ESSENCE And Big Brothers Big Sisters Partner To Help Youth

ESSENCE magazine and Big Brothers Big Sisters have joined hands in a landmark recruiting effort to secure needed male mentors for African-American youth. ESSENCE will launch the initiative July 1 – 3 during its Empowerment Seminars at its annual Essence Music Festival, at Reliant Park in Houston. The goal of the initiative, according to ESSENCE, is to rally an expected 250,000 festival attendees to demonstrate their love and concern for African-American children by committing to work with trusted national organizations, in particular Big Brothers Big Sisters, to mentor and strengthen African-American youth.

The Festival, known as “the party with a purpose,” is the nation’s largest annual African-American event as well as the largest gathering of musical talent in the world.

“With all of us standing together, linking arms and aims, we will create a new future for the many vulnerable African-American children,” said Susan Taylor, Editorial Director, ESSENCE Magazine. “The ESSENCE family is so looking forward to working with Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

“The shortage of adult, caring male mentors, particularly African-American men, is a threat to our communities,” said Judy Vredenburgh, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the largest youth mentoring organization in the country. “We need to break the cycle of violence our young people see in their lives and help them fulfill the promise and possibilities they so rightly deserve. We know that the Big Brothers Big Sisters form of mentoring can do that. That’s why we are thrilled to partner with ESSENCE Magazine in its ESSENCE Cares! initiative.”

Other prominent individuals and organizations that will lend support to the African-American male mentoring recruitment effort are:

* Thomas Dortch of 100 Black Men of America, an organization devoted to improving the quality of life within black communities and enhancing educational and economic opportunities. 100 Black Men of America will be organizing fraternal groups at the festival to enlist two million African-American men to mentor boys, including enlisting men for BBBS.

* Alpha Phi Alpha, the African-American fraternity that has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world, with whom BBBS has a longstanding partnership.

* The Twenty-First Century Foundation, an organization whose mission is to advance strategic Black philanthropy.

The ESSENCE Cares! initiative features a lineup of speakers and performers including: Yolanda Adams, John Hope Bryant, Common, Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, Thomas W. Dortch Jr., Marian Wright Edelman, Danny Glover, Bruce Gordon, Congressman Alexander Green, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Mathew Knowles, Queen Latifah, Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee and Maxine Waters, Donnie McClurkin, Mo’Nique, Marc Morial, Shemar Moore, Nas, Kevin Powell, Jill Scott, Reverend Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Reverend Dr. Renita Weems, Terrie Williams and many others.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest, largest and most effective youth mentoring organization in the U.S. It has been the leader in one-to-one youth services for more than a century, developing positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people. In 2005, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 234,000 children, ages 6 through 18, in all 50 states. The national offices are located in Philadelphia, PA. To volunteer or donate, visit

Via PRNewswire

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