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Clark Atlanta University cancels student account balances for 2020-2021 school year

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Clark Atlanta University announced this week that they will cancel student account balances from the spring 2020 semester through the summer 2021 semester.

University President Dr. George T. French said all student account balances from that time period will be brought to zero. The relief also applies to alumni.

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

French said the university’s ability to provide relief is due to the substantial amount of support it has gotten from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

With the funds, CAU has been able to provide emergency financial aid dollars, refund some housing and meal charges, discount tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year, buy WIFI hot spots for students with no internet at home and buy 4,000 laptops for every financially enrolled student.

This initiative will not impact students’ future financial aid eligibility because it is a one-time outstanding balance cancelation.

Clark Atlanta University isn’t the first HBCU to help students financially because of the pandemic.
In May, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president of the university said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.

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First Black Girl Duo Wins Harvard’s International Debate Competition

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A Black girl duo from Atlanta has made history after winning the annual summer debate competition at Harvard University. Since its inception in 2017, this is the first Black girl duo to win the debate competition.

Jayla Jackson, a 16-year-old at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, and Emani Stanton, a 17-year-old attending North Atlanta High School, won the Harvard Debate Council’s debate competition with an undefeated record of 10-0.

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Jayla Jackson and Emani Stanton (Courtesy of Harvard Diversity Project)

Every summer, hundreds of high-school students from around the world meet at Harvard to study and compete in the program-wide debate tournament.

Thousands of students apply to be a part of the project each year, but only about 25 to 30 are selected.

Despite this year being virtual due to COVID-19, the students of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project once again won the competition for the fourth year in a row.

black girl
(Photo: Chris House/Harvard Diversity Project)

The debate’s topic was “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States.”

The new team leaders have already been selected and will begin training at the beginning of August.


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Hip Hop Legend, Biz Markie Has Died at 57

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Biz Markie, the pioneering rapper, producer, and beatboxer whose sense of humor and innovative samples made him a singular presence in hip-hop, died Friday at the age of 57.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce, this evening, with his wife Tara by his side, hip hop pioneer Biz Markie peacefully passed away,” his rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement. “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.

Biz Markie

“Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years,” Izumi added. “He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes, and frequent banter. We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one.”

His cause of death is unclear, but the New York MC (born Marcel Theo Hall) was hospitalized in April 2020 because of diabetes complications and reportedly suffered a stroke while in a diabetic coma last year as well.

Biz Markie

Beatboxing his way into the rapidly growing New York hip-hop scene in the mid-1980s, Biz Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) made his mark with his unique rhyme style, sense of humor, and witty lines that won him the nickname the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop.

May he rest in Power.

Metafy Has Raised $8.7 Million to Help Video Gamers Monetize their Gaming Skills

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In ten years, when you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you just might hear the words “professional gaming coach.” Thanks to the Pittsburgh-based startup Metafy, now millions of gamers have a chance to pursue a viable career path as professional coaches.

The CEO behind the startup, Josh Fabian, is a longtime gamer himself and saw firsthand the need for more sustainable ways for gamers to make a living. Now, his company already has 450 of the world’s best players coaching games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Super Smash Brothers Melee on the platform.

All players need to play is to go on the website to pick a game and coach and then schedule a time for their private coaching session. If you’re wondering who would potentially want such a thing, the answer is the 224 million gamers in the U.S. The idea of a coaching business came to Fabian after hiring a professional gamer to coach his kids.

Fabian was shocked when the gamer agreed to coach his children for only $20 an hour. Now two of Fabian’s children are in the Top 100 Pokemon players in the world.

“I kept coming back to this idea that there must be a better way,” he says. “Not just for us to get coaching that’s valuable and productive. But also, for these guys are trying to make a living doing what they love,” said the CEO.

And now, with Metafy, gamers can make a living doing what they love. Metafy coaches can set their rates from $15 to $200 an hour, set their hours, and receive 100% of their earnings. It’s a pretty good deal to be able to do what you love.

Metafy not only caters to aspiring professionals but casual players wanting an extra advantage and parents looking to keep up with their kids.

Metafy has raised a total of $8.7M in funding over 2 rounds. $3.2M in December 2020 and most recently, $5.5M in May 2021.

You can learn more about Metafy or even get coached by the world’s best players by visiting their website.

 

Written by Reese Williams


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Valerie Daniels-Carter, Founder of the Largest Woman Owned Franchise Business and Part Owner of an NBA Team

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Valerie Daniels-Carter is a part owner of the NBA team The Milwaukee Bucks, and is both president and CEO of  V&J Holdings.

V&J Holdings is the largest franchise company owned by a woman, the largest minority owner of Pizza Hut franchise stores, and one of the largest franchising companies in the country, period.

It owns over 40 Burger King restaurants, and over 60 Pizza Hut locations, along with other franchises such as MyYoMy Frozen Yogurt, Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, and Captain D’s Seafood along with other real estate properties.

How it all started

This franchise and real estate empire all started with Valerie Daniels-Carter and John Daniels Jr. back in 1982 with just one Burger King franchise. Valerie Daniels-Carter was working as a banker when she decided to start her own business. She had to raise over $1 million to buy the rights to a Burger King restaurant and to build the restaurant itself.

Her late husband Jeffrey pitched in by giving her a savings account that he filled up with checks from his second job. It took a lot of sacrifice and shrewd decision making to get the first franchise off of the ground, but the effort paid off. By 1998, she already had over 30 Burger Kings and 60 Pizza Hut locations.

Valerie Daniels-Carter says she did this to challenge the old status quo in franchising. She wants to help other African American women have a chance to own their own franchising companies as well.

She frequently gives motivational talks, using her own life experience, business experience, and sheer determination as a way to inspire and encourage others who look like her and come from similar backgrounds to aspire to accomplish more than they ever dreamed of.

 

Johnny T. Ross


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LSU offers National Spelling Bee winner, Zaila Avant-gard, a full scholarship

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Louisiana State University (LSU) on Saturday offered , Zaila Avant-garde, the first African American contestant to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a full scholarship.

Avant-garde has drawn attention following her win. The teen has garnered praise in the past few days for her athletic prowess after it was noted the same child has notched multiple Guinness World Records for basketball.

Tony O. Lawson


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Zaila Avant-garde is the first African American to win Scripps Spelling Bee

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Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old basketball prodigy, has won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming the first African-American contestant to win in 93 editions of the prestigious competition.

Avant-garde correctly spelled “Murraya”- a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees having pinnate leaves and flowers to win the competition and $50,000 prize money on Thursday.

The 8th-grader also became the first Louisiana resident and the first African-American to win the title in the competition’s 93-year history. The first Black contestant to win was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998.

Zaila Avant-garde

Zaila said she knew she would be the first African American winner of the bee. She knew Black children around the country were watching the telecast, waiting to be inspired and hoping to follow in the footsteps of someone who looked like them.

She thought of MacNolia Cox, who in 1936 became the first Black finalist at the bee but in those days was not allowed to stay in the same hotel as the rest of the spellers.

A basketball prodigy, Avant-garde holds three Guinness World Records for her ability to dribble multiple basketballs at a time.

She hopes to one day play in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

Tony O. Lawson


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Sha’Carri Richardson suspended from US Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana

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US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Friday.

News of the infringement arrives four weeks before the start of the athletics competition at the July 23 to August 8 showpiece in Tokyo.

Sha'Carri Richardson

Appearing on NBC’s Today show, the 21-year-old confirmed that she had tested positive for THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis, which she used after hearing that her mother had died.

She told NBC the news of her mother dying was broken to her by a reporter, sending her into a “state of panic” in the midst of the pressure to perform on the track.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision,” said Richardson.

It’s unclear whether Richardson will miss the Games altogether. She may still be eligible to compete in another event besides the 100m, such as the 4x100m relay.

Richardson said on TODAY that she would be “grateful” for the chance to compete in the relay, but is not focused on doing so.

“Right now, I’m just putting all of my time and energy into dealing with what I need to do, which is heal myself,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “So if I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it, but if not, right now I’m going to just focus on myself.”

 


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Jetstream Raises $3 Million to Improve African Cross-border Trade

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Jetstream, a Ghanaian technology-driven logistics company, just landed $3 million in seed funding to solve one of Africa’s biggest problems: the lack of coordination at its ports.

“These are exactly the types of problems that technology solves,” said Miishe Addy, cofounder of Jetstream.

Addy founded the startup with Solomon Torgbor in 2018 to help African businesses by aggregating private sector logistics providers at the ports and borders of Africa, and then bringing them online. This way, companies could have better visuals and control over their cross-border supply chains.

“We are different from a more siloed freight management system because we are leveraging financing…so that shipments can be tracked every step of the way. We are bringing many of the local providers online for the first time,” Addy mused.

Since Africa increased its share of international exports from 80% to 90% between 2000 and 2017, there’s been a growing demand for the continent to be less commodity-dependent and diversify its exports.

Africa needs to revitalize its notoriously slow and costly ports to create more opportunities and encourage intracontinental trade. For Ghanaian native Torgbor, Ghana is the perfect place to plant Jetstream’s roots. The West African country can be a thriving hub for intercontinental trade as it’s home to the largest container terminal in West and Central Africa, Port Tema.

Jetstream isn’t just making waves in the world of commerce, however. Data suggests that women-led startups in Africa attract as little as 15% of the total VC investments available in the continent. Addy hopes that Jetstream’s win will lead to more women leaders being funded.

Technology and data are at the forefront of Jetstream’s business model, and according to Addy, these two elements might bring the future that Jetstream envisions to life.

“We see a future where trade running on Jetstream’s digital rails has a powerful competitive edge on logistics. Jetstream is to cross-border logistics what Flutterwave is to fintech in Africa.”

 

Written by Reese Williams


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Black Owned EdTech Startup, AllHere Raises $8 Million to help Schools Reduce Absenteeism

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AllHere is an Ai-powered educational support platform founded by Joanna Smith, a former public school teacher and family engagement leader at a charter school in Boston.

Oftentimes, Joanna’s students couldn’t receive the help they needed because of issues with their attendance.

allhere
Joanna Smith, Founder & CEO of AllHere

Her attempts to leave voicemails and send letters home were futile as they went unanswered. Now, with her company AllHere, she is leaning on insights that she’s gained on how best to reach out more effectively to the student’s families.

AllHere’s approach has been proven through randomized control trial research to reduce chronic absenteeism by 17%, reduce course failures by 38%, and increase student retention.

Attendance was already an issue for K-12 schools before the pandemic, but the pandemic has increased absences across the board. This has led to K-12 schools turning to AllHere for assistance: the number of K-12 schools using the AllHere chatbot has risen by 700% to over 8,000 schools across 34 states, helping AllHere reach a total of 2 million families.

Although it was originally created with attendance in mind, schools have started to use it for other purposes as well, such as school closure announcements and troubleshooting IT problems. The two way text messaging AI bot allows schools to be in touch with families 24/7 to nudge them on attendance and give updates so teachers and admin can reallocate their time elsewhere.

By focusing on ways to improve attendance across the board, Joanna has found a way to help even more students than in her previous role as a teacher.

AllHere recently announced that it has raised over $8 million in a Series A round of funding. This round brings its total amount raised to $12.1 million. The most recent funding round was led by led by Spero Ventures and included Rethink Education, Gratitude Railroad, Potencia Ventures, Boston Impact Initiative, Softbank’s Opportunity Fund, Operator Collective, and Yard Ventures.


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