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Monthly Archives: November 2011

365 Girls Rock Foundation: Community Asset and Success Formula

No one can argue against the need for meaningful programming geared toward positively impacting youth. The number of youth programs and initiatives that sprout up on an annual basis makes it difficult for each organization to stand out, but the women of 365 Girls Rock Foundation are quickly making headway with their persistent marketing efforts and quality programming.

365 Girls Rock Foundation is an organization spun from the book 365 Girl: Daily Affirmation’s. 365’s mission is to empower young ladies 365 days a year. Ultimately 365 looks to redirect adolescent behavior so that the sacredness of femininity and the moral compass of womanhood can be recaptured for our children, and our children’s children. The founder, Tracey Sydnor has teamed up with some very talented and dedicated women to ensure the sustainability of 365. The leadership team of 365 as pictured below is Tia Hawkins, Tracey Hawkins-Sydnor, and Michele Taylor.

365 Girls Team

Tracey has been working with youth for years but decided to go to the next level with 365 after observing many negative trends regarding young girls disregard for social media etiquette, carless attitude toward respect, and lack of desire to be great. 365 Girl serves as a motivational read for young girls that include affirmations and other inspirational words created to provide guidance for youth. Each chapter has a different theme such as social motivation, physical fitness, educational attainment, and sexual awareness as well as a chapter on how to deal with pain. Tracey’s background in the military provides her with the unique experience and exposure to model resilience, adaptation, and strength in spite of challenges.

The leadership of 365 has been conducting workshops across the nation based on the tenets of the book. 365 has expanded to include 365 Girl World (weekly radio show), 365 Girl Prayer Conference (prayer call twice a month), a city-wide pajama conference (12 hour action packed night of fun, empowerment, and motivation), an upcoming dress drive, and more. The weekly radio show hosts are Tia Hawkins (College Girl) Michele Taylor (The advocate) Shayla Courtney (The Heiress) and Tracey Sydnor (Ultimate 365 Girl).

The organization is in need of volunteers in the areas of photography, computer expertise, sound engineering, cosmetology, and teaching. Volunteers can assist with upcoming workshops across the nation as well as helping with hands-on tasks including collecting and wrapping dresses for girls ages 10-18. Next year the pajama girl conference will be expanding to 4 cities including Grand Rapids, MI, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL- which will be a great opportunity for girls and volunteers everywhere to become involved.

Girls become involved in 365 on a first come first serve basis. Any girl who wants to take part in a 365 event can pre-register on Facebook, twitter, email, or any other outlet they can imagine.  At times people are hesitant and curious about 365’s free opportunities but Tracey states that once parents and guardians visit their social media sites or get to know the leadership, they are more inclined to sign-up their young girls. Present and greeting parents during check-in and check-out, Tracey and Michele help to increase parents trust and willingness to enroll their most prized possession in 365 events. Mt. Carmel M.B. Church family has also shown a lot of support to 365 by providing male volunteers as security for events that require such. Off duty police officers from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) also volunteer!

365 reaches out to community’s that lack resources and local opportunities. During the first year, Michele and Tracey completed door to door marketing in CHA’s Dearborn Holmes Housing as well as schools in the same neighborhood. Fliers are also shared with local churches, restaurants, and salons, where parents of adolescents would frequent. 365 networks effectively through social media, college alumni networks, and church affiliations. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Tracey has been able to garner support from Greek lettered organizations as well. Other organizations that 365 supports and receives support from include Joshua Mercer and Swish Dreams Educational & Sports Foundation for “Swish Girls”, Barbara Ellzey and R.E.A.C.H., Jennifer Reid and SHERO, Phoenix Owens and S.I.S.T.E.R.S. Inc., and Christine Hansberry/Pamela Linton with S.M.I.L.E (King College Preparatory HS) just to name a few.

Through strategic partnerships and alliances with public and charter schools, 365 will expand on their academic focus. Collaborations with the Chicago Defender Newspaper and other local businesses between Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles has increased the visibility of 365 tremendously.

I am excited about the progress and future of 365 Girls Rock Foundation. From the sidelines, I have been able to witness the commitment and enthusiasm of the 365 leadership team. I am impressed and support their organization 365 days a year. To learn more about 365, check out the links below.

Website: www.365GirlsRock.com

Twitter: @365GirlWorld

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/365Girl

Radio: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/365GirlWorld

 

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Random Questions on Self and Community Development

Random Questions on Self and Community Development

I thought of these questions after reading The 100 Rules of Being an Entrepreneur. I definitely think its worth checking out. Disclaimer: The author is very sarcastic.

How many hours a day do you need to sleep to be productive?

Do you think that losing sleep has a negative impact on entrepreneurship?

With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, do you feel obligated to stay abreast to social media at inconsistent hours or almost 24 hours a day?

Do you feel that hosting a party (i.e. entertain) or knowing how to party increases you professional and personal reputation?

Do you have free time? What do you do in your free time?

Please post any random questions you have. I would love to know what you think about 🙂

 
 

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Obedience Under Adversity

For the most part, I remain obedient during adversity but right now that is not working out so great. What do I mean by obedient? Committed to and willing to follow through all actions required of me.

When I encounter struggles (financial, family obstacles, emotional stress), I remain focused on the major goal I am undertaking at the time. In this case, school. I strongly believe that what I am learning in school is part of my destiny. Although school is extremely challenging I prepared for this before returning to school. My level of preparation included affirmations, working out, reading spiritual literature daily, and  “me time”. Caught in a Catch 22, I have not been diligent in these activities.

Yes, school is difficult and it may be easy to let meaningful habits fall through the crack, but for me the aforementioned are just as important as school, if not more. Being physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy and balanced is the only way to ensure that all of this learning does not go to waste!

I use the word obedient because I knew what habits and actions would be required of me prior to returning to school. Obedience and discipline is important if I will reach and MAINTAIN the path that has been outlined for me. Slowly but surely I am taking actions to reintegrate best practices into my daily life.

Beginning this week, I will resume my morning affirmations and my daily reading of spiritual literature.

Have you been obedient under adversity? What are you going to recommit to doing on a regular basis?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Personal Processing, Uncategorized

 

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Success Formula: Dr. Chandra Gill

You can learn a lot about a person by becoming familiar with their reputation. Dr. Chandra Gill’s testimonials on her website and in her book “Champions Break Chains”, is the evidence that supports the impact she has made on the lives of people across the United States in her efforts to Motivate to Educate.” Dr. Gill holds a Ph.D from the University of Illinois in Educational Policy Studies where she focused on the absence of minority and youth voice in academia as it relates to the educational settings and needs of students of color. Dr. Gill is one of the most prevalent leaders currently rallying for educational change.
 

Although I never know what to expect from my interviewees, I am always eager for the knowledge each Success Formula has to share. My interview with Dr. Gill is important for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because I know that she overcame a struggle few with freedom can freely discuss. Every year a criminal amount of African-Americans become entangled in the justice system. Years ago while working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Gill became a victim of the system as well.

During a field trip with students to an intense basketball game between two local high school rivalries, Gill’s co-chaperone was put in handcuffs by a plain clothes police officer after a game changing play. The events that followed included Dr. Gill having a seizure in which officers mistook for an attack. Although captured on film, Dr. Gill was still arrested and charged for assaulting an officer of the law. Despite the trauma of becoming a “Ph.D. felon”, Dr. Gill has never ceased or staggered in her commitment to bring equality to the educational system in which our youth and families rely on to improve their quality of life.
 

A recipient of the inaugural Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, Dr. Gill has relentlessly engaged in dialogue and outreach that encourages access to education for minorities. Going a step further Dr. Gill founded Blackademically Speaking Enterprises, a company that focuses on understanding cultural barriers that prevent young people from being motivated to learn. A short list of what Dr. Gill and Blackademically Speaking are doing to affect community development include weekly talks in Woodlawn at St. John Temple on Monday nights as well as regular speaking engagements and workshops throughout the United States to educators, parents, and students that focus on overcoming obstacles to academic attainment. Most recently Blackademically Speaking coordinated a celebratory field trip for some of Chicago’s excelling high school scholars. Dr. Gill’s message always encourages “going back to give back”, which is one of the reasons Blackademically Speaking was born, and will be raised in her home community, Woodlawn (Chicago).

Chicago's top high school students

Dr. Gill is committed to educating young people in a way that is unmatched by many others that make the same claim. She has been taking on responsibility that shifts the blame of what is happening to children who are victims of a failed educational system. “We must deal with challenges in our community once they have been identified”, says Dr.Gill. Her courage to act as a community agent stems from growing up in a two parent household with parents that instilled in her the importance of understanding what one could be versus who they are. For example, driving through his old neighborhood on the west side, Dr. Gill’s father would point out people that fell victim to drugs and violence despite their leadership and notoriety as youth.

Dr. Gill’s parents did not shy away from voicing their opinion about community happenings. As an investor and stakeholder of their community, each of her parents knew they had a right to voice their opinions and solutions about their neighborhood, but always focusing on developing their first community- home. When Dr. Gill and her brother would receive new clothes or shoes, her parents would say “if we see you bragging to others about what you have, we will take it from you”. Today, Dr. Gill is happy about her achievements, but never compares her blessings to others.

It is always important to understand how Success Formula’s multi-achieve. Dr. Gill plans and seeks counsel through scriptures and the Holy Bible. “I am growing up in God and learning balance by listening to the Holy Spirit. For Blackademically Speaking this means I have to learn to say ‘No….. I can’t do everything’.” And on a more practical note Dr. Gill hired an administrative assistant in order to be 100% effective. Meditation and surrounding herself with individuals that understand the vision of Blackademically Speaking are also important factors that allow Dr. Gill to maintain her mental health during this journey.

When I asked her to share with me a community asset that she feels is a hidden gem, Dr. Gill quickly replied, “children are a community asset that have been written off; they are the gems God blessed us with.”

These moments are why I do this – to be reminded of things society and time would so easily have us forget.

I doubt that my interview has done justice to the road map that Dr. Chandra Gill is creating. What I can tell you is that her passion, dedication, and resourcefulness are aspects of success that I hope to emulate in all of my commitments.

Dr. Chandra Gill’s Success Formula= Motivate to Educate + Family first + Guided by the Holy Spirit+ Culturally relevant academia

More Dr. Chandra Gill

What allows you to wear your greatness?

“I’m trying to not spend a lot of time wasting my time.” Dr. Gill’s spare time is spent with family, learning family history and embracing family as her first community. Recently Dr. Gill learned that she was not the first of her family to go to college. This was discovered after exploring more about her family tree, thus showing the importance of connecting and engaging with family.

What is your idea of community development?

“Community development must include the future! The future is the young people. Although the elders voice is important because it started with their gifts and ingenuity, we must transition leadership to youth 15-20 years old. Community development should be a fluid discussion and plan that includes educational values, economic empowerment, sustainability, and spiritual aspects.”

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

January kick off for Blackademically Speaking 2012 initiatives to include students at all grade levels being active participants in community efforts to “Motivate to Educate.

 

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Light or Dark, Good or Bad

As I was sitting around the table with about six female friends, I struggled to describe to them a girl whom we all knew but I could not remember her name. Once I remembered her name, we realized that there were two girls whom I could have potentially been talking about. One of my friends said, “dark skin X”. I said, “no, she’s brown skin”. Most of the girls laughed at my use of the words brown skin, assuring me that the only real options are “light skin” or “dark skin”.

While this happened a few weeks ago, I have been bothered by it ever since. Most blog posts on skin color question why is the color of one’s skin still an issue that black women struggle with. The dialogue I had with my friends provided much insight: we don’t see the many shades of black and brown; many of us are seeing each other in black and white.

If it is true that we only see each other in black and white, perhaps we essentially don’t understand the complexity and beauty of our own skin color nor do we expect that people of other ethnic backgrounds would ever be able to provide an accurate description of a criminal with any sign of pigmentation. Hair is good or bad, people are rich or poor, clothes are expensive or cheap. No longer do people take the time to explain or care about the details that distinguish AND unite us. If we could say “she’s honey brown, or tan” we would go from just describing black people to realizing that we could be talking about people of Latin descent, Indian descent, Hawaiian  or even Asian. This level of care and detail in how we describe each other could make a great difference in the ongoing discussion of color and all things that have a “good” and “bad” connotation.

 

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