Tag Archives: scholarship

Capstone: Knowledge and the Opportunity Paradox

Knowledge and the Opportunity Paradox

I’ve been an observer since before I could remember. Academically, this skill has helped me take quality notes that pushed me through many a test. Being observant has helped me shield my way through life to get to where I am today. Now, and embattled with my former self, I am far more assured in my knowledge. To be particular, I have better control over my ability to use my knowledge to lean in most instances toward the side of action.

Many times I find myself having to be the first to make the movement amongst my peers. I prefer to think of this movement through a leadership tinted frame. I haven’t had to kick any doors in just yet. But, I am normally the first to grease myself up to meet a problem head on, and have found a cosily anxious place for myself in doing so. Earlier this year, I watched a panel discussion hosted by the New School titled “Are You Still a Slave?” featuring activists and authors Janet Mock and bell hooks. In it Ms. Mock powerfully states, “this little space that I have in this world, is mine.” (Mock, “Are You Still A Slave @ 27:00 mins”, 2014). Janet lets us know that she has control of the space she inhabits, and whether or not we accept it is an issue she’s not concerned with.

Feeling empowered, and in control of my own space and trajectory in life is an extremely fortifying feeling. Janet shows us that it’s ok to take ownership of the space we individually control in this world. As a minority, taking ownership of that space professionally and academically constantly puts me in situations where I’m left feeling exposed and erosive. The unwanted texture is also apparent in many of my long running personal relationships as well. Its something I’ve battled with as I’ve come to understand and play with knowledge, thankfully at this more receptive stage in my life. I’ve tried to make it clear to everyone that my aim is to engage in this fellowship and get every last drop of worth out of this personal investment that I’m embarking through.

What else but a controlling emotional “devil” so blinded American white intelligence that it couldn’t foresee that millions of black slaves, “freed,” then permitted even limited education, would one day rise up as a terrifying monster within white America’s midst? The white man’s brains that today explore space should have told the slavemaster that any slave, if he is educated, will no longer fear his master. History shows that an educated slave always begins to ask, and next demand, equality with his master. (X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1992)

The battle between dynamic confidence and neutral observance is perhaps the current zone of proximal development for me. This space is ideal for my role as an educator, academic, and burgeoning activist. What space does one who appreciates education occupy, when they have tried so earnestly to use the tool of education to enlighten and empower himself? The pull, for now, has eroded my surface, exposing pores filled to the bristle with newly molten passion seeping out and messing everywhere I move. I’m at a state where I feel I’m constantly exposing my knowledge and leaving its unwanted residue behind in my daily interactions. Nonetheless, these interactions serve as evidence of my growth as a man over these past few years.  Even now, my observing eye, casts a frictious gaze upon my words – calling me back to the rubric tasked to assess the credentialed value of my scholarship. Yet with every word typed I feel lured further away, allowing for a freedom of space to let my piecemeal stories tell their tale as personally and satisfactorily as possible.

At this point in my life, passion is the pheromone that greets my peers before I even step around the door’s edge. I feel, on right now. My navigation and GPS are perfectly targeted at the moment. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I have progressed, I can feel it, and that’s a powerful bath that I want to bask in for the moment. It’s difficult to craft words clear enough to explain my concepts of teaching and learning. For me, it’s far easier to find words for these situations once I’ve removed myself from the context for a while. Only then, am I fully able to benefit from the experiences, activities, cognition, metacognition, emotions, interactions, etc… that contributed to my growth in that moment.

Knowledge, as a concept, is boundless. It’s almost crippling to be tasked to boil down what I’ve learned into words for this analysis. To be concise, knowledge can be represented through infinite numbers of schema that we lay on top of each day, like maps. These schemata allow us citizens to interact with, and maneuver through, the institutional landscapes of our societies to meet our daily needs and wants as we please. There are probably more schema than there are grains of sand on the globe, but some examples may include: privilege, high fashion, urban education, gender, gender-bias, poverty, opportunity, etc…

I wouldn’t define knowledge via claims, see common core standards, explainable through definition, always accessible through current assessment, or self-stimulating. The closest I will come to defining knowledge is the process in which an individual lives an experience where skills are gained, understanding of something is accomplished, and/or curiosity for more interaction with said experience is demonstrated in any combination of social phenomena. I also want to make the declaration that knowledge is contextual in that societies deem certain knowledge as meaningful and others as less so.

Asking one’s student to frame his own knowledge while still inside of that context is a bit oxymoronic to me. To contextualize in Big Bang fashion – I will provide a starting point to frame my knowledge development:

In February 2012, approximately 2.5 years ago, I officially received word that I had been accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows program. I used the remaining four months to pack up my Boston life. It wasn’t long before I was stuffing my two large suitcases underneath the Bolt Bus and heading full steam ahead to New York City for the beginning of the Cohort 23 Fellows orientation. It was at that point that I decided that this would be my very own modern day hero’s journey. I’ve never made a clear version of this lens, and to do so now seems inauthentic. How would I handle this situation if I were an ancient African Prince charged with empowering and protecting my citizens? Through this lens, I’ve worked to soak up everything from my surroundings. Using words to describe the knowledge I’ve gained feels limiting and abrasive compared to how I’ve worked to view this process. However, in service to the program, I would say that the LIU coursework has taught me to consciously engage with my environment in the following ways:

Cultural/New York City – being purposeful and optimally navigating transactions with systems and institutions, proactively aligning energy to support my workloads, exposing myself to globally and geographically diverse cultures, flowing with the developmental power of competition.

Academic/Professional – Theory: African American education theory, Popular/Mainstream American education theory, academic-social-emotional disabilities, prejudice, privilege, various cultural institution(s) of American society. Skills: thinking of and creating thoughtful/scaffolded lessons, units, and individual education plans. Defining a research focus, scavenging for and analyzing resources, implementing changes to my practice through these resources, and analyzing the effectiveness of these changes through my target’s measured performance. Differentiation of materials, Professional and Academic self-reflection, productivity and time management.

Personal – Resilience, Confidence, Empathy, Love, Passion, Strength, Self-value, Self and Cultural Exploration, Personhood, Belonging, Leadership. Networking, Mentoring, and various other social and emotional development skills.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot during my two years of treacherous teaching, gregarious graduate school, and nouveau New York City. It’s scary to admit, but I’m not the same Paladin I was two years ago. I mean… I loved who I was, a beaming 26 year-old coming into the fellowship, freshly clipped wings flapping freely and growing strong in my protected Boston shell. Finding comfort in being a different version of myself is probably the force that has been making my personal relationships so texturally different as of late.

I’m a confident person now, and I say this from a humble place, but also having recognized the need to congratulate myself for the growth I have lived through and witnessed. Let me say now, my mission in life is to always be true to that humble, grateful, altruistic boy nurtured in the Chicago suburbs. But, I am not him anymore, and that’s ok. Not long ago my friend from undergrad received her Master’s in School Counseling. One of the first things she said when I called to congratulate her was, “Homie you can’t tell me nothin, cuz Bitch I got a Master’s!” I died laughing… and hopefully you will too.

However, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized I can laugh with the phrase as opposed to at it. To be clear, it’s not that having a graduate degree is a status symbol proving to the world that I’m good enough, though for many it can be, as it’s definitely already on my resume. It’s that through this rigorous process I’ve experienced and learned more than I could imagine about this world, this country, its people, their customs, and the ways I can measurably think and produce around through and to these entities. This schema, fortunately brings immeasurable value to the ways in which I can continue to add on to the positive and productive canon that supports our development here on on Earth.

I’ve learned so much through this program. With LIU’s support I’ve gained an understanding of, and first hand practice with, structure, bureaucracy, education, work ethic, creativity, historical pedagogy, Paladin, and of course my own teaching practice. One of the crucial pieces of knowledge I’ve gained, and have tried to infuse into all of my interactions since, has been that opportunity is ever present! I don’t know how I came to this revelation, as we’re not taught not to see opportunity. We’re taught to go against opportunity. We’re taught to be afraid of it and to wait for someone else to give it to us. Those that take opportunities are seen as maniacal and cunning individuals. This understanding of the Opportunity Paradox has helped me push myself to accept all incarnations of opportunity into my life, and to create it where at first there is none. To me, that is the truest realization of knowledge that I’ve come to hold in respects to this graduate program.

Recently one largest insurance companies selected for special training in this line fifteen college graduates of our accredited institutions and financed their special training in insurance. Only one of the number, however, rendered efficient service in this field. They all abandoned the effort after a few days’ trial and accepted work in hotels and with the Pullman Company, or they went into teaching or something else with a fixed stipend until they could enter upon the practice of professions. They thought of the immediate reward, shortsightedness, and the lack of vision and courage to struggle and win the fight made them failures to begin with. They are unwilling to throw aside their coats and collars and do the groundwork of Negro business and thus make opportunities for themselves instead of begging others for a chance. The educated Negro from the point of view of commerce and industry, then, shows no mental power to understand the situation which he finds. He has apparently read his race out of that sphere, and with the exception of what the illiterate Negroes can do blindly the field is left wide open for foreign exhibition. (Woodson, 2012, pp. 47 – 48)

I appreciate that I’ve gotten to a place where I can freely posture, virility exposed and all, thanks to my ability to view all situations through this opportunity context. Being able to create this confident and asset-based frame at-will feels almost dangerous to yield. I wish we all could imagine what this world would be like if more of us were able to view the world from this constructive frame. The more tactile strands of my knowledge have shown me that I can maneuver myself in and out of situations, and when we show up… it pays to be engaged. With this powerful weapon at my side, I am confident in my ability to use my values, skills, and gifts to make something happen for me in this field, and to bear the positive change I so desperately sought during my ignorant beginnings of this journey as an urban educator.

Sources – 

bell hooks – Are You Still a Slave? – http://youtu.be/rJk0hNROvzs

Autobiography of Malcolm X 

MisEducation of the Negro – Carter G Woodson

African American Fellowships pt. 29

McKnight Doctoral Fellowships

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http://www.fefonline.org/mdf.html

Established in 1984, the FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program has increased the number of African Americans who have earned Ph.D.’s in historically underrepresented, crucial disciplines where African Americans have not historically enrolled and completed degree programs. The FEF has awarded more than 750 Fellowships to African Americans and Hispanics pursuing Ph.D.’s, and the Program enjoys an impressive near 80% retention rate. More than 300 Fellows have graduated with Ph.D.’s, in an average completion time of 5.5 years. 

THE AWARD: 
Up to 50 Fellowships are awarded annually to study at one of nine participating Florida universities. Each award provides annual tuition up to $5,000 (tuition above this amount is waived by the participating institution) for each of three academic years plus an annual stipend of $12,000. (An additional two years of support at this same level is provided by the participating institution.) The award also includes a comprehensive system of academic support. Each annual renewal is contingent upon satisfactory performance and normal progress toward the Ph.D. degree.

PURPOSE:
The McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program is designed to address the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities in the state of Florida by increasing the pool of citizens qualified with Ph.D. degrees to teach at the college and university levels. As a by-product, it is expected that employment opportunities in industry will also be expanded.

PARTICIPATING UNIVERSITIES:

  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida International University
  • Florida State University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Miami
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of South Florida

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Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship

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http://www.echoinggreen.org/bma-fellowship

The Open Society Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship, powered by Echoing Green, is an innovative partnership between the Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green, dedicated to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys in the U.S. It is the first fellowship program in the world for social entrepreneurs who are starting up new and innovative organizations in the field of black male achievement.

The 2012 and 2013 BMA Fellows are currently hard at work building innovative solutions to the barriers facing black men and boys in the United States: generating new ideas and best practices in the areas of education, family, and work, such as initiatives related to fatherhood, mentoring, college preparatory programs, community-building, supportive wage work opportunities, communications, and philanthropic leadership.

The 2014 BMA Fellowship will be awarded to individuals or partners representing up to eight organizations who will receive:

  • A stipend of $70,000
  • A health insurance stipend
  • A yearly professional development stipend
  • Leadership development and networking gatherings
  • Access to technical support and pro bono partnerships to help grow their organization and a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager
  • A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders, including Open Society Foundations and the Echoing Green network of nearly 600 Fellows at Large working all over the world.
*Info courtesy of the Florida Education Fund 
and Open Society Black Male Achievement Fellowship websites*
SkoolMoney Tag

Front-row Leadership with JeShaune Jackson

The Creative Dreamers Award has been funded! We’ve met our goal of $3,000. I have a call next week with our liaison on campus to discuss next steps in regards to communicating the scholarship to the campus, alerting the selection committee, and figuring out how we can start building an actual endowment or if we should continue to go the yearly route. In hindsight, it took far more time to get the actual scholarship paperwork complete than it took to raise the total amount of funds. Proof that its not that difficult to do your own if your interested. Hopefully my subliminal hints aren’t so subliminal…

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As we all know, the world works in very mysterious ways. I recently stumbled across an article about another young creative dreamer doing his part to spread positivity, push himself, and completely dominate the game. Meet JeShaune Jackson, a 26 year old, business owner, graduate student, philanthropist, and mentor. [He sounds a lot like me, or at least what I want myself to become.] JeShaune recently delivered his first Jeshaune D. Jackson Scholarship to a young African American male student at his alma mater Bedford High School in Ohio. Even better, JeShaune introduces his scholarship winners and runner ups to black physicians and scientists, and develops his own mentor relationship through consistent check ins and relationship building activities.

With his scholarship, JeShaune plans to build black youth by providing them the much needed one on one mentoring and role modeling they will need to support their future successes. JeShaune himself earned a bachelors degree from Bowling Green State University in Premed and Biology. He’s currently pursuing two masters degrees from Case Western Reserve University – Entrepreneurial Biology and an MBA in Design and Innovation, and wants to add a medical degree on top of that.

Donate directly to JeShaune’s scholarship:
JeShaune D. Jackson Scholarship to Treasurers Office
Bedford City School District
475 Northfield Road
Bedford, Ohio 44146

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JeShaune is a philanthropist, scholar, and also businessman. He created the business/nonprofit organization BioComm. The organization brings together graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds – medical, law, engineering, business, and other fields – to build proposals for science and medical innovations. Participants gain valuable entrepreneurial and business experience working across fields and with real world clients. With the help of the students, JeShaune’s BioComm looks to bridge the gap between science innovation and consumer. You can watch a video proposal featuring Je’Shaune and BioComm at the Johnson and Johnson Be Vital Challenge website.

As we can see JeShaune is an ambitiously inspirational player on the scene. Its humbling and invigorating to see him accomplish his goals. I love the vision he has carved out for himself and his endeavors. He is leading from the front! Think of it as front-row leadership. Being different and resultantly impactful with your leadership. What are some ways you lead from the front? Leave your ideas in the comments section below.

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Find out more about JeShaune, the scholarship, and BioComm:

 
 

Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s audio interview post Dre-gate

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Dr. Walter Kimbrough comments on his LA Times Op-Ed about Dr. Dre’s donation to USC. I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Kimbrough’s perspective on the issue. In fact, it made a lot of sense after hearing some of the statistics and real life effect Dre’s donation could have had for an HBCU.

- Thanks to Dr. Boyce Watkins for snagging and recording this interview -

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Key Points:

  • – Dr. Kimbrough has 8.5 years experience as a University President.
  • – Educator/Mentor drenched every word spoke. I could feel his passion through the earbuds
  • – 2 months of interest off a $35 million dollar investment would pay for some HBCU’s expenses for the entire year. (WOW!)
  • – Dr. Dre, with this donation, is now the largest Black Higher Education philanthropist in history.
  • – Dr. Kimbrough considers Dr. Dre a peer, and fellow visionary. (I wonder who my peers/fellow visionaries will be 20 years from now…)
  • – USC is trying to fundraise 6 Billion dollars in a large capital campaign. In 1.5 years time, they have already raised more than the combined endowments of all HBCU’s.
  • – $35 million would double/triple/quadruple most HBCU’s endowments. This could easily transfer to more scholarship opportunities for students, resulting in less amounted debt.
  • – Dr. Kimbrough has discovered the Art of the Challenge. He views this experience ad an opportunity where he can challenge how he engages with potential donors. He also wants to challenge others to think about how they give to their community.
  • – [Everyone] should target their resources to help those that need it the most in their communities.
  • – Black entertainers [and everyday citizens] need to focus their giving to do the most good.

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Dr. Kimbrough really brought the message home for me here. I still commend Dre for doing something drastic and different, but I do see how this money could have been exponentially more impactful at an HBCU. What were some of the key points from your perspective? Share in the comments section.

Check out:

Dr Dre creates his own academic program at USC

Why didn’t Dr Dre give it to a black college?? – Walter Kimbrough

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Why didn’t Dr Dre give it to a black college?? – Walter Kimbrough

Dr. Walter Kimbrough

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Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President of Dillard University and my fraternity brother, wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times in response to Dr Dre’s donation to the University of Southern California. Dr. Kimbrough loudly and clearly asks – why didn’t you donate your money to a black college? I do remember wondering for a second, why Dre chose USC  in particular for his donation as opposed to the many other schools he could choose from including an HBCU. As I read various articles about Dre and Jimmy’s venture to create their own college program, the ingenuity and inspiration to create overtook any other questions for me. With the Creative Dreamer Award for ISU, we were able to pinpoint how we wanted our award to be distributed even down to what we wanted the scholarship selection committee to look like. I find it difficult to criticize Dre’s motivation and/or donation without having a better understanding of the stipulations tied to the donation. I would be interested in getting a clearer look at how the money is expected to be used for.

Check out my original post about Dr Dre’s donation here

None the less, Dr. Kimbrough’s unique position as a college president for a HBCU amplifies and adds credence to his argument. This man, entrusted to develop the students at one of the nation’s premier black institutions for higher education, delivers a clear and unapologetic argument to Dre and other minorities in power. Surely, if anyone understands how $35 million dollars would impact a HBCU, Dr. Kimbrough would. His call to Dre ,and what I hope is not lost, call to Black people all over is to invest in ourselves and programs that we feel have helped make us who we are. Questioning Dre is not where your involvement in this should begin and end. Yes, we can question and challenge the motives of our celebrities and politicians, but that doesnt stop you from getting up and getting involved either. Let’s make sure we’re living up to the same high expectations we’re asking others to abide by.

Personally, I don’t feel I can question where Dre donates his money. The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation still sounds like an amazing opportunity to influence young adults and create stimulating learning experiences for all those involved. Would $35 million  have been useful at an HBCU? Of course! But your $200 will be equally as useful at your high school, college, church, etc… Think of a program that has truly influenced who you are today. Think of a way you can give back to the people who currently use the program. Better yet persuade your family and friends to give back to the organization as well.

LA Times: Op-ed ArticlePDF: Why USC and not a black college, Dr. Dre

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By Walter M. Kimbrough

May 21, 2013

I was in Detroit preparing to give a speech last week when the news came across my Twitter feed: “Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine donate $70 million to USC to create new degree.” As one of the first university presidents from the hip-hop generation, I had to stop and read the story immediately.

The two music moguls and co-founders of Beats Electronics — recognizing that they needed a new type of creative talent for their growing music technology business — are funding a four-year program that blends liberal arts, graphic and product design, business and technology.

I understood their need to build a pool of skilled talent. But why at USC? Iovine’s daughter is an alum, sure. And he just gave its commencement address. Andre Young — before he was Dr. Dre — grew up in nearby Compton, where he rose to fame as part of the rap group N.W.A. The Beats headquarters are on L.A.’s Westside.

Still, what if Dre had given $35 million — his half of the USC gift and about 10% of his wealth, according to a Forbes estimate — to an institution that enrolls the very people who supported his career from the beginning? An institution where the majority of students are low-income? A place where $35 million would represent a truly transformational gift?

Why didn’t Dr. Dre give it to a black college?

Make no mistake: This donation is historic. It appears to be the largest gift by a black man to any college or university, comparable to the gift Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, gave toSpelman College in 1988. Some 25 years later, their $20-million gift (about $39 million in inflation-adjusted dollars) is still the largest-ever private gift to a historically black college. Dre gave USC almost triple the amount Oprah Winfrey has given Morehouse College over the years. Sean “Diddy” Combs gave $500,000 to Howard University in 1999, which he attended before launching a successful career.

A hip-hop icon is now the new black higher-ed philanthropy king. We’ve never seen a donation to rival this from any black celebrity — musician, athlete or actor — and that fact must be celebrated.

But as the president of a black college, it pains me as well. I can’t help but wish that Dre’s wealth, generated as it was by his largely black hip-hop fans, was coming back to support that community.

USC is a great institution, no question. But it has a $3.5-billion endowment, the 21st largest in the nation and much more than every black college — combined. Less than 20% of USC’s student body qualifies for federal Pell Grants, given to students from low-income families, compared with two-thirds of those enrolled at black colleges. USC has also seen a steady decrease in black student enrollment, which is now below 5%.

A new report on black male athletes and racial inequities shows that only 2.2% of USC undergrads are black men, compared with 56% of its football and basketball teams, one of the largest disparities in the nation. And given USC’s $45,602 tuition next year, I’m confident Dre could have sponsored multiple full-ride scholarships to private black colleges for the cost of one at USC.

Maybe some suspect that a historically black college or university would not have the breadth or depth of expertise on its faculty to spearhead an innovative academy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This future Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation is to be multidisciplinary, with a technology focus. In 2011, the National Science Foundation noted that black colleges are a major source of scientists and engineers. In fact, the top five producers of blacks who go on to earn science, technology, engineering and math graduate degrees are black colleges, as are 20 of the top 50. Once you add in the musical legacy of black colleges’ choirs and marching bands, they are the perfect locations for an academy like this.

In the end, though, this is his money, and endowing a program geographically nearby, where he can have ongoing input and contact, makes sense. I do hope it will recruit and enroll a diverse class of students and not become some enclave for the already privileged student body there.

But more important, I hope this groundbreaking gift inspires other celebrities and musical artists to make similar donations to higher education. And that they will consider doing it in a manner that will be truly transformative. This gift is gravy for USC; for a black college, it would transform not just individuals but whole institutions and communities.

In the Detroit airport on my way home, I counted seven people sporting the stylish Beats by Dre headphones on the way to my gate. All seven were black men, like me. My own Dre earbuds were in my briefcase. I’m sure we all bought them not only to support Dr. Dre but because of the quality of the product.

My challenge is to figure out how to get Dr. Dre and others to listen as well, because when they support black colleges, they are also supporting a quality product.

Walter M. Kimbrough is the president of Dillard University, a liberal arts black college in New Orleans.

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Check out a spotlight featured on The Grio about Dr. Walter Kimbrough for more information about his background and role as an educator.

http://thegrio.com/2013/02/12/thegrios-100-walter-kimbrough-the-hip-hop-college-president/

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Art of War Art Battle Wrap Up

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The Art of War Art Battle was a success! My frat brother (right) and I (left) are the bookends in the photo. We teamed up with the two lovely ladies from CORE to hold a joint fundraiser. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was starting an organization – Creative Dreamers with my boy.

The art battle was a great way for us to introduce ourselves to New York City. I still don’t really know what to say about the event that hasn’t been added in previous posts. I’ll say that it turned out far better than anyone could have imagined. The visual artists were amazing and their original pieces were unique and great quality, the music acts showed up and showed out, the DJ was playing great music, the crowd was live and engaged, overall everything came together in a great showing of creativity and passion. I’m super proud of my group. Here are just a few pictures from the night. I have a tendency to fall behind the scenes and work work work – which is why you’ll only see me in a handful of pictures in the album. But I promise you I was there mingling and trying to keep things running smoothly for the guests and volunteers. Check out the rest of the pictures here: http://tinyurl.com/ArtofWarArtBattleSpring2013

Thank you to everyone that came out and supported the event! It was a labor of love that took 4 months to plan and implement from day one. My team met once a week to plan out each step of the event from the venue, the artists, the music, the photographer, the videographer, the graphics, personal investments, supplies, themes, etc…

Why did I do this event – I’m not a fan of being in the public eye, or the center of attention. But as I grow this platform or Skool Haze and Creative Dreamers I think its important to get comfortable putting myself out there and facing challenges and my weaknesses head on. Hosting my own event has never really been something I’ve wanted to do, which is exactly why I felt I needed to put my modesty aside and see what I could do when I pushed myself. I challenge my students all the time to do something they never thought they could do, and this was my version of that challenge for myself.

What was hard about the event – The hardest thing about the Art of War Art Battle was planning for the event every week. The planning itself wasn’t hard, and doing the work of finding and communicating with artists and volunteers wasn’t hard. But the event took a lot of effort to plan each week. At times I questioned whether I added too much to my plate, especially as the event drew closer. I would say the last week in preparation for the event was the most stressed I have felt throughout my entire time here in NYC.

How did I cope with the added pressure – Honestly, I just dealt with it. I don’t know if it’s the athlete in me, or the frat boy in me, or the determination within me. But I hate feeling like I don’t want to do something. I always feel like I’m missing out on something better and greater, which is a no-no for me right now. Once I realize I don’t want to do something because it’s challenging I usually am able to take that energy and direct it specifically at the challenge itself. I think it helped that I had a team of 3 people I was working with. It seemed like it was a challenge for all of us, but we were in it together to see it through.

Why I’m sharing this , Why would anyone care – Well I don’t know if anyone cares. There’s a good chance that some don’t. But, I think its important that people see that this is something I actually thought played to a few areas that I’m actually self conscious about. This event was a support for the scholarship which is something that I’ve wanted to do forever. I wanted to make sure that the scholarship became a reality and not just another thing on my own bucket list that I let sit dormant for decades without even attempting to make it happen. My hope is that you will see this, think about something you’ve always wanted to do in your life, and get energized to start making it actually happen. Whether its going back to school, finding a new job, starting your own organization, talking to someone you’ve been avoiding for a while, saving money, whatever that thing is that you’ve been holding off on doing……. DO THAT SHIT!

What I learned in the process – Well, I learned that with the proper planning and energy I can put together a super nice event. I learned that I need to be willing to drop the shy/modest card when trying to have a successful event/program. I learned that details are important when trying to put together an event with other people. I learned that my teaching/nonprofit/and pr skills come in handy when thinking of recognition, presentation, communication between event staff and volunteers/participants/guests/sponsors. I learned that it feels good to push myself and come out with something better than I could have even imagined. I learned that people LOVE to watch art be created live, LoL. I learned…. that me and my group work very well together, regardless of the behind the scenes disagreements we faced. I learned that facing a challenge could reap amazing results.

What are our next steps – Well, right now we’re continuing to build up Creative Dreamers Organization. We’re also thinking about our next steps in regards to programming and events. Overall, more challenges and more activities geared toward empowerment. And of course we’re still fundraising for our Creative Dreamer Award.

Dr Dre creates his own academic program at USC

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This is another article I stumbled across this week. It was inspiring seeing Dr. Dre and his business partner create an opportunity to inspire people out of nowhere. I don’t have $70 million, but I do think I should be just as creative when it comes to thinking of new ways to connect with people and empower them with knowledge and stimulate them into action. I showed this article to my students and had them try to create community programs they would like to invest money into. The assignment went over most of their heads, but a few did give  thoughtful responses about community programs they would like to see come to life.

I’ve heard varying reports about how much money Dre donated to the endowment, anywhere from $1 million – $35 million have been suggested. Never-the-less I like that he’s out there creating opportunity for others, and not just himself. I also like that this came out of left field in a way. Prior to this I wouldn’t have guessed Dre would be the type to give in such an academic way.

It’s been really interesting seeing how black celebrities and public figures have gone about their own service projects. I’ve been on a hunt lately for innovative and creative examples of cost effective and advantageous  community projects. As my partner and I think about what our next steps our for Creative Dreamers its helpful reading articles like this to help me see where we need to steer ourselves. My only wish is that I could see what some of the behind the scenes meetings and brainstorm sessions looked like. I’ld love to see what it looks like while they’re out there getting the real work done behind closed doors. I know that right now Creative Dreamers Award isn’t going to completely change the landscape of Indiana State University, and its student body. However, its a start. Its going to be great trying to build up to a point where I am able to have a beneficial and impactful (made-up) and exceptionally positive effect on people and institutions like Dre.

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I’ve attached a more detailed New York Times article about the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation below. A pdf version is also available for those of you on a mobile device.

Two Musical Minds Seek a Different Kind of Mogul

NY Times Article By 

LOS ANGELES — The record producer Jimmy Iovine and his business partner Dr. Dre have a keen eye for talent. After all, Mr. Iovine discovered Dr. Dre when he was just Andre Young, and between them, the two have jump-started the careers of stars ranging from Lady Gaga to 50 Cent to the Black Eyed Peas.

Now they think they can help create the next Steve Jobs.

The music moguls, who founded the wildly popular Beats headphone business, are giving $70 million to the University of Southern California to create a degree that blends business, marketing, product development, design and liberal arts. The gift is relatively modest, as donations to universities go. But the founders’ ambitions are lofty, as they explained in an interview Monday in the elaborate presidential dining room on the lush U.S.C. campus.

“If the next start-up that becomes Facebook happens to be one of our kids, that’s what we are looking for,” said Mr. Iovine, an energetic 60-year-old dressed in his trademark uniform of T-shirt and fitted jeans, faded baseball hat and blue-tinted eyeglasses.

Like many celebrities, Mr. Iovine and Dr. Dre have been seduced by the siren call of the tech world, which has lured celebrities likeJustin BieberTyra Banks and Leonardo DiCaprio to finance a start-up or develop their own idea. They have had more success than most with Beats, a private company that they say makes $1 billion in sales annually.

Still, the world of academia is far from familiar to Mr. Iovine and Dr. Dre. Neither went to college. And during the interview, Mr. Iovine confessed more than once that he was “out of my depth” when it came to discussing details of the program. He referred those questions to Erica Muhl, dean of the university’s fine arts school, who will be the inaugural director of the program and in charge of devising the curriculum, selecting professors and reviewing applications.

Dr. Dre, 48, svelte and relaxed in black jeans and a black sweater that just barely concealed a faded forearm tattoo, has an easy rapport with Mr. Iovine, and was content to let him do most of the talking. The rapper nodded often, ate chocolate chip cookies with evident pleasure, and chimed in occasionally. When he did, he chose his words carefully.

As a rapper, Dr. Dre was lauded for his blend of agile West Coast lyrics and rich, blunt beats; asked if he ever expected as a young performer that he would help start a university program, he leaned forward and laughed long and hard.

“Never in a million years,” he said.

But he and Mr. Iovine are betting that their instinct and keen ears — which helped Mr. Iovine find and sign Dr. Dre who, in turn, ferreted out Snoop Dogg and Eminem when they were budding musicians — will help them find future chief executives.

It doesn’t matter whether it is the next Gwen Stefani, Mr. Iovine said, whom he signed at 19, or recruiting and nurturing the next Marissa Mayer.

“Talent is talent,” he said.

The details of the four-year program, officially the U.S.C. Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, are still being completed. The first class of 25 students will enter in fall 2014, selected for their academic achievement, the university said, as well as their ability for “original thought.”

At the core of the curriculum is something called “the Garage,” which will require seniors to essentially set up a business prototype. It appears to be inspired by technology incubators like Y-Combinator and universities like Stanford that encourage students to develop and pitch start-up ideas as class assignments.

“I feel like this is the biggest, most exciting and probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my career,” Dr. Dre said.

Part of the endowment includes several full scholarships, he said, to help a financially disadvantaged students to “go on to do something that could potentially change the world.”

Still, the $70 million endowment, to which Mr. Iovine and Dr. Dre contributed equally, does not rank high among gifts to universities; for example, in 2012, Stanford raised over $1 billion from donors, $304.3 million of which was designated for research and programs.

U.S.C. has received larger gifts from other donors in recent years. But Rae Goldsmith, the vice president for resources of the Council of Advancement and Support of Education, which tracks donations above $100 million to colleges and universities, said that regardless of the size the donation was meaningful because it was rare for donors to establish new departments and courses of study.

“This kind of gift can be helpful in achieving one overall goal of the institution,” she said. “It’s certainly noteworthy.”

In the rarefied tech world, $70 million is a drop in the bucket. Last May, Evernote, a note-taking app, raised the same amount in a round of venture capital.

But C. L. Max Nikias, the university’s president, said the size of the gift would fully support the new program, and would leave a legacy that would “make a difference in society.”

The idea for the program came to Mr. Iovine and Dr. Dre not long after creating the Beats company, when they found themselves with a problem familiar to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs: the rapidly depleting reservoir of potential employees, including software engineers and marketing savants.

“It came out of us trying to find people to work for us,” Mr. Iovine said.

They hope that the program will supply not only future employees for Beats’ current business, but also for a new venture, a streaming music service, Beats Music, that is expected to make its debut later this year.

Mr. Iovine compared their thinking to the approach to a typical business problem of “how do we make the best product?”

“In this case,” he said, “the kids are the product.”

Mr. Iovine said that over the course of their partnership, he has run many other ideas by Dr. Dre.

“Usually Dre is like ennhhhhhh,” he said, mimicking the sound of a bleating buzzer used to signify halftime or a wrong answer during a game show. But when it came to this idea, Dr. Dre’s curiosity was piqued.

“The last time he reacted like that was Beats,” Mr. Iovine said.

The university has played an important role in both Mr. Iovine’s and Dr. Dre’s lives. Mr. Iovine’s daughter completed her undergraduate studies there; on Friday, he is delivering the class of 2013 commencement speech. Perhaps more important, the school is fewer than a dozen miles from where Dr. Dre grew up in Compton.

Mr. Iovine acknowledged that their plan was ambitious but said the pair were not afraid to take risks.

“We have no idea where this is going,” he said.

Dr. Dre said, “It’s definitely a steppingstone to something.” And Mr. Iovine jumped in, finishing the thought, “We’re not quite sure what it is.”