Common Name, Uncommon Path

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Common seated at the panel at the Black Caucus

By Jovane Marie

With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.

Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.

But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”

Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”

Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”

L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend The Hate U Give New York Screening at Paris Theatre
L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend “The Hate U Give” New York Screening at Paris Theatre.

This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.

In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.

“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”

Common performs onstage during OZY Fest
Common performs onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park in New York City.

Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.

Common with classroom full of school children.
Common visits NYC elementary school for Back-To-School fundraising with Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom. JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES

“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”

A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.

“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.

Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.

More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.

Common standing posing with his childrens book
Common with his children’s book, “I Like You but I Love Me”.

“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.

On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.

On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.

“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Gives Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a stage dressed in a suit smiling

By Brady Rhoades

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — NBA Hall of Famer, best-selling author, renowned columnist, historian, philanthropist— is laser-focused on underprivileged kids.

The key to empowering them?

Education.

Through his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook, he’s on a mission to give inner city kids a “shot that can’t be blocked” at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math; many educators have added arts to the concept and use the acronym STEAM).

“The feedback from the kids is always a highlight for me,” he said, in an interview with STEAM Magazine. “They are enthusiastic, grateful, and excited about the experience. Horace Mann once said that ‘a house without books is like a room without windows.’ Before attending Camp Skyhook, many of our students couldn’t see themselves pursuing a STEM-related career. We’re building windows so they can see more possibilities for their future.

“Our students often come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “They’re used to running the race of life with weights attached to them. Their shot at equal opportunities — whether in education, jobs, health care, etc. — is blocked by systemic social inequalities. We try to create a path where their shot at life can’t be blocked because of those disadvantages. We’re trying to even the playing field.”

Abdul-Jabbar is so committed to this venture that he’s sold personal memorabilia, such as championship rings and MVP plaques, in order to raise $2.8 million for the foundation.

“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future,” he said. “That’s a history that has no price.”

Kareem out in community visiting with a young boy in the library
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out in community visiting with a young boy in the library

So what exactly are the Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook?

The Los Angeles non-profit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp in the Angeles National Forest. Every week throughout the year, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Unified School District, groups of fourth and fifth graders attend Camp Skyhook at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center. The hands-on science curriculum encourages students to study nature up close. They also get to hike, swim and sing songs around campfires.

Currently, there’s a six-year waiting list for students to get into the camp.

“I’m happy we’re doing what we are, but I’m frustrated because we want to do even more,” said the six-time NBA champion and six-time MVP. “This program gives students STEM-based activities in an environment they rarely experience: the natural world. It also inspires their curiosity and sense of wonder.”

Abdul-Jabbar said it’s paramount to increase opportunities in STEM, especially for minorities.

“African-American men make up only 3 percent of science and engineering occupations versus 49 percent white men,” he said. “Black women have only 2 percent versus 18 percent for white women. Part of the reason is that a STEM education doesn’t seem like a real possibility to many minority children educated in inferior schools. We can turn that around. We have to turn it around.”

One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967
One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967.

A native of Brooklyn, Abdul-Jabbar was a three-time NCAA champion and three-time Player of the Year at UCLA, where he played under legendary coach John Wooden.

He played 20 seasons in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record 19-time NBA All-Star.

For Lakers fans, he is, perhaps, most beloved for his dominating performance in the 1985 finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers broke a decades-long losing streak to the Celtics and Abdul-Jabbar was named finals MVP. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the 50 greatest players in league history in 1996. A statue showing him wielding the greatest weapon in basketball annals – the skyhook – was unveiled outside of Staples Center in 2012.

Since his stellar professional career, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-bestselling author, a filmmaker, and a columnist for The Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter. He writes insightful and in-depth columns about pop culture, mostly.

His curiosity is nothing less than feral.

Did you know he’s huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and his latest writing project — co-authored by Anna Waterhouse — is a mystery novel? It’s called Mycroft and Sherlock, The Empty Birdcage.

On top of all that, President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.

of Freedom in 2016.

“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop,” he said. “My mind is my greatest asset.”

The same can be said of the children he’s helping, even if they don’t know it yet.

The Skyhook Foundation — the website for information and donations at https://skyhookfoundation.org/ — is demonstrably effective. Did you think for a second Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t track the results?

“We know it’s effective because our follow-up research shows that students have increased interest in science, engineering and the environment,” he said. “In practical terms, it means they take more science classes and feel more confident in the classroom asking and answering questions. Former participants who are now adults tell us this was their most memorable elementary school experience.”

It’s widely agreed-upon that Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook was unstoppable—virtually unblockable. He shot thousands upon thousands of them, and tallied 38,387 points in his career. He is the greatest scorer in the history of professional basketball. Nobody’s ever re-created that magnificent hook shot.

Abdul-Jabbar’s message to kids: you don’t have to.

The game of life is played on a surface supremely larger than the 94-x-50-foot chunk of wood hoops players play on.

The winning play? Give yourself a shot to be an all-star in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

11-year-old ballerina dances into history as 1st black lead in NYC Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

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Charlotte Nebres smiling holding a large Nutcracker

Four years ago, Misty Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. Now, an 11-year-old girl is also breaking barriers as the star of the New York City Ballet’s holiday production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.”

In a story first reported by The New York Times, Charlotte Nebres, a student at the School of American Ballet, danced her way into ballet history as New York City Ballet’s first black Marie, the young heroine of a show that dates back to 1954.

The annual production also includes a diverse cast of other young leads this season, including Tanner Quirk, Marie’s Prince in the ballet, who is half-Chinese; Sophia Thomopoulos, the ballet’s second casting of Marie, who is half-Korean and half-Greek; and Kai Misra-Stone, Sophia’s Prince, who is half-South Asian.

“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing S.A.B., but also representing all of our cultures,” Nebres told “The New York Times.” “There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, I can do that too.'”

Charlotte, who was just 6 years old when Copeland became the first female African American principal at American Ballet Theater, recalled being inspired when she saw Copeland perform for the first time.

“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” she told The New York Times. “When I saw someone who looked like me on stage, I thought, ‘That’s amazing.’ She was representing me and all the people like me.”

Charlotte Nebres in Ballet outfit holding on to ballet bar with her coachCharlotte, whose mother’s family is from Trinidad while her father’s side of the family is from the Philippines, is becoming a trailblazer herself with the role of Marie.

For Charlotte’s mother, Danielle Nebres, the experience for her daughter is a meaningful one, because she was also a dancer growing up.

Nebres, who described Charlotte as quiet and artistic, said, “You don’t know what people are seeing in your child, and they are definitely seeing something in her.”

Although Charlotte is making waves being cast as Marie, the 11-year-old is just enjoying the moment and doing what she loves most: dancing.

Continue on to ABC News to read the complete article.

Latin superstar Juanes’ enduring impact through music and philanthropy

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Juanes is on stage singing and playing guitar

By Jovane Marie

When Colombian superstar Juanes takes the stage, the atmosphere shifts. His influence is apparent, from the fanatic cheers of the audience as they sing along word-for-word to the permanent fixture of phones poised to capture each moment. With more than 15 million albums sold worldwide, to say he is a legend is undebatable.

This was the exact scene this past September at L’ATTITUDE, a business-focused annual conference, which focuses on how U.S. Latinos are fueling American economic growth. The artist was in attendance not only to serenade the crowd with a moving rendition of “La Camisa Negra” (a favorite from his ground-breaking album “Mi Sangre”) but also to share his thoughts on how Latinos are dominating mainstream music and the importance of their contributions.

It’s a perspective Juanes is more than qualified to speak on.

With a career spanning longer than three decades, 26 awarded Grammys and Latin Grammys combined, a history of philanthropic endeavors, and his naming last June as the 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, Juanes has firmly positioned himself as one of Latin music’s leading global ambassadors and a committed voice for advocacy and inclusion.

It may seem a massive undertaking to be such an influential artist—maintaining a long-standing industry presence, constantly expanding your creative artistry, supporting new artists, and managing philanthropic efforts—but Juanes insists that only one thing is necessary to make it so.

“Si quieres ser artista, sigue tu corazón,” he told the L’ATTITUDE crowd. “If you want to be an artist, stick to your heart.”

Follow the Music

Considering Juanes’ background, it comes as no surprise that he ended up so fully enraptured by the magic of music. Raised in his native Colombia, he began playing the piano when he was only 2 years old, and at 7 learned the guitar from his father and brothers.

Juanes and Camillo Cabello perform on stage
Juanes and Camila Cabello perform onstage during The Latin Recording Academy’s Person of The Year Gala. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

“I started to play guitar and sing because of my family, really—my brothers, sisters and parents all loved music,” he told NPR. “They were always singing folk music, so those beginning years were filled with sambas and chacareras and vallenatos and tangos.”

By the time his teenage years rolled around, however, his tastes had changed, leading to the start of a career with a musical sound far removed from the folk songs of his youth. At age 17, along with friends André García, Fernando “Toby” Tobón and José David Lopera, he formed the rock band Ekhymosis (Greek for “bruise”).

Inspired by the music of Metallica, the band aimed to “create

Colombian rock” through their thrash and heavy metal rhythms. Their first demo spoke to a simultaneous effort to describe the troubled environment of their hometown in Medellín, marking the beginning of a consistent pattern of speaking out against injustice and violence through socially conscious songs.

At the time, Medellín, influenced by the reign of Pablo Escobar and civil war, had the highest homicide rate in the world. Juanes was not spared from the effects of this harrowing environment, losing a cousin to violence in the early 90s. The experience encouraged him to try to use his gift of music to effect change.

“I realized that music has the power to bring people together, to change things,” he said. “That has been my mission.”

By the time Juanes made the decision to go solo in 1998—ten years after the band’s formation— the award-winning group had released eight albums.

“I just felt like I was missing something—that I needed to go back to my roots, my essence,” Juanes said of his solo journey. “And that’s what I’ve done ever since. I try to mix both the folk side and the rock side to create a contemporary sound.”

The formula has certainly paid off…in spades.

Juanes holds his big donation check for his Fundacion Mi Sangre foundation
Juanes poses for a photo with a donation made to his foundation, Fundacion Mi Sangre, at Hard Rock Cafe – Times Square in New York City.(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Released in 2000, his first solo album, “Fíjate Bien,” earned him two Latin Grammy Awards, while his second, “Un Día Normal” (released in 2002), was certified multi-platinum in multiple countries across Latin America.

It was his third album, however—”Mi Sangre”—that positioned him as an international force and cemented him as a global ambassador for the Latin music genre. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, produced three consecutive number one singles, was certified Gold, Platinum, or Multi-platinum in 14 countries, and won three Latin Grammy Awards.

Since the release of “Mi Sangre” in 2004, Juanes has released four more albums, including 2017’s “Mis Planes Son Amarte,” a full visual concept album featuring the artist’s first song in English.

His eighth solo album, set for release in November 2019, has already produced a Latin Grammy- nominated single in “La Plata”—a Colombian folkloric tune mixed with pop reggaeton that is close to the singer’s heart.

“This song is light and happy…I’m very excited,” he gushed about the single, which features emerging Columbian trap artist Lalo Ebratt of the collective Trapical Minds. “It has to do with Colombia, and with my roots, and with who I am.”

The Juanes Effect

Juanes’ worldwide appeal is undeniable. He has performed everywhere from the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo to Sesame Street, and has been recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.

And while many Latin artists eventually “cross-over” to record English language albums in an effort to expand their audiences, he waited almost 30 years to record “Goodbye for Now,” his first English song. The move was deliberate and based, he said, on a desire to respect his fan base while adapting to the changing musical landscape.

“Singing in Spanish is very important because it is the language in

Karla Martinez, John Cena, Juanes and Ana Patricia Gamez are seen on the set of ‘Despierta America’ to promote the film ‘Ferdinand’in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage)

which I think and feel,” he explained. “But I am also conscious of the fact that the world and the way we communicate is changing. I do love Anglo music, and now that I’m a little bit more familiar with the language, I feel like it’s more honest for me to do it.”

It may have taken him some time to release a track in English, but Juanes has effortlessly maintained a presence in the mainstream American music scene, nabbing several groundbreaking firsts in the process of building his musical empire.

His performances at the 84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (2010), The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2014), The TODAY Show Plaza concert series (2014), and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2017) marked the first time any of these platforms had featured a performing artist singing exclusively in Spanish. And, in 2015, he performed “Juntos”—the first Spanish song featured in over a decade at the Grammys.

For Juanes, these historic performances speak to the ability of music to transcend language.

“It’s really a magical feeling,” he explained. “People come to our shows or listen to these performances, and they respect the fact that we sing in Spanish. They are paying attention to the melodies and the arrangement and the music itself, and it’s a beautiful gift. It’s just the magic of music.”

A Voice for Change

Growing up a witness to prevalent violence in his hometown of Medellín had a profound effect on Juanes that has reverberated beyond his lyrics into a passion for philanthropy.

In 2006, he created the Mi Sangre Foundation in response to Colombia’s needs in the treatment of landmine victims. Under the umbrella of psychosocial support, peace education, and peace building project programs, the organization “helps children, teenagers, and youth heal wounds of the soul by creating safe environments and strengthening social fabrics while enabling the participation of families, the community, and the educational sector.” The venture, which has provided support for thousands of landmine victims, is a labor of the heart.

Recording artist Juanes performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Fleetwood Mac
Recording artist Juanes performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

“The name Mi Sangre [My Blood] is inspired by the same sentiment as my album of the same name—it’s about my children, my children’s children, my land, my roots. It’s what’s important to me,” Juanes said of the foundation. “When I heard firsthand the stories of people who had been directly affected moved me to the point that I said, ‘I want to do something.’”

The artist also co-founded the Paz Sin Fronteras (Peace Without Borders) effort, a series of free outdoor concerts aimed at uniting people across borders and promoting non-violent conflict resolution.

His efforts have earned him a multitude of humanitarian awards, appointments, and recognition, including Colombia’s National Peace Prize, a position as a Goodwill Ambassador for nonprofit organization United for Colombia, France’s highest cultural honor for social activism (L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres), and a namesake recreational park in Medellín, which provides rehabilitation space for people with disabilities.

For Juanes, however, the recognition isn’t the end goal. In his eyes, it’s all about making a difference.

“I do these things because they matter for me and to me,” he explained. “I often think about what we as a people are doing here in this world and why we are here. And what I know for sure is that we are not alone…we need to help each other.”

A Continuing Legacy

Juanes’ legacy of artistic innovation, support for emerging artists, and humanitarian recently manifested into yet another recognition—one reserved for the most culturally impactful Latin musicians.

Last June, the Latin Recording Academy announced that as part of its milestone 20th anniversary, the singer, composer, musician, and philanthropist would be named the 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.

Juanes performs at the 2nd Annual L'Attitude Conference
Juanes performs at the 2nd Annual L’Attitude Conference – LatiNExt Live on September 26, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Bestowed upon musicians of Ibero American heritage in acknowledgement of their artistic achievements in the Latin music industry, fellowship, and philanthropic efforts, past honorees have included Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana.

“Juanes is young, but legendary, an artist who has inspired us through his amazing music for many years and—while doing so—he vigorously campaigned for political, social, and positive change around the world,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. “His leadership and his philanthropic work, in addition to his positive messages that transcend music, speak volumes about his many contributions to the community, and we are truly honored to recognize him as this year’s Latin Academy Person of the Year.”

The designation is just the latest addition to the multi-talented artist’s ever-growing legacy, and a reaffirmation that he is fulfilling his destiny.

“I’m doing what I believe I was brought to do—to create music that raises awareness, renews hearts, and generates change,” Juanes shared. “And I hope I have many years left to connect through art, to play my guitar, and to continue chasing the sun.”

ShareSpace Education Donates Giant Mars and Moon Map™ to Challenger Learning Centers Across the Country

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Giant Moon and Mars Maps are pictured side by side

STEAM-based educational tools spark excitement around space exploration.

ShareSpace Education, a key program of the Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF), partnered with Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization, to donate three Giant Mars Map™ and one Giant Moon Map™ Interactive education packages promoting STEAM education in four Challenger Learning Centers (Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College, IL; Challenger Learning Center of Northern Nevada, NV; Challenger STEM Learning Center; University of Tennessee Chattanooga, TN; and Challenger Learning Center of Lockport, NY).

Each package includes a 15-foot x 15-foot map, four Welcome to Mars/Welcome to the Moon books, the Mars/Moon Map Curriculum package developed in collaboration with Purdue University, and access to in-person and online program training from the ShareSpace Foundation. The value of each Giant Mars Map™ / Giant Mars Map™ package is valued at $5,000.

“We are excited that these four Challenger Learning Centers will have Giant Mars Map™ or Giant Moon Map™ interactive education packages to offer to their students and community,” said Denise Kopecky, Vice President of Education, Challenger Center. “Every day at our Centers, students travel to space when they fly our simulation-based missions. These maps are another way for students and members of these communities to experience the excitement and wonder of space.”

“Giant Mars and Moon Maps are a means for sparking creativity in kids while they sit, stand, walk, play and learn together,” said Dr. Andrew Aldrin, president of AFF. “We are honored to partner with an incredible organization like Challenger Center and share this unique STEAM experience with their next generation across the United States.”

Each year, AFF works with donors to make Giant Mars Map™ packages available for distribution. Individual schools, school districts and informal education organizations submit applications, which are reviewed by an independent team of judges. Map recipients are selected with the goal of reaching people and places where the map can be used as an authentic teaching tool to help children develop an understanding for real-world, STEAM-based concepts using the Red Planet as the focal point.

About the Aldrin Family Foundation
The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEAM-based educational tools, curriculum and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians.

About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. For more information about Challenger Center, please visit challenger.org or connect on Facebook and Twitter.

See the states where designers make the most money for their work

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man drawing a design on paper with a pencil

Many designers make a very respectable living. According to a new survey of over 17,000 designers across the globe, conducted by the digital networking platform Dribbble earlier this year, product designers are doing quite well in particular.

U.S.-based product designers working on physical and digital products report making an average salary of $103,000 a year. Not bad for passing on the law degree and medical license and (hopefully) never learning how to code!

That figure doesn’t appear to be the result of a few whopping salaries that threw averages out of whack, either. In fact, 73% of product designers report making salaries of $75,000 or more. But there’s a catch: the highest-paid designers live in California, where 40% of those surveyed reported making $100,000 or more a year. Figures are similar in New York and Washington state (most likely the Seattle area, where Amazon and Microsoft live). In other words, designers who make six figures are often living in a location that mandates a six-figure minimum to get by. So success in the field is relative.

Other interesting findings were that a lot of designers are side-hustling on top of full-time office jobs. Nearly half of respondents reported working on-site at a job each day. But still, 75% of all respondents disclosed that they freelanced in off hours—a finding that’s in line with another recent survey on design work. Put differently, that means that only one out of four designers is getting the creative or financial fulfillment in their career to actually call it a day at the end of a day. It’s good for the design industry that so much extra work exists, but it’s perhaps worrisome that designers are taking it at the expense of time off for their health and well-being.

One last notable tidbit was regarding education. Globally, 42% of all designers are self-taught, while only about a third report picking up their talents through a formal education. But in the U.S., half of designers reported going to school to learn the trade. Then, specifically looking at UX designers who responded to the survey, a whopping 25% have their master’s degree. That means the people designing apps, websites, and interfaces are a highly educated bunch. And it implies that breaking into the Valley as a UX designer could require not just a stunning portfolio but a serious personal investment in education.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Calling Native American Student Artists! American Indian College Fund, Pendleton Host Design Contest

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Pendleton Design Contest Promo

Pendleton Woolen Mills, the acclaimed lifestyle brand headquartered in Portland, Oregon, creates dazzling blankets as part of Pendleton’s American Indian College Fund collection, of which a portion of the proceeds provides scholarships for Native American students.

To give voice to rising Native artists while honoring the richness of Native arts and cultures, the American Indian College Fund and Pendleton are announcing the Tribal College Blanket Design Contest. Open to tribal college students, the contest challenges students to express their culture and identity through original artistic designs to be incorporated into the next tribal college student designed blanket to be featured and sold in the blanket collection to give back to the Native community by helping to support American Indian College Fund scholarships.

Contest participants must be currently enrolled in one of the 35 American Indian Higher Education Consortium tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Textile design experience is not necessary to enter. Only current TCU students are eligible to participate. Students cannot submit more than two designs. All submissions must be received by 11:59pm MST on February 15, 2020.

A committee comprised of Native American artists and College Fund and Pendleton staff will select the winning blanket designs. Prizes include the following:

  • Grand Prize winners: $2,000 cash, a $5,000 scholarship, and six of the winning blankets.
  • Second Place winners: $500 cash and a $2,500 scholarship.
  • Third Place winners: $250 cash and a $1,500 scholarship.

For submission guidelines and applications, please visit the American Indian College Fund’s web site at https://collegefund.org/pendletoncontest.

About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $208 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit collegefund.org.

From the Smithsonian to the Kitchen: African American Art is Transforming the Home Decor Business

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Collage of Black Art

Just a few decades ago, Black art was hard to come by in mainstream markets. Artists were largely only viewed at African American museums and at niche galleries.

In 1995, two young African American males in South Los Angeles set out to bridge the gap between Black art collectors and the everyday consumer. Shades of Color fuses Black art into its product line to celebrate one of America’s most influential cultures on household products including home décor, shower curtains, floor mats and kitchen aprons.

As of 2017, the home decor industry was worth $582 billion, and is projected to increase to $741 billion by 2023, according to PR Newswire. There has been an increase in home ownership which has tremendously impacted the home décor market, as stated on the Allied Market Research website.

While the home décor market is constantly expanding, there are still seldom companies that honor African American art on their products. Shades of Color’s partnership with African American artists is proving to be a solution that brings art into the homes of the consumers that truly appreciate it.

“We work with artists to mass produce their art on products which exponentially increases exposure to their craft,” says President, Adrian Woods. “Our artists are an extension of our family and are relatable from the girlfriends of Cidne Wallace to the strong Black fathers by Frank Morrison to the more contemporary styles of Larry Poncho Brown. Our goal is to highlight these artists and be a driving force in ethnic home décor.”

Black art is a reflection of American culture, and Shades of Color’s community is making that art more accessible. All types of consumers have essentially become art collectors without even knowing it. The company’s direct to consumer website features African American artists, a vast catalog of products and global conversations around culture and current affairs. With its ties to community involvement the company is also supporting its greater network. Schools, churches and community groups have earned well over $2 million through the company’s fifteen year fundraising program that is open to everyone.

What began in the mid-90’s as strictly a calendar company is now a leader in an ethnic niche market selling through mass retailers, organizations, main street gift shops and quaint Afrocentric stores across the country. The flagship calendar line preserves history and brings facts, accomplishments and current milestones to light in a time when typical classrooms across the country are still neglecting to include Black history. The entire product line is infused with positive aspirations and imagery that embody this very important aspect of Americana.

“It is touching to hear the reactions,” says Production Manager and Marketing Director, Janine Robinson. “Across social media followers comment on what it feels like to walk into their bathroom, for example, and see a reflection of themselves on a 70” x 70” panel that fills the room. It’s not rare to get several comments saying, ‘That’s me!’ Not only does the product fill the room literally, the art and statements fill and ignite the spirit too. That is the part that makes it all worth it.” #UpliftandInspire

About Shades of Color
Founded in 1995, Shades of Color, LLC is a small Black-owned business producing high quality calendars, stationery, kitchenware, home décor, bags and gifts. It licenses and commissions Black art from renowned African American artists. The company manufactures and distributes its own collections to a global audience. Learn more about their products at www.ShadesGifts.com. Learn more about their Home Décor Collection at www.shadescalendars.com/product-category/homedecor

Continue on to Black News to read the complete article.

‘Star Trek’ Internship Program Launches at CBS Television Studios, Television Academy Foundation

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Star Trek logo

CBS TV Studios and the Television Academy Foundation are coming together to help a group of students live long and prosper.

The two have announced a partnership to launch the “Star Trek” Command Training Program, an internship open to graduate and undergraduate college students nationwide, in 2020.

Initially, the new program will place two interns per semester on a “Star Trek” series, providing them a “360-degree immersion” in the production process of the “Star Trek” universe. Selected interns will also be allowed to actively engage in writers’ rooms, wardrobe design, on-set production, animation and post-production on Los Angeles-based programs.

“When Gene Roddenberry created the original ‘Star Trek’ series over 50 years ago, it challenged stereotypes and championed diversity and inclusion in an unprecedented way,” said Alex Kurtzman, the executive producer who currently oversees the “Star Trek” universe. “The Command Training Program is our commitment to expanding that inspirational vision across the entire ‘Star Trek’ canon. The ‘Star Trek’ universe is an ideal place to celebrate new voices and perspectives. We want to provide the framework to begin entertainment careers in a meaningful way and can’t wait to get started.”

Applications for the program, which is designed to “reflect the franchise’s core values of inclusion and diversity,” will be open from Nov. 14 through Jan. 21, 2020, with final selections being announced at the end of March.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Interland Free Game Makes the Holiday Season Fun

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Children playing computer game on laptops at a table

Be Internet Awesome Teaches Kids the Fundamentals of Internet Safety in an Interactive Way

Just in time for the Holidays, Interland aims to teach kids in a fun way how to stay safe online.

The Interland game is free and accessible to everyone and teaches important lessons like being careful about what kids share online, how to spot scams and protect their privacy and the importance of being respectful with others.

The four lands and their key learning objectives are:

 

Reality River

Don’t Fall for Fake. The river that runs through Interland flows with fact and fiction. But things are not always as they seem. To cross the rapids, use your best judgement and don’t fall for the antics of the phisher lurking in these waters. Learning objectives include:

  • Understand not everything is true online.
  • Recognize the signs of a scam.
  • Understand phishing and how to report it.

Mindful Mountain

Share with Care. The mountainous town center of Interland is a place where everyone mingles and crosses paths. But you must be very intentional about what you share and with whom…information travels at the speed of light and there’s an oversharer among the Internauts you know. Learning objectives include:

  • Be mindful of what is shared and with whom.
  • Understand consequences of sharing.
  • Understand some info is extra sensitive.

Kind Kingdom

It’s cool to be kind. Vibes of all kinds are contagious—for better orInterland game with water and a boat for worse. In the sunniest corner of town, cyberbullies are running amok, spreading negativity everywhere. Block and report bullies to stop their takeover and be kind to other Internauts to restore the peaceful nature of this land. Learning objectives include:

  • The web amplifies kindness and negativity.
  • Not tolerating bullying and speaking up.
  • Block and report mean spirited behavior.

Tower of Treasure

Secure your secrets. Mayday! The Tower is unlocked, leaving the Internaut’s valuables like personal info and passwords at high risk. Outrun the hacker and build an untouchable password every step of the way…to secure your secrets once and for all. Learning objectives include:

  • Take responsibility to protect your things.
  • How to make a strong password.
  • A good password should be memorable.

Interland is currently available in English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. To access this free game visit:

https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en_us/interland

Enter the San Diego Latino Film Festival International Poster Competition today!

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San Diego Latino Film Festival Poster Design Contest

The San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) invites *design professionals, artists, and students* from all over the world to produce a commemorative poster design that will represent the history and legacy of the SDLFF.

SDLFF was born out of a desire to take a stand against the status-quo of cinema, to challenge the reigning and ever-present stereotypes about the Latino experience in movies, and to give Latino filmmakers the power of telling and sharing their stories, first-hand, about what it means to be Latino.

We invite you and all other visionary designers to be a part of our history by submitting your project to consideration. The commemorative poster design shall celebrate our core values and our passion for the Latino culture.

Your design will receive national and international exposure, including but not limited to: the cover of the Official SDLFF 2020 Program book, print ads, TV commercials, social media posts, ads, and web banners. Better yet, the winning artwork will receive a prize of $1,000.00 dollars! 

Continue here for the submission details and guidelines.