May 10 2011
Aspirational Educational Initiative FIVE MILLION KIDS Welcomes Journalist Jeff Johnson and Music Entrepreneur Chaka Zulu as 5MK Regional Chairs
Los Angeles – May 10, 2010 – Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant along with FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) Initiative Co-Chairs Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young welcomed social activist and award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson and music executive and entrepreneur Chaka Zulu as the 5MK Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Chairs, respectively. In these leadership roles, Jeff Johnson and Chaka Zulu will lend their celebrity, business acumen and voice to help promote the importance of education to youth across the country and will work to attract entertainers, athletes and celebrities in becoming 5MK ambassadors.
“Our biggest resource in this country is our young people. Doing everything we can to inspire them to find their passion in life and encouraging them to stay in school should be our nation’s highest priority,” said John Hope Bryant, the business bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World. “Increasing levels of high school dropouts show that many students today, especially ones in under-resourced neighborhoods, don’t seem to think that getting an education will change their destiny. We’re here to show them that this isn’t the case.”
The addition of Jeff Johnson and Chaka Zulu comes in anticipation of the “Make Smart Cool” tour – a series of auditorium events designed to restore the relevance between education and success, along with teaching youth the importance of staying in school. The tour will stop in all HOPE’s major markets across the country and will feature a mixture of celebrities, executives, musicians and personalities including HOPE Founder John Hope Bryant, music icon Quincy Jones, and 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors Tyrese Gibson, Chris Tucker, Chris Draft and Romany Malco, among others.
“As I travel the country speaking to young people, I gain first-hand knowledge that despite some media stories, many young people within our community desire to be successful and impact their families and communities,” said Jeff Johnson. “Yet, many of them don’t know how to get there, so I am excited to be a part of a campaign providing examples of my life and others, coupled with resources to show that with hard work and education, anything is possible.”
As an award-winning journalist, social activist, political commentator and author, Jeff Johnson currently contributes to MSNBC and is the Chief White House Correspondent for TheGrio.com. He is the weekly commentator on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show tackling issues on politics, entertainment and social policy and is the Chairman and CEO of the Jeff Johnson Institute for Urban Development, a solutions-based institution currently leading a five year project to recruit and develop 80,000 black male teachers.
Jeff Johnson serves on the boards of the National Urban Fellows, HBCU Hall of Fame Foundation, and the historic Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, OH. He consistently challenges communities to weigh innovative solutions to resolve historic and systemic social imbalances and inequalities.
Chaka Zulu, well established as an entrepreneur and enterprising music executive, stewards a multimillion-selling independent record label, a management company, a film company, a publishing company and a burgeoning corporate consulting firm.
“I am blessed and I am honored to be working in music, but I’m here to show that working in music takes a lot of hard work, skill and intelligence. If you don’t learn what you need to know in school, making your dreams come true becomes that much harder,” says Chaka Zulu.
By the time he began his studies at Clark College, Chaka Zulu had built a solid reputation as a background dancer, DJ and street promoter. Chaka Zulu along with recording artist Ludacris started Disturbing Tha Peace Records and they eventually struck a deal with Def Jam Records. Since then Chaka Zulu has also gone on to launch, run and be Co-CEO of Ebony Son Management, Disturbing Tha Peace Films, Read and Write Music Publishing.
5MK is a national initiative focused on making education relevant to youth and creating a national movement in America by bringing the message financial literacy to five million youth and adults. At its core, 5MK is a national campaign to re-brand education as being cool and relevant in the minds and hearts of young people.
5MK and the “Make Smart Cool” tour will leverage celebrities to reach youth on an emotional level and provide special entrepreneurial opportunities to students. Giving them a practical lesson in the “language of money”, 5MK is designed to take a multi-pronged approach to help put an end to the soaring dropout rates that are crippling the communities of this nation.
The “Make Smart Cool” tour include community support from national organizations 100 Black Men and Boys & Girls Club of America, who will work with HOPE to create 5MK empowerment zone activities across the country.
The tour receives support from lead partners E*Trade who in the last 10 years has helped HOPE launch the Washington, DC and Harlem HOPE Centers; and MasterCard Worldwide who signed a five-year partnership with the nonprofit in January, 2011.
The “Make Smart Cool” tour plans to hit several cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
About FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK)
5MK is a national initiative led by National Co-chairs Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young focused on bringing financial literacy empowerment to five million kids and adults. 5MK will turn up the volume on financial literacy in America by bringing together organizations across the country dedicated to advancing the cause. By “Making Smart Cool” 5MK will also demonstrate the power that financial literacy has in increasing academic engagement and aspiration. Visit the 5MK blog and make your pledge here and help put an end to the soaring high school dropout rates that are crippling the communities of this nation.
About Operation HOPE
Founded in 1992, social empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE's mission is to expand economic opportunity in under-resourced communities through financial literacy education. HOPE promotes "silver rights" - making free enterprise and capitalism relevant and effective for the underserved. Raising more than $500 million and directing and restructuring nearly $500 million more in mortgages and economic support from the private sector, for a total of approximately $1 billion dollars in economic activity, HOPE seeks dignity and empowerment for all. Follow Operation HOPE at www.operationhope.org, www.twitter.com/operationhope, and www.facebook.com/operationhope.