With more than 1.5 million IRS-certified nonproﬁt organizations operating in the United States alone, it can be difficult to ﬁgure out which ones to support. That’s why UPTOWN developed this list of a few worthy institutions that make positive contributions to our communities in the areas of youth, arts and culture, education, health, and social service. Now all you have to do is write that check or volunteer your services.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
The organization that counts Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby, and Derek Jeter among its alums offers programs that emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, ﬁ nancial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, ﬁtness and recreation, and family outreach. With a network of more than 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities serving over 4.8 million children around the country and on U.S. military bases worldwide, there’s surely a club near you. 800.854.CLUB. bgca.org.
Children’s Defense Fund
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) seeks to guarantee a successful transition from childhood to adulthood for kids from disadvantaged communities. Core programs and several initiatives, including one to help children deal with the traumatic effects of Hurricane Katrina, are modeled to align with the CDF’s Leave No Child Behind mission: for every child to have a healthy, moral, safe, and fair start in life. 800.233.1200. childrensdefensefund.org.
Concerned Black Men
Created in 1975 by a group of Philadelphia policemen looking to provide positive black male inﬂuences for at-risk young men, Concerned Black Men (CBM) is built around the philosophy of men offering themselves as good role models for children. Its local chapters and national programs strive to help them through mentoring, counseling, and initiatives aimed at combating teen pregnancy and promoting higher education. 888.375.7816. cbmnational.org.
Fresh Air Fund
A favorite of singer Mariah Carey, this organization has been serving underprivileged youngsters from New York City for more than two centuries. Through free summer camps in upstate New York and summer stays with host families, the fund has offered 1.7 million children from some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods a chance to just breathe. 800.367.0003. freshair.org.
National Court Appointed Special Advocates
For over 30 years, the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) has been promoting support for neglected and abused children to be able to live in safe and permanent homes. Armed with a network of more than 50,000 volunteers appointed as ofﬁcers of the court, CASA is set to achieve its mission for 2008, which is to assist 100,000 more children by improving the program’s efﬁciency, recruitment, and fund-raising initiatives. 800.628.3233. nationalcasa.org.
ARTS AND CULTURE
African Burial Ground Monument Foundation
Partnering with the National Park Service in 1996 has allowed this organization to strengthen its efforts to generate funding and provide global outreach for the African Burial Ground National Monument, the country’s earliest and largest known African-American cemetery, located in lower Manhattan. In addition, the foundation provides cultural and educational programs at the monument site and other venues. 212.491.2200. abgfoundation.org.
Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation
The backbone of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and all its branches, the foundation supports innovative artistic, cultural, and educational programs for children around the world and down the block. Its mission is to expand upon Alvin Ailey’s work to increase the role of the performing arts in everyone’s lives. 212.405.9000. alvinailey.org.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The proposed date of completion is several years off—it’s projected for 2015—but the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has been hailed by critics as perhaps the most important institution to explore ethnic, racial, or religious identity in America. It will be the ﬁrst national museum dedicated exclusively to the documentation of African-American life and will join other Smithsonian Institution (SI) sites on the mall in Washington. While awaiting a home, the NMAAHC has exhibitions and programs scattered throughout various SI museums and online. 202.633.7369. nmaahc.si.edu.
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Arguably the most esteemed FIne arts museum in the country that exhibits and supports African-American art and artists, the Studio Museum in Harlem (SMH) has been the launching pad for more than 90 graduates of its renowned Artists-in-Residence program. With a permanent collection of more than 1,600 works by black masters, SMH serves the community through a range of education and public programs. 212.864.4500. studiomuseum.org.
Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation
The foundation is charged with the mission of raising $100 million to build a memorial honoring the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through various fund-raising events, including the recent all-star Dream Concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York, organizers hope to complete a four-acre memorial site on the na•tional mall in Washington, near the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. 888.484.3373. mlkmemorial.org.
A Better Chance
This Charles E. Merrill Foundation experiment-turned-full-•edged program has helped children of color obtain top-notch educations since the 1960s. Through its own assessment process, A Better Chance helps promising students from grades six through 11 get accepted into more than 300 prestigious private, public, and boarding schools. It counts Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick as an alumnus. 800.562.7865. abetterchance.org.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation
Rachel Robinson created this national organization in 1973 to carry on her late husband’s legacy and help minority youths in their quest for higher learning. College-bound students receive four-year schol•arships and are automatically enrolled in a development program, which provides mentors, workshops, opportunities for internships, and, subsequently, full-time jobs upon graduation. 212.290.8600. jackierobinson.org.
One Laptop Per Child
The digital divide may be a thing of the past for most of us, but for children living in the world’s poorest neighborhoods, it’s still very real. That’s why Nicholas Negroponte, cofounder of the MIT Media Laboratory, gathered colleagues from the lab, academia, the arts, and more to launch One Laptop Per Child. The organization’s mission is to provide its specially designed XO laptop—a low-cost, powerful, and rugged children’s computer designed for “learning learn-ing”—to kids in even the most remote regions of the world. 877.70. LAPTOP. laptop.org.
(For more nonprofit organizations, please see our Winter 2007 issue)