Girls in Your Community Want You to Mentor Them


Ann Fudge, a successful corporate executive who was a recipient of Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year Award and is often written about in the pages of BLACK ENTERPRISE, is retired—sort of.

“I serve on several corporate boards and do a lot of traveling,” she told me recently. “So, it’s hard for me to say, ‘I’m retired.’”


Mother Caroline Academy


In addition to remaining involved in the corporate space, Fudge is pursuing a long-held dream: to volunteer in girls education, specifically with low-income girls of color.

Through a friend, Fudge learned about a remarkable school in Boston that’s making a great difference in the lives of young women during the critical middle school years: Mother Caroline Academy.

Rooted in the Catholic tradition, Mother Caroline Academy educates about 80 girls of all faiths in grades 4–8. Many live in Dorchester and hail from immigrant families.


Professional Teachers, Engaged Parents


The school is led by Ed Hudner, who professionalized the teaching staff, ending the school’s dependence on volunteer teachers to enable the pursuit of academic excellence. The difference shows. With professional teachers now making use of assessment data to inform their instruction, the students are being accepted into competitive high schools, including boarding schools as far away as California.

Fudge also told me about the Parenting Journey, a mandatory program. Developed by Karen Dottin-Ricketts, the program helps parents support their daughters and become more invested in the school’s success. As a result, there is 100% parent engagement from those who complete it.

“The parents work as a team for their child’s success,” Fudge said. “Once a week they get together.”


Irrepressible Girls


Fudge has worked to get speakers to come to the school and provide other opportunities for greater exposure. After reading Hidden Figures, she told the school about it. Then, one of the English teachers developed a unit study, which involved the girls writing from the perspective of one of the human NACA computers.

Mother Caroline Academy enjoys a 100% graduation rate; 82% of its graduates enroll in college, and 78% of them graduate in four years. (According to Complete College America, only a minority of students graduate on time.)

Fudge is impressed with the girls’ intelligence and confidence. In the U.S. poverty is often a barrier, but people like Hudner, Dottin-Ricketts, and Fudge are helping these students to leap over it.

Fudge urges others to get involved, as well. Dorchester isn’t the only community that has bright, low-income girls—or boys. “Find a way to get engaged in your community,” she said. “Even if you mentor just one child, it’s huge.”

For more, visit the Mother Caroline Academy website.

Dr. William Pickard Discusses the Principles of Entrepreneurship

Dr. William Pickard

For the last 35 years, Dr. William F. Pickard has garnered a wealth of knowledge in entrepreneurship and business development. Now, the successful business leader is sharing his expertise in his new book, Millionaire Moves: Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship.

Despite coming from humble beginnings, Pickard became the first person in his family to earn a four-year degree at Western Michigan University. He then went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Today, Pickard serves as CEO and chairman for multiple enterprises, including VITEC L.L.C., Global Automotive Alliance L.L.C., Grupo Antolin-Wayne, ARD Logistics, L.L.C., and Commonwealth Regal Industries. He is also the owner of several McDonald’s franchises and co-owns five black-owned newspapers.

Pickard’s leadership, however, does not end in the business world. He also serves on the board of the National Urban League, and is a member of the Detroit Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


Dr. William Pickard (Image: Dr. William F. Pickard | Photo Credit: Myron Watkins II)


In an interview with Black Enterprise, Pickard opens up about his new book, which provides the tools needed to become successful millionaires for those who desire to learn. “If you have an open mind, a vision, and unbeatable faith, you will not only prevail, but soar,” he said, via email.

Below, Pickard shares more insight on his book, as well as useful advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:


BLACK ENTERPRISE: What is one of the most important principles mentioned in your book?

Pickard: I believe vision and attitude are imperative. Your mind has the capacity to unfold what you visualize and verbalize. A negative mind will never harvest positive results. Vision, attitude, and perception help crystalize dreams and motivate productivity, even during those most challenging times. Vision keeps you grinding when others are sleeping. Vision and attitude will bring you to the finish line. The Bible says, “Without vision, the people will perish.”


BE: What is one thing that entrepreneurs, especially millennials, can learn from the book?

Pickard: While grades are obviously important, they should never be an excuse. I was not an “A” student, nor do I consider myself the sharpest knife in the drawer. Yet, all of that made me hungry. It forced me to look beyond my limitations and believe in a bigger purpose and plan for my life.  People determine their own destiny. So, my book is for anyone, especially young entrepreneurs, who seek a roadmap to achieve success beyond their circumstances.


BE: What can people do to enhance their finances?

Pickard: One of the things I mention in my book is, “Wealthy people teach their children how to acquire. Rich people teach their children how to sell. Poor people teach their children how to buy.” To change our everyday financial situations, we must start with transforming our mindset.  That means adjusting our buying habits and educating ourselves on how to build wealth for ourselves, our family, and our community.


BE: What inspired you to write this book?

Pickard: Teaching has always been of love of mine. Years ago, I embraced the mantra, “Each one, reach one, teach one.”  It is an innate part of me to give back to my community. That is why I have been a guest lecturer at HBCUs and other colleges across the nation for decades.  With young people, whether at my McDonald’s or on college campuses, I always find myself in teachable moments. My book allows me to reach a broader audience by sharing the principles that made a difference in my own success. As someone who has been blessed in many ways, I hope my book will plant seeds of inspiration and determination for that person with a great idea, the student trying to find their way, or the employee who dreams of something bigger.


BE: Why is failure an important part of the journey to success?

Pickard: I talk about failure in my book, because nothing in life is foolproof or without risk. You will stumble, as I did, but you need to learn from your failures, and have a faith bigger than your own abilities. This is important because WE [as African Americans] must see beyond our circumstances, and shift our mindset to see success and build wealth. As a community, we continue to get left behind, and we only control 1% of the wealth in our country.  So, it is imperative that we propel ourselves beyond failures to build wealth and create a legacy for our families and our community.


Be on the lookout for more insightful tips based on Dr. Pickard’s seven principles, which will appear on over the next several weeks!


Selena HillSelena Hill is the Associate Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and the founder of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio. You can hear Hill and her team talk millennial politics and social issues every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @MsSelenaHill.

Can Black Entrepreneurship Close the Black-White Wealth Gap?

wealth gap

For decades, a wealth gap has persisted between blacks and whites. While a quick fix to trim the gap remains absent, a new report suggests black entrepreneurship perhaps is the answer.

The revelation comes from The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America: Untapped Opportunities for Success, a report by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit and its 450 members provide capital and services to help underserved entrepreneurs start and expand their businesses.

The report draws insights from many sources, including innovative data analytics and a survey of 300 business owners—200 of them black—conducted last spring. One of the study’s objectives was to change the national conversation about black-owned businesses, focusing on their potential for economic power, instead of just looking at their challenges. For instance, the median net worth for black business owners is 12 times higher than for black non-business owners, helping disrupt a low wealth cycle that often lingers in black communities.

AEO President and CEO Connie Evans says business ownership for blacks is imperative for job and wealth creation, helping strengthen both black communities and the national economy.

“Self-employment can go a long way toward closing the racial wealth gap,” Evans says. “White adults have 13 times the median wealth of blacks, whereas white business owners have three times the wealth of their black counterparts. That is a significant difference—one that would help create economic opportunities for all people.”

The report also found that if there was job parity between black and U.S. firms, it could help reduce the nation’s black unemployment rate, which is at 8.1% as of February. Right now, 96% of black-owned sole proprietorship firms have no employees versus 81% for all U.S. firms. And black-owned employer firms have fewer workers than the average U.S. privately held firms—nine versus 11. If black-owned employer firms could boost their workforce by two people, and 15% of black-owned businesses with no employees could hire just one person, researchers estimate about 600,000 new jobs could be created and another $55 billion would be pumped into the economy. The jobless rate for black Americans would fall to about 5% if these black firms mainly hired people from their communities, which they often do.

“There are different levels of success in business,” Evans says. “A restaurant owner who has been on the same corner for 20 years would definitely be called successful. But what we wanted to do was take a look at what hinders black entrepreneurs from reaching their economic potential. What stops that restaurant owner from hiring more staff and adding a catering service? Or opening more locations? How can black entrepreneurs launch flourishing businesses, or move away from low revenue business models and industries?”

Evans pinpoints three ongoing gaps—wealth, credit, and trust—whose interplay hampers the startup and growth of black businesses. A microbusiness advocate for over three decades, Evans discusses what can be done to boost black business ownership.


How are these gaps stopping black Americans from opening more businesses and keeping those that do start from stabilizing and growing?

Persistent low wealth in black communities equals less access to personal or friends-and-family funding for startups. It means lower homeownership, fewer assets overall, and a lack of collateral to secure credit via loans. These wealth and credit gaps are exacerbated by a trust gap, fueled by discrimination and bias black Americans have faced. That can stop them from taking crucial actions to grow or maintain their business.


What steps can black entrepreneurs take to overcome these barriers that they might not be using now?

Black entrepreneurs can reach out to nonprofit organizations that can help them with plans, capital, and other resources to start and grow their businesses. For example, there are microfinance organizations, accelerators, and networks seeking black entrepreneurs.  Some of these entrepreneurs will have to change their “go it alone” mindset and search for networking opportunities and partnerships to access new markets and contracting opportunities. In addition, black entrepreneurs, particularly startups, should explore entering higher revenue producing sectors like technology, healthcare, and construction.


What is your group doing to help black Americans start new businesses and boost their wealth?

AEO is offering to help move capital to the small business owners who need it. They can visit or to get access to financial resources and business support services. AEO also makes recommendations to Congress for policies and programs that support businesses in low-wealth communities.


Where can black entrepreneurs get more tools to build their businesses?     

National Urban League Entrepreneurship Centers 

Minority Business Development Centers 

Operation HOPE for Small Businesses 

Small Business Administration 



Jeffrey McKinney is a long-time freelance business writer and reporter, contributing to Black Enterprise magazine on a broad range of business and financial topics.




Knight Foundation Awards $1.2 Million to Code Fever’s Black Tech Week

Black Tech Week

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently presented a $1.2 million grant to the organizers of Black Tech Week—a yearly event for fostering black innovation and entrepreneurship.

Black Tech Week kicked off in 2015. It is a gathering of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, tech founders, and other thought leaders held every year in the Miami area.

The event is the brainchild of the founders of Code Fever, Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson. Hatcher was named a White House Champion of Change in 2014 as part of President Obama’s initiative to create STEM opportunities and education.

Hatcher also helped facilitate Black Enterprise’s BE Smart Case Competition in 2016. In the competition, students from historically black colleges and universities work for weeks to solve a real-work business problem presented to them.

The serial entrepreneur spoke with Black Enterprise last year about juggling dedication to both her nonprofit Code Fever and the Black Tech Week event.

“I would love to say that every ball is always managed and floating in the air at the same time, but that’s just not realistic. We have a team that loves what we’re doing, and we understand that we all benefit when we’re attracting the people, resources, funding, and all those things that come with building a healthy ecosystem in South Florida,” said Hatcher.

The grant will allow Code Fever to establish a Venture Capitalist in Residence Program.

“Sometimes, entrepreneurs within the black community lack the ‘friends & family round’ opportunity that many white entrepreneurs have,” said Hatcher in an emailed statement.

“When you drop in a VC in residence, or a programmer in residence, into communities where these ecosystem elements are lacking, it signals a shift in the very fabric of our venture capital and tech industry. It encourages inclusivity and more equal access to funding that can be felt in every layer of the technology field,” she said.



From Intern to Mogul: 5 Celebrities Who Were Once Interns

intern (Image: Creative Commons/Wikimedia)


Chance the Rapper has accomplished a lot in his young and busy life. At just 23-years-old, the independent artist earned $500,000 with his Apple Music dealwas named on Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list; and was the first independent artist to be nominated for a Grammys where he took home three of the coveted awards, in total. So what’s Chance’s next move? Getting an intern.

On Monday, the hip-hop star tweeted:



Like most internships, this will probably provide a recent college grad with firsthand work experience, along with the opportunity to hone their skills while learning new ones. Of course, interning for Chance will also probably come with amazing perks, such as going on a world tour, or meeting some of the superstars he is affiliated with, like Kanye West or Barack Obama.

Although most people will never experience an internship of this magnitude, this doesn’t mean that an ordinary internship can’t transform into an extraordinary opportunity. Many business moguls, in fact, actually started off as interns before launching extremely successful careers. Here’s a list of five celebrities who, just like you and me, were once interns.

Here’s a list of five celebrities who, just like you and I, were once interns:


1. Sean Combs


Before building a music empire, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs started off as an intern at New York’s Uptown Records, after he reportedly begged Heavy D. to connect him with some at the label. After Uptown Records Founder Andrew Harrell gave him a shot as an unpaid intern, Combs worked his way up, eventually becoming an A&R executive. Eventually, tensions developed between Harrell and Combs, and he was fired from the label. However, two weeks later, Combs established Bad Boy Records—and the rest is history.


2. Oprah Winfrey


Today, Oprah Winfrey reigns as the “Queen of all Media,” boasting a net worth of $3 billion, according to Forbes. However, during the early days of her career in television, she was an intern for the CBS affiliate channel, WLAC-TV, in Nashville. Following the internship, she was offered a full-time position as an anchor-reporter, which made her the first black female news anchor at the station.


3. Spike Lee


After obtaining a B.A. in mass communications at Morehouse College, the award-winning director went on to intern at Columbia Pictures.


4. Kanye West


Although Kanye West was already a multiplatinum hip-hop artist by 2009, he launched his fashion career by starting as an intern for Fendi. Rather than being treated as a superstar, West told Hot 97 that his duties included coffee errands and making photocopies at the Italian fashion house, reports The Guardian. Today, West owns his own successful fashion line called Yeezy.


5. Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs was just 12-years-old when he landed his first internship working on an assembly line at Hewlett-Packard. In addition to learning how to put screws into computer parts, the summer internship gave Jobs the opportunity to connect with Steve Wozniak. Jobs and Wozniak later went on to become business partners, launching Apple in 1976,  which has since evolved into one of the most iconic brands in history.



Selena HillSelena Hill is the Associate Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and the founder of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio. You can hear Hill and her team talk millennial politics and social issues every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @MsSelenaHill.

18 Takeaways from International Women’s Day with General Assembly

General Assembly

On March 8th, we celebrated with our friends at General Assembly with a series of global events that featured amazing women from Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, NYC, Seattle, Singapore and Sydney, all spearheading local innovation in tech, culture, social media, and politics.

They discussed how they’ve pioneered gender equality in their industries, the challenges they’ve faced, and provided key tips and strategies on taking action.

Excitedly, the turnout was great, and, more importantly, all of our attendees were able to walk away with action-items, food-for-thought and inspiration from the speakers and their fellow attendees.


“Why don’t we have more diversity at the top when there is diversity in the company?” – Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid

When asked about how a company can help women become leaders: “Shared parental leave is the answer.” – Sophie Guerin, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dell

“When I am challenged, when I am given a deck of cards, I can accept what is given to me, or I can life-craft. Life-crafting is changing the game, not accepting the limitations that others ascribe to you. We are game-changing entrepreneurs.”Dima Elissa, CEO and Founder at VisMed3D and Tech & Innovation Lead at American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

“The moment you stop learning new things, it becomes easier to exclude others….We need to start talking about what exclusion feels like and looks like and sounds like, so we can begin to create a more inclusive world” – Sheree Haggan, Staffing Services at Google

“We are women and we should be very proud of our process.” – Suzanne Tonks, Director at Oliver & York Public Affairs

“It’s only lonely at the top if you arrive there by yourself. So as women, we have a responsibility. How seriously do you take the responsibility that we have to lift as we climb? Because that pinnacle at the top can only be fully appreciated and enjoyed if it’s shared with others.”Star Cunningham, Founder & CEO of 4D Healthware

“If I was going to do this, I had to embrace who I was unapologetically, I had to understand success would happen not despite who I was, but because of who I was- who I am” – Jessica O Matthews, Founder & CEO of Uncharted Play

“I did not come to this world (politics) naturally, I came to it because of things in my gut and my life experiences that drove me to be fighter for people who I knew were sharing the same lived experiences and challenges that I once faced. We all have those stories in our guts that drive us, and that motivate us towards the things that we care about and that we want to work on and I hope that you’ll tap into that.” – Wendy Davis, Founder of Deeds Not Words and Former Texas State Senator

“I needed to give women a safe place to be, a place where they could talk about their kids and their families.” – Lee Rolontz, EVP – Production Entertainment Enterprises at iHeartMedia

On pitching to investors: “Unconscious bias exists…Know your numbers…Think analytically…Lead the conversation where you want it to go.”– Eveline Buchatskiy, Director of Techstars

“Millennials and woman are about to experience the greatest wealth transfer of our time”– Emily Winslow, VP of Operations at Peak Change

“Ask yourself: How can you help? Become a mentor…Say yes to coffee.”Amy Hirotaka, Public Policy and Community Engagement Manager at Facebook

“One of the most powerful tools we’ve got is calling out things as we see them.” – Nithya Gopu Solomon, Executive Lead of the Innovation Office at VicHealth

“I can be nice, but I can also be successful, I can be strong and I can be creative….Nice is not straightforward, especially for women.”– Sarah Iooss, Senior VP of Business Development at Viacom

“You shouldn’t apologize for sharing your opinion.”– Moe Kiss, Data Scientist at The Iconic

“Tell me what you were doing 12 months ago and what you’re doing now. Tell me what you’e worth” Alyce Tran, Founder of The Daily Edited

“Maintain militant eye contact when negotiating a salary” Camilla Gulli, Social Media & Content at Vodafone AU

“Keep asking questions about how you can be thoughtful, be bold and be inquisitive.”Caroline Ng, Investment Director at Vertex Ventures

This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.

Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.


3 Essentials to Turn Girls Onto STEM


The benefits of early exposure to foreign languages, music, travel, and sports on a child’s developing brain are well studied. The early years become the architecture of future learning. The same holds true of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM exposure at an early age becomes an integral part of the intellectual scaffolding upon which other disciplines and interests thrive.

But what if the girls in your life—your daughters, nieces, even neighbors—are past those early, formidable years? What if they wear headphones instead of footie pajamas and are more likely to crack a Geometry book than Dr. Seuss? Brain architecture in late-blooming STEM Gems is no less impressive. All women, regardless of age, are capable of erecting skyscrapers of the mind.

Early is good. Now is even better.


1: Talking STEM


STEM is all around us. STEM is in the car that takes your daughter to soccer practice, in the pink hair dye your niece uses to assert her independence, and in the street angles where your neighbor girl does trick skateboarding. Having adults around who point out the greater STEM picture in everyday life can leave a tremendous impact on a child’s STEM perspective. And you don’t have to be a STEM-oriented person to help your daughter or niece or neighbor recognize the STEM possibilities in the world around her.

Raising four children, my mom always looked for the best deal. She was a walking calculator. Mentally calculating percentage-off prices during holiday shopping and gratuity when dining out became a fun ritual she passed on to my siblings and me. When a delivery came inside a cardboard box, we made a game of the volume and dimensions, creating units out of everything from foam peanuts to stuffed animals. We figured out how many boxes we needed to construct the cities in our minds.

My dad was a firm believer that girls should work with tools and throw balls, not just play with dolls. My sisters and I were often outside with my brother, helping dad fix his car. We passed him tools and laid on the ground beside him, looking at the car’s undercarriage to understand what he was doing. After, we tossed baseballs and dribbled basketballs in the backyard. Without us knowing, my dad was teaching us the fundamentals of physics. After these experiences, learning about force and acceleration in high school was intuitive.

My parents didn’t simply sit us down one day to teach us about how to be an engineer. Through their actions and words, they intentionally demonstrated the fundamentals of STEM all around us. This foundation helped us to find our way into STEM careers.

Talking STEM means deconstructing life, one small moment, one small experience at a time. Every piece of technology, every tool, every food, every event, has a basis in STEM. Pick the moments and experiences that speak to your daughter, neighbor, or niece. Help her to realize that someone in a STEM field had a hand in making those ideas a reality.


2: Seeing Women in STEM


Not every girl is fortunate enough to build cardboard cityscapes and share a nightly dinner table with a STEM Gem. It’s important to remember, however, that STEM Gem role models are closer than you might think. STEM Gems are pediatricians, science and math teachers, and web designers for your small business. STEM Gems can also be found in books, magazines, online, and at local events.

Media can be an amazing source of STEM inspiration, but it can also send young women mixed messages. Overwhelmingly in television and movies, STEM roles are portrayed by men. The few women who fill STEM roles in the media are often eccentric, goth, socially awkward, or just stereotypically nerdy. While some girls can relate, the majority of girls cannot picture themselves cast in that type of role in their lives. The media has only just begun to embrace women of all shapes and sizes and colors in science, tech, engineering and math roles. Pay attention to these STEM messages and guide the young women in your life into meaningful conversations about the perception of STEM and how perceptions might influence her and her peers.

Seeing women in STEM roles is critical to combatting the inevitable disparaging remarks that girls who show an interest in STEM sometimes face. If girls have an established mindset from a trusted source that women can excel in STEM fields, they will be better equipped to respond to naysayers who tell them they’re not good enough or that girls can’t succeed in STEM fields.


3: Exposure to STEM


When I applied to MIT to pursue a chemical engineering degree, I never dreamed so many girls had the mentality that STEM was a boys-only endeavor. Beyond the tremendous role models I had in my childhood, I participated in countless programs that exposed me to STEM. By the time I reached college, my rightful place in STEM was so ingrained, no one could crush my determination.

Participating in STEM programs geared toward girls unleashes something powerful in young women. Being part of a room full of like-minded individuals, engaged in a unifying project or experience, energizes. Once girls are surrounded by peers who are excited about robotics or creating software or studying animal species so that we may better preserve them, our daughters and nieces and neighbor girls find their tribe—a group of individuals who share common passions.

Many universities, corporations and non-profit organizations are trying to remedy the lack of a solid STEM pipeline for girls and other underrepresented populations by offering programs and initiatives, both in summer and year-round, often fully or partially funded to the participant. I highly encourage participation in these local STEM opportunities. Not only does the content open up the STEM world to girls, but it also fosters discussion about STEM and models women in STEM roles.

Talking STEM, seeing STEM, and exposure to STEM are the most consistent themes in the back stories of the 44 STEM Gems highlighted in STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too. These three factors are doorways to the enriching world of a STEM career. Above all, approaching science, technology, engineering and math with intentionality is the best way to ensure future generations of women are well-represented in STEM fields.



STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too is designed to inspire possibilities in girls and young women of all ages. Profiles of forty-four successful women in each of the four STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math—highlight vastly different paths, but three factors consistently made an impact on their willingness to consider a STEM career.



This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.



Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing, and leading.

Black Women Making an Impact in Corporate America

black women

I love seeing people’s reactions when I tell them that there is a real job that allows people to distribute money to help do good in the world. Their remarks range from disbelief to total astonishment. Yes, in a world filled with challenges and endemic social ills, it’s refreshing to know that there are corporations that care deeply about local communities.

These corporations hire people with skills and knowledge to lead this function. These people are typically referred to as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) officers.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to note that bringing awareness to the growing number of black women leading corporate and private foundations, is important for the third sector.

If you want to have a career in corporate social responsibility, you must possess great communications skills and knowledge on subject matter related to the company. A growing number of people employed in this role are black women. They possess the required set of skills for the position but more importantly, they bring an awareness of the issues impacting underserved communities. This will have a positive impact on the company’s reputation and brand but more importantly, it will help strengthen the connection to the local community and ultimately, improve the bottom line.

Black women have not earned much recognition for leading the charge on many major social impact issues. However, there are some who are motivating their corporations to address some pretty stubborn issues.

These stubborn issues take on many forms—ranging from what’s required to lead an effective nonprofit organization to financial literacy. There is a growing trend among corporations to identify ways to amplify the work that impact leaders are doing. This approach is known as capacity building for nonprofits. This approach answers a very important need that often goes unaddressed, particularly with organizations led by people of color.

“For News Corp., supporting philanthropy is about producing tangibly positive outcomes for underserved communities. Our approach has been to seek out innovative philanthropic organization partners’ approaches focused on root causes. We want to be a part of the ecosystem that actually eliminates—not just mitigates—the lack of access to critical resources that impoverished communities experience,” stated Keisha Smith-Jeremie, chief human resource officer for the media company.

Smith-Jeremie’s work is transformational in that most foundations lack the ability to focus on capacity-building, which is one of the greatest needs for startup organizations.

These women are tasked with more than just writing checks for galas and luncheons. Their most important task is to help bring about meaningful change. According to Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of TIAA Institute, “It’s important for financial institutions to invest in communities because their expertise is sorely needed and can make a significant difference: the Personal Financial Index, a survey conducted by TIAA Institute and George Washington University, found that one-fifth of the adults surveyed have a relatively low level of personal financial knowledge.”

This is an excellent example of a company utilizing their platform to impact a social issue directly connected to their business focus. The benefit of a Bell-Rose to financial literacy is that she has the ability to provide crucial data points from research done by the institute. This is critical in mapping a strategy around how to reach those most in need of the training and resources.

Smith-Jeremie and Bell-Rose are not alone but they represent a very small group. LaJune Montgomery Tabron leads the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and works with communities across the country to create conditions that will support vulnerable children. To learn more, please visit

Tonya Allen leads Skillman Foundation based in Detroit. The foundation is focused on supporting quality education and economic opportunities for children. To learn more, please visit

Sherece West-Scantlebury is the President and CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private independent foundation based in Arkansas whose mission is to improve the lives of Arkansans. To learn more, please visit



This article was written by Christal M. Jackson, Founder, Head and Heart Philanthropy, a social impact agency focused on solving social issues impacting communities of color and supporting investors and entrepreneurs of color.

How This Former Miss America Winner Changed Diversity and Inclusion

Ericka Dunlap (Image: Ericka Dunlap – Miss America 2004)


While most women in the U.S. may be excited about gaining access to the most popular clubs in the world’s most vibrant cities upon turning 21, Ericka Dunlap celebrated her special birthday in a different way. She, instead, toured the country, while attempting to solve the complex social issue of diversity and inclusion.

On September 20, 2003, Dunlap became the seventh African American woman to ever be crowned Miss America. Prior to this accomplishment, she had made headlines as the first and only African American woman to ever win the title of Miss Florida throughout the entirety of the pageant’s 81-year history.

During each pageant, Dunlap not only mesmerized the judges with her proven preparation for each phase of the competition, but she also caught the attention of many with the relevancy of her platform; “United we stand, divided we fall behind: celebrating diversity and inclusion.” This platform made her immediately stand out as the ideal role model for Americans everywhere.

Miss America is a scholarship program that celebrates the academic intelligence, community activism, and performance talents of women between the ages of 17 and 24. Contestants are judged by their level of prowess and confidence in each of the four phases of competition: interview, evening wear, talent, and physical fitness. Dunlap’s victories still stand as a distinct representation of the business case for diversity and inclusion in the world of mainstream pageantry; a $5.5 billion industry, in which black women have been consistently underrepresented since the first Miss America pageant in 1921.

Today, Dunlap is president and CEO of Crown Communication Group, a public relations and diversity consulting firm headquartered in Orlando, FL. caught up with the Miss America 2004 title-holder to learn more about her pageant experience, as well as hear her thoughts on diversity and inclusion:


Black Enterprise: Why is diversity important to you?


Ericka Dunlap: Diversity is very close to my heart, because many of the people I went to grade school with were of various cultures. My parents wanted me to have the best possible education, and that usually comes with exposure to different ethnic groups in school systems. I attended a private Christian school, where I was immersed into the nuances of various cultures while constantly being surrounded by different people and different perspectives. At the same time, I was consistently one of the very few black girls in the school. I quickly became a representative of black girls everywhere to my peers.

Oftentimes, I was the only representative of black students at leadership conferences, events around town, talent shows, pageants, and many other areas of my day-to-day life. While I didn’t seek the exclusivity of being “the only,”I began to encourage other black students to show up, get involved, and represent, so that there were more opportunities to expand the diversity of these organizations. So, to help further this conversation, I started competing in the Miss America system at 19, broadening the perspective of diversity and inclusion through the power of the crown.


BE: What sparked your interest in diversity and inclusion, as a contestant for the Miss America 2004 title?


Dunlap: I saw diversity and inclusion as this open gateway for the business community to truly reflect the community at large. As a 21-year-old beauty queen, I had no idea about the grand-scheme significance of my platform, and what it was going to do for people. I wanted people to have the confidence to be their authentic selves at work and be valued for the vital perspective they brought to work environments. People just needed to feel comfortable at work.

During that year, I was fortunate enough to have several wins revolving around workforce diversity appreciation and the extension of viable opportunities to people that are often overlooked. Through the title, I traveled across the country to over 37 states and built relationships with companies from the Home Depot to Chevron-Texaco. Also, I interacted with CEOs and the entire C-suite to influence best practices for diversity. Interacting with people at the highest levels extended my opportunity to serve as an ambassador and influencer, when it came to diversity programming. At the time, I didn’t know the impact would be so far reaching.


BE: What do you think needs to be done, in order to advance African American women in the workplace and as entrepreneurs?


Dunlap: I believe it is incumbent upon our “sister networks” to vet, mentor, and sponsor the other African American women, so that they may be valued as critical contributors to the success of an organization or industry. The branding around black women in the workplace should reflect us as non-threatening, viable decision makers.

Unfortunately, over the last 30 years, we have been fed terrible lies and misconstrued examples of how black women interact in the workplace through television, film, and the media. Generally, African American women are viewed as too demanding and aggressive, from our hair to our management style. Likewise, as entrepreneurs, black women are often underrated, due to the narrow diversity confines of their industries.

Moving forward, the collective agenda for our advancement must be organic, yet deliberate, in order to recreate the image of African American women as respected, passionate leaders with the uncanny ability to thrive and deliver.


To learn more about Ericka Dunlap, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram using the handle @ErickaDunlap, check out her Facebook, or visit her website.


Congressional Republicans Sell Data Privacy to the Highest Bidders

data privacy

The bill to roll back regulations that require internet providers and companies, such as Facebook and Google, to ensure data privacy for internet users has just passed in the House of Representatives. Once signed President Trump, it will become effective legislation—and it’s expected that he will sign.

With the Obama administration’s internet privacy laws repealed, internet companies and service providers will no longer have to get consumer consent before selling or sharing internet usage, geolocation, or other internet browsing data to the advertisers and marketers that typically want this data.

House Democrats voted against the repeal. The data privacy issue is split along political party lines. Republicans traditionally have been for little regulation and on the side of service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T. Democrats have been more in favor of consumer rights, in this matter.

Digital rights groups and privacy advocates are in an uproar. One group, Fight for the Future, is raising funds in an online campaign to erect billboards with the names of every member of Congress that voted in favor of the rollback.

“Congress should know by now that, when you come for the internet, the internet comes for you,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, in a press release.

“These billboards are just the beginning. People from across the political spectrum are outraged, and every lawmaker who votes to take away our privacy will regret it come election day.”

According to Greer and his group, without the consumer protections, internet service providers and telecoms can:

  1. “Monitor and sell customer’s location data, search history, app usage, and browsing habits to advertisers without permission.
  2. Hijack customer’s search results, redirecting their traffic to paying third-parties.
  3. Insert ads into webpages that would otherwise not have them.”

Even the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is divided on the issue. Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a released statement, “Last year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed through, on a party-line vote, privacy regulations designed to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies. Appropriately, Congress has passed a resolution to reject this approach of picking winners and losers before it takes effect.”

“It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today.”

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the first African American women to serve as an FCC Commissioner, was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2009. She is opposed to the repeal and tweeted: