Tag Archives: community

President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/20/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.govPremiums, Profits, and the Need for Health Reform ~ The President points to outrageous premium hikes from health insurance companies, especially those already making massive profits, as further proof of the need for reform. Looking ahead to the coming bipartisan meeting on reform, the President urges members of Congress to come to the table in good faith to address the issue.

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/13/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.gov—The President, having just signed the “Pay As You Go” law, discusses the importance of this fundamental rule to getting budget deficits in check. Ensuring that new spending and tax cuts are offset was a important factor in creating the budget surplus of the late 1990’s.
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In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

A concert celebrating Black History month

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Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah

So On February 10th, President Obama and First Lady Michelle will host In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement. The concert will be held in the State Dining Room, and is timed to celebrate Black History Month.

So far participants include Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and others. It will be hosted by Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah, and will feature songs associated with the civil rights movement as well as readings from famous civil rights speeches.

The President will make opening remarks and the concert will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov starting at 5:15 p.m. ET. The concert will be televised on Feb. 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations. In addition, NPR will produce a one-hour special from the event to air on its stations throughout February.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

As part of this special event, Mrs. Obama will host “Music that Inspired the Movement,” a workshop that several of the event’s performers will lead for 120 high school students from across the country on Wednesday, February 10th from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET. The students will come to learn about the continuing relevance of music from the Civil Rights Movement to today’s generation and its original impact in the 1960s. This event will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov and students all over the country will be invited to watch and engage in the workshop.

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Music Series last year with a Jazz Studio, and since then has hosted a celebration of Country Music, a Fiesta Latina and a celebration of Classical Music. Many of these events included evening performances as well as daytime educational workshops designed to educate and inspire talented young people to use their gifts to develop a future for themselves in the arts community whether as a hobby or as a profession.

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President Obama and Secretary Duncan Meet 6th Graders

Posted by: Audiegrl

Speeding Up the Race to the Top

President Barack Obama and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, right, take questions during a group discussion with 6th grade students at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama announces a proposed $1.3 billion investment in Race to the Top, a program to encourage innovation and excellence in education through competitive grants, at an event at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010.

This morning the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan paid a visit to Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia where they had a chat with about 30 6th grade students. The conversation put a face to the people they were trying to help with the President’s latest investment of more than a billion dollars in next year’s budget to amp up the President’s “Race to the Top” program – a competition to incentivize success that has already generated an overwhelming response from states, with over 30 states expected to compete for first-round funding.

You can learn more about Graham Road in the White House background release, but the school made a mark on its community by implementing a comprehensive strategy to turn around student achievement, adopting rigorous and high-quality student assessments, teacher evaluation and professional development, along with innovative and effective use of data systems to track student performance. As a result, in 2008 all of the school’s sixth-graders met Virginia’s reading standards, and 96 percent met math standards, despite being one of the lowest income schools in the county. The expansion of Race to the Top comes with a plan to encourage precisely this kind of visionary change in schools that apply for the challenge.

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In his remarks after the meeting with students, the President explained how it all works, and the logic behind “Race to the Top“:

Last year, we set aside more than $4 billion to improve our schools — one of the largest investments in reform in our nation’s history. But we didn’t just hand this money out to states that wanted it; we challenged them to compete for it. And it’s the competitive nature of this initiative that we believe helps make it so effective. We laid out a few key criteria and said if you meet these tests, we’ll reward you by helping you reform your schools.

First, we encouraged states to adopt more challenging standards that will actually prepare our kids for college and their careers. We also encouraged schools to adopt better assessments — not just one-size-fits-all approaches — to measure what our kids know and what they’re able to do.

Second, we urged schools and school districts to make sure we have excellent principals leading our schools and great teachers leading our classes by promoting rigorous plans to develop and evaluate teachers and principals and by rewarding their success.

Third, we urged states to use cutting-edge data systems to track a child’s progress throughout their academic career, and to link that child’s progress to their teachers so we know what’s working and what’s not working in the classroom. Fourth, we encouraged states to show a stronger commitment to turning around some of their lowest-performing schools.

And even before states have received a single dime of taxpayer money, many of them have committed to instituting important reforms to better position themselves for a Race to the Top grant. Forty-eight states have now joined a nationwide partnership to develop a common set of rigorous, career-ready standards in reading and math. Wisconsin has enacted legislation permitting schools to link student achievement to the performance of teachers and principals. In Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, we’ve seen changes in laws or policies to let public charter schools expand and succeed. These are public schools with more independence that are formed by teachers, parents, and community members.

So by rewarding some of these states submitting applications today, by extending the Race to the Top for states, by launching a Race to the Top among school districts, and by applying the principles of Race to the Top to other federal programs, we’ll build on this success. We’re going to raise the bar for all our students and take bigger steps towards closing the achievement gap that denies so many students, especially black and Latino students, a fair shot at their dreams.

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Miami Serves on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend

Posted by: Audiegrl

Town Park Village, a residential complex in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, will welcome seven hundred volunteers to landscape and green the community as a way of honoring the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

This January 16th event is only the latest in a series of projects that Hands On Miami has coordinated in Overtown, one of Miami’s most underserved communities. Last year, Hands On Miami helped to create and furnish two community centers for the seniors and young people of Town Park Village, and two kindergarten classrooms at the neighboring charter school, among several other projects.

In honor of MLK Day, the volunteers at Town Park Village will tackle a variety of projects, including landscaping and “greening” the complex. Volunteers will landscape the areas between buildings and create community gardens, revitalize the buildings by adding fresh coats of paint to the numbers on the homes and buildings and add murals to the local school. In an effort to help make the community more environmentally friendly, the volunteers will work to add trashcans between every building, include rain barrels in the gardens, and change every porch light to an energy efficient light bulb.

In addition to revitalizing the housing complex, the volunteers will also help the community’s residents by providing each household in Town Park Village with first aid kits. Every elementary school age child in the Overtown community will also receive a school care kit to replenish the school supplies they received in August.

This is just an example of the many service projects taking place across the country in honor of the Jan. 18 MLK Day of Service – to find other volunteer opportunities like this one and have an impact in your community, visit serve.gov/MLKDay.

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44-D’s Impact Diaries: How Will You Answer Dr. King’s Question?

Posted by: Audiegrl



The Corporation for National and Community Service shares a wonderful story of how Miami residents are coming together to green and beautify their community to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Miami project is just one example of how people are coming together to serve their communities as part of January 18th’s MLK Day of Service. To find service projects in your community, visit serve.gov/MLKDay.

How will you answer Dr. King’s question?

On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and to move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs—poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

Please volunteer with Americans across the nation on the 2010 King Day of Service and make a real in difference in your community. Fueled by President Obama’s call to service, the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service experienced a historic level of participation, as Americans across the country honored Dr. King by serving their communities on the January 19 King Holiday. In total, more than 13,000 projects took place — the largest ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this national effort.

Thousands volunteered to prepare care packages for troops stationed in Iraq during Serve DC's Operation Gratitude project for the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Washington, DC.

How to You Can Serve

2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge

We are calling on educators and web professionals to join our new effort – the 2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge. The idea is simple: to connect schools with technology needs to IT and web professionals, developers, graphic designers and new media professionals who are willing to volunteer their skills for good, take on these technology projects and give back to a school in need. Learn more.

MLK Day Resources

Everything you need to plan a King Day project – including tips on getting started, building partnerships, organizing the day, and fundraising. You’ll also find a service-learning guide for schools and organizations, project examples, and marketing tools to help promote your project.

For more information…

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Interview with President Barack Obama

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith interview President Barack Obama after he receives the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 in Oslo, Norway.

Part One

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President Obama: Three New Initiatives to Help Community Health Centers

Posted by Audiegrl

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country, Dec. 9, 2009

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country

White House.gov—Two causes all Americans can get behind are initiatives to improve our health care system and create jobs in a struggling economy. In an effort to accomplish both at once, today President Obama announced that $600 million in stimulus money will go towards improving community health centers across the country:

Starting today, we’re making $88 million in funding available for centers to adopt new health information technology systems to manage their administrative and financial matters and transfer old paper files to electronic medical records. These investments won’t just increase efficiency and lower costs, they’ll improve the quality of care as well –- preventing countless medical errors, and allowing providers to spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients.

That’s the purpose of the final initiative I’m announcing today as well -– a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of the “medical home” model of care that many of our health centers aspire to. The idea here is very simple: that in order for care to be effective, it needs to be coordinated. It’s a model where the center that serves as your medical home might help you keep track of your prescriptions, or get the referrals you need, or work with you to develop a plan of care that ensures your providers are working together to keep you healthy.

So taken together, these three initiatives –- funding for construction, technology, and a medical home demonstration –- they won’t just save money over the long term and create more jobs, they’re also going to give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it.

And ultimately, that’s what health insurance reform is really about. That’s what the members of Congress here today will be voting on in the coming weeks.

Now, let me just end by saying a little bit about this broader effort. I know it’s been a long road. I know it’s been a tough fight. But I also know the reason we’ve taken up this cause is the very same reason why so many members from both parties are here today –- because no matter what our politics are, we know that when it comes to health care, the people we serve deserve better.

President Obama announces that the Recovery Act will provide new funding for Community Health Centers to finance new construction, modernize information technology, and build a “medical home” model. December 9, 2009

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44-D Book Diaries with Audiegrl: Susan L. Taylor’s All About Love

Today’s interview features Susan L. Taylor, discussing her profoundly inspirational and thought-provoking book, All About Love: Favorite Selections from ‘In The Spirit’ on Living Fearlessly.

All About Love is a gathering of Susan’s favorite In the Spirit essays, as well as the favorites of many Essence readers. Several themes reoccur ~ finding harmony with ourselves and others; shedding the old skin of anger and bitterness; opening the heart and soul fully to love; wealth building and abundance; commitment to personal and social change; strengthening our families and communities; and primarily, keeping faith and finding the face of God in all our challenges. These are the principals and values that embody the wisdom Susan tries to live each day.

Susan L. Taylor is synonymous with Essence magazine, the brand she built—as its fashion and beauty editor, as editor-in-chief and editorial director. For 27 years she authored of one of the magazine’s most popular columns, In the Spirit. For nearly three decades, as the driving force behind one of the most celebrated Black-owned businesses of our time, Susan Taylor is a legend in the magazine publishing world.

She was the first and only African-American Woman to be recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award—the industry’s highest honor—and the first to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award for visionary leadership and has honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.

A fourth-generation entrepreneur, Susan grew up in Harlem working with her father in his women’s clothing store. She founded her own cosmetics company, a first for Black women, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence. She is the author of four books: In the Spirit: The Inspirational Writings of Susan L. Taylor; Lessons in Living; Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives, which she coauthored with her husband, Khephra Burns; and her most recent, All About Love, Favorite Selections from In the Spirit on Living Fearlessly. She is a much sought-after speaker, inspiring hope and encouraging us to reclaim our lives and create sustainable communities.

AG: Susan, start by telling our readers about All About Love.

ST: These writings are my and Essence readers favorite “In the Spirit” columns, which I have rewritten and deepened. Essentially, they are to help us remember that we are not weak or incomplete, but more than enough. We are human and divine and with our mind, we can create the joyful, peaceful and prosperous life God created us to have. All About Love is our encouragement to cast off negativity, doubt or fear–they grow when we give them power–and keep on stepping toward our goals and plans with walk-on-water faith.

AG: What inspired you to create this collection of essays?

ST: For years, Essence readers have been asking me to compile the ones that have been most helpful to them in a single volume. I also wanted to be able to read the ones that are most meaningful to me, the truths that have saved my life and that I must remember and practice to keep balance and inner peace at the center of my crazy-busy life.

AG: You founded a mentoring program called National CARES Mentoring Movement. Can you tell us about this project and what motivated you to create it?

ST: This is the painful truth we can no longer avoid addressing: Of all African-American births, 6.6 percent are to girls under the age of 18. Among our children, 58 percent of Black 4th graders are functionally illiterate. In some cities, nearly 80 percent of Black boys aren’t finishing high school.

Everyday more than a thousand Black children are arrested. One in every eight Black men between the ages of 25 and 29 is incarcerated, and the leading cause of death for our Black boys is homicide. What I and people all over the country are saying is, “Hell no! Not on our watch.” Millions of our young are in peril and the negative forces claiming them–the mothers and fathers of our tomorrows–are more powerful than our community’s or country’s effort to secure them. The goal of the National Cares Mentoring Movement is to put a caring and loving adult in the life of every vulnerable child and to increase the rate of high school graduation among Black youngsters by 10 percent annually. Now there are 22 cities at various stages of launching local movements. Already in operation are Atlanta Cares Mentoring Movement, Chicago Cares, Memphis Cares, Baltimore Cares, and the fearless brothers of MADD DADS are organizing the state of Florida.

AG: Being the “face” of Essence magazine for a number of years, you left the magazine to work on building the National Cares Mentoring Movement. Was this a difficult decision for you?

ST: It’s time for the next generation to take the reigns of Essence. They are energized, well trained and hard working. At times we older ones hold on too long. I did what I came to Essence to do; my 37 years there have seasoned me well. Now I’m ready for the heavy lifting, for even tougher, mightier work–linking arms and aims with the many caring people throughout the nation who have a passion for justice and understand that neither public policy nor political will is going to rescue our young and that this is our call to commitment, Black people’s work to do.

AG: What are your long-term goals for the National CARES Mentoring Movement?

ST: Oprah Winfrey put out the call for one million people to sign on to mentor. She devoted a show to the National CARES Mentoring Movement and ran it twice within a month. This gave the movement a tremendous life. Mentoring costs nothing and saves lives. We asking every able, stable Black person to devote four hours a month in a one-to-one mentoring relationship, or to with a group of friends mentor a number of youngsters–say those in a group home. Not only do mentees benefit, mentors grow in ways that are immeasurable.

The long-term goal, is ending the carnage in our communities, the over-incarceration of our young and turning every failing public school into a top-tier, safe learning environment that young people want to be a part of. Also, the leaders of the four national Baptist convention, that together have over 16 million congregants, have agreed to encourage churches to open their doors after school and enlist retired teachers to offer homework help, and on Saturdays for the accurate teaching of our history. We need our women and men to organize their congregations in churches, temples and mosques to do this critical work. This is the overarching goal.

National CARES Mentoring MovementAG: Where can our readers find more information on joining this movement?

ST: Readers can log on to National CARES Mentoring Movement for more information and to sign up to mentor. Just enter your zip code and a list of mentoring opportunities in your area will appear on the screen. Select one that appeals to you, investigate it and sign on.

AG: Are you working on any other upcoming projects?

ST: I am working on a healing and stress-reducing meditation CD. And a book about how we sisters and brothers can build solid lasting relationships is in my heart. All of my work is in synergy. We need inner peace and we need to get along with one another in order to secure the children and rebuild our communities. Peace and love begin in our individual hearts and homes, then we can live and build together well. We have to practice forgiveness and non-judgment every day. This is the most difficult and most necessary walk we humans must take. The most revolutionary thing we Black folks can do is learn to love one another.

AG: Name one thing that the world does not know about Susan L. Taylor~the person?

ST: Many folks think I have it all together all the time. Life is a school room, and I am learning how to listen to my life and my own intuition. When I don’t, things fall apart, I get depressed, lose faith and suffer. Them I turn to a wisdom book, or someone who helps me remember this: Magnify God, not the perceived obstacle. We combine with whatever we focus on. “God’s ways are ingenious; God’s methods are sure.” Each day I’m learning to trust God more and more.

Please visit the National CARES Mentoring Movement website and watch Susan and Oprah discuss the movements inspirational success stories.

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at World Series

Posted by Audiegrl

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Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Yogi Berra and Capt. Tony Odierno

There are two additions to the lineup for tonight’s opening game of the World Series at Yankees Stadium: Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

The first wives will participate in ceremonies honoring Welcome Back Veterans, accompanied by Yankees legend Yogi Berra, and West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran Tony Odierno.

Odierno, who lost his left arm in the Iraq War, is an operations employee at Yankees Stadium. Berra served in the Navy during World War II.

world-series-live-stream-schedule2009We are looking forward to welcoming the First Lady and Dr. Biden to Yankee Stadium and Game One of the 2009 World Series,” said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, “We hope their presence at both the game and the hospital visit will be an inspiration to the veterans, who proudly served our country.”

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden, along with several members of the Yankees, will visit patients at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx.

Long before their husbands became President and Vice President, the two women have made veterans and military families a central priority. Mrs. Obama has visited Fort Bragg to talk to military families twice since the President took office. Dr. Biden is a Blue Star Mom – the Vice President’s son Beau Biden recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Tonight’s game in New York highlighted the work of welcomebackveterans.org, an organization that has awarded $5.8 million in grants to non-profit agencies across the country targeting veterans’ greatest needs, including mental health and job training/placement.

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Michelle Obama and Jill Biden Support Our Veterans

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden express their support for our returning heroes, and ask all Americans to get involved.

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