Back to School Tips for Students and Parents

Baltimore County Public Schools re-open for the 2017-2018 school year on Tuesday, September 5. As families finalize summer activities, consider these tips for a smoother transition into the school year.

1. Daily Devotional/Meditation— Prepare yourself before you rush into the day to meet the demands that your family, employers and clients place upon you physically, mentally, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Wake up 30 minutes earlier to focus. Read a daily devotional or personal affirmations. A few recommendations are: Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado, Day By Day with James Allen by Vic Johnson, Prayers that Avail Much by Germaine Copeland, The Holy Bible, The Qur’an or your book of practicing doctrine.

2. Morning exercise stimulates mental acuity— Several studies conducted in the United States suggests a myriad of benefits for students (and adults) who exercise in the morning resulting in better academic performance, an increase in concentration and energy levels. Other countries have adopted the exercise regime and it has proved to be highly successful.

3. Organize

A. Meals– Pack everyone’s lunch the night before. Prepare dinner in a slow cooker. On school nights, don’t adopt the title of “short order chef.” Plan and shop in advance while following a family menu (whenever possible). Healthy and nutritious meals will keep your family operating at peak performance.

B. Laundry— After clothes are dried, fold and put them on hangers and place them in the drawers or in the closet. Identify and iron clothes the night before. Looking for socks and underwear in the morning will impede morning progress.

C. School supplies – Attend an “Annual Back to School Drive” hosted by organizations in the community to supplement your school supplies list. Purchase supplies in advance while anticipating items for science projects.

4. Wellness and Physical Check-ups – Before the first day of school have your child boost his/her immune systems with nutritional supplements, at minimum vitamin C. Consult with your primary care physician to address each person’s health concerns.

5. Talk positive with your child/children – Leading up to the first day of school there will be an increase level of anxiety, excitement and “butterflies.” Positive self-talk about the new school, experiences, meeting new friends and seeing the old ones will put them at ease. Continue the communication throughout the school year. Giving each child their one-on-one time is essential in building their self-esteem and managing behavioral concerns and social issues.

6. Homework/School Projects– Identify a well-lighted area in your home to complete assignments and special projects or go to the library.

7. Plan car maintenance – Maintain the fluids in your car. Fill up the gas tank the night before so that you’re ready for the morning commute.

8. Connect with teachers – Develop good communication (face-to-face, phone, email) with your child/children’s teachers to enhance the learning experience and to share any concerns. When discussing your child’s academic performance avoid communicating with teachers and administrators on any social media platform including, Facebook, Twitter, Oovoo or Facetime. Arrange a “surprise” visit to the school. Be an active part of the school’s PTA by attending the meetings. Students whose parents are actively involved with their child’s/children’s education creates an “it takes a village” relationship.

9. Stay engaged– Stay engaged with the educational process, school activities and fundraising events throughout the school year and plan accordingly.

10. Social media vigilance – Parents should be vigilant of their child’s/children’s activity on their mobile devices and “follow” them too. Parents are encouraged to set up an account and monitor for predators, cyberbullies and their child’s activity too.

Local School Supply Lists Now Available on TeacherLists

— Parents from local schools have a new tool in their back-to-school bag of tricks this year as all of their school’s supply lists are now posted on TeacherLists.com.

With just one or two clicks, parents can find their child’s exact supply list and then click right over to pre-filled shopping carts on Target, Walmart, Jet.com or Amazon to purchase their list and have it shipped right to their home. Target and Walmart also offer in store pick-up. Super easy, super convenient.

“For decades, the supply list process has been a frustration for parents,” points out TeacherLists President, John Driscoll. “Where to find the lists? When are they available? Forgetting the list on the counter at home. Hunting the isles for the specific items their teacher has requested. All of those issues are solved with TeacherLists”

More than 50,000 schools now have lists posted on TeacherLists. Lists for more than 1 million classrooms are live on the site and include required and requested items as well as specific notes and clarifications from teachers and school staff.

Complete details and all the lists are available at www.teacherlists.com/parents

Life in Baltimore: A look at the crisis in black education, Part II

This is Part II of a three part series about the current crisis in black education

The discussion continues about the crisis in black education set by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH) as the theme for 2017. In part II, the issues are addressed by Dr. Karsonya Whitehead, associate professor of Communications and African, and African American Studies, Loyola University Maryland and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post Racial America.”

BBJ: Do you think there is a crisis in black education?

KW: Absolutely, and it is as much a part of our history [as] slavery, freedom, racism and struggle. Unfortunately, with the twisted and horrific legacy of chattel slavery and the intentional work that was done by the white community to justify the inferior and inhumane treatment of black people, education was legally denied to black people. It was in 1740 that South Carolina passed the first laws making it illegal to teach enslaved people how to write. It slowly began to spread throughout the south and later included reading after Nat Turner’s Revolt in 1831. These laws, which lasted well over three decades, made it illegal to read, write and reflect.

As free black communities began to thrive in cities like Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Salem, literacy rates within these communities began to rise. Even with this effort to educate free black people, the impact of deliberately withholding education from millions of enslaved people coupled with the growing nature of racism has had a long-term deleterious impact on the black community. This is one of the reasons why Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founded Negro History Week, as a way to teach children about the rich and important history and contributions of black people to this country. We are now well into the 21st century and the problems continue— and in some places have gotten worse.

This is why our 2017 theme is “The Crisis in Black Education.” We want to draw attention to the ongoing problem and lend our voice and our resources to fight to end it. A crisis demands our attention, alerts us to the danger, and then forces us to confront and solve the problem.

BBJ: What are the main issues facing the education system especially in urban areas?

KW: The major problem, which is at the heart of what’s wrong with the current education system, is inequality.

Unfortunately, like everything else in America, the more money you have the better your quality of life and the more choices you have. The crisis in black education is situated within economically challenged black and brown, and in some cities, white communities. This exists in the public schools across the south and in the north. There are cities where black and brown children continue to fall behind in test scores and reading levels. This of course, has not gone unnoticed and there is— and has been for quite a while— civil rights litigation trying to confront and solve this problem. It’s larger than just unequal resources— it’s about unequal access to a quality education. It’s about the lack of preparation to help black and brown children get the skills they need to navigate and negotiate through this system.

It’s about the work that is not being done to prepare black and brown children for higher education or to provide them with skills training. I believe that education is the next battleground; it’s one of the major civil rights issues of the 21st century.

BBJ: What is needed to improve the education of black children? Is it the role of parents, teachers, or system?

KW: In order to solve the crisis in black [and brown] education, I believe that it will take a concerted and concentrated three-prong effort:

A. The system: more money needs to properly allocated (along with establishing an oversight budget committee) to the public school system that provides more money to be spent per child on resources and books. Additionally, more money needs to be allocated and spent to fix the building and heating and cooling systems so that our students can be both safe and comfortable in the environment. The school system should also reevaluate the lunch program to provide more “farm to table” food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, resulting in healthy, balanced meals.

B. Teachers: In addition to being certified in their content area, teachers should be encouraged to take regular classes to stay current in the field and should be properly compensated for both their in-class work and their extracurricular course work. Teachers should also be required to complete a race and equity workshop, designed to teach them how to be culturally responsive teachers.

C. Parents: If they have time (depending upon their work schedule), parents should be required to volunteer up to five hours a month in their child’s school. This would provide them with an opportunity to get to know the staff and teachers, to be a part of the school environment, and to partner effectively with the teachers to help to raise their child[ren].

Nita Key Enrichment focused on saving music in N.C. schools

“College should not make you or break you,” said Shanita Ollison, a 27 year-old “artrepreneur” and the founder and owner of Nita Key Enrichment. “Just

because you didn’t go to college doesn’t mean you can’t be a manager of a multi-million dollar company.”

Ollison continued: “You can do anything you put your mind to, whether you go to college or not. Nothing is promised; you’ve got to have that drive. You’ve got to have that ambition.”

Nita Key Enrichment is the first, black music enrichment company in North Carolina.

When she was 21-years-old, Ollison decided that she needed to jump into the fight to save music and arts education in her community. After taking on church gigs, a handful of positions teaching music and other odd jobs, she founded Nita Key Enrichment, to serve the children of her community.

Ollison, also known as “Nita,” continues to break down barriers as one of the youngest black women in her field.

Ollison’s investment in the arts for youth comes at the perfect time as music and arts education is losing ground and funding in public schools.

According to a 2012 report by the Department of Education, many students that attend schools in high-poverty, urban school districts still lack access to music and arts programs.

Following national trends, music and arts programs in North Carolina face similar threats.

According to The Times-News, due to budget shortfalls in 2011, Transylvania County schools in N.C. faced the elimination of 100 percent of all off-campus band, music, and clubs competitions.

Recently, The Citizen-Times reported that N.C. state legislators and the governor are working to reduce class sizes, a move that could have a negative impact on arts and music education in the state’s public schools.

“Education groups are increasing pressure on state lawmakers to pass legislation they say is needed to avoid poten- tially laying off as many as 4,500 art, music, physical education and foreign language teachers,” The News & Observer reported. “North Carolina school leaders say they may have to cut art, music, physical education and foreign language classes in elementary schools to help pay for new smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade that are supposed to start in July.”

Ollison said that music education is not being taken seriously and the benefits of exposing children to the arts are also being ignored.

“[Music] provides a healthy outlet for children,” said Ollison. “Music helps with hand-eye coordination, memorization, raising test scores, and adds a sense of achievement.”

Research has shown that music helps children improve reasoning, language, intellectual development, and can also serve as an outlet to handle anxiety.

Ollison has partnered with with local schools to create after school music enrichment programs and started a non-profit, Music Is Life, that serves children who can’t afford voice and music lessons. Ollison’s work revolves around instilling the value of learning about all aspects of music including theory, note value, composition, and notation.

The Pamlico County native has reached out to a number of public figures to join her cause including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Thad Lewis, Miss Black North Carolina Chanda Branch, and Debra Antney, the former manager of rapper Gucci Mane and mother to rapper Waka Flocka.

Ollison has also partnered with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) to begin a five-week “STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) program. Working with NCCU and Sisters In Power, a women’s empowerment organization, will provide music education classes later this summer.

Despite push back from some N.C. school officials and the tragic deaths of her father and sister, the young artrepreneur continues to press on, inspired by her fiancé, her three year-old daughter and families touched by her work in the community.

“When the schools take something out, we’ve got to put it back in,” said Ollison. “We need legislators to [get] behind music education.”

Ollison said that if people imagined a world without art and design, they might have a different perspective on arts education.

“I challenge you to never listen to the radio again, never look at architectural designs again,” said Ollison. “I challenge you to sit there a whole day and not benefit from the arts. I challenge you to do without the arts and let’s see, if you would change your mind.”

Taylor Burris is a 2017 NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellow and Spelman College student, who is creating content for The Carolinian this summer. Follow Taylor on Twitter @tburris24.

MAGIC camp teaches teen girls about construction, skilled trades

Of all the things about the MAGIC camp that Namoonga Chilomo enjoys, her favorite might be that it’s interactive.

“You’re learning the work, you’re getting to experience it all. You’re not just sitting there getting lectured about,” said Chilomo, a rising senior at North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs. “You’re in the studio, in the workshop, doing the work, and you get to create things. That’s the whole point. Doing hands-on working creating things, and that’s something I enjoy.”

Chilomo was among 16 teenage girls at Gwinnett Technical College on Tuesday for the week-long MAGIC camp, which stands for Mentoring a Girl in Construction. The MAGIC camps are in their 10th year. They were founded by Renee Conner, who owns her own construction company, and puts on camps like this across the state and country.

So far this week, the girls have learned about Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety training, tool safety and carpentry skills. By the end of the week, they will attend two field trips to job sites around Gwinnett, like the new office building for construction company Reeves and Young, which is on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Sugar Hill.

Conner said she’s had four girls intern for her in places like Bartow County after they participated in the camp. Those jobs are precursors to more education at Kennesaw State University, she said.

“It’s amazing that they’re actually going into these fields, we get to see the light bulb come on,” said Conner.

She added that older participants have passed some of their knowledge on to younger girls they’ve recruited.

The camp again this year offered a 10-hour card from OSHA, which means their safety training is nationally certified. That helps on college and job applications.

On Tuesday, there was the high-pitched screech of saws as girls made the first cuts on memory boxes.

Chilomo said some of her career interests are working with carpentry, masonry, concrete or even architectural design.

Conner said there continues to be a labor shortage in the construction industry, but in recent years, construction employers have made connections in high school and middle school to recruit future workers.

“There was such a wide gap there for a while,” Conner said. “Now they’re starting to see the value of actually getting the girls at a younger age. That’s any student, male or female. … You get them started on a pathway.”

Conner said places like Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro are “dying for help,” and unions are getting more involved in hiring, along with Georgia Power.

Chilomo said even when schools don’t have formal programs, or equipment like Gwinnett Tech does, it’s important to take advantage of summer camps like this one to learn skills they can’t elsewhere. Chilomo added that she and a friend are now considering Gwinnett Tech because of the equipment and program they’re seeing first hand this week.

HBCU leaders, advocates must engage Democrats and Republicans

As the president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), I’m spending a good amount of time working to build strategic, government alliances that extend beyond our traditional Democratic support. If you’re wondering why, all you need to do is look at a map of where America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are located.

The fact of the matter is that a majority of TMCF’s 47 member-schools are clustered in southern and midwestern states completely controlled by Republicans. By that, I mean states where the governor, both U.S. senators, both chambers of the legislature and most of the U.S. House members are Republican.

The next largest group of our member-schools occupies states that are under at least a majority of GOP control. Only a small number of our member-schools—three to be exact—are in states and the District of Columbia that are completely controlled by Democrats.

If those statistics don’t jump out at you, maybe these facts will. Many of our institutions of higher learning are in desperate need of not just operating dollars, but serious capital infusions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Earlier this year, for instance, Grambling State University President Rick Gallot announced that his school will need to abandon the campus library— an unprecedented decision for a university seeking to expand its national imprint in research and training for its students. Gallot’s announcement came almost exactly one year after Louisiana’s state auditor reported nearly $111 million in deferred maintenance at another Louisiana public HBCU campus, Southern University in Baton Rouge.

The people who currently hold the purse strings— both nationally and on a state level— are, in most cases, Republicans. Yet, some will still suggest that we not even talk to those elected leaders, because of their party affiliation.

When the media released photos of our meeting at the White House with President Trump, some derided it as just a “photo-op.” Tell that to the administrators who were wondering how they’d possibly fill the gap in funding should their already strained budgets face sudden, drastic cuts.

We’re simply not able to pick and choose whom we engage with. We saw firsthand a couple months ago how positive strategic engagement paid off when I worked with our member-school presidents and chancellors to ensure that their federal budget dollars would not be cut in President Trump’s first budget proposal.

Working with the White House, through open communication and lots of effort, HBCU leaders and I were able to deliver flat funding for HBCUs in the upcoming fiscal year budget. Flat funding is a big win, considering President Trump proposed a 13.9 percent overall funding decrease in federal education dollars this year.

But that’s not the end of it. With so many capital needs, we must ensure Washington doesn’t cut the vital capital financing program that provides about $20 million a year to support more than $280 million in capital financing for our schools.

The need to work across the aisle extends beyond just elected officials. In January, TMCF announced a $25.6 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries. This generous gift was a direct result of proactive outreach I initiated with Mr. Koch, a man often associated with support of conservative and libertarian causes. What I found by having a dialogue with him is that we share a deep concern about the impact of over-incarceration and lack of educational opportunities that disproportionately impact fragile communities. Together in January, we launched a new, HBCU-based research institution, known as the Center for Advancing

Opportunity, that is studying barriers to opportunity in those communities.

In reaching across the aisle, we should never forsake our historic alliances. But for the sake of the young people our HBCUs seek to educate, we must also realize the need to grow new and different alliances.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is the President and CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the largest organization exclusively representing the Black college community. Prior to joining TMCF, he spent many years as a successful corporate executive and attorney. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnnyCTaylorJr.

Randallstown High School Principal awarded Baltimore County Principal of the Year

When students at Randallstown High School (RHS) celebrated the culmination of a another school year with their senior prom and graduation, they added one more celebration to the list— Principal Aubrey P. Brown received the Secondary Principal of the Year Award for the 2017-2018 school year for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).

When you enter Principal Brown’s office you are welcomed by a gold colored wall with the word “Excellence” spelled out in 12-inch gold letters, a constant reminder for all who enter to maintain focus.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit,” Brown said about the quote that he lives by.

Brown’s office is strategically decorated with messages of inspiration, motivation and thank-you notes from students.

A hand-written note from one of the students sets high on a bookshelf. An excerpt from the note reads:

“Mr. Brown, You don’t need a High School Principal of the Year Award to recognize how amazing of an individual you are! You care about each and every one of your students and that’s something not all principals (or teachers) can do. Thanks again…”

The Baltimore County Public Schools Principal of the Year Award recognizes outstanding school leaders who create a culture of deliberate excellence for every student. These leaders ensure that all students have equitable access to learning. The selection criteria reflect BCPS’ core values and goals.

According to BCPS, the honoree was identified as one who promotes school culture, supports staff collaboration, and equity for the students and for the administration. Additionally, the honoree ensures that instruction is accessible, research-based and relevant.

Prior to taking on the new role a principal at Randallstown, Brown says when he walked into the building [at RHS] he felt the spirit and it wasn’t alive.

Brown collaborated with the staff to resurrect the culture and began drafting a vision and mission statement with an emphasis on branding and communication. Together they developed a comprehensive communications strategy to increase the rapport among all stakeholders, parents and students.

A school-wide calendar was also instituted to bolster communication.

“I believe that all voices should be heard in all decisions,” said Brown. However, Brown also says that he does have the authority to make decisions without collaboration, if he believes it benefits everyone vested in the school.

Brown says his leadership style is modeled after Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Recently, he has come to take note of the leadership styles of former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Barack Obama.

“I believe all of them encountered conflict and resistance and possibly were led to believe that they could not be successful,” Brown said. “In their own right and in their own time, they proved naysayers wrong.”

Brown is a native of Richmond, Virginia and an alumni of Virginia Union University. He received a master’s degree in educational leadership from George Mason University. Brown has been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha

Fraternity, Inc since 2000.

As an advocate of the implementation of proactive behavior techniques, Brown gained insight from staff and administrators, in addition to reading “Restorative Practices Handbook” written by Bob Costello, Joshua Wachtel and Ted Wachtel.

“[The] students are co-authors of the Randallstown story,” said Brown. “We should celebrate our successes. If we don’t celebrate them, who will?”

Educators get lesson in cursive writing

— While cursive has been left out of the national Common Core Standards, Maryland legislators have mandated the skill be taught.

Teachers from Maryland gathered at a seminar in Baltimore to discuss the most effective ways to teach handwriting to local students.

“Cursive instruction is very important to kids for a few major reasons,” said Todd Misura, a licensed occupational therapist for the Learning Without Tears, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based service provider, whose mission is “to make learning and teaching easy and fun by providing superior educational products, training, and materials to educators and parents.”

The organization held seminars over two days in June to discuss cursive writing. Sessions have been held in various locations around the country.

“Children of elementary school love to write in cursive since it makes their writing look more mature than printed writing,” Misura said. “Many children will play write their signature well before they can actually learn cursive. This is an indicator that they are ready and eager to learn cursive.”

The workshop included sessions on printing basics and cursive instruction. Ultimately, educators learned how to use a simple and efficient handwriting techniques in the classroom.

“Research has shown a strong connection between handwork and brain development. My own children are learning cursive and ask me to read cursive papers to them,” said Crystal Esler, the administrator for Walden International School in North Bethesda who attended the Baltimore workshop. “I want my kids and students to be able to read cursive while they are in school and as an adult.”

Students often are excited when they learn to write in cursive because most believe only adults can do it, Esler continued.

“They like to have a signature for their name, and that’s important for them to have,” she said. “Cursive is a skill that lasts a lifetime. By attending the workshop, I learned a lot of great tips and tricks to use with students. It’s a great program.”

Once cursive has been learned and mastered, it leads to faster writing and, as the elementary school-aged child grows into middle school and beyond, they need to be able to take notes quickly, according to Misura.

“Note taking needs to be quick and efficient,” he said, adding that, for many children who enter higher-grade levels with messy printed handwriting, cursive becomes their salvation.

“These children can focus their attention on learning a new task from the beginning as opposed to trying to correct their inefficiencies when writing in print,” Misura said. “Much like if you learned how to swing a golf club or a tennis racket inefficiently; correcting the inefficient swing is tough. Had you learned [the] proper technique when you were first learning to swing, your game would be much improved.”

“Handwriting is the same way…just more complicated. The inefficiencies learned at an early age often stick with you. By teaching cursive, you can engage a child in new learning as opposed to correcting old habits. You don’t need to know how to print well before you learn cursive,” he said.

HBCU Students “Discover The Unexpected” with the Black Press

— The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) kicked off the second year of the “Discover The Unexpected” (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program with an “Immersion” event in Detroit, Mich. Chevrolet, the sponsor of the program, hosted the student scholars and a handful of NNPA publishers and editors for an interactive experience designed to prepare the fellows for a summer working with the Black Press.

The 2017 DTU journalism fellows are: Alexa Imani Spencer and Noni Marshall from Howard University; Kelsey Jones and Taylor Burris from Spelman College; Jordan Fisher and Tiana Hunt from Clark Atlanta University; and Ayron Lewallen and Darrell Williams from Morehouse College.

The trip commenced with a welcome ceremony at a repurposed firehouse that serves as the commercial studio of Ed Welburn, the former vice president of Global Design at General Motors (GM). Representatives from GM and the NNPA greeted the fellows. The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was parked at the entrance.

Chevrolet sent an all-new Equinox to each of the participating NNPA member publications for the DTU fellows to use for a month during the program.

After a joyous welcome from the program’s team, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA and Michelle Alexander, the diversity marketing manager for Chevrolet, delivered remarks. Serving as this year’s Road Trip Navigator, Jamilah Lemieux, the vice president of News and Men’s Programming for Interactive One’s, expressed the importance of Black media.

“I am firm believer in the urgency of protecting the future of Black media, of making sure that we have ample opportunity to not just tell our stories well, because we’ve always been able to tell our stories well, but to amplify them,” Lemieux said.

After Lemieux’s poignant remarks, the scholars were led outside of the firehouse where one bright red and three splashy orange Chevrolet Equinoxes awaited them. The DTU fellows in teams of two, accompanied by Chevrolet staffers and coordinators from the program, piled into the four SUVs ready to explore Detroit. Scavenger hunt clues rang clearly through the speakers of the Equinox and they were off to navigate the city. The clues led the teams to four, distinct locations: Dilla’s Delights, Detroit vs. Everybody, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

At each stop, the students interviewed the shop owners, clerks, curators, and museum guides, documenting their visits for their first assignments as DTU fellows. Burris said that speaking to the clerk at Detroit vs. Everybody, a boutique clothing store, was her favorite part of the scavenger hunt.

“It was obvious that Sade, the clerk, was very knowledgeable about what their brand means and how it is continuously uplifting the community and defying the odds,” said Burris, who will partner with Ayron Lewallen at The Carolinian this summer.

The scavenger hunt ended with a tour of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Ken Barrett, the chief diversity officer for GM, gave brief remarks about the importance of the program and the role of journalists in society.

The final day of the Detroit immersion event included an inspirational speech from Dr. Chavis at GM headquarters. The DTU fellows sat quietly around a conference room table, focused closely on his words, as he reminded them that they represented an emerging generation of journalists. Chavis also noted that this year marks the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in America.

“This is an opportunity not just to reaffirm [our] 190 year legacy, but to represent that legacy in new and more profound ways that match the challenges and opportunities we face in our communities,” Chavis said.

The DTU fellows were given the opportunity to meet with representatives from the NNPA member newspapers, where they will work this summer; Shalon Bell from The Atlanta Voice; Adria Jervay of The Carolinian, based in Raleigh, N.C.; David Baker of The Louisiana Weekly, based in New Orleans; and Kevin McNeir from The Washington Informer, based in Washington, D.C.

In these breakout sessions, the senior newspaper staffers shared their expectations with their new writers. Anxious to get started, the fellows asked questions and marveled at the history of the newspapers they were soon to join. There was a fresh excitement in the air after the student scholars connected with the editors and representatives from the NNPA member publications.

Next on the schedule, was a trip to the Content Studio, an organization within GM, that develops communications resources for the brand and improves how the company operates efficiently, strategically, and consistently within the public social web. There, the fellows were able to see how the marketing side of Chevrolet has expanded, technologically, by partnering with many different agencies in order to have a worldwide impact.

According to Alexander, the NNPA/DTU journalism program is an extension of the partnerships that Chevrolet holds in high esteem.

“As a brand, [Discover The Unexpected], ties into our philosophy of finding new roads and ingenuity,” Alexander said. “We, as a brand, feel like this is something important that we are committed to.”

As the trip came to an end, the DTU fellows shared final hugs and goodbyes. For some of them, the Detroit Immersion event was a life-changing experience; most of them had never been exposed to the Motor City’s rich history.

For all of them, one thing was true: “Discover The Unexpected” was far more than just a program. It’s a family.

“I was impressed by the immense love we have received from the whole General Motors staff, NNPA, and the fellows,” said Jordan Fisher, who will join Kelsey Jones at The Atlanta Voice. “I don’t take that for granted. It’s refreshing to see that and feel it.”

To learn more about NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Fellowship program, visit www.nnpa.org/dtu.

Alexa Spencer and Noni Marshall are 2017 DTU Journalism Fellows and Howard University students, who are creating content for The Washington Informer this summer. Follow Alexa on Twitter @alexaimani. Follow Noni on Twitter @noni_nnpadtu.

Tom Joyner Foundation Kicks Off 2017 Fundraising Campaign

The Tom Joyner Foundation, a major driving force in raising money for historically black colleges since 1998, today announced the 14 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that it will raise money for in 2017.

The foundation, formed by the nationally syndicated radio personality, unveiled the names of the 2017 schools as part of its on-going effort to assist these institutions in broadening and strengthening their efforts to raise money to help keep students attending HBCUs.

As one of the Tom Joyner Foundation ‘Schools of the Month’ next year, each school will be promoted by the Tom Joyner Morning Show and receive those funds raised from listeners, alumni and other interested parties that month. The show, aired in more than 90 markets around the country, reaches nearly eight million listeners every week.

“We’re excited to announce this year’s schools,” said Joyner, a graduate of Tuskegee University, is the foundation’s chairman and host of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. “All of these schools have wonderful histories and traditions, and we want to make sure their students are able to stay in school and have the great experience, as I did, from graduating from a HBCU.”

This year’s schools are:

January: Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, N.C.

February: Southern University of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.

March: Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Fla. and Florida Memorial University, Miami, Fla.

April: Oakwood University, Huntsville, Ala. and Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas

May: Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga. and Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn.

June: Shaw University, Raleigh, N.C. and Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C.

July: Open Month

August: Lane College, Jackson, Tenn.

September: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, Ark.

October: Langston University, Langston, Okla.

November: Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md.

December: Open Month

About The Tom Joyner Foundation

The Tom Joyner Foundation (http://tomjoynerfoundation.org) was founded in 1998 as the brainchild of nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner. The mission of the Foundation is to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with scholarships, endowments and capacity-building enhancements. The Foundation has provided necessary support to every HBCU in its 18-year history to help sustain and preserve the legacies of these valuable institutions. Through fundraising and donor development initiatives, in excess of $65 million has been raised to support more than 29,000 students attending HBCUs. Additionally, the Foundation has recommended internships, offered matching grant support, and career development to deserving students.