Cole 

He may not be here in the flesh, but his work continues on.
The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and J Cole’s Dreamville Foundation recently joined forces and started a youth book club in North Carolina. The first book read and discussed was, A Rose that Grew from Concrete. Tupac’s non-profit organization recently celebrated 15 years of serving the community. The center teaches vocal training, ballet, jazz, recording & engineering, theater and creative writing. The nonprofit is still spearheaded by Afeni Shakur. Other family members including Tupac’s sister are active volunteers and staff.

Get the full list on Tupac’s philanthropy here.

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Shady Boots: Jay Z Gets Checked For Being Stingy – Again.

Jay Z’s presence is enough. That’s what he said a few months back. Specifically, “My presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, the hope that he provides for a nation, and outside of America, is enough.”

*sigh*

In 2010, Jay-Z only reportedly donated $6,431 of his $63 million earnings to his own Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. Out of the $87 million Beyonce earned in 2010, not a single penny went to her husband’s foundation.

Online magazine, The Root, put Jay on blast (again) recently. They compared Hov’s non-giving to that of “less fortunate” rappers, The Game and Drake.  After learning that Anna Angel had lost her boyfriend and five children to a tragic mobile-home fire, The two split a $20,000 donation to help Angel with the funeral expenses.

It baffles me. One of the reasons I left the entertainment industry and got into non-profit marketing was because I was so tired of seeing fans worship celebrities that could care less beyond an album sale. That was almost a decade ago. One would think that things have changed. apparently they haven’t for the majority.

Here’s hoping Jay secretly learned a lesson from Game and Drizzy’s actions. I would bet that even if he did, he’d keep that to himself.  Check out The Root’s article here.

Money can't by generosity.

Money can’t buy generosity.

Did Mos Make the Point?

This week marked the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, in Cuba, more than a hundred prisoners (approximately a hundred and six of the hundred and sixty-six held there) continued an ongoing hunger strike against the conditions of their confinement. The Obama Administration has been force-feeding them, citing “the policy of the Department of Defense to support the preservation of life and health by appropriate clinical means and standard medical intervention, in a humane manner.” In a further nod to the humane, it has decided, for the duration of Ramadan, to force-feed them only after sunset and before dawn.

A London-based human-rights group called Reprieve released a video, directed by Asif Kapadia, in which the musician and actor Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, undergoes nose-to-stomach force-feeding according to military instructions that Al Jazeera leaked in May. The video, nearly five minutes long, is interesting to watch: Bey is shackled to a chair while a tube is forced down his throat by a medical attendant, all according to “standard operating procedure.” He jiggles, writhes, pleads, and breaks down.

Many people on Twitter were amazed by Bey’s courage, but others mocked him. One user tweeted, “what is tougher to watch this Mos Def video or 2 planes crashing into the Twin Towers?” Another said, “Mos Def is officially a retard.” However mean-spirited these pronouncements, they raise useful questions. Why would Bey take this upon himself? Is  the video just another publicity stunt? Or is it a legitimate form of performance art?

Here’s a video rewind if you missed it. Oh, and let me know what you think.

Hero of the Week: Oprah Winfrey

I love Oprah. You love Oprah. The Smithsonian loves Oprah…and they have 12 million plus reasons to do so.

That’s because the philanthropist and media mogul is donating $12 million to them.

Combined with the $1 million she gave in 2007, it is the museum’s largest donation.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Ground was broken on the five-acre site, adjacent to the Washington Monument, in February 2012. Congressional funding accounts for half of the museum’s $500 million design, construction and exhibition costs. The museum is raising the remaining $250 million.

The museum has received a $10 million donation from both the Gates Foundation and the Lilly Endowment.

The Museum of African American History and Culture, which hosts a gallery at the National Museum of American History, is scheduled to open in 2015 (um, I can’t wait for it).

Advisory council co-chairs are Linda Johnson Rice, president and CEO of
Johnson Publishing Company Inc., and Richard D. Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup. Other members are:
• Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), U.S. House of Representatives
• Willie Brown, Jr., former mayor of San Francisco
• Laura W. Bush, former First Lady of the United States of America
• James Ireland Cash, Jr., retired professor and senior associate dean of Harvard Business
School Publishing
• Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Co.
• G. Wayne Clough, secretary, Smithsonian Institution
• Ann M. Fudge, retired chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Inc.
• Allan C. Golston, president, U.S. Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• James A. Johnson, vice chairman of Perseus LLC
• Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of RLJ Companies and founder of Black
Entertainment Television Inc.SI-125-2013 3
• Quincy D. Jones, CEO of Quincy Jones Productions Inc.
• Ann Dibble Jordan, executive committee member, National Symphony Orchestra
• Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund
• Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
• Homer Alfred Neal, director of the University of Michigan Atlas Project and professor of
physics
• E. Stanley O’Neal, former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.
• Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman and CEO of IBM Corp.
• Gen. Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State
• Franklin D. Raines, former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae
• Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University
• Gregg W. Steinhafel, chair, CEO and president of Target

What’s All Of The Chiming About?

For the past few days, I have been taking in news stories that feature glossy and celebrity packed images of Beyonce, her Boo and her buddies for the Sounds of Change concert to benefit the Chime for Change initiative. Not one of the stories has gone beyond the glitz to really explain what all of the chiming is about.

Shoot, even Beyonce’s website simply states, Chime for Change, founded by Gucci, is a new, global campaign focused on girls’ and women’s empowerment. It serves to convene, unite and strengthen voices speaking out for girls and women around the world, and to raise funds for non-profit organizations pursuing change.

She then directs to the Chime for Change Facebook page.

Girl Power?

Girl Power?

I did some more digging and found that even Gucci’s website doesn’t do a good job explaining what the campaign actually is or what the goals are.

Well after much research, I found out Sound of Change was broadcast to more than 150 countries across the world. Aside from raising over $4m, which will fund approximately 200 projects in 70 countries (please don’t ask which ones), the concert, attended by more than 50,000 people, was meant to put issues such as genital mutilation, domestic violence, maternal death and adult illiteracy on the news agenda.

Chime for Change was  founded by Gucci’s designer Frida Giannini, and her friends Beyoncé and Salma Hayek, focuses on improving education, health and justice for women around the world.

Besides Beyoncé,  Jessie J, Rita Ora, Haim, Ellie Goulding, Jennifer Lopez and Florence Welch took to the stage to champion the cause. Other celebrity endorsements came from Madonna, Katy Perry, Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, who all are featured in videos explaining why they support the movement, making Chime for Change seem like a grown-up version of girl power.

I ask: What about the organizations involved? The programming? How can people really be inspired to change things beyond ‘liking’ pictures and then downloading a popstar’s latest single?

I can’t help but feel that a huge opportunity to truly engage people beyond a donation or a concert was and is sorely missed here. But, I will assume that there will be plenty more chiming on the way and I just might be proven wrong.

#TeamRobin

#TeamRobin

#TeamRobin

While the world waits with baited breath for the premiere of the scandalous Lance Armstrong/Oprah interview today (and will learn of how his LIVESTRONG charity will or won’t be negatively impacted), my attention has been turned towards another cause.

Earlier this week, one of my heroes, Good Morning America Anchorwoman Robin Roberts, appeared on the show for the first time in more than four months since undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

While still recovering at her New York apartment, Robin announced that she had been cleared by her doctors to gradually come back to the popular news morning program with the target date being sometime in February.

When Robin revealed last year that she had been diagnosed with MDS, short for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood and bone marrow disorder, some assumed she would be absent for six months to a year. But her body is responding well to the transplant from her older sister, Sally-Ann, according to her doctors.

In addition to this great news,  Robin’s illness and recovery has brought tremendous attention to the need for more bone marrow donor registrants of color via organizations such as Be The Match. For people with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.

It was over 7 years ago that my mother was lost to AML, a form of leukemia that could have been cured had she found a matching bone marrow donor.

To see Robin thrive means so much to me.

Further, Robin’s story of recovery is a shining example of how a cause can be supported INDIRECTLY by way of a spokesperson in a highly positive light without the direct ask of donations of any sort.

On Monday, she began the “process of re-entry,” as she described it, by waking up at 4 a.m. for the live interview, about the same time she used to wake up for the show. She said she would continue the process next week by doing a “dry run”: coming into the studio and getting dressed for the show, but not actually co-hosting it.

I’m rooting for her and can’t wait to see her back live from Times Square.

#TeamRobin.

E = Roc Nation (Squared)

After meeting Mayor Corey Booker last Saturday at the #FOCUS100 conference, I thought I was on a birthday roll. Turns out, Jay Z was competing with me.

I had the pleasure of taking in the final Jay Z concert at Barclay’s Center on my birthday and to say that I had a blast would be an understatement. It was 3 hours of rapping along with Jay as he performed his classics and new stuff. And then there was the surprise Beyoncé appearance…words escape me at this moment.

What was really different about Jay’s show is that throughout, he sprinkled words of inspiration and encouragement that reflected his journey to perform before the intimate crowd of 18,000. My fave?: “I believe everyone in here has genius level talent – outside noise just gets in the way. Don’t let anyone put their fears or insecurities on your dreams.”

Can I Get an Encore?

Wow. Who knew Jay could be so deep?

Jigga is on a mentorship/giveback roll it seems. It was just announced that he signed a math teacher to his Roc Nation family. That’s right, Mr. Jovan Miles, a math academic coach and educator working out of Atlanta, GA., joins the likes of Rihanna and J-Cole. The signing marks the first time a record label has signed an educator to a major rap label of Roc Nation’s stature.

“Think about it like a grant. Yeah, I called myself the Kennedy of the game, but now call me the MacArthur of the game, too. Genius,” remarked S.Carter.

I don’t know about you but I’m interested to see what will come of this.

Cory and I.