Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Toy Drive

On December 18 the African American United Fund will distribute toys collected during our 12th Annual Toy Drive in the Mantua section of Philadelphia. Children participating in programs at Belmont Charter School will receive toys this year.

With the increase in prices for consumer goods, utilities and food, this year will be particularly hard for poor, working families to afford basic necessities let alone holiday gifts for their children. New unwrapped toys for children aged 0-12 are currently being collected at our main office at 2227 N. Broad Street.

Cherron Perry-Thomas, Board Chair, African American United Fund says, “This is our 12th year providing toys to low income families either by hosting our own Toy Drive or collaborating with other agencies. We’ve received numerous requests for toys over the years. This year we anticipate the requests will be overwhelming due to the economic downturn. Obviously, our supporters will work hard to ensure each child receives a significant gift, but this year we’re reaching out to the broader community to help as well as provide a happy holiday experience to several adults at a community shelter”

For the second year, the toy drive is being supported by Jim Kernaghan- Former Candidate State Representative District 195 - who secured the help of the Marines' "Toys for Tots" program and his rugby club, Schuylkill River Rugby Club in Memory of Jason Siddell to provide toys and donations from individual donors.

Each year demand for toys exceeds goals set by the African American United Fund and generous donors provide toys to help meet requests received often days before the distribution. Donations for the event can be dropped off at the African American United Fund’s headquarters at 2227 N. Broad Street between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Volunteers are needed to help sort and distribute toys on December 18 and December 19 during the day. Please call 215.236.2100 to volunteer or to arrange to drop off toys.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Summary of Annual Activities

This past year has been filled with tragedy and triumph. The Fund lost one of our staunchest supporters in Yahya Abdul Karim; as a nation we saw the collapse of our country’s financial institutions and car industry; and, the world witnessed the election of the first African American President in the United States. As many celebrated President Obama’s victory, the jubilation was short lived due to the downturn in our economy, record job losses and slow retail sales.

Here in Philadelphia, the state budget crisis led Mayor Nutter to propose closing all neighborhood branches of the Free Library and recreation centers; massive layoffs of police, fire and nonessential city personnel; and, the draconian institution of bimonthly trash collection. While the City’s budget crisis was averted due to the state legislature voting to raise the sales tax here to 8%, we now know the price of that vote was the taxing of tickets to cultural institutions and museums (breathe a sigh of relief Phillies, Eagles and Harry Potter fans, your entrance fees have been protected from taxation). It’s patently unfair to place the burden of corporate institutional financial mismanagement on the backs of struggling nonprofits. Is it Freedom Theatre’s fault that AIG and Lehman Brothers hid their losses causing the financial markets worldwide to meltdown? Raising taxes from art and culture groups seems a little Scrooge-like on the part of legislators. Many nonprofits are already working with less this year due to donors cutting back on contributions because their retirement plans loss money or they were laid off. As we struggle to maintain services during the recession, let’s work together to ensure that legislators know that our services provide vital support to individuals and families that the government simply can’t reach.

At the African American United Fund, we have managed to continue to provide services and programs, even as the City threatened to shut down, that have improved the lives of 201,870 individuals through our public policy advocacy, direct services and referrals. The Fund conducted 2 voter engagement/education forums, provided technical assistance to 6 organizations, collaborated on programs and projects with 15 organizations and started a new Urban Garden Initiative. We are proud of these accomplishments, especially since our operating expenses were only $65,000 last fiscal year. A contribution to the Fund goes a long way. For only $100 you can help us provide services to 322 people. A true value in these hard economic times.

Since spring of 2007, AAUF has been hosting our Civic Engagement in the 21st Century Forums, formerly known as the People’s Voter Education Forums to bring community based organizations, community residents and elected officials together to discuss and improve upon programs and policies that address the social and economic issues affecting our community. These forums bring candidates to the community to respond to constituents needs and reinforce to constituents that candidates are in office to serve them not special interests, lobbyist or large donors.

AAUF will continue to highlight health disparities in the African American community through, the African Marketplace Health and Wellness Workshops. In June, we hosted the first annual Harambee Community Festival with the Black Women’s Health Alliance, Institute for the Development of African American Youth, Philadelphia Doll Museum and Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation. The event was created to provide cultural enrichment, health information, entertainment and activities to residents and visitors to North Central Philadelphia. There were children’s activities, games, rides, a health pavilion, music and entertainment. The event also promoted National HIV Testing Day. The Black Women’s Health Alliance conducted twenty HIV tests during the activity. Over 1,000 youth and adults participated in the Harambee event on June 27. Planning has already begun for Harambee 2010. Next year the event will take place on June 5.

Our newest program is our Urban Garden Initiative at our lot, at 2229 N. Broad Street, between the main office and the AAUF Center. The lot was cleaned by youth and adult volunteers in April during the Philly Spring Clean Up. The soil was tested by college students and plans are underway to host a farmer’s market, grow food in raised beds and to use the space as an outdoor neighborhood gathering place. A special thanks to Monifa LaGrone and Anthony Singleton for their help throughout the spring and summer during our community clean ups.

In addition to our programs, AAUF provides operational support to organizations such as, X-Offenders for Community Empowerment. X-Offenders for Community Empowerment saw that the ease of access to illegal guns destroyed the lives of victims and the incarcerated. They conceived and supported laws that will reduce gun violence and the proliferation of illegal weapons in Philadelphia. Their programs also focus on educating and empowering the formerly convicted to overcome barriers to re-entry into society.

Finally, since 1997 the Fund has conducted an annual toy drive that benefits the children of low income working families. With the increase in prices for consumer goods, utilities and food, this year will be particularly hard for poor, working families to afford basic necessities let alone holiday gifts for their children. Our 12th Annual Toy Drive will be conducted from now throughout the month of December. Toys will be distributed to several dozen low income working families between December 14 and 18.

New unwrapped toys for children aged 0-12 can be dropped off at our main office at 2227 N. Broad Street, from October 1 until December 18. I would also like to ask you to financially support our charitable activities this year by making a $100.00 contribution to ensure that we are able to continue to serve our community. Your contribution will validate our hard work and help us reach a $2,500 fundraising goal for our Annual Toy Drive.

This month is the official kick off of the winter fundraising drive. Some contributions have already been received; won’t you help the African American United Fund provide a positive holiday experience for those truly in need by writing a check for our Toy Drive?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's an inexpensive summer activity.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Spike Lee Compares Tyler Perry To Amos and Andy

Spike Lee Compares Tyler Perry To Amos and Andy

By Casey Gane-McCalla, Assistant Editor May 28, 2009 10:11 am

Spike Lee had an interview with Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise scheduled to air this weekend. In the interview he complained about “coonery and buffoonery” and both of Tyler Perry’s shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” comparing them to characters from minstrel shows.From EurWeB“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made 'Boyz in the Hood'], people came out to see it. But when he did ‘Rosewood,’ nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

OPINION: Why Tracy Morgan Isn’t Taking Us Two Steps “Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

AAUF Responds...

Both Tyler Perry's Madea and Martin Lawerence's Big Momma characters portray the outmoded "Mammy" images of African American's created by white vaudevillians to entertain white audiences. These images have become so prevalent that they became a routine caricature of African American women. Fortunately, black women have refused to play these roles in the 21st century and so the role has fallen to men like Perry and Lawrence to perpetuate.

The coonery and buffonery of Madea and Big Momma are a sad reminder of the death of the Black Arts Movement whose aim was to create art that demonstrated positive images of African Americans as well as made political statements about the need for social and economic empowerment in the African American community.

It's easy to laugh at Madea and Big Momma, it's difficult to create a black space where our culture and history are revered, our children receive quality education, our neighborhoods are safe, our businesses thrive and create living wage job opportunities and our young people cease being commodified and sent to prison.

Do Madea and Big Momma cause the social and economic disparities in the African American community? No. Do they do anything to harm our children's images of themselves? Yes. Does that devaluation cause people like Bonnie Sweeten to blame black people for false crime? Yes. In 1955, Emmit Till died and in 1931 the Scottsboro Boys were sent to prison on the exaggerated and false testimony of white women. If our image in the media is devalued by African Americans then others will do the same. Aissia Richardson

Monday, May 11, 2009

Civic Engagement in the 21st Century Forum

African American United Fund and partners host Civic Engagement in the 21st Century Forum
on May 13 at AAUF Conference Center, 2231 N. Broad Street.

Several organizations collaborate to engage candidates and voters in a discussion about issues affecting the future of the City of Philadelphia, the State of Pennsylvania and the Nation.

Several community organizations will host a Civic Engagement Forum, a question and answer session with candidates seeking to become District Attorney, City Controller, Judge and Senator on Wednesday, May 13, at AAUF Conference Center, 2231 N. Broad Street (between Susquehanna and Dauphin Street) at 6:00 PM.

Cherron Perry-Thomas, Chairperson, African American United Fund stated, “This is the seventh forum held since 2000. This forum will focus on issues important to the electorate such as community court, the cost of incarceration and record expungement. We want the public to submit their questions for candidates prior to the Forum and at the Forum. Public engagement has improved our schools, reduced violence and ensures improvements in city, state and national services for Philadelphia’s residents.”

The sponsoring organizations are the African American United Fund, Alliance of Black Social Workers, DNA Connect, Grands As Parents, Greater Philadelphia Caucus of the I.C.W.A.D., Men United for a Better Philadelphia, Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation and X-Offenders for Community Empowerment.

Fax or email your questions for the candidates to 215.236.9077 or For more information, please call 215.236.2100.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Philadelphia School District Budget 2009-2010 Information

Calling all Education Advocates:

At today's Education Compact meeting hosted by Philadelphia Education Fund Michael Masch, Chief Business Officer of the School District of Philadelphia, presented a summary of the Philadelphia School District's 2009-2010 budget. I've listed a few links that provide information about public involvement opportunities, his slide show from the Compact meeting and the 349 page Consolidated Budget for the School District. If you can not download and print the budget book it will be made available for review in the Parent and Community Resource Center, located on the first floor of 440 N. Broad Street.

Critical Dates for Involvement
Michael Masch, Chief Business Officer of the School District of Philadelphia, Slide show presentation from the Education Compact Meeting School District Consolidated Budget 2009-2010

While I'm not a fan of rewarding legislators for doing their jobs, I do believe that the State Senators that voted against yesterday's Senate budget bill should be praised for recognizing that the bill was an attempt by the majority party to bleed to death the institutions that provide critical human services across Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Social Media for North Broad Street

Revive Your Business...Be Social!
Hosted by the African American United Fund

Philadelphia, PA, --- Twitter's online traffic, excluding cellphones, surged to nearly 9.8 million unique visitors in February from 6.1 million in January 2009. 1

"It is a popular misconception that our skilled labor force would not benefit from interacting with customers online,” says business owner, JC Lamkin, President, Gypsy Lane Technologies (GLT) and Vice Chair of the African American United Fund (AAUF). " In fact, many people are online every day looking for a good reliable beautician, plumber, electrician, etc. North Broad Street business owners have shown that they have the products or services that customers want. They are just missing traffic needed to sustain their businesses. There are some very basic e-strategies that businesses on North Broad Street can use to attract new customers. This workshop, is especially for beauticians, retailers and the skilled labor force such as carpenters, plumbers and electricians; it will focus on establishing an online presence with little or no budget, simple easy ways to engage customers online and promote your business using your web enabled PDA/cell phone. Skilled labor is a major niche that is missing online. Our area businesses have the capacity to fill that niche, drive more customers to our area, establish themselves as industry leaders and generate revenue both online and offline."

The African American United Fund, a 501(c)3 welcomes all to attend the Revive Your Business...Be Social! workshop, on Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the African American United Fund Conference Room, 2227 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19132. Free will donations to The Fund may be made online, mailed in to African American United Fund, 2227 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19132 or presented at the workshop. This workshop will provide easy step-by-step instructions and give real-life scenarios especially for skilled laborers on reaching customers online. If you can read, write and click, you should attend this workshop.

The workshop will answer the following questions:

* How should you use the internet to find customers who need your services?
* What is mini-blogging? And, why should you care?
* Should you use live web streaming to showcase your storefront business activities?

Participants must RSVP online for the Revive Your Business...Be Social!, workshop or call AAUF at (215) 236-2100. Don't let your inability to find a babysitter for the children keep you from participating in this pivotal event. An babysitter, who can help your child with his or her homework, will be provided on-site so you may focus on this riveting workshop. Healthy snacks (apples, oranges, etc.) will be provided for the children. Established in 1982 as a not-for-profit corporation, the African American United Fund is a GPUAC agency. The African American United Fund (The Fund) raises and utilizes funds to support the growth, development and empowerment of the African American community and in turn, society at large. The Fund advocates volunteerism, mutual aid, and self-help to collectively support, strengthen and economically empower African American communities.

This interactive workshop will be facilitated by tech expert, JC Lamkin, PMP, President of Gypsy Lane Technologies (GLT), a professional Internet solutions company headquartered in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with training offices in Philadelpia and King of Prussia, PA. GLT specializes in best-in-class database development, website development, social media strategies, webcasting, online marketing, Flash multimedia and content management solutions. GLT features an integrated team of project managers, web consultants, creative designers, writers, coders and marketing professionals who know how to get online results. Ms. Lamkin will also be available to sign copies of her book, “Fabulous & Tech-Filled, Volume 1” . Listen to the audio from a previous social media workshop or view the video trailer from a previous workshop. Check the GLT Evite page for more information on other upcoming workshops.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

School Closing Update: Philadelphia Right to Education Local Task Force

Good Afternoon Everyone,

The School District of Philadelphia is considering closing 2 schools:

1) William Penn High School

2) Gillespie Middle School

The community meeting for Gillespie Middle school was held on Monday, February 23, 2009. However, if you have questions as to where your special education child will go, please contact the principal.

If this answer is not satisfactory, please contact Kathryn Donahue, the Special Education Director for the North Region. Her contact information is 215-400-6085 or by email The Regional Superintendent for the North Region is Lucy Feria and her email is or 215-400-0998.

However, the parent community meeting for William Penn High School Monday, March 2, 2009 at 6pm at William Penn High School.

Please parents and community come and get the information, be heard, and have your concerns answered.

The Special Education Directors for the Comprenhensive High School Region are Nancy Erskine ( or 215-400-6070) and Linda Williams ( or 215-400-6088).

Finally, the SRC (School Reform Commission) will hold public hearings on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 immediately after their regularly scheduled 2pm meetings.

Please see the notice below. plan to attend all meetings and have your voices heard.

Cecelia Thompson

Chairperson, Philadelphia Right to Education Local Task Force

School Reform Commission
The School District of Philadelphia

The School Reform Commission (SRC) of the School District of Philadelphia will hold two consecutive special public hearings on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 in the second oor auditorium of the School District’s Education Center, 440 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia PA on the School District’s proposals to: (1) close Elizabeth D. Gillespie Middle School, 1801 W. Pike Street as of June 30, 2009, and (2) close William Penn High School, 1333 N. Broad Street, as of June 30, 2010.

The special public hearings will begin immediately following the conclusion of the SRC’s regularly scheduled planning meeting which begins at 2 p.m. on March 11, 2009. The SRC will hear each School District proposal separately. A vote on the proposals will not be taken until the SRC’s regularly scheduled public meeting on June 10, 2009.

Any interested person may address the SRC and submit written questions by pre-registering with the O-ce of Communications at 215-400-4040 no later than 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. The SRC will submit transcripts of the hearings to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg, PA.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

School District Updates

At the February 18 School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting the Dr. Arlene Ackerman unveiled a draft five year strategic plan.

The public engagement process is continuing on the district's five year strategic plan. There will be a Working Group meeting on Monday, February, 23, 6-8pm at 440 N. Broad Street for the public to comment on the plan. The plan is supposed to be posted on the District's website for public review. A tentative schedule was listed in the plan for additional Community Meetings, contact Jennie Wu at 215.400.6989 for the confirmed schedule. The district is planning to vote on the plan at its March 18 SRC meeting, 2pm, 440 N. Broad Street, 2nd floor Auditorium.

Ackerman plans sweeping overhaul for Phila. schools
By Susan Snyder
Inquirer Staff Writer

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman will recommend today that the school district shut down 30 to 35 of its worst-performing schools over the next three years and reopen them as charters, or under some other form of district or outside management, district sources said yesterday....


A public hearing has been scheduled on March 11 after the 2pm SRC meeting, 440 N. Broad Street, in the 2nd floor auditorium to discuss closing two schools- Gillespie, slated to close in June 2009 and William Penn, recommended for closure in the 2009-2010 school year."Breaking News Two city schools to close by next year Posted 2:40pm The Philadelphia School District plans to close William Penn High School at the end of next school year and Gillespie Middle School at the end of this school year, the Daily News has learned."

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's Your Recession Story?

Twenty-seven days into the Obama administration and the US now has a new $787 billion dollar economic stimulus plan passed last Friday.

While many small nonprofit organizations, like the African American United Fund, have been operating with less resources but demand for services have increased, this stimulus plan is manna from heaven for the working poor. Unlike the Wall Street investment firms and banks that squirreled away the $700 billion stimulus, geared toward rescuing Wall Street by greasing the gears of lending institutions, those of us on Main Street will definitely spend the money allocated in this stimulus package. We don’t have a choice…our homes need repairs, our heating bills need to be paid, our car notes are past due, our phones are disconnected, our children need clothes and shoes, our prescriptions need to be filled, our cupboards are bare.

The stress of having to pay more for basic necessities, inaccessibility to healthcare and working longer hours for less pay is literally killing us.

I’d like to hear from those of you in the bloggosphere about what you’ve been doing to cope.

I’ve been eating out less, giving home baked goods for gifts and selling banana bread to afford ingredients for home baked goods. My banana bread has been a mild hit with my family, co-workers and neighbors. I probably won’t quit my day job but just knowing I have another marketable skill is comforting in an environment filled with so much uncertainty.