Following on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made in 2015 through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree. Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with Kevin Hart’s Help From The Hart Charity and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18Help From The Hart Charity Scholarshiprecipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.
“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”
“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”
The 18 students receiving college scholarships are high school graduates who attended KIPP public charter schools in eight different communities: the Arkansas Delta, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. A recent survey of KIPP alumniacrossthe country showed that the KIPP graduates who attend HBCUs reported a stronger sense of belonging, better mental health, and were more likely to have a mentor than those attending non-HBCUs.
“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”
Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities—like Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Clifton Davis, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Beyoncé, Chris Rock, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis who, realizing the value of a quality education, have supported UNCF over the years. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.
Lomax also added, “Over the last decade, UNCF has been building a relationship with the KIPP public school network, and we are so excited that KIPP’s board of directors and Chairman John Fisher are behind this outstanding new venture. There are more than 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.”
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter announces the eight recipients of the Homecoming Scholars Award for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The Homecoming Scholars Award Program for 2018-2019 is a merit program and was announced in April. It is the second scholarship merit program from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and BeyGOOD. The Formation Scholars Award Program was announced in the spring of 2017 and was open to female students across a variety of studies.
The Homecoming Scholars Award Program, announced after Beyoncé’s brilliant first weekend Coachella performance, an homage to excellence in education and a celebration of the homecoming weekend experience, named four universities and extended the program to all qualifying students at the universities, regardless of gender.
The 2018-2019 disciplines include literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science, engineering and more. All applicants must maintain a 3.5 GPA or above.
Google.org partnered with BeyGOOD following Beyoncé’s second weekend Coachella performance, to add four more schools, including Fisk University, the alma mater of Beyoncé’s father, Mathew Knowles and Morehouse College, the alma mater of Parkwood President & COO, Steve Pamon.
All qualifying applicants submitted a 1,000-word essay about one African or African-American thought leader in their field who has inspired them to achieve their goals (educational, professional, and/or community-driven). The essay included how they plan to contribute to history through their own life’s work. All finalists and the eight recipients were selected by committees from the colleges and universities.
Charleston County School District this week announced and welcomed Natasha L. Jones as principal of W.B. Goodwin Elementary School. Jones joins Goodwin from Memminger Elementary where she has served as assistant principal since 2014.
Jones began her teaching career in 1997 in Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District at Sharon Elementary School where she taught fifth grade and served as Lead Teacher. Three years later, Jones moved to Charleston to begin work as a fourth grade teacher at C.C. Blaney. Over the next several years, Jones taught fifth grade and held an administrative internship at Mary Ford Elementary, as well as taught sixth grade and middle school math at Jane Edwards Elementary while serving as the school’s textbook coordinator and PBIS Lead. Jones departed the classroom in 2013 for one year to work for the district’s Office of Teacher Effectiveness as a professional development coordinator. The following school year, Jones joined the staff of Memminger where she has served for the past four years.
Jones has been a member of several South Carolina Department of Education cohorts including the Aspiring Principals Program (DAPP), Foundations in School Leadership (FSL), and the Assistant Principal Program for Leadership Excellence (APPLE). Additionally, she has participated in Flip Flippen’s Capturing Kids’ Hearts training and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) training.
Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Johnson C. Smith University and a Master of Education in Elementary Leadership and Supervision from The Citadel.
When I was a little girl I wanted two things: a pair of magic earrings, identical to the ones in my favorite cartoon, and to be a Fairy Princess Ballerina Astronaut. Both seemed like realistic options in my little world, which I created from my bedroom in Alexandria, Louisiana. I was not aware that hologram, time-traveling earrings did not exist…and probably never would in my lifetime. Nor was I told that balancing a theatrical career and space travel might prove to be difficult and test my time management skills.
I was young, full of hope and daring to dream.
As an adolescent, I aspired to be a ballet dancer. It seemed like a more far-fetched dream than the magic earrings, because I did not know any African American professional dancers. I could see my cartoon every week on TV in the living room (yes, cartoons felt like real life), but a real-life, professional dancer of color in front of my very eyes…not likely. I was often the only dancer of color in my ballet classes, and when you live in “Small Town, USA,” being a dancer, or any creative occupation for that matter, is not exactly encouraged.
My mother, my first mentor, recognized my passion and love for the performing arts and was determined to not only encourage me to pursue my dreams, but also to show me that those dreams could in fact become a reality.
My mother heard about a Principal Ballerina in her hometown of Houston, Texas by the name of Lauren Anderson. Ms. Anderson was a performance powerhouse with the Houston Ballet. She was also one of the first African American ballerinas to become a principal for a major dance company, an important milestone in American ballet. My mother had two tickets to see Ms. Anderson perform the Pas de Deux in “The Nutcracker” ballet, and she was taking her baby girl.
When Ms. Anderson stepped on stage, I felt as though I leaped onto that stage with her. Every step, turn, and gesture had a young Dana Blair mesmerized. The possibility of seeing someone like me, in front of my very eyes, accomplish their dreams was all of the motivation and inspiration I needed. I then knew that my dreams could also come true.
Fast forward several years to when I would move to New York City and, quite literally, live out multiple careers, first as a dancer and marketing executive and now an on-air correspondent and producer. While the journey seemingly had no clear path, it did have men and women along the way that took interest in my potential, supported my goals and nurtured my dreams. Thus, like my mother, these mentors went above and beyond the call of duty to guide, challenge and direct my energy and talents. They too showed me that my dreams could become my reality. Without them, I know I would not have achieved many of my milestones, big and small, along the way. Their mentorship guided me through difficult career decisions and taught me invaluable life lessons.
Each of my mentors over the years have come from different economic backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and industries. However, they have all given me the same advice over the years: “Don’t thank me. Just pay it forward. One day it will be your turn.”
Now it is my turn to step up to the plate and pay it forward. This is why I joined NNPA’s 2018 Discover the Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program as a Road Trip Navigator (mentor). I was honored to be considered for the role and leaped for joy once I found out that I was on the team. I now have the opportunity to align with General Motors and the Chevrolet Equinox, a brand as passionate about mentorship and empowerment as I am, plus get to know six really cool, motivated young men and women representing six HBCUs throughout the country.
I had the pleasure of meeting the DTU Fellows in Detroit for an intense two-day boot camp to get them road trip ready. I must say I felt like the overzealous, nosey auntie at the family BBQ. Their eyes were bright. The energy was high. I wanted to be all in the mix. I wanted to know everything about them from birth all the way up to what they had for breakfast that morning.
As six sets of eyes looked at me from around the table, I struggled to find the right words to empower and inspire, yet not overwhelm them (I tend to talk a lot!). These young, bright minds are future Black journalists that will shape dialogue in our country and increase representation for their generation.
What words of wisdom did I want to impart?
I came up with these three tips to help them prepare for their summer-long internship of road tripping in the new Chevy Equinox:
Be Prepared. You are journalists now. It is your duty to know all of the angles, research and possible plot twists on the subject. What do you want to discover, explore and share with your readers? Furthermore, how do you want to deliver this to your audience?
Be Polished. Ms. Anderson provided important representation in the dance world and created a ripple effect in my life, and I am sure in many others. It is important that the Fellows are on point. As young men and women being granted access to some really cool stories, rooms, and executives, conduct yourselves in a polished manner. You never know who is watching and what your presence may communicate.
Pay Attention. In media, it is your job to see the details. It is often those details or tidbits of information that pop up in an interview that can make or break a story- carrying you down a new road to find something truly powerful and interesting.
I am humbled and honored to be a part of the NNPA’s 2018 DTU Journalism Fellowship and the fellows’ journey. I hope that my stories, lessons learned, tips and, of course, the occasional corny joke show them that their dreams can become a reality, just like mine. This is their time to thrive and shine, and I am beyond thrilled to sit next to them in the driver’s seat. Let’s go DTU 2018 Fellows! We have some new roads to discover!
Dana Blair is the Road Trip Navigator for the NNPA’s 2018 Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellowship program. Dana is also a producer and on-air personality. Follow Dana on Instagram @justdanablair.
Learn more about the NNPA’s Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellowship at nnpa.org/dtu.
South Carolina Reading Partners in two weeks will wind up its summer reading program at Charleston’s Arthur Christopher Gymnasium after having spent the past month helping participants in the gym’s annual “Jump To It” summer camp prevent ‘Summer Slide’ reading skills loss. The program ends July 26. A second site at Hunley Park Elementary School in North Charleston began June 11 and ends July 19.
Reading is the foundation for all future learning and early reading skills are imperative for success in school and life. Most of Reading Partners’ work is done during the school year as volunteers are paired with students who on average meet twice weekly. The California-based program operates at 17 Title 1 schools in Charleston and Berkeley counties. All but four of the schools are located in Charleston County School District.
Kim Williams Odom, community engagement associate, said some 800 students have participated in the program. Reading Partners went into communities this summer to help ensure the progress those students experienced might be extended to others. “Summer Slide” is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.
Literature demonstrates that reading over the summer stems summer slide. Children in low socioeconomic families can benefit most from summer reading programs. Survey results are compelling, demonstrating that children’s enjoyment of reading, reading skills, and reading by choice often increased after participating in summer reading, especially among families participating in summer reading for the first time and parents of children ages 4-6.
Odom hopes the intervention will be continual. The program needs volunteers and books. The longer the free voluntary reading is practiced, the more consistent and positive the results. Preventing summer slide is most effective when community organizations work together to encourage kids to read, make reading fun, and to teach families about the importance of reading over the summer.
Odom is asking for volunteers to participate next school year. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only about one-third of our nation’s fourth graders can read proficiently. Once students start to fall behind in reading, they tend to fall faster and further behind their peers with every year. Nationwide, only 20 percent of low-income students, and 34 percent of students overall, are reading proficiently by the fourth grade. In South Carolina, currently four out of five fourth graders from low-income families cannot read at grade level.
The sessions are a little more than simply reading with a child; volunteers follow a proven, structured curriculum to help students learn specific skills. It’s simple, and it works, Odom says. Each lesson comes with step-by-step instructions and materials and a trained site coordinator is always available to answer questions, assist with the materials, and solve problems.
For more information, to donate books or to volunteer those interested should contact Reading Partners at volunteerSC@readingpartners.org.
Trident Technical College’s summer camp programs are designed to help campers develop and expand their interests, stimulate creativity, make new friends and most important, have fun learning. They offer hands-on, engaging summer camps and year-round courses in a variety of subjects like computer technology, life skills, creative arts, math and science and culinary arts.
What better way to spend a summer week than learning and having fun? TTC’s Kids’ College offers a variety of camps for children ages 7-11. Teen University camps are designed just for teens and preteens aged 12-17. Children and teens can learn anything from how to design video games and comic books to how the American legal system works, all while developing leadership and social skills, fostering creativity and having a blast.
Bring your camper for the day! Sign up for a morning and afternoon session, pack a lunch, and TTC will take care of the rest!
Summer camps will run through the week of August 3, 2018. Camps are open for registration now.
You may also register in person at 2001 Mabeline Road, Building 910, Room 102.
On the bookshelf behind his desk in his third-floor office in TD Arena, Otto German ’73 has two framed photos on a shelf. Perhaps a man’s life can’t be summed up in a couple of photos, but these two come pretty close.
The first is a portrait of German and his late wife and partner of 51 years, Albertha, who passed away at the end of December 2017. He still remembers the exact day they met: June 20, 1966.
“We had a pretty unique relationship,” he says, looking at her image. “It was never all about her, it was never all about me. It was about a union and a promise that we made to each other.”
The other photo is a group shot from 2008 of the 40th anniversary celebration of the integration of the College of Charleston. German is pictured with other trailblazers like Eddie Ganaway ’71, the College’s first black graduate; Carrie Nesbitt Gibbs ’72, the first black female graduate; Fred Daniels, the former men’s basketball coach and admissions director; Lucille Simmons Whipper, the first black administrator; Marvin Dulaney, a former history professor and Avery Research Center executive director; Remus Harper ‘72, the first black scholarship athlete; and former presidents Ted Stern and P. George Benson, among others.
“I was honored to be a part of something new to the College,” he says. “But here we are 10 years later [from anniversary photo] and there’s still work to do when we look at diversity across the board in all areas of the College.”
German, who became the second black scholarship athlete after Harper for the 1970-71 season during his sophomore year at the College, knows the importance scholarships can play in a young athlete’s life. So, he couldn’t be more grateful that the Alumni Association Board of Directors during its meeting on June 15, 2018, voted to rename the association’s two athletic scholarships the Otto B. German ’73 Endowed Alumni Scholarships in Athletics.
“I’m humbled and honored that my fellow alums think that much of me,” says German, 67, who also serves as the president of the College’s Black Alumni Council. “That is better than being in the Athletics Hall of Fame.”
After graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in education, German went to work at the College in financial aid, student activities and admissions before moving over to the athletics department, where he has been for 26 years, rising to the post of associate director of athletics/NCAA compliance.
Black Ink: A Charleston African-American book festival returns for its 3rd year on Saturday, September 8th, and is seeking published black authors to contribute. The mission of Black Ink: A Charleston African-American Book Festival is to support local Black writers, creating a space for them to promote and share their works, discuss their craft, and expose readers of all ages to the great variety of African-American authors in the area.
Last year’s festival featured more than 50 authors, and included a keynote address from Newberry Award winning author, Kwame Alexander. More than 500 readers attended, and this year’s festival promises to be even bigger.
Local published authors interested in applying are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact information and the name of their latest book titles.
Black Ink: A Charleston African American Book Festival is presented by the Charleston Friends of the Library. This year’s festival will take place at the Charleston County Public Library’s Main Branch. Sponsoring organizations include the YMCA and YWCA of Greater Charleston and the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center.
The Charleston Friends of the Library, a nonprofit volunteer organization, raises money through book sales to help fund Library services, equipment, training, materials and public programming. The Friends collect and sort donated books for resale to raise money.
I’ve never been good at remembering special dates – Memorial Day, my girl’s birthday – most dates besides Christmas, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving get past me. So when Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Noble’s press coordinator on May 17 called me about a press conference to discuss he and running mate Dr. Gloria Bromell Tinubu’s position on education and segregation, it didn’t sink in that May 17 commemorated the 64th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against public schools segregation.
Maybe it’s not so hard to forget that racial segregation in public schools is supposed to be against the law because schools still are racially segregated. Heck, America still is racially segregated! Electing a Black president was monumental, but did little to change the reality of racism in America. Most recently I’ve been thinking there is no real desire to end segregation, racism and discrimination in America.
According to one source, the NAACP since the 1930s had been fighting to end racial segregation in public schools. A lawsuit that began in South Carolina’s ‘Corridor of Shame’ in Clarendon County led to the 1954 Supreme Court decision. Clarendon County’s public schools today still are shamefully segregated, unequal and discriminated against.
In 1954 the Supreme Court gave America a way out of the order to end segregation, racism and discrimination. The Supreme Court’s decision did not spell out any method for ending racial segregation in schools. It only ordered states to desegregate “with all deliberate speed”. That’s the same rouse South Carolina’s Supreme Court used to make the 20-year-old Corridor of Shame lawsuit go away. And neither the state’s legislature nor the people who elect it have moved an inch otherwise.
The race disparities in Charleston County report released last year by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston documented some things most of us know. Despite having some schools that are racially integrated, racial disparities in educational attainment still are blatant. In 2008 about 74,000 whites in the county had attained a Bachelor’s or higher degree compared to about 7,000 Blacks.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the five schools with the highest poverty indicator were predominantly Black schools and those with the lowest poverty indicator were predominantly white. In 2015 of the students taking and passing advance placement tests about 78 percent of Asian students passed AP tests, about 76 percent of White students passed the tests while only about 25 percent of Black student passed the tests.
During the 2014-2015 school year there were about 8,000 suspensions in Charleston County schools. Black males accounted for about 4,500 of those suspensions. Black females accounted for another 2,000 suspensions. Among elementary school students, Black students accounted for about 1,900 of the 2,200 suspensions. Black males accounted for about 1,400 of those suspensions.
In December I talked with former Charleston County School Board Chair Hillery Douglas who said those disparities exist because some residents in the county are “hell-bent” on insuring that progress for Black citizens is limited. That effort is played out in every aspect of daily life, including public education, he said.
“It may be hard to believe those people exist in these times, the 21st century. But there are those who would limit our gains in politics, economics, education – you name it. It’s not so pervasive in other parts of the state. But here, it’s blatant. To overcome that we must ask ourselves whether our progress will be determined more by us or that group. Do we put forth the effort to guide our children to become successful? We have kids who are smart. Will we invest more in them or in our iPhones, hair and nails? It’s a hard job to get people to be engaged. Some of our people are fighting, but so many don’t know how to fight. They don’t know how to instill in their children the things that make them successful. And there are those among us who let a few dollars influence whether or not we do the right things. We’ve got some politicians who shouldn’t be in office,” Douglas said.
The 64th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision against segregated public schools – by some estimates counted in 20-year intervals – that’s more than three generations. I applaud Noble’s willingness to address racism and inequality, to put those issues on the table as he campaigns to become S.C. governor. But then, that’s who Phil Noble is. It’s not just a discussion with him: it’s a life philosophy. I first came to know of Noble because of his positions on race and racism in our community.
The sad part is, for far too many it is just a matter of discussion. For politicians it’s a talking point. The laws and legislation they introduce and enact however says something different. Meaningful change can occur in 100 years – that’s if you mean to change. Obviously few mean to change the segregation and inequality that exists in our schools. I think the sooner we make that admission, the sooner we can move on. A definition of crazy is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result. We’re all not crazy. So when it comes to segregated unequal education, quit spittin’ on me and callin’ it rain.
We’re all not crazy. So when it comes to segregated unequal education, quit spittin’ on me and callin’ it rain.
By Dr. Elizabeth Primas, Program Manager, NNPA/ESSA Public Awareness Campaign
When the best educators in America traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of events celebrating innovation in the classroom and to share best practices in K-12 education, they let officials at the Department of Education and the White House know exactly how they felt about the Trump Administration’s current push for school choice programs.
According to edchoice.org, school choice programs allow, “public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs—whether that’s to a public school, private school, charter school, home school.”
The Education Department’s MLK Legacy event honored individuals who perform extraordinary acts of service in their communities, specifically those individuals who support high-quality education for children of color. Many of the awardees work with parents or community groups that provide primary care for children; some even provide educational support services outside of the traditional public school model.
School choice became a hot topic during the event, as several attendees were visibly disgruntled at the mention of the controversial approach.
The Trump Administration has proposed to decrease funding to authorized investments for public schools while increasing funding opportunities for school choice programs and private school vouchers. Ninety percent of children in America attend public schools. Increased funding to school choice programs, while reducing funding to public schools is a strategy that leaves behind our most vulnerable students.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has repeatedly said that she’s committed to uphold the intentions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the education law signed by President Barack Obama. However, the prioritization of school choice programs in the proposed FY2019 budget contradicts one of the original intentions of the law: to promote equity and increase access to high-quality education for all students. Furthermore, prioritization of school choice isolates homeless children, migrant children, youth in foster care and children from military families. In fact, ESSA requires that school districts report student outcomes for these groups for the very first time.
The 2018 Teacher of the Year awardees echoed similar concerns during their annual White House visit in April. The top teachers in the country reported that they did not approve of funding private schools at the expense of their most vulnerable, at-risk students.
Every child should be entitled to high-quality education in the United States of America. Every neighborhood school should be equipped to provide high-quality courses and curriculum. Every student should have highly-qualified teachers and a menu of extra-curricular activities to choose from. Until the administration prioritizes the equitable improvement of all schools, their verbal commitment to uphold the original intent of ESSA is just another “alternative fact.”
Learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act at nnpa.org/essa.