Tuesday, June 30, 2009

16 of Michael Jackson's Greatest Non-Musical Achievements

The Michael Jackson Burn Center

On January 27, 1984, Jackson suffered second degree burns on his scalp while filming a Pepsi commercial at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. A pyrotechnics accident set his hair on fire in front of the auditorium full of fans who were there for a simulated concert. Jackson sued PepsiCo and settled out of court for $1.5 million. The settlement was donated to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, where Jackson received treatment for his burns. Using the money donated by Jackson, Brotman was able to get the best available technology for treating burn victims. The burn ward at the hospital was later named the "Michael Jackson Burn Center" to honor Jackson and his generous contribution.

Received Award from President Reagan

Michael Jackson was invited to the White House on May 14, 1984, where he received an award for his support of drug and alcohol abuse charities, presented by President Ronald Reagan.

Donated Profits of Victory Tour to Charity

The 1984 Victory Tour, headlined by the Jacksons, introduced more than two million fans to Jackson's solo material. Following the tour, Jackson donated his $5 million share from the tour's profits to charity.

We Are the World, We Are the Children

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the charity single "We Are the World" in 1985. Both artists were among the 39 musicians who recorded the song. The single was released around the world to and proceeds went to help the needy in Africa and the U.S. Almost 20 million copies of "We Are the World" were sold, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. The project raised millions for famine relief.

Treated Underprivileged Children to Free Shows

During the Bad World Tour, Michael Jackson played to sold out crowds and smashed Guinness World records when 504,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium for each of the seven sold out shows and the tour grossed $125 million. During all of this, Jackson invited underprivileged children to the shows and donated to hospitals, orphanages and other charities.

100 Percent to Charity

Jackson donated 100 percent of the profits from him single "Man in the Mirror" to charity.

Donations to the United Negro College Fund

From 1985 to 1990, Jackson donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund.

Honored by President George H. W. Bush

President George H. W. Bush commended Jackson for his achievements and presented him with the White House's special "Artist of the Decade" award in recognition of his musical influence during the 1980s.

Heal The World Foundation

Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson's Neverland ranch to ride theme park rides the singer had built on the property. Heal the World also gave millions of dollars to help children around the world who were threatened by war and illnesses.

Dangerous Profits Go to Charity

Jackson started the Dangerous World Tour on June 27, 1992 and completed it on November 11, 1993, after entertaining 3.5 million people at 67 concerts. All of the profits from the concerts were donated to the Heal the World Foundation.

Publicly Pleaded for More HIV/AIDS Research

When Ryan White, a hemophiliac teen from Indiana was kicked out of school in 1985 because he contracted HIV from a contaminated blood treatment, Jackson became one of his advocates. After White's death in 1990, Jackson pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Gala for more funding for HIV/AIDS charities and research.

Teamed with Luciano Pavarotti for Charity

Jackson and Pavarottii teamed up for a benefit concert in Modena, Italy in June 1999. The concert was focused on support of the non-profit organization Warchild. The artists raised a million dollars for the refugees of Kosovo and also donated money to help the children of Guatemala.

Michael Jackson and Friends Benefit Concerts

Also in June 1999, Jackson organized a series of benefit concerts in Germany and Korea. He recruited Slash, The Scorpions, Boyz II Men, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, A. R. Rahman, Prabhu Deva Sundaram, Shobana Chandrakumar, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti for the Michael Jackson and Friends concerts. The proceeds were donated to the "Nelson Mandela Children's Fund", the Red Cross and UNESCO.

Guinness Record for Support of Charities

Jackson was listed in the 2000 book of Guinness World Records for his support more charities than any other entertainer or personality. Jackson supported 39 charities through cash donations and sponsorships.


Jackson released his first autobiography, Moon Walk, in 1988. The book took four years to write and detailed alleged abuse Jackson suffered as a child and his plastic surgeries. The book topped the New York Times best seller's list.

Support After 9/11

After the 9/11 attacks, Jackson helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., which aired on October 21, 2001. Dozens of major artists performed at the concert and Jackson sang "What More Can I Give" as the finale.

Source: http://brainz.org/16-michael-jacksons-greatest-non-musical-achievements/

Friday, June 26, 2009

J - Board (Real Estate Game): Invented by African American

Joel Harden’s Mogul® was developed as a learning aid for real estate, yet the rules and gameplay are simple enough to be grasped by children who are old enough to understand the concept of a percentage. It is the perfect learning tool for any one interested in learning real estate basics while remaining simple & fun enough for any family gamenight.

Mogul is the first real estate board game that accurately recreates real world scenarios germane to personal financial management, real estate investment, speculation and management. The game teaches most basic real estate terms and factors, and more importantly how multiple factors combine to create market conditions i.e.: Opportunities or hardships. Mogul is the first board game to encompass and teach how a credit rating will affect your business endeavors.

Joel Harden’s Mogul® teaches the following terms & concepts during the course of gameplay:

• Mortgages
• Closing Costs
• Credit
• Deeds
• Interest Rates
• Zoning
• Institutional Investments
• Property Taxes
• Speculation
• Assemblages
• Prenuptial Agreements
• Due Diligence
• Money Management


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dr. Farrah Gray - Reallionaire

A look at Dr. Farrah Gray...Celebrity Entrepreneurial Icon, Philanthropist and Business Mogul.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

LT Foundation

Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation, Inc.
(the “Foundation”) engage in a number of programs designed to promote educational, social and cultural awareness, positive self-esteem to enhance the lives of children, families and communities whom are less fortunate. The Foundation engage in the following activities to further its charitable purposes:

(1) The Foundation facilitates educational and recreational trips for school-age children in an effort to promote and augment their education and exposure.
_ L.T.’s 21 CLUB- Provides opportunity for 30 kids per game from San Diego youth organizations and non-profits to participate in the “L.T.’s 21 Club” giving them the opportunity to attend a San Diego Chargers home game and meet with LaDainian Tomlinson after the game. Each child who participates in “L.T.’s 21 Club” has field side seats, receives a t-shirt and is given a coupon for a free hotdog and beverage during the game. “L.T.’s 21 CLUB” is designed to promote positive self-esteem, academic and social achievement, literacy and genuine goodwill. Interacting and highlighting a positive role model/athlete instills confidence in children and encourages them dreams do come true if you work hard and continue to dream. Children are selected through various not-for- profit organizations, missions vary with children causes: treatment for terminally ill, low income, foster care, homeless, gang prevention, group home residence and children living with cancer. Each organization select kids who have performed well and/or have never had an opportunity of this kind. Main highlight is exposure and interaction.

(2) The Foundation distributes Thanksgiving dinners to indigent individuals. It also distributes Christmas gifts to children who are seriously ill.
_ Giving Thanks with L.T. – Distributes 1,400 Thanksgiving Dinners to needy families from San Diego County the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Each dinner include a 16lb. turkey, vegetables, canned food items, stuffing and a beverage. Various, pre-selected, organizations form lines out front of Wal-Mart awaiting their Thanksgiving dinners. In addition, 21 kids are selected to enjoy a mini-shopping spree at Wal-Mart. Families are pre-selected through not-for-profit organizations serving individuals whom are less fortunate. The pre-selected organizations missions vary from helping families that are homeless, government assistance, home care aid, church assistance, single parent homes, etc. In total there are 20 organizations that select families to participate in the program. The 21 kids are selected from middle school on citizenship and level of need (income).

_ L.T.’s Touching Lives Holiday Program - distributes over 1,500 toys and videos to kids at Children’s Hospital and Health Center during the Christmas Holiday. L.T. and Friends make rounds throughout the hospital handing out toys to patients(children) being treated in various centers of the hospital. Distribution of toys to Children’s Hospital helps make a difference in their lives and helps with the recovery of children whom are patients. Children’s is a total healing environment dedicated to restoring, sustaining and enhancing the developmental potential of children. The purpose of “L.T.s Touching Lives Holiday Program” is to touch the life of a child who may be suffering during the Christmas Holiday with a smile. Selection process: every child is given a toy upon arrival.

(3) The Foundation administer and fund a scholarship program for graduating high school students planning to attend four-year universities, community colleges or vocational training centers after graduation. The candidates for such scholarships submit an essay on topics; relating to positive influences on the community, and/or what does it take to become successful. The candidates are required to submit an unofficial copy of their high school academic records, a copy of their SAT or ACT scores, the essay and at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor or community leader.

_ L.T. School is Cool Scholarship– Is to assist worthy students with their educational and occupational endeavors. The monetary value of each scholarship will be $1,000. Applicants must submit the attached formal application. In addition to the application form, the following items are required:

1. At least one (1) letter of recommendation from the student’s principal, teacher(s), coach (if applicable), counselor or a community leader;
Unofficial high school transcript, including current grade point average (GPA);
3. resume of honors, activities, community service, hobbies and work experience;
4. a typewritten essay addressing the required essay topic.
Completed applications must be postmarked on or before the due date to be considered for the following academic year.

A committee consisting of educators, civic leaders and community members will evaluate the scholarship applications and additional information according to the following criteria:
1. academic and/or community achievement
financial need
letter of recommendation
4. uniqueness of essay
extracurricular activities, achievements, volunteerism and work experience

(4) The Foundation facilitates a football camp that provides an invaluable opportunity for kids to work one-on-one with some of professional and college football’s greatest players and coaches. In addition to outstanding sports instruction, Camp L.T. clearly emphasizes the importance of academic excellence.

Camp L.T.” – The LaDainian Tomlinson Football Camp (“Camp L.T.”) is open to middle and high school level students. Campers are separated by grade and ability to receive hands-on experience from a chosen group of NFL stars, college athletes and professional coaches.

  • learn fundamentals, along with inside tips of position play

  • participate in speed work and agility drills

  • study game strategy

  • learn classroom techniques

  • take part in team competition

  • discover what it takes to be a champion

  • learn “Hard Work Pays Off”

Participants must be pre-registered to attend. “Camp L.T.” is conducted in San Diego, CA. in the month of February and Waco, TX. in June.

(5) Although the Foundation has not planned any fundraising programs to date, it intends to raise funds through charity benefits such as dinners and golf tournaments. The Foundation will seek corporate sponsorship.

Image: http://blog.chargers.com/news/

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pressure Cooker: Cooking up a Future

Three seniors at Philadelphia's Frankford High School find an unlikely champion in the kitchen of Wilma Stephenson. A legend in the school system, Mrs. Stephenson's hilariously blunt boot-camp method of teaching Culinary Arts is validated by years of scholarship success. Against the backdrop of the row homes of working-class Philadelphia, she has helped countless students reach the top culinary schools in the country. And under her fierce direction, the usual distractions of high school are swept aside as Erica, Dudley and Fatoumata prepare to achieve beyond what anyone else expects from them.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paul Robeson

"Like every true artist, I have longed to see my talent contributing in an unmistakably clear manner to the cause of humanity."



1998 marked the centennial of Paul Robeson's birth. On April 9, 1898, an eighth child was born to Maria Luisa Bustill, the Quaker abolitionist, and William Drew, the former slave who had escaped to the north, gone to college, and become a minister. Paul was brought up to value education as much as his parents did.

Paul Robeson attended Rutgers University (he was the third black student in that school's history) in New Jersey, where he was an All-American football player and excelled in other sports as well. When he graduated, he was valedictorian of his class. He enrolled in Princeton Law School and became a lawyer, but due to the racism of that time, he had trouble finding employment.

It was this inability to move forward as a lawyer which compelled Robeson to change his life's course. Thus, he began the acting and singing career by which so many people came to love and admire him.

Robeson had a natural talent for performing and an enormously deep voice. When he appeared in the Broadway musical, Showboat, he sang a song that will always be remembered by the sound of that voice. "Ol' Man River" is now considered classic Paul Robeson. He also played the title role in three different productions of Othello, both in America and England, and in movies such as Sanders of the River, King Solomon's Mines, and The Proud Valley. He was greatly admired as an entertainer.

Robeson was deeply political. He believed in justice for all people. Even before his fame was at its peak, he traveled the world performing in benefits and speaking out for worker's rights, racial equality and peace. He fought for racial justice in America, but he also devoted his time, energy and money to groups outside the American black community. For instance, he spoke out against the Nazi's persecution of the Jews (among others) in Europe during the 1930s and 40s. Along with many other Americans, he participated in the Spanish Civil war against the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco.

Of all his pronounced ideologies, perhaps the most controversial was his support of communism. Despite the growing fear of communism in the United States, Robeson remained steadfast to the idea of worker's rights and even to the Soviet Union, which was at that time still attempting to establish a working communist society. It was not uncommon for people suspected of sympathizing with the Soviets to be brought before a governmental panel called the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Many artists and actors were brought before this committee. This committee declared that Robeson's outspoken support of communism was unpatriotic and accused him, for instance, of trying to set up a Soviet state in the American South. The committee was powerful: It managed to take away Robeson's passport, and to coerce other black leaders into testifying against Robeson, but no one could prove any of the ridiculous accusations.

Robeson eventually recovered his passport and was able to tour and perform again for awhile. When he became ill, he left the stage and managed to live a private life for a short time.

Although he faded from public view, his work and dedication to political causes remained active. He died on January 23, 1976, at age 77, in Philadelphia. The courage of his convictions and his strength before adversity make Paul Robeson a hero to people around the world.

From left to right: Theatre Artist Avery Brooks, Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman, Vice President of Diversity Development for the Postal Service Murry Weatherall, Paul Robeson, Jr., Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., Princeton University Provost Amy Gutmann and NJ Secretary of State Regena Thomas applaud as a stamp honoring entertainer Paul Robeson is unveiled in Princeton, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2004. The stamp is the newest addition to the Black Heritage Stamp Collection. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Paul Robeson continues to inspire people and his memory lives on. On January 20, 2004 a postal stamp honoring Paul Robeson was unveiled in Princeton, New Jersey. The stamp is part of the Black Heritage Stamp Collection.
Written by TONY


The Literature and Culture of the American 1950s
Find out more about the political climate of the fifties. A detailed reading list.

Paul Robeson's Heroes

Paul Robeson Online From the Princeton Public Library


Listen to Paul Robeson's music online (3,128 K)

Much of the information for this story came from Martin Duberman's book Paul Robeson: A Biography.


Here I Stand
by Paul Robeson, Sterling Stuckley (Intro)
Paul Robeson: A Biography
by Martin Duberman

Paul Robeson: The Life and Times of a Free Black Man
by Virginia Hamilton

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saving With Limited Funds

Not only is April tax-filing season, but it’s also Financial Literacy Month. Most Americans are clueless about issues such as credit management, taxes, banking, and saving and investing for the future, reports FinancialLiteracyQuiz.com. In addition to not knowing enough about saving and investing, too many people aren’t doing enough to prepare for their financial future.
According to the 10th annual Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey, African Americans continue to save far less money than white people and are no more likely to be investors today than they were a decade ago. The 2007 survey of African Americans and white people earning at least $50,000 annually also showed that the median amount of money saved by black people is $48,000 compared with $100,000 for white people. On a monthly basis, median savings is $182 for black people versus $261 for white people.
Also, 40% of consumers live beyond their means, and half are living paycheck to paycheck. If this sounds like you, putting aside extra cash for a rainy day may seem impossible, especially when funds are tight and you’re on a fixed income.
But given the current economic slowdown, it’s an ideal time to take the cost-cutting measures necessary to achieve financial security. "The key to saving money with limited funds is training your mind to know how much money you are working with and making a conscious decision to stay within that framework of available cash," says Gil Michel, president and founder of BlackMoneyMatters.com, a personal finance Website geared to the African American online community. "Unless you change your mindset, the spending habits that you form based on say, a $25,000 salary will be the same even if you were to make $100,000." Michel adds.
An effective savings plan takes discipline to reach specific financial goals. Regardless of your income, here are five steps to help eliminate debt and to start saving:
  1. Create a budget. Neglecting to keep track of your day-to-day finances is a challenge that can lead to unintentional overspending. A budget will show exactly how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and where it’s going. Set limits on the amount of money you spend each month and make small adjustments in areas where money can be freed–such as cafĂ© lattes and junk food. Also, Black Enterprise’s Wealth Building Guide offers some ideas on how you can grow your income to save more. (See the "Wealth Building"portion of BlackEnterprise.com for more information.) You want to put aside at least 10% of your after-tax income to use towards an emergency fund, investments and education.
  2. Invest in your company’s 401(k) plan. If you aren’t investing in your company’s employer-sponsored retirement plan, then don’t procrastinate any longer. A 401(k) is an effortless savings tool (it automatically comes out of your paycheck) that can provide significant income for retirement. If your employer even matches a portion of your contributions, it is allowing more money to work for you faster. If you’re not offered this plan at work, contribute to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or some other tax-free or tax-deferred vehicle.
  3. Refinance your home. If you had an adjustable rate mortgage, the Federal Reserve’s recent cut in a key interest rate makes it an opportune time to refinance at a fixed rate. It may also be a way to lower your monthly mortgage payment and have access to more cash to invest or pay down debt. Consider all costs associated with going down a percentage point or two in your interest rate to ensure that refinancing balances out with the amount you save on interest. For those who rent and have an extra room, consider bringing in a trusted friend to share the expenses. This is an economical alternative for those who live in big cities where they are paying premiums for rent.
  4. Eliminate credit card debt. The convenience of buying with plastic instead of cash has created an epidemic of excessive credit card debt. A smart solution begins with making cash-only purchases. Call your credit card company and requesting a lower interest rate. If you own more than one credit card, first make additional payments on the card that carries the highest rate and then work your way down to the card that has the lowest rate until all debt is satisfied. Once you pay off that debt, use that monthly amount you would have paid for those bills toward your savings.
  5. Be diligent when paying off balances. Do your homework if you decide to close your accounts because it can have an adverse affect on your credit history and credit score. Credit is beneficial if you spend wisely and pay off the entire balance at the end of the month. Living without debt will help you to save more.
Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Avoid Foreclosure

With home foreclosures reaching record highs and circulating news reports about heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield and iconic TV host Ed McMahon fighting to keep their multimillion-dollar dwellings from reaching the courthouse steps, housing industry experts say borrowers can avoid a similar fate.
The rate of foreclosure starts and the percent of loans in the process of foreclosure are the highest recorded since 1979, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), a national real-estate finance industry organization that tracks mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures.
The delinquency rate, which includes loans that are at least one payment past due—but doesn’t include loans in the process of foreclosure—was at 6.35% at the end of March, up 1.51% from the year before, according to the MBA. During the same timeframe, the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process was 2.47%, nearly double the 1.28% from the previous year. California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana are among the states hardest hit by foreclosure rates.
The amount of foreclosures began accelerating during the latter half of 2006 due to defaults on high-cost loans, such as subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, made to high-risk borrowers, causing the U.S. housing bubble to burst and a credit crunch to ensue. With ARMs, the interest rate resets from a lower introductory, or teaser, rate to a higher percentage rate, causing a spike in the house payments.
Thirty-nine percent of foreclosure starts in this country involved subprime ARMs; 23% involved prime ARMs; 19%, prime fixed-rate laons; 11%, subprime fixed-rate loans; and 7%, FHA loans, according to the MBA.
By some estimates, 61% of the people who got subprime loans would’ve qualified for a cheaper, conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate loan, says Kathleen Day of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit consumer group, adding that a disproportionate number of black and Hispanic families received subprime loans.
Jeffery R. Hayward, a senior vice president at Fannie Mae, says some homeowners facing financial challenges dig themselves deeper by avoiding their mortgage lender.
“There’s a myth out there that if you run into trouble, don’t call the bank,” Hayward says. “[Not calling] is the worst thing you could do. If you run into trouble, you should call your mortgage servicer immediately,” Hayward says. “The servicer is really going to want to try to work your loan out. In some cases they won’t be able to, but you’re really not going to know until you call them.”
Given the volume of exotic loans in the marketplace, practicing diligence and patience is a must when contacting lenders. “Keep calling until you get somebody,” Hayward says.
Once making contact, lenders could offer to spread the defaulted payment over future payments, reduce the interest rate or loan balance, he says.
“If you have a bad subprime loan, a repayment is not going to help you. What you need is a workout plan,” says Day, explaining that a workout plan would reduce the loan to a fair market value or freeze the interest rate either permanently or semi-permanently for about five years. On the other hand, a repayment would take the amount owed and spread it out on top of the current payments. Day says repayment plans work best for people who’ve gone into trouble because of a one-time event such as illness, job loss, death, or divorce.
“If the fundamental problem is the loan itself then you need a workout plan and not a repayment plan,” Day says.
Since July 2007, nearly 1.6 million homeowners have avoided foreclosure through workouts which include loan modifications and repayment plans, according to HOPE NOW, the private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, counselors, and investors working to help prevent foreclosures.
If the loan can’t be worked out Hayward suggests doing a deed in lieu of foreclosure where the mortgage lender will accept ownership of the home in place of the money owed on the note, or a short sale, which requires the homeowner to sell the home for less than the outstanding balance of the loan with the mortgage lender forgiving the remaining debt owned. Either of these options will help homeowners have a more orderly and planned exit of their property, Hayward says.
If borrowers aren’t getting any satisfaction from their lender’s decision, seek advice at a legal aid clinic, Day suggests. “It may be that you can challenge the term that you were given,” she says.
For first-time homebuyers, Hayward suggests taking a homeownership mortgage or financial counseling course where counselors would conduct a budget overview and examine potential buyers’ spending patterns to ensure they’ll end up in a home they can afford. He also suggests first-timers make sure everyone involved in the process is trustworthy and reliable.
“This is the most important financial decision people will make in their lifetime. You should feel good about when you do it,” Hayward says.
In an effort to help lending partners and communities survive this economic climate, Fannie Mae, which has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to ensure that mortgage bankers and other lenders have enough funds to lend to home buyers at low rates, has established its Keys to Recovery Initiative and foreclosure prevention for existing and first-time homebuyers.
If Fannie Mae owns the loan, borrowers who owe more than the amount their home has been appraised will have the opportunity to refinance their property up to 120% of its appraised value, Hayward says. Another measure formed through a partnership Fannie Mae has with Durham, N.C.-based nonprofit, Self-Help Credit Union (http://www.self-help.org/), would allow families on the brink of foreclosure the opportunity to remain in their homes on a rent-to-own basis. The 70-year-old mortgage funding giant also renewed its partnership with the National Council of State Housing Agencies to provide up to $10 billion in financing through the end of 2009 for qualified first-time homebuyers.
Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Conversation With Chris Gardner: Start Where You Are

When we caught up with Chris Gardner, owner and chief executive of an institutional investment firm, he was in New York City promoting his new book, 'Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.'
He took time from his busy schedule to discuss the book, in which he shares his singular advice on how to survive in the face of formidable obstacles. He also talks about his plans for the future and gives tips on how to survive an economic downturn. Don't expect Gardner to wax elegiac about the economy. In fact, he sees it as an opportunity and urges readers to do the same.

'Start Where You Are' is a great follow-up to your memoir, 'Pursuit of Happyness,' which was a very inspirational story about survival. How do they differ?
In this book, we include stories, not just of lessons I've learned in my own personal pursuit of happiness. I was able to include stories of people who inspired me. That might be anyone from my mama all the way to Nelson Mandela. So it's not just my voice, but also the voices of other people I've heard from around the world. 'The Pursuit of Happyness' has been published in 16 languages. So I did, indeed, hear from folk all around the world. Some of the stories others shared with me regarding their own personal pursuit I was able to include in this book.

The blessing I've gotten from people all over the world comes in the form of a thank you. People have shared with me that because they saw me do what I did, they can do what they have to. They've got no more excuses. That is the most important and humbling thing I've learned in this entire experience.

Interesting timing for the book. What was the impetus?
A big part of what led me to write 'Start Where You Are' were the questions from people around the world who read 'Pursuit of Happyness' and asked, "Why didn't you quit?" "What made you keep going forward?" "Were you afraid?" What I've done is tell a series of stories of survival, not just mine, but those of others.

Is this economic turmoil hard for you to watch?
It is painful to watch, but the other side of it is that if there was ever anyone who was built not just to thrive but to survive in this environment, it's me. This is my world. Other folks are saying the sky is falling. I'm saying, no. These are pennies from heaven.

This could be an opportunity for a lot of us to ask ourselves some very big questions, several of which I talk about in the book, including, beyond money what is really important to me? What do I care I about? Do my children know me? What am I not willing to compromise and negotiate on? Those are very big questions, and this could be the time to answer them.

Just like this market went down, it's going to go up. The question is when this economy does turn, who are you going to turn out to be? Are you going to be the same person you were before the music stopped or the bubble burst? Or will you take this time to grow, assess and empower yourself?

What is the best advice you have to give to people experiencing hardship?
Be mindful of whatever skills, talents and expertise you do have. Those skills are transferable to other jobs. This could be a beautiful time to say, "What do I really want to do?" The key is being bold enough to go and make it happen. That boldness comes from passion and commitment.

What about age? Some people have been laid off in their mid-40s and 50s. They feel they can't compete with the Twitterati or younger generation. What should they do?
We do have an alternative. We could just die (he says jokingly to drive home his point). If you are too old to dream, if you are too old to do that one thing that you once said, "This is what I wanted to do my whole life," the alternative is to die. If that is not an acceptable alternative, I suggest you get busy. Forget about the numbers. It's very, very limiting, and it's totally unnecessary. It's very convenient to say, "I'm too old to go back to school. I'm too old to do the one thing I said I've always wanted to learn." A lot of folk will agree with you, but there are a lot of folk who will say, "This is my life. I don't know how much time I have left, but this is what I'm going to do."

Are you taking up writing full time?
Oh, God no. Girl, I still have my day job. Don't ever quit your day job. Don't start believing any of this stuff. I still have my day job, because I'm still in love with what it is I'm doing. Writing full time is not for me, but there may be one or two more ideas in development.

The next one will be a continuation of the 'Pursuit of Happyness,' a second part of the memoir. After you've been published in 16 languages, I think you better do it again. There are opportunities for a sequel to the film.

Will Will Smith play you again in the film?

Let me say this. After 55 years, I've been playing me pretty good. I may play myself! I told Will I will play myself for half the money.

Source: http://www.blackvoices.com/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Magic Johnson Teams with Aetna

Alliance to help diverse urban communities with healthcare issues
By Aisha Sylvester

January 24, 2008 -- Earvin "Magic" Johnson is at it again. The former National Basketball Association star turned entrepreneur has taken on yet another community development venture: tackling the healthcare issues that plague urban America. Magic Johnson Enterprises has joined forces with Aetna, one of the country’s leading healthcare companies, to improve healthcare in the country’s urban neighborhoods.

The alliance, which was announced yesterday at a news conference held at the Magic Johnson Theatre in Harlem, aspires to improve healthcare literacy and wellness and combat racial and ethnic inequality in healthcare through intensive community outreach programs. "We’ve got to go to the people instead of making them come to us," says Johnson.

Considering the combined efforts of Johnson’s impressive philanthropic record and Aetna’s extensive experience in the healthcare provider industry, Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald A. Williams expressed his confidence in the impact this relationship will have in addressing the needs of those with inadequate access to quality healthcare.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to bring two strong brands together," says Williams, who described Johnson as someone who could "help amplify our voice in this community" while demonstrating to others that there are opportunities to serve in urban communities. Leading by example, Aetna has already established the New York City Community Plan that seeks to make healthcare provision more affordable for employers while lowering out-of-pocket costs for individuals.

Currently more than 50% of small-business employers doubt their ability to offer health insurance to their employees, according to Aetna’s president of small group business, in the northeast region, Kate Begley. The MJE and Aetna collaboration intends to aid the millions of employees who, for the most part, represent diverse communities and are unable to obtain insurance through their employers but who also fail to qualify for the state subsidized plan.

"There’s an opportunity to focus on health literacy, to help people understand how to use their benefits if they have [them]," Williams says. He also stresses the importance of individual responsibility for one's health: "They also have to understand their role in being compliant with doctor’s orders and all the other things we can do as individuals to take better care of ourselves.

"With New York City’s healthcare costs being one of the highest in the country, it isn’t surprising that the health initiative has received the endorsement of New York politicos Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Commissioner Robert W. Walsh at the New York City Department of Small Business Services; and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose office has offered its assistance to the joint venture.

It is expected that MJE’s commitment to ethnically diverse urban neighborhoods in conjunction with Aetna's experience will empower businesses and communities to become more conscious of healthcare choices and provisions.

MJE’s portfolio of companies previously formed strategic partnerships with corporations including Starbucks, AMC Entertainment Inc., and T.G.I. Friday’s. Of the enterprise’s newest partner in its quest to improve urban life Johnson says, "We need a machine like the Aetna machine to get out here and spread the word in a big way. Together we can cover a lot of territory and hopefully make a lot of minorities healthier and more health conscious."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Call Me Mister Scholarship Program

To all Education Majors, Cheyney University Students, Faculty, Staff, Family and Alumni:
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for the Graduate and Undergraduate Call Me MISTER Program.

The Call Me MISTER Program is a national teacher leadership program that not only prepares you for a successful career as an elementary teacher but also provides you with resources that will place you in a position to effectively impact the lives of children.

If you are interested in teaching at the elementary school level and a Cheyney University Undergraduate Student, Graduate Student or Graduate, please apply immediately. The deadline to submit applications for this upcoming Fall 2009 semester is Friday, June 5, 2009.

The Call ME MISTER Program is a teacher leadership program that will not only pay for your tuition, room, board, books, stipend and technology fees but also will pay for your attendance at educational conferences and PRAXIS I and II preparation /examination.

The Graduate Call Me MISTER Student will serve on staff and be allowed to participate /attend various education conferences in the Field of Teacher Education and attend weekly leadership meetings.

The Undergraduate MISTER will be required to attend weekly leadership meetings, Praxis Preparation Workshops and attend various education conferences in the Field of Teacher Education.

If you are interested, please make sure that you are accepted into Cheyney University. All students must complete FAFSA Form (Federal Assistance for Student Aid) in order to qualify for the scholarship grant.

If you are interested in teaching at the elementary school level and a Cheyney University Undergraduate Student, Graduate Student or Graduate, please apply.

*Due to the high interest in the Call Me MISTER program, a new email account has been added. Please email callmemister@cheyney.edu for more information and questions on the Call Me MISTER program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.