Other than being an ESPN analyst, Jalen Rose also works tirelessly to serve his local community. The retired NBA player opened in September 2011 the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA), an open enrollment, tuition-free public charter high school in Northwest Detroit. It serves 400 students in ninth through 12 grade from metro Detroit with a 9-16 model, in which students are supported not only through high school graduation but through college graduation via a college success team that works with current students and alumni.
The JRLA has a 93 percent graduation rate and 100 percent college and post-secondary acceptance rate.
Rose spoke exclusively with EBONY.com about why the school is important, what he hopes his students get from their time on campus and the controversy surrounding the national anthem.
Why do you think it’s important to give back to your community by opening a school as opposed to other ways you can help?
Education is a valuable tool that unlocks the future of so many young people, and the dynamics in our country have changed, which is [why I chose to] be the founder of a tuition-free public charter high school that gets zero state funding for the facility. It was important not only from myself but our co-founder, Michael Carter, as well. [We wanted] to not only be able to influence the dynamics of our scholars graduating from high school nine through 12 but [also] to give them that level of support and guidance that allowed them the opportunity to graduate from college, which was 13 through 16.
We’re proud and unique in a lot of ways to carry a nine through 16 model, whereas we approximately have 450 kids in the building this upcoming school year and around 300 in college or university community college, military and trade school. In June, it will be the first time we have JRLA scholars that graduated from colleges across the country that will have the opportunity to attend our graduation and speak to the graduates of our senior class. So that is what I think allows our scenario to be really unique and I’m proud of that dynamic.
Several people I know in the education sector complain about how the curriculum is more based on setting kids up to pass state exams as opposed to teaching skills that would benefit them in the future. How would you say the JRLA enriches your student body with skills that will help them in the future?
That’s not a school thing, per se. That’s a society thing that has continued to foster throughout our country and look no further than the dynamics of how many people work in a field that was their major in college.
I’m one of the few that I know.
I am too, communications: radio, TV & film. So that dynamic in our educational system [whether it be] public charter, magnet, private, college, university, high school, elementary school and middle school is all theory. So, to me, that’s one conversation.
So now what we’re able to do, as a charter school [is] craft programs that allow the young people to get skills other than reading, writing and arithmetic.
We have a leadership course. We teach young people about decision-making, problem-solving, sex, drugs, violence, gangs and etiquette. [Our school] has advisory, where we get to know our scholars up-close and personal, [including] what makes them tick and their interests; we try to steer them in that direction. We’re also unique because while most public schools and charter schools are not open in July, we are.
The JRLA has something called Summer Session, which is not summer school for students who failed classes. Through this program, we create other experiences, college experiences on-campus experiences and we provide each of our scholars with an internship.
It’s crucial for us to get our scholars out in the community to do charity work and to give them the life skills they will need to be successful in the endeavors that they have, and it’s more for us than just obviously the curriculum that’s required to graduate from school.
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) July 31, 2018
There’s a clip from ESPN’s morning show Get Up, where you speak about how the capacity to fill up prisons is based on third-grade aptitude tests. Since your school is from ninth to 12th grade, how are is the JRLA combatting the school to prison pipeline?
The skills I described earlier to give young people the skills they will need to be successful in any field, with any endeavor they choose or in whatever situation that they’re faced with. [That includes]: how to deal with adversity, how to deal with success, how to change your life, how to make those around you that you love proud. We combat [the] school-to-prison pipeline by not only giving them a learning environment but by also providing mentorship. One of our corporate partners who’s been amazing, for example, is Jeep. They not only have provided financial support as it relates to scholarship funding but also offered mentors and experiences for our students.
The JRLA has been able to attract corporations and people that have dedicated their time, their energy and their resources to help influence our scholars [and] our community in a positive way. It continues to affect the community, and that’s what we look to—for our students to be productive members of society.
Though the national anthem isn’t required to be recited in high school, as a member of the Fab Five team you’ve experienced racism while playing college basketball. If we look at what’s happening in the NFL with the kneeling ban, does the hate and criticism players are receiving seem much different to you?
I think it’s unique. Have you ever seen a movie called Higher Learning with Ice Cube?
Yes, I have.
OK, do you remember that part in the movie where he was talking to Omar Epps about what he would do if he was at a football game and the national anthem started to play? Well, I got an opportunity to play with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf on the Denver Nuggets, where he chose to stay in the locker room and then wanted to pray during the national anthem. [Rauf] was one of the first professional athletes to actually do that before Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee a couple of years ago.
America represents the land of the free, the home and the brave. There will be people that have that mentality, and the only thing they want you to do is to concentrate on your sport or your field of entertainment and not have a social or political consciousness about what’s happening in the country.
My rebuttal to that is being a tax paying citizen allows you the right to protest. That [includes] the national anthem, as far as I’m concerned. There have been people that have shed blood, died, made multiple sacrifices and shown more courage for the country than I ever could by serving in the military. The fought to give us the freedom and rights to express ourselves how we choose.
A protest is designed to make you pay attention to it. So, if that’s the case, then you’re going to do it at the time where you feel the most people are going to be watching or listening or paying attention. Since these are peaceful protests, it’s OK , in my opinion, to still be able to express yourself and be passionate about something that you really can’t.
Entrepreneurship-Based Show ‘Hustle’ is Coming to Viceland
Viceland is taking a dip into the startup space with its newest show, Hustle. Just wrapping up production in New York City, the series stars John Henry, a Dominican-American business owner and investor who by 26 has already sold his first company and launched a venture capital fund named Harlem Capital.
The premise of the show is surrounding the new entrepreneur and what it takes to successfully launch a company and get it off the ground. Henry seeks out other New Yorkers, like himself, and helps them turn their business into startups with true potential, pinpointing the exact issues holding them back. He gives them guidance, direction, and resources but, not without putting them to the test. His goal is to set them up with opportunities for their businesses that could potentially catapult them, but it really is up to them whether they sink or rise to the challenges.
So why did Henry take on the challenge of mentoring entrepreneurs in a docu-series format? “When Beth Greenwald originally came to me with the essence of this idea, I knew I wanted to be involved,” says Henry, “We were both passionate to produce and deliver an authentic look at the entrepreneurial journey. Silicon Valley’s narrative has been well documented. But what about the entrepreneurial journey of the rest of the country? And particularly, diverse business owners and entrepreneurs whose perspective has often been overlooked. Thus, Hustle was born.
Hustle puts Henry’s mission of empowering diverse young entrepreneurs on its feet and as he states, “gives the world a new perspective.” That mission has attracted two celebrity entrepreneurs and bona fide New York success stories as executive producers: 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actress, best-selling author, and activist Alicia Keys and multiple award-winning chef and restaurateur, TV personality, best-selling author and philanthropist Marcus Samuelsson. The show premieres Feb. 10.
Julius P. Williams Elected First African American President of the Conductors Guild
Julius P. Williams, professor in the Composition Department at Berklee College of Music, was named the first African American president of the Conductors Guild. His two-year term began on January 3.
In its 34th year, the Conductors Guild is a global membership organization encompassing conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. The organization trains and mentors conductors of all ages, races, and education levels.
Williams is also the artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra; music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey; composer in residence with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and is cover to maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
“The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth, and leadership to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge.”
Williams’s career has taken him from his native New York to musical venues around the globe and has included virtually every musical genre. He has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.
“Julius Williams is a talented leader with years of experience as a prominent conductor and composer,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “I’m delighted that he will take the helm at the Conductors Guild.”
The year ahead for the Conductors Guild includes plans for additional conductor training workshops, symposia with leading conductors of the day, including Andris Nelsons and Gianandrea Noseda, as well as an international conference set for February 2020, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, Montréal.
Caribbean Women Reported as First All-Black Women’s Rowing Team to Cross Atlantic Ocean in Grueling Sport Competition
Four women from Antigua have just completed a grueling rowing competition and many are heralding them as the first all-black women’s rowing team to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Their official team name is Team Antigua- The Island Girls.
Competitive rowers Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, and Kevinia Francis participated in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They set course on Dec. 12 from the Canary Islands and landed in Antigua on Jan. 30—a 3,000-mile trip. A fifth member of the team, Junella King did not actively participate in the race, but trained with the others and served as an alternate.
According to the Indy100 website, the rowing race is one of the toughest in the world. Rowers burn an average of 8,000 calories during the competition.
The women competed in name of their chosen charity, Cottage of Hope, which offers short- and long-term residency to girls who are abused, neglected, or orphaned. Their goal was to raise $150,000 for the organization.
The nation of Antigua burst into collective celebration as the women finished the race. As per The Loop, the country’s government officials shortened a budget debate so that politicians could be present when the team arrived in their homeland. Public and private institutions closed early so that more people could meet with and congratulate the team.
The team battled sea sickness and their boat nearly capsized at one point during their journey, reports The Daily Observer. They were presented with a gift by Antigua’s Prime Minister upon their return.
The team’s website has bios of each team member. Christal Clashing is an adventure guide and travel writer. In 2004, she became the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics.
Elvira Bell is a swim instructor and a certified health coach. Samara Emmanuel is the first Antiguan woman to become a certified yacht captain and has more than 12 years’ seafarer experience. She is also a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master, and boat master among a lengthy list of certifications.
Kevinia Francis is a title-winning, all-around athlete who excels in basketball, cycling, martial arts, and track-and-field.
Junella King is just 17-years-old. She juggles school and sailing while working part-time as a sailing instructor.
Free Admission to National Center for Civil and Human Rights all February Thanks to Coca-Cola
Admission to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights will be free during Black History month thanks to a grant from Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to the center, located in downtown Atlanta (and next door to the World of Coke museum).
The center announced the news on its website: “The grant will allow free admission for anyone visiting the civil rights landmark starting Monday, January 28 through the end of February. Visitors leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities. In expectation of crowds, The Center will be implementing timed ticketing for admission. Timed tickets will be available on a first come, first served.”
“There is no better way to celebrate this exciting moment in Atlanta’s history than to give back to our hometown,” said Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation in a press release. “We are proud of our city’s remarkable civil and human rights history and are pleased to offer residents and visitors alike the opportunity to learn more about how diversity, inclusion, and unity are central to the story of modern Atlanta.”
Additionally, The Coca-Cola Foundation presented three $100,000 grants to Atlanta-area organizations dedicated to promoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy: The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; The Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights; and New American Pathways.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum that opened in 2014. Its multimedia exhibits relay the story of the American Civil Rights movement.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Coca-Cola company. Since its launch in 1984, the foundation has awarded over $1 billion in grants “to support sustainable community initiatives around the world,” according to the foundation’s website.
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Disney Celebrates Black History Month: Gives $1.5 Million to United Negro College Fund and Free ‘Black Panther’ Tickets
The Walt Disney Co. announced it is helping to celebrate Black History Month. The legendary studio is giving a $1.5 million grant to the United Negro College Fund. Additionally, the company will offer free screenings of its mega-hit movie Black Panther from Feb. 1–7, at 250 AMC theaters around the country.
“We know that providing aspiring young minority talent with scholarships and professional development opportunities is vital to making their dreams a reality,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax via a press release. “UNCF is grateful for Walt Disney Company’s enduring commitment to expanding these types of opportunities, and we’re excited to continue to do so through our Walt Disney Company/UNCF Corporate Scholars Program. I recall the excitement we all had when Black Panther was first released and it’s fantastic that Disney is bringing the record-breaking movie back to the big screen so that we can relive that excitement. Wakanda Forever!”
Black Panther went on to become the 7th highest-grossing movie of all time in the country and the 14th highest globally.
The movie has captured several Oscar nominations, including awards for Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Music Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
“Black Panther is groundbreaking for many reasons, including the rich diversity of voices behind its success,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co., also through a press release. “The story also showcases the power of knowledge to change the world for the better, and the importance of ensuring everyone has access to it. We’re proud to provide thousands of free screenings of Black Panther in hopes it will continue to inspire audiences and to support UNCF with a $1.5 million grant to make the dream of higher education a reality for more students.”
The Black Panther movie has inspired a new wave of Afrocentrism. For instance, the blockbuster sent demand for African fabrics and clothing, skyrocketing. The movie also inspired hip-hop star, Akon, to create a real-life Wakanda, using the latest technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Disney has made other donations in the wake of Black Panther’s success. Last year, it donated $1 million to expand STEM programs in Oakland, along with 11 other areas, including Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and others. The company also gave $1 million to the Girls and Boys Club of America.
CEO Iger also hinted last year that a Black Panther-inspired theme park is in the works.
To see where you can catch the free Black Panther showings, check out the list of the participating AMC theaters.
Wake Up! 6 Ways to Stop Treating Your Life Like a To-Do List
I pride myself on my productivity and for years prided myself on my ability to “multitask.” I live – LIVE I tell you – for the moment when I can drag my pen across an item on my to-do list. Once I reach a goal, I quickly move on to the next.
That’s what society calls for to be successful, right? Hustling, crushing goals, moving at breakneck speed through life in the pursuit of feeling accomplished? I’ve realized recently that approaching life in that way has left me feeling like I haven’t lived much at all.
What about you—when was the was the last time you watched a tv show without picking up your phone to check your email at some point? Or succeeded at something you’ve worked tirelessly toward and actually savored your win before thinking, “what’s next?”
We’re missing all of the moments that are meant to be savored in the pursuit of productivity.
Here are some ways we can start being active participants in our lives and stop living on autopilot.
1. Tune into your body’s needs.
Pause right now. Take a deep breath. What is your body asking for? Productivity calls for getting ish done regardless of our mental or physical state. But what do you actually need right now? Is it some alone time, a glass of water, or a chance to connect with a friend? Getting still once in a while is necessary for understanding what you need to thrive.
2. Schedule time for nothing.
Adding yet another appointment in order to break free from your to-do list may seem counterintuitive. But if you operate best on a set schedule then actively blocking off time will guarantee time to let your guard down. Block off a few hours in your week to step away from busyness. Give yourself what you need in that particular moment.
3. Take a device-free walk.
Leave the earbuds at home and take the time to listen to your surroundings. Soak in your environment: what you’re hearing, what you’re seeing, and what the ground feels like under your feet. Taking a walk is a simple (and free) act that can keep you in the moment.
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
Do you find yourself turning away from new experiences because they get in the way of being productive? It’s probably time to give yourself a new experience. Trying something new can stimulate curiosity and imagination, which are essential to the human experience.
5. Keep your “why” in mind.
Why are you hustling each day? What are you striving for? In going about your day-to-day keeping the “why” front and center in your mind can keep you grounded in your life purpose and what really matters to you.
6. Celebrate you!
You’ve probably been so focused on what’s needs to be done that you haven’t celebrated all that has been done. The end of the year is a great time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year. Whether you bought a home, traveled somewhere new, or survived a tough emotional situation this year, celebrate it!