Renowned Economist Urges African Americans To Change Spending Habits
Apr09

Renowned Economist Urges African Americans To Change Spending Habits

With the actual unemployment rate of Blacks in America over 50 percent, the nation’s economy must turn around and produce more jobs if Blacks have a chance of survival,” wrote economist Dr. Claud Anderson, who notes that today “blacks spend approximately 95 percent of our income outside of our communities. Only two percent remains in black hands inside the black community.”

Anderson’s comments reflect deep concerns that despite high black unemployment, black America’s buying power just keeps on growing—and not in the right direction.

Christ Our Redeemer Hosts Business Conference In New Facility
Oct13

Christ Our Redeemer Hosts Business Conference In New Facility

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, a coalition of faith leaders, bank executives, business entrepreneurs, educators and the director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will converge at The National Faith Leaders, Educators, Small Business and Youth Conference on Friday October 3rd and Saturday October 4th.

“The church must do more to complete the unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Mark Whitlock, Senior Pastor of Christ Our Redeemer, AME Church in Irvine, California and conference host.

Economists Caution: Save Now Or Pay Later
Sep11

Economists Caution: Save Now Or Pay Later

Some troubling numbers have recently emerged that hint towards difficult times financially during two of the most fiscally important periods in a person’s life: when they first graduate from college and get a job, and when they retire.

Bankrate.com found that 36% of adults don’t have retirement savings - and 14% of Americans 65 and older haven’t even begun putting money away. This is particularly concerning when taking into consideration the fact that financial experts suggest savings at least 8 times your ending salary to ensure you can support your lifestyle for 25 years or so after you stop working.

Lupita Nyong’o: Businesswoman and Fashion Icon
Jul03

Lupita Nyong’o: Businesswoman and Fashion Icon

Who says what you wear doesn’t matter?

During the 86th Academy Awards Ceremony, Lupita Nyong’o jokingly handed Ellen DeGeneres her lip balm as payment for the comedian’s running joke of ordering a pizza. The Clarins HydraQuench Lip Balm brand she had tucked into her purse for the night quickly became the focus of pictures, screenshots, internet searches within minutes, as #lupitaslipbalm trended on Twitter the whole night. Within twenty-four hours, Clarins had to make a statement to the public that all of their locations had sold out of the product, but that they were making an extra-large order from Paris to increase their stock, easily making thousands simply because their lip balm had been pocketed by the rising star before she left for the Oscars.

Mar03

Jesse Jackson Holds 17th Annual Wall Street Economic Summit

55th Anniversary Of Ben's Chili BowlAt the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund's 17th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit held in New York last month, Reverend Jesse Jackson announced to hundreds of political, corporate and entrepreneurial leaders that “The struggle is not over.”

Held at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel with the theme "50 Years After the Civil Rights Act: The Unfinished Agenda for Economic Justice,” this year’s economic summit focused on home foreclosures, unemployment and the decline in Black businesses.

Despite living in an economic atmosphere decades after the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson provided evidence that proved black business continues to suffer. Even more appalling is the lack of diversity at the corporate level.

“For more than 50 years, Black Americans have increased their buying power from $37 billion to over a trillion dollars. But our consumerism has not translated into a fair share of contracts and jobs with corporate America,” said Jackson. “Income inequality is a growing concern, and the financial crisis didn’t help.

“In the U.S., the wealthiest 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of the post-2009 growth, and the bottom 90 percent became poorer. While financial transactions are of particular interest to the Wall Street Project, there is increasing concern generally about lack of opportunity.”

A report shows 33 percent of all African-Americans own smartphones and use double the mobile phone minutes as whites do, yet when Verizon did the biggest corporate bond sale in history last September, no minority banks or broker dealers were used. Instead, fees of $265 million went to a handful of majority-owned banks.

“The companies that we use—like Twitter, Apple and Google—we trade with them, and they don't trade with us,” Jackson told the AmNews. “Not a single Black on their boards. We want to talk about advertising in Black-owned media with companies where we purchase products from. It’s about fair equity in the economic arena.”

Reverend Jackson brought together the nation’s leaders in political, corporate, entrepreneurial and other industries to discuss the economic congruity and concerns distinctive to African-American and Hispanic men and women and people of diverse cultures.

Jackson also honored several Black media outlets, including the Amsterdam News, Johnson Publishing Company, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Daily Challenge and Positive Community.

Jackson said he honored the media outlets because they allow the Black point of view to be heard.

“They will always fill a significant niche that must be respected. These papers need subscribers and ads, and we must support these publications in concrete terms,” he said.

But Rev. Jackson is not taking this sitting down, he and the Rainbow PUSH organization recently launched an initiative urging black America to “Become One in A Million,” by joining the RPC Million Member Campaign Today, visit www.millionmember.rainbowpush.org.

Jan07

Philanthropy and Nonprofits: Where the Money Should Be, But Isn’t

tasha-williamsonTasha Williamson is no stranger to the workings of a nonprofit organization. Cofounder of the San Diego Compassion Project, which offers support and outreach for families who experience the loss of a loved one due to violence, she also co-created the Block by Block program, which caters to high-risk gang members by guiding them towards educational and job opportunities and helps them stay out of jail. Williamson was also the manager for Project Safeway, which ensures children get to and from school safely, and is completely staffed by volunteers.

“I was able to find what my true gift is to the world, and help so many other people with a team of folks who, like myself, really love helping people,” Williamson says. “And helping them overcome their greatest challenges in life.”

While many desire to help the needy, the only reason not to pursue a career in this otherwise altruistic, noble and respected profession is the first thing many take into consideration when deciding upon their future career: the little (and many times nonexistent) paycheck.

There’s a good reason why the typical image of a nonprofit organizer involves a millionaire with an abnormal amount of disposable income. It is a common, selfless hobby amongst the affluent, from Will and Jada Smith, whose Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Lupus Foundation, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to Beyoncé Knowles, who donated $4 million to a drug treatment nonprofit in California, on top of creating the Survivor Foundation for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and donating the proceeds of her song “I Was Here” to humanitarian causes.

This particular challenge facing those who want to dedicate their lives to doing good, but find themselves entrapped within their own modest means, involves a lot of passion for work that offers much in terms of fulfillment, humanity and connection, but little in salary. And Williamson knows all too well what a toll it can take. Her day job involves working as a community outreach consultant for the Urban League of San Diego, and can only take up so much of her time when her philanthropic causes need her attention.

“With the work that I do—it really is a lot of volunteer work, so there’s no money,” Williamson says.

But money isn’t all that she sacrifices. The Compassion Project handles intense confrontations, emotional fallouts and serious issues that are both exhausting and time consuming. This means Williamson spends a lot of her time away from her family.

“I think about the sacrifice that my family has made, so that I can do the work that I do. Including my own children. Because a lot of my work takes me away from the home.”

But Williamson’s dedication to her job finally paid off directly in October, when she received the call that she had won the California Endowment Fund’s California Peace Prize, which happened to come with a $25,000 check.

“To hear that there was a prize that came with it, I cried. I didn’t believe him at first, so I kept asking him, is he serious? He says ‘you know people hang up on me. They don’t believe that I’m serious,’ and he said this is really a real call.

“I just broke down and started crying, because you know, we really needed good news.”

Unfortunately, Williamson’s is an infrequent case, as many people dedicated to a career in philanthropy and volunteering without the money to support themselves find it difficult to live, as they balance the fine line between getting by and declaring bankruptcy.

Manish Vaidya, a nonprofit worker who has since had to leave the industry, recently spoke out about the grim treatment and financial support he received from his job.

“It was the ultimate paradox, that in these organizations that were committed to doing social good in their communities, wage exploitation was ripe,” he says.

Vaidya goes on to describe a job he ultimately had to abandon—not because he didn’t believe in its cause, but because he simply could no longer support himself.

“I worked seven days a week and wasn't paid overtime. I stopped one day to do the math on what I was actually making, and realized I was being exploited to the tune of 12 cents an hour.”

“When non-profits are doing the jobs that a government is supposed to provide, it's usually the sign of a breakdown and of a failed state,” said Carla Sapsford Newman, a former employee of PactWorld, a non-profit that works to strengthen charitable sectors in third-world countries.

But as the non-profit industry in America faces a crises in financial management, Williamson’s story serves as a hopeful reminder that if more is done to acknowledge nonprofits and charitable organizations, it will not only give rise to the betterment of an ever-important sector in America’s economic welfare, but will create a lucrative opportunity that may make the philanthropic profession within reach of anyone—even those who, in lieu of money, have only their work ethic and compassion to offer.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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