Essence Establishes “The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative” to Grow Entrepreneurship And Technical Career Opportunities in Louisiana

Essence has partnered with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative.

“I am very excited about the collaboration between ESSENCE, The Louisiana Urban League, and the City of New Orleans for The Pipeline economic initiative,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “It’s a great way to create opportunities for talented women and Black professionals in the live events and production fields. With New Orleans being a hub for live events, we are being intentional about bridging the gap between opportunity and those who may have not had previous access to those opportunities.”

The Pipeline is designed to increase the pool of Louisiana-based women and Black professionals pursuing careers and business opportunities in live events and technical production. This initiative will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development. It will also include an internship program for youth who aspire to careers in media and live production and more.

In 2018, Essence Communications was acquired by Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color. As the brand celebrates its one-year anniversary of becoming 100% Black-owned again, ESSENCE is furthering its commitment to enabling sustainable opportunities for economic independence, social empowerment and wealth creation for Black women and their communities.

“Our Pipeline Initiative is so meaningful because we are establishing it in direct response to a critical void that we have identified while successfully building the Essence Festival and other live experiential and content platforms for 25 years – the need for more Black professionals prepared to bid on large-scale live events and technical production,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence. “This effort speaks directly to Essence’s mission of serving our audience in every way-especially by empowering them to own their economic security. It will allow us to become a conduit for Black businesses and entrepreneurs to help them source targeted opportunities in a space where we are underrepresented. We thank the City of New Orleans, the Urban League of Louisiana and each of our partners for their vision and support in this important endeavor.”

“We are grateful to partner with ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans to support The Pipeline,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Our mission speaks directly to the power and importance of economic self-reliance for those we serve. This innovative collaboration brings the business, non-profit and government sectors together to deliver access and capacity building for small business entrepreneurs to grow and compete. The Pipeline is adding seats to the table, and our small business owners will be ready to join in and participate.”

Boycott Bowl Donates $57,404 to NORD Foundation

Boycott Bowl organizers presented NORD Foundation with a $57,404.36 donation today (Friday, Feb. 8) — proceeds from the street festival and concert held in downtown New Orleans during Super Bowl Sunday.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell also was joined by City Council Vice President Helena Moreno, NORDC commissioner Kimberly Abramson and NORD Foundation Chair Louis V. Lauricella to receive the donation.

“When we in our city feel like we’ve been knocked down, it’s the spirit of our people who uplift us and show, not only our city but also the people of the world, who we are and how resilient we are. To the Boycott Bowl team: Thank you,” Mayor Cantrell said.

“The NORD Foundation is always excited to welcome new partners and funders who appreciate the importance of NORD programming for our youth and is grateful for this financial support while celebrating our beloved New Orleans Saints,” said NORD Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Conwell.

After the NFC Championship loss, the Feb. 3 Boycott Bowl offered Saints fans an opportunity to turn their frustrations into a celebration and monetary contribution to the community. The fundraiser for the NORD Foundation featured more than 15 musical acts, including Fred LeBlanc from Cowboy Mouth, Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Dash Rip Rock, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., Partners-n-Crime, Flow Tribe, The Vettes, Big Freedia, Shamar Allen, and the Brass-a-Holics.

The event was organized in about two weeks, and Boycott Bowl organizers point to the people of New Orleans for the event’s success.

“As a former athlete at NORD’s Harrell Playground in the 17th Ward, this makes me so excited to have helped raise this much money for the NORD Foundation,” said Boycott Bowl co-founder Walter “Kango Slimm” Williams Jr., a performing artist in the New Orleans area for more than 30 years. “This truly is the City of Yes, where someone can take a good idea and turn it into a reality in just two weeks with the help of family, friends and city officials. Anything is possible in the City of Yes!” 

AKA Sorority Pledges $100,000 Endowment to SUNO

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (AKA), in partnership with the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF), has pledged an endowment in the amount of $100,000 to Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) as a part of the organization’s AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund.

On Feb. 28, SUNO Chancellor Lisa Mims-Devezin will join with 31 other presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the Alpha Kappa Alpha International Headquarters in Chicago to accept the first installment of the institution’s award. 

“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. has implemented the AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund with the goal of investing in the future of our young people and the sustainability of our treasured HBCUs,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. International President, Dr. Glenda Glover. “Our organization has pledged to donate a total of $10 million dollars towards the endowment, and we are honored to provide SUNO with the first $50,000 during our February event as we celebrate Black History Month and the legacies of all HBCUs.”

SUNO will use the endowment funds to provide scholarships for students.

“I am excited about the opportunity to see the renovated Alpha Kappa Alpha Headquarters,” Chancellor  Mims-Devezin said. “I can’t thank the Sorority enough for including Southern University at New Orleans in this endowment pledge.” 

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