We’ve Got the Political Power: 3 Reasons Millennials Need to Vote

Source: ivn.us
Source: ivn.us

by Monica Reid, Guest Blogger

What comes to mind when you hear the number 78 million?

78 million is the current baby boomer generation. What generation could be larger than 78 million?

As it currently stands, the millennial generation is the largest and most diverse generation in American history with a whopping 95 million people. The millennial voting strength has increased as a result. In 2012, millennial voters ages 18-29 comprised 19% of the electorate. According to the Center for American Progress, millennials are a full quarter of the voting-age American public with 46 million potential voters. This is in comparison to the 39 million block of voters older than age 65. Needless to say, we are a force to be reckoned with! However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

#1. We can change the political direction of this country.

In 2014, millennials only comprised 13% of the electorate compared to 19% in 2012. This represents approximately 14 million fewer millennial voters. The 2008 presidential election was a peak year for youth voter turnout with 52%. However during the 2012 presidential election the turnout dropped to 45%. In nonpresidential elections, we definitely see a trend of lower voter turnout among millennial voters. However, the relevance of our issues is not isolated to just presidential elections. A number of elections take place every year that determine the composition of our local city councils, state attorney’s, governorships and our state legislatures. As millennial voters, and specifically black millennial voters, seeking to influence policy and successfully implement legislation of interest to our communities, continually engaging in our electoral process is vital. Every election is important. In 2012, 43% of voting age millennials were people of color.

#2. Our Votes Impact Black Lives Matter.

We’ve all seen how the instances of deadly force used toward black men and women by law enforcement have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve seen how their actions are impacting elected officials at all levels of government and bringing issues of racial and criminal justice reform to the forefront. Continued civic engagement by millennials in keeping elected officials accountable, electing candidates that support our issues and encouraging other members of our community to get involved will be crucial.

In Virginia, a coalition of civic organizations is doing just that – seeking to engage more black residents in Northern Virginia in the political process. The Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition is a collaboration of 30+ civic and faith-based organizations in Northern Virginia focusing on African American voter registration, education and empowerment. Through its “NOVA Votes: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote Campaign,” we’ve been able to reach thousands of black voters in Northern Virginia. Between now and the October 13th deadline, we are launching an aggressive voter registration campaign to in Northern Virginia in preparation for the November election. This is a perfect opportunity to get more involved and engaged! We are always looking for new collaborations, partnerships and volunteers to help us reach our goal. If you are interested in learning more or in volunteering, you may contact nova.coalition.events@gmail.com.   

#3. If we don’t show up we cannot complain.

As millennials we are notorious for bluntly expressing how we feel. Sometimes our arguments warranted, other times they are baseless. In the case of our communities and who is in leadership, we will have zero legs to stand on if we don’t vote. Local votes are not as complicated as presidential ones. Because fewer people turn out to vote, the greater our chances are to get who we want in office. Learn when your local elections are, educate yourselves about the candidates and SHOW UP to vote. If you don’t, you cannot complain.

We have the political power to change this country. Let’s get to it!

monicaMonica Reid, a graduate of George Mason University where she received a B.A. in Government & International Politics and Economics and a Masters in Public Administration, has been a leading force behind social and civic awareness for a number of years. A dedicated public servant and a government relations professional with over 8 years of professional experience, Monica has worked to promote civil awareness, political engagement and advocacy throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region.

#IAMYBGB: Sha’Condria “Icon” Sibley

Sha'Condria Sibley


Sha’Condria Sibley uses her voice to inspire, activate and motivate others. She’s more than a artist, she is an artistic changemaker. In addition to rocking the mic at poetry slams in NOLA, she teaches youth about spoken word and using their voices to create change. Today we honor her and her BIG voice for making a difference in her community.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Watch her work!

Dear White People: Black Millennials Give Too

by Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer, Friends of Ebonie
Chasity Cooper, Digital Media Strategist, Millennial on A Mission
Jalisa Whitley, Principal Consultant, The Nonprofit Help, LLC

Are these the only millennials who give? (source)
Are these the only millennials who give? (source)

The 2014 satirical film, Dear White People, follows four black students at a fictitious Ivy League university illustrating overt and covert racial biases that exist at the university. Based on true events, the film helps to shed light on the diversity challenges faced by black students at traditionally all-white institutions. How does this relate to philanthropy? Philanthropy, conventionally speaking anyway, is associated with the “old, white and wealthy.” The inclusion of communities of color into the philanthropic narrative, while not new, is not yet fully realized. Further, the introduction of a new, younger generation within the African – American community seems almost impossible. Like the students highlighted in the film Dear White People, African – American or black millennials are fighting to have their voices heard within a space many would consider out of their league.

Millennials are the most talked about generation of our time. There’s not a day that goes by when the spending habits, living situations and bank accounts of this nation’s largest generation aren’t discussed in the media. And while there are millions of millennials with thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loan debt, there are a large percentage giving back to their favorite nonprofit organizations and charitable causes. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report released by Achieve and the Case Foundation, reports 87% of millennials–those aged 20 to 35–gave a financial gift to nonprofits in 2013. Fantastic. But do all of millennials give alike? What we don’t see reflected in mainstream reports like these is a racial breakdown that offers insight into the giving of the most “ethnically, economically, and socially diverse generation of all time,” according to a report by Edelman Public Relations. If this is true, then why don’t we see a more accurate reflection in millennial giving reporting?

Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported on the philanthropic efforts of the millennial generation. While the article focused on the good work of our generation and it used the widely sourced Millennial Impact Report, WSJ, like many media and non-profit based outlets, failed to recognize the diversity that exists within our generation- starting with the article’s image. Are white millennials the only millennials who give? Where are the black and brown faces that make up most of the generation?

Continually, while the article provides some knowledge on how to advise millennials to give, it again fails to acknowledge how millennials of color choose to show support to their favorite philanthropies. Connected to Give, a collaborative project that brings together a variety of independent, family and community foundations, provided this insight on the giving habits of millennials of color:

More than one in five African American donors (21%) have participated in giving circles, as have higher proportions of Asian/ Pacific Islander donors (16%), and Hispanic/Latino donors (15%). These are higher rates than among both Jewish donors (14%) and white non-Jewish donors (10%). A particularly striking finding was the age of giving circle participants. Unlike other aspects of charitable giving, giving circle participation is much more strongly related to age than to income: nearly half of all participants are under 40.”

Additionally in April 2013, Friends of Ebonie surveyed 274 African American millennials on their giving habits, yielding the following data:

  • 41% of black millennials prefer to give back more in time. 40% prefer to give back both in time and money
  • Top three charitable causes : education, women and girls, and mentoring
  • 92% said that the biggest influence to donate time to an organization was projects where they feel they can make a difference
  • The #1 way black millennials prefer to give their time is through leadership (board leadership, committees work, etc.)

There was even variance within this particular testing group, with 55% of the younger cohort of millennials (aged 20-24) saying that their largest financial gift was $100 or less, and 45% of the older cohort of millennials (30-34) saying that they gave $250 at one single time.

Black and brown millennials are as much engaged in community work as non-black millennials, as evidenced in the aforementioned research. So if black and brown millennials are such active givers, how come they aren’t being portrayed as such throughout mainstream sector media? Would it have been too unbelievable for the Wall Street Journal to use an image of all black young people?

Diversity is a term that many organizations are utilizing these days from board leadership to donors to volunteers. However, diversity can’t be embraced if it isn’t celebrated across all mediums. “Black millennials are a part of a rising tide of talent of color in the US that are important for positive social change,” shares Dr. Rahsaan Harris, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy in the Friends of Ebonie report.

Further, Black millennials are the key to long-term sustainability for organizations and cause work that focus particularly on the black community. “Black millennials connected to their less well-off family& community members can provide much needed insight to philanthropic efforts aimed at communities of color,” said Harris, Leading philanthropy consultant and author, Christal Jackson adds, “by being engaged around creating solutions to problems plaguing their communities, then connecting with the broader community for resources, black millennials can shift the frame of philanthropy.” (source)

The shift in philanthropy begins with what we hear and what we see about next gen individuals who give. Seeing millennial faces of color in imagery and learning how to engage with them through research reports is key for long-term growth within the sector. The longer we leave millennials of color out of the conversation, the longer we impede change.

Want to continue the conversation? Join ABFE, along with Friends of Ebonie, on Thursday, January 15, 2015 for Dear Philanthropy: A Necessary Conversation on Millennial Diversity within the Sector. Register for the webinar

On Fear: Black Males & The Police

by Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer

Protest against racism and the fear that Ferguson police have about young black men. Photo by Michael B. Thomas. AFP/Getty Images


People and animals respond in two ways: out of love and out of fear. Tigers protect their cubs from eagles out of love. Mothers wrap their children in warm clothes in the winter out of love. A deer caught crossing a busy highway stalls out of fear. A man apologetically holds up a gas station for money to feed his children out of love and fear.  And apparently, police officers and white men shoot unarmed black men (and women) out of fear.

Zimmerman said he feared for his life as he saw 16-year-old Trayvon walking in a hoodie. The 200-lb man said the skinny, lanky Trayvon tried to beat him up so he shot him to save his own life. Zimmerman walked free. Dunn said 17-year old Jordan Davis’ music was so loud that after the young man and his friends ignored his request to turn it down, he was afraid they had a gun so he shot into the car killing Jordan. Dunn sits behind bars. Six feet four-inch, 210-pound, Police Officer Darren Wilson described feeling “like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan” during his confrontation 18-year-old-Michael Brown. While Brown was indeed a big boy, the feeling of fear Wilson described from an unarmed, gentle giant were unsubstantiated. Officer Wilson will not be charged at all.

What is this “deathly fear” white men have of unarmed teenage black boys who are doing normal things in life like walking, and listening to loud music? It’s called ignorance. In turn, what is the fear black men and boys have towards armed white men? It’s called being black in America.

The history of race relations in America is no secret. We know the face of the oppressor and the face of the oppressed. If we based present day interactions on that of the past, people of color, particularly blacks and American Indians, have a justifiable right to fear every white person they see. But we don’t. We have evolved as a nation. We have evolved as communities of color. While we don’t live in a post-racial society, we aren’t where we used to be. Yet if we aren’t where we used to be and black boys are still getting killed without cause, where exactly are we as a nation?

We are a visual society. We believe what we see. We believe what we hear. We believe what popular culture tells us people are. When all of what we see and hear borders on the negative it creates a bias. Then when we don’t explore the truth behind what we see, we are beholden to what could potentially be a misrepresentation or just one subset of an entire group of people- i.e. ignorance. If confronted by that we have a bias towards and what we are ignorant to, we act out of fear. Take a Muslim person for example. If all you’ve ever heard and or seen about Muslims is based on Isis, then you quite possibly have a bias towards an entire group of people you’ve never met. If you see a Muslim man, who dresses like those you’ve seen in the news, your fear of him doesn’t give you the right to kill him and cry self-defense. Unfortunately, this is what happens time and again to black men and boys in America.

Society sees rappers dressed like hood-rich thugs, and hears them touting explicit lyrics. We then see some black men and boys intimidating what they see and what they hear. If you don’t know any black males, you might assume they are all this way. This is not a blame rap, blame pop-culture or the media justification. It’s an acknowledgement that the images and portrayal of black males aren’t diverse enough. It’s a statement that our pop-that, smurder this, body him, culture is being celebrated without enough alternative imagery to counter-balance it. It’s the truth that America is fearful of black men and boys and there isn’t enough being done about the deeply-seated fear. Trayvon and Jordan weren’t in urban areas when they were killed. They were just black boys at the right place at the wrong time. People are fearful of what they don’t know. Fear of the unknown creates bias. Bias propels ignorance. Ignorance is the springboard to life-altering choices.

The white men who are responsible for the deaths of black boys from Chicago to St. Louis, to Los Angles to New York to Miami and all cities in between all did it based on the same defense: fear. This fear is evidence that there needs to be more education on not only race relations but human interaction. There needs to be more honest community engagement with between blacks and whites. It would serve the nation well if Congress implemented a mandatory educational training for all law enforcement on how to engage with black men- young and old. Perhaps it’s time the My Brother’s Keeper initiative create a special project on fear, black boys and the police. It could educate both black boys and law enforcement on how to interact with one another. It would be a groundbreaking project and surely a step in the right direction.

Ironically, Tupac said it best in this 1988 interview on education and what we really need. “We got so caught up in school being a tradition, we stopped using it as a learning tool. That’s why the streets taught me….We’re not being taught to deal with the world as it is. We’re being taught to live in a fairy land. …Don’t they understand more kids are being handed crack than diplomas?”

If we all continue to live in fear of one another we’ll never get any further than we are right now.

We’re Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness & You Should Too!

by E. Johnson Cooper, CMO, Friends of Ebonie



I hate the word cancer. I hate the fact that my astrological sign is called “cancer.” And while cancer has never affected me personally, I know way too many people that it has- particularly breast cancer in black women.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNB) is a form of breast cancer that occurs in about 10-20% of diagnosed breast cancers and is more likely to affect younger people, African Americans, Hispanics, and/or those with a BRCA1 gene mutation. At the same time, black women have higher rates of TNB at ALL ages. A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth–estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene– are not present in the cancer tumor. This means typical treatments of cancer, hormone therapy and drugs will not work on this cancer, but chemotherapy often does. The earlier caught the better.

Another type of breast cancer that black women are at a higher risk for is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). Accounting for only 1% – 5% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S., IBC displays the same symptoms that may occur with inflammation, like swelling, skin redness, and an orange peel like texture of the skin. But this does not mean that IBC (or its symptoms) is caused by infection or injury. The symptoms of IBC are caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.

So what does this mean for black women? It means we have to know our breasts and pay attention to them. We must do self breast exams and don’t ignore a lump. There’s a handy view below to help you out.

As we near Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am proud to lend support to two very dear family friends as they honor their loved ones who passed away due to TNB and IBC. Both fundraising events will not only remember the women who have passed away, but will provide support to breast cancer cause work. If you in the Phoenix or NYC areas, please consider supporting these great events!

Phoenix, AZ- October 18, 2014

Pinkwellchick Foundation presents:
Life in the Cancer Lane – a benefit play by the late Barbara Watson-Riley
Herberger Theater Center-Stage West, 222 E. Monroe. Phoenix, AZ 85004


“Pinkwellchick® grew out of the desire to get people talking about breast and heart issues that we tend to ignore, as we go about our daily lives. It also led to my play that give voice to the essence of survivor stories, Life in the Cancer Lane.” – Barbara Watson -Riley


**Use links to order tickets online or call (602) 252-8497**

2:00 pm Performance

7:30 pm Performance (reception at 6:30 pm)

Special thanks to our Diamond and Platinum Sponsors:

Herberger Theater Center, the Watson Family, Leslie M. Gray, Jemina Bernard, Cox Communications & Advocate Health Care



Harlem, NY- October 3, 2014

Pampered & P.I.N.K. (Providing. Information. Necessary. for Knowledge.)
6pm- 9pm 
Coco Le Vu Candy Shop & Party Room | 202 E 110th St | New York, NY 10029


Pampered and P.I.N.K. will be an evening of women joining together in a relaxed social atmosphere, which will include light refreshments, a Manicure Makeover Station and a Lush Lash Bar. Gift bags will be provided to every donor who makes a donation of $50 or more and our list of confirmed sponsors is growing every day!

100% (YES! One Hundred Percent!) of the proceeds from donations and ticket sales will benefit the Breast Examination Center of Harlem (BECH) directly. BECH is an outreach program of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It has has screened more than 204,592 women for breast cancer. It has an established reputation in the Harlem community for free, high-quality care offered by its professional staff.

What you need to know:

    1. Pampered & P.I.N.K. kicks off on October 3rd at Coco Le Vu Located at 202 E 110th St, between 2nd & 3rd Aves from 6-9pm

    2. Admission is FREE and open to the public, but space is limited, so please RSVP. RSVP HERE

    3. If you make a donation today, you will automatically be added to our guest list. A donation of $50 or more, you’ll be all set to receive one our fabulous gift bags! Dont Forget: Online donations are tax deductible 😉

    4. Want to donate in person? Send your RSVP to pamperedpinkharlem@gmail.com and let us know you’d like to make a donation in person on the date of the event.

    5. Can’t make it and want to donate? DONATE HERE

That’s it! You’ll receive an email confirmation letting you know that your name has been added to the guest list!

Breast Cancer Awareness Resources & Support

National Breast Cancer Center- Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Susan G. Komen- Breast Cancer Awareness 

Cancer Stats- Cancer.gov

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

YBGB Digital Launch Party ReCap PLUS Our First Institute Class is Next Week!

by E. Johnson Cooper

Last Wednesday was truly awesome! If you missed the digital launch you truly missed a good thing. Viewers learned all about the Institute, why I started it, how it works, and all that jazz. We also laughed, cracked jokes, ate bon bons and toasted with bubbly. See you missed a good par-tay! Lucky for you, we’ve got it all on tape. See below. 🙂

Since April I’ve been working behind the scenes to craft the what I hope will be the perfect learning space for my millennial and not-so millennial peers. The idea of creating an online learning portal for young, black philanthropy education is well, different. I know. But no matter how different and innovative it is, it will only be as successful as the folks who enroll. That being said, I’m excited to host the very FIRST elective class next week! The class is entitled: 4 Ways to Maximize Your Time, Talents & Treasures. It will teach you exactly what it says it will, plus get the scoop on the Institute and how you can enroll!

Things are moving quickly so don’t miss out. Please be part of this amazing experience with us!


Copy of Fall 2014_Register



I Have A Plan. Marching Still Isn’t Part of It.

By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer

IMG_0973.JPG No, this isn’t me but I love her hair!

Wow. I never expected my last post to get the response it has. We’ve never had hundreds of thousands of views, let alone for one post. Obviously, I struck a cord, some with who agree and others who think I’m out of my mind. How do I feel about it all? I’m grateful. I’m grateful my objection to the overwhelming attachment to social media advocacy got people angry, happy, motivated and on fire. I’m doing my job.

While I have your attention, let me clarify that I do not oppose marching. What I oppose is the lack of intentionality behind it. What, besides showing solidarity, are we marching for? Is there a boycott that will affect a business’ bottom line? Are we meeting at a church or community center to plan the next steps? Or are we following the trending hashtags on social media? If there was no hashtag, would you be out there?

If you’re working behind the scenes, I’m not talking to you. But if you’re offended, maybe I am and well….ok. I digress.

The biggest question asked to me in comments and on social media is “what is this plan,” I have. You know, since I said I would have one. I thought about it and my first inclination was to say I don’t have one yet. True indeed I don’t, but that’s just about Ferguson. The issue of police brutality isn’t unique to Ferguson nor is the issue of black men being killed by violence. So no, I don’t have a plan to combat either of those- directly anyway. My plan rests within my passion to educate, train and strengthen the leadership of my peers- black millennials and young black professionals across the country.

Everyday I think of how I can best apply what I know to best equip my peers. I watch and read about what we’re doing, what we’re not doing and where there is an apparent educational/ learning opportunity. Time and again, whether said to me or inferred, people want to learn HOW to make change happen. I’ve sat through enough trainings and classes to know, when you know better you do better. Who am I to have the resources and not share them?

Advocacy work isn’t easy. Cause work is often layered with issues that involve an approach just as varied as the issue itself. (Yes, including social media- but not all social media)

Donating money to support the progress of a cause isn’t easy either. That takes planning too. None of us has $100 just sitting around to be donated. (Hey, if you do, God bless you. Can I borrow a dollar?)

And God knows serving on a board of directors or committee is the hardest of them all. Personalities, time commitments, scheduling, opinions like pie holes- board work can be another job.

So what’s my plan? My plan is the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute. Shameless plug, meh. But it’s true! This IS my plan for long-term impact. The Young, Black & Giving Back Institute will be the education and training division of Friends of Ebonie. It will consist of classes, workshop series, training modules, webinars and summits. The Institute is designed to change the way black millennials (19 – 33) and young, black professionals (25 – 40) learn about effective community leadership and philanthropy.

I developed the Institute for literally such a time as this. I’ve learned over the last few years that although Friends of Ebonie has been a platform to read, listen, and engage, it wasn’t until our Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summits that we were proving a space to learn. Learning and education for and about philanthropy, leadership and advocacy is most important so we don’t leave anyone out. I cannot be upset about the slacktivism on the interwebs or lack of leadership over critical issues when the truth is, it may be an inherent issue of communities simply not knowing better.

You all have been my stamp of approval. Your support, non-support and otherwise confirm that a place for us to come and learn together from one another is very much needed. I can’t determine what you will do with what you will learn at the Institute but at least I’ll be responsible for making sure it’s available.

I am sooooo hyped to start the Institute in a few weeks! We will be starting with a three-week series focused on a. maximizing time, talents, treasures, b. board leadership, and c. mentoring. In between the series, we’ll have informative sessions on giving to your HBCU, The Arts & Philanthropy, plus more! As things evolve we’ll offer more, and more.

This is my plan.

Join us for our digital launch party on September 10th to learn more and meet some awesome fellow leaders like yourself!

Add to your calendar here: https://plus.google.com/app/basic/events/cpcl8tvkk164il07l4qvjb3ksrk