Nas Lends a Hand (and Diversity) to Tech

A new fund is being created by General Assembly, a private New York City technical school, which has the goal of addressing the lack of minority representation in the tech sphere. Dubbed,”The Opportunity Fund,” it will offer scholarships to women, veterans, African-Americans, and Latinos, all groups who have historically and systematically been denied equal access to the sciences. Nas, who has stepped up his involvement in the tech world in recent months, is joining Google, Microsoft, and Hirepurpose as one of the fund’s backers.

Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners project will provide the funds for scholarships to African-Americans and Latinos, while Google will fund women and Microsoft and Hirepurpose will pay for veterans to attend the school.

The New York rapper, with several platinum albums and Grammy nominations under his belt, is gaining cred as a tech investor. QueensBridge Venture Partners has backed start-ups from Dropbox to Meerkat to Lyft. The firm is also backs Walker & Co Brands, of which I am a fan. Here’s more about that company:

 

Viola Davis and the Vaseline Healing Project

I don’t know about you, but one of the things which irks me most is having dry hands, lips or legs and not having anything to help the matter. There have been times when I’ve left the house, gotten to the train and looked down at my ankles and realized that I neglected to lotion them or my lips are super-dry and I reach into my purse to find that my lip-balm was left at home. The horror is so deep that I will head to the nearest CVS to purchase replacements. Not having these items for a day is uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live without them.

It turns out that for some, not having emollients such as Vaseline is, in fact, a matter of life or death.

In 2014, Samer Jaber and Grace Bandow, both doctors, returned from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where tens of thousands of displaced Syrians have settled after escaping merciless violence in their war-torn country, and wrote a joint essay about their experience. In the article,  they revealed that countless refugees they treated needed relief from severe skin problems that could be remedied by simply applying Vaseline.

Vaseline publicly launched an initiative with Direct Relief, an international medical aid organization, to get petroleum jellies and lotions to people displaced by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Their goal is to heal the skin of 5 million people by 2020.

The brand has already donated 1 million jars of its product worldwide through Direct Relief in 2015 and sponsored dermatological missions to Kenya, the Philippines and Jordan last year. This year, the company plans to return to Jordan, as well as India, Nepal and South Africa.

As part of its Vaseline Healing Project, the company is also putting together virtual relief kits to supplement its jelly and lotion donations. Anyone can contribute to pay for pre-selected items to fill the kits with other modest medical supplies such as thermometers, emergency blankets, soap and gauze.

Vaseline also has implemented a year-long, one-for-one promotion. For every jar of Vaseline jelly or lotion sold, the company will donate two cents, up to a $1 million, to the project.

The brand has also tapped award-winning actress Viola Davis as the spokesperson for the campaign. Check it out:

Hip Hop Unites for Flint Water Crisis.

Someone, please tell me how the most developed country in the world can have a widespread water contamination issue?  A state of emergency has been declared in Flint to alleviate the city’s lead contaminated water crisis, the Detroit Free Press reports. President Barack Obama’s response releases up to $5 million and authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts. This action will cover 75 percent of the costs for providing clean water, filters and other items to residents.

This is infuriating. Thank God, individuals are lending a hand to alleviate the crisis. This week, Hip Hop got involved.

Rapper Meek Mill  has stepped up to the plate to help out residents in Flint as they deal with the current widely reported water crisis. The rapper responded to a tweet that basically told him and 50 Cent to cease with a petty back and forth social media beef and help residents. Mill did just that. The rapper stated on Instagram that he’s giving $50,000 to Flint to help its residents. Mill also challenged 50 Cent to do the same.

Other rappers, such as Sean Combs and Big Sean, also took to social media to rally entertainers to help with Flint’s water crisis. And beyond rappers helping, last week Cher donated 180,000 bottles of water to the city.

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The president rejected Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s appeal for a disaster declaration, which would have allocated more federal funds and resources. Under federal law, only catastrophes caused by natural disasters are eligible for a disaster declaration, compared to the lower-level federal emergency declaration.

Unlike a disaster caused by a hurricane, Flint’s water emergency is man-made. In 2014, officials switched the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. The more polluted river water, treated at the Flint water treatment plant, turned out to be corrosive to the city’s pipes and caused toxic levels of lead to seep into drinking water. Meanwhile, the governor is under pressure to resign over what has become a scandal. Critics say that state officials knew for months that the water supply was unsafe before Snyder declared a state of emergency and sought help from Washington.

Help the people of Flint. Here’s an excellent article which outlines a number of ways how you can do that.

What’s Up With September 26th?

It’s a damn shame that in a few days we will hit October 1st. Time is flying! For now, it seems like people, namely celebrities and some cause marketing fashionistas, are holding on to what remains of the year by way of 9.26.15.

First up: Beyoncé, Coldplay, Pearl Jam will headline the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in NY. Coldplay Front-man, Chris Martin, serves as creative director for the event and is fresh from his visit to India with The Global Poverty Project, where he played a surprise gig last week. The festival will take place on New York’s Great Lawn in Central Park tomorrow. There will also be an one-hour special from the concert set to air on Sunday, September 27 on NBC and September 28 on BBC One in the UK. Other media partners include MSNBC, live-streaming host YouTube (sponsored by T-Mobile), iHeartRadio (an audio live-stream will be broadcast on iHeartRadio.com) and Tidal, which will also stream the audio of the concert on Tidal.com as well as via the Tidal app. Free tickets were available for those who went to globalcitizenfestival.com, and pledged to take an “Action Journey” — which included making phone calls, volunteering, donating clothing at H&M or participating in another effort to encourage the U.S. State Department to dedicate 50% of its foreign aid budget to the world’s poorest countries.

The tickets are all “sold out” 😦

But you can catch the live-stream below 🙂

On a smaller scale (which is just as important), clothier Eileen Fisher will see to it that 10% of proceeds from 9.26.15 go to various local charities which support women and girls.

Eileen Fisher annually awards Activating Leadership Grants of $5,000 or more to grass-roots organizations which share its goals of activating leadership. To date, the company has awarded nearly $2 million to 56 organizations via the grant program since its inception in 2010. Brick and mortar stores also hosts special events twice a year where a percentage of proceeds are donated to a local nonprofit organization chosen by local employees. Those interested in becoming a recipient in that program simply contact the store directly. Learn more about the organizations that will be supported by clicking below.

September is ending rather nicely.

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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.

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.