“Whatever you do, strive to do it so well that no man living and no man dead and no man yet to be born could do it any better.”
-Benjamin Elijah Mays
My primary goal in life is to leave a legacy that transcends time, a legacy that my great grandchildren can be proud of. My passion is philanthropy, and this relentless pursuit to address complex social issues has granted me opportunities to serve both domestically and abroad. This February, as we celebrate #Blackhistory month in its traditional form, I am inundated with making my own #Blackhistory by uplifting vulnerable communities of people that look like myself.
Education is the Gateway to Everything
Throughout my service journey, one of the most profound partnerships I have developed is with Purpose Preparatory Academy. This public charter school was recently named one of the top performing primary education institutions in the State of Tennessee, and for the past five years, it has been thriving. The Founder and Director of Purpose Prep, Vanderbilt University Alumnus, Lagra Newman, is the definition of #Blackgirlmagic.
Lagra is innovative, educated, inspiring and every day, she and her staff of over 30 distinct educators, work diligently to instill greatness into the young scholars of Purpose Prep. Through a rigorous curriculum, high-quality instruction, and positive character development, the scholars achieve the academic skills, knowledge, and ethical foundation to be set on the path to college.
Purpose Prep holds scholars accountable for demonstrating excellent behavior by teaching them the character skills necessary for their success, specifically the school’s RISE with Purpose values – Purpose, Respect, Integrity, Self-Determination, and Excellence.
The Partnership that changed the game
Another one of my passions is entrepreneurship and supporting those brave few who dare take the ultimate leap of faith by starting a small business. Darin Wyly & Adrian Winston- Founders and Creative Directors of the LiveAbove brand, have done that and more. LiveAbove identifies with individuals who have the heart and mindset to live above ANY of life's many obstacles and setbacks. As a tribute to our commitment of supporting minority-owned businesses, my family partnered with LiveAbove to create the #Legendary series shirt. This partnership is also an effort to encourage our followers to make every moment of their lives legendary and meaningful. 10% of the proceeds generated from sales of the #Legendary shirt will be donated to further academic programs at Purpose Prep Academy.
To support the movement, CLICK HERE order your #Legendary shirt today!
The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy found that businesses owned by African-American and Hispanic entrepreneurs were turned down for loans at a higher rate compared to their White male entrepreneur counterparts, many of them initially turned down by banks and traditional lending institutions.
Owning a small business is not for the weak or faint of heart. Many minority businesses with great potential have died during inception due to the lack of support required to grow and sustain a new venture. As consumers, we must SUPPORT local businesses started by minority leaders.
Knowledge & Pizza,The Perfect Combo
In honor of the Happy Birthday Dominique #28wishesfor28years annual community service project, I hosted the first annual "Pizza with the Pros" career day at Purpose Prep Academy. This event featured an array of talented, intelligent, and powerful professionals from all walks of life, sharing their abundance of knowledge with the sharp young scholars over delicious Slim & Husky's pizza.
Representation is everything to a young person navigating through their scholastic odyssey. For this reason, "Pizza with the Pro's" was designed to inspire the impressionable scholars by granting intimate access to successful leaders throughout different career sectors, in an effort to demonstrate that anything the scholars conceive in their dreams, is possible to achieve in real life. I am forever grateful to the guest panelist listed below that took time to pour into the lives of our youth.
Host: Patrick Walker-Reese, MPA. Patrick is an established and celebrated speaker and educator. Mr. Reese, as his students commonly refer to him as, has dedicated his work to serving his own community. He has motivated and encouraged youth and adults alike to dare to dream and to strive for greatness everyday. His passion for life and the belief that dreams come true everyday is evident in every facet of his work.
Ryann Casey, criminal defense attorney at the Metro-Davidson Public Defender’s office and has been there since August 2016. Ryann is passionate about supporting both youth and formerly incarcerated people. Ryann co-founded The Casey Fund with her husband Jurrell Casey. The Casey Fund is an non-project agency that supports community-based organizations that work to provide resources for those two communities.
Jurrell Casey, three time pro-bowler, is the starting defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans. Jurrell is currently a team captain and has served as a captain for the past 3 years. While Jurrell continues to leave his legacy on the football field, he also works to leave a positive mark in the community as well. Jurrell’s continuing commitment to the volunteering & charity work was commemorated when he was awarded the TN Titan’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2017. In addition, Jurrell is the co-founder of The Casey Fund, an organization that works to provide resources to underprivileged youth and formerly incarcerated people.
Kenyatta Bynoe, VP of Global Marketing and Partnerships at Spalding. Kenyatta is an accomplished marketing executive with a 20-year career that encompasses increasingly demanding leadership roles. With a solid track record of engineering innovative, 360-degree marketing strategy, she is much at home delivering campaigns across advertising, media, digital/social, PR, and experiential disciplines. Kenyatta is at the helm of all consumer marketing strategy for this sporting goods manufacturer. She holds direct accountability for pioneering visual identity, campaign execution, brand experience and e-commerce across all marketing communication touch points. She also oversees the Spalding partnership with the NBA as their official basketball and backboard. Her accomplishments were evidenced by her selection as one of the Adweek “Most Powerful Women in Sports” as well as a Sports Business Journal “Game Changer.” Kenyatta launched her career upon obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Central Michigan University, and went on to earn her Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Eastern Michigan University.
Phil Reynolds-Growing up in Nashville, Phil always found enjoyment in the interactions with people while helping others in the community. After getting his degree from College of Charleston, he worked in multiple industries hoping to find his long term professional passion. He worked in the political world of Washington, DC after school but knew his heart was always back home in Nashville. His parents ingrained a strong work ethic while maintaining his integrity. Family is extremely important to Phil, which explains his focus on helping families achieve their long-term financial goals and planning for both the expected and unexpected events in life. Phil obtained his Certified Financial Planner designation while working for a global financial institution, a distinction very few financial professionals hold. Phil teamed up with Brandon Williams to develop TBH Sports specifically focusing on the complex financial needs of professional athletes and coaches. As a partner, he has helped grow TBH to be a respected Registered Investment Advisory firm in the Southeast.
Darin Wyly & Adrian Winston- Founders and Creative Directors of the Live Above clothing company. The LiveAbove brand represents those who have the heart and mindset to Live Above any of life's obstacles. They have a unique storefront located in Nashville, Tennessee and they are committed to promoting excellence amongst all individuals, especially minority communities.
Kiara Moore, Kiara Young, now Moore, is a former NFL cheerleader, former Miss TN USA, currently the Health & Wellness coordinator for Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She cheered in the NFL for 4 yrs and competed at Miss USA in 2015, while completing her Master's degree in Public Health. She is currently finishing a 2nd Master's degree in Nonprofit Administration and will begin her MD/PHD program next Fall to become a pediatrician.
Amber Staples, A graduate of University of Illinois, Amber is the Business Development Director of a local marketing company in Nashville. Amber quickly developed a passion for charitable work, and together with her husband Justin, they founded Stapled LLC, which partners with the American Heart Association. Their goal is to educate the community, especially young people, of the importance of implementing a healthy lifestyle. In addition to working on her own foundation, Amber has lent her hand to campaign and volunteer with other charitable organizations and foundations.
Tunisia Scott, is the dynamic and driven CEO/President of the Tennessee Minority Pages. The Tennessee Minority Pages is a publication that provides quality advertisement to minority businesses. Its purpose is to be a Powerful Voice in the community: Bridging the gap in diversity, culture, and business.
The "Pizza with the Pros" Career Day was legendary. In this moment, myself, a young professional minority philanthropist, hosted an event at Purpose Prep Academy, a top five performing educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, comprised of majority black and brown children, founded by a powerful and beautiful black woman. This event featured minority guest speakers, leading in their individual career fields, and provided delicious pizza catered by Slim & Husky's, which happens to be owned and operated by three young successful black businessmen.
I am making my own black history and loving every minute of it. I challenge you to make your own #Blackhistory as well.