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Youngest Daughter of Quincy Jones, Rashida Jones, Honored with SAG-AFTRA Inspiration Award

rashida_jones_picLOS ANGELES, CA-The SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced today that Emmy®-nominated actress Rashida Jones will receive its Actors Inspiration Award, an honor recognizing artists who give back to the community by championing worthy philanthropic causes which make a difference in the world. On Monday, June 12th, the award will be presented to Ms. Jones at the Foundation’s 8th Annual Los Angeles Golf Classic, an event benefiting its assistance and children’s literacy programs.

Rashida Jones is an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, musician and activist. Her philanthropy includes work with the International Rescue Committee, traveling around the world as an advocate for the nonprofit which delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster; serving on the board and as a celebrity ambassador for Peace First, a youth organization that encourages the development of the world’s next generation of peacemakers; and supporting Oceana in its mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. In addition, she lends her voice to several other important charities including Amnesty International, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and The Trevor Project. Ms. Jones is also a supporter of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s online children’s literacy program Storyline Online (storylineonline.net) and will be filming a new video for Storyline Online following the Actors Inspiration Award ceremony. She will join the ranks of actors Viola Davis, Lily Tomlin and Chris Pine as Storyline Online advocates. Rashida Jones’ commitment to supporting vulnerable populations around the world, the environment, and children’s literacy embodies the spirit of the Actors Inspiration Award.

“We are excited to present Rashida Jones with our Actors Inspiration Award and honor her tireless dedication for tackling issues around global poverty, improving health outcomes for people battling AIDS and cancer, and for using her artistic platform to support several important charities, including our very own children’s literacy initiative Storyline Online,” said SAG-AFTRA Foundation President JoBeth Williams.  “Rashida’s generosity and commitment to giving back to the global community is an inspiration, and we are proud and grateful she will accept this honor.”

Previous recipients of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Actors Inspiration Award are Sofia Vergara, Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio, who were recognized for their philanthropic work.

Ms. Jones currently stars in the hit TBS series Angie Tribeca where she plays the title role, in addition to working behind the camera as executive producer and a director of some episodes. A multi-hyphenate in the entertainment space, this past year she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for co-writing the first episode of Netflix’s third season of Black Mirror. She is the Executive Producer of Claws on TNT, a nail-salon turned money-laundering-front dramedy, set to premiere this summer. This past April, she released a docu-series on Netflix, Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, a continued exploration of themes discovered in her Emmy-nominated documentary in 2015, Hot Girls Wanted, this time focusing on society’s relationship with sex and technology. Fans grew to love Ms. Jones from her beloved roles on The Office and Parks and Recreation and through the romantic film that she wrote and starred in, Celeste and Jesse Forever. She will next be seen in the upcoming feature films Zoe alongside Ewan McGregor and Léa Seydoux, and the comedy Tag with Jeremy Renner and Ed Helms.

The L.A. Golf Classic is a major annual fundraiser benefiting the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Catastrophic Health Fund and Emergency Assistance Program for SAG-AFTRA members facing life-threatening illness and severe economic hardship with the support of the entertainment community and generous sponsors. The tournament also benefits the Foundation’s children’s literacy programs Storyline Onlineand BookPALS, which reaches 14 million children worldwide every month. The L.A. Golf Classic is one of the biggest celebrity golf tournaments with over 125 actors and entertainment industry executives expected to participate in the 2017 event.

Celebrity participants in the L.A. Golf Classic to date include: Adam Baldwin, David Leisure, Don Cheadle, George Eads, Gregory Harrison, James Remar, Joe Mantegna, Joe Pesci, Jonathan Banks, Kevin Sorbo, Robert Hays, Ron Perlman, Tim Allen, and Tom Welling. Sponsors to date include: United Airlines, Johnny Carson Foundation, SAG-AFTRA, TNT, TBS, CBS, AMC, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Specialty Benefits, Express Scripts, Fiji Water, Dana Industries, Jerry Lasky, Wing & A Prayer Productions, Backstage, Subaru and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Since 1985, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has granted more than $18.5 million in financial and medical assistance including $7.5 million in scholarships to SAG-AFTRA members and their dependents. In addition, the Foundation has offered 7200 free educational workshops, panels and screenings to union performers nationwide and its children’s literacy programs have brought the love of reading to more than 250 million children worldwide.

To learn more and for registration information and sponsorship packages (limited while availability remains) visit sagaftra.foundation/golf.

Learn About Juneteenth in ‘Aunt Ester’s Children Redeemed: Journeys to Freedom in August Wilson’s Ten Plays of Twentieth-Century Black America’ Memoir

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

Redeemed BookRiley Keene Temple’s recently published book, “Aunt Ester’s Children Redeemed: Journeys to Freedom in August Wilson’s Ten Plays of Twentieth-Century Black America,” examines the redemption story of each play – how the southern black oppressed, descendants of centuries of slavery, put the pieces of themselves back together. Temple analyzes how Wilson’s language – his poetry and the blues — and his dramatic narratives expose the responsibilities, the opportunities, and the challenges of freedom.

Wilson’s plays include “Fences,” “The Piano Lesson,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”  The New York Times obituary called him “the theater’s poet of black America.”

“Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, died in 2005 at the age of 60. He would have wanted to see the wondrous celebrations of Juneteenth. He would have seen them as both meet and right,” says Riley Keene Temple.  

Riley Keene Temple is an avid American arts advocate and supporter, and has been honored for his leadership of arts organizations. He is a telecommunications attorney in Washington DC, where his Board memberships include the National Archives Foundation and the Trust for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He holds a Masters degree, cum laude, of Theological Studies from the Virginia Theological Seminary. He has written frequently on theology and the creative arts.

African, Chicano Student Programs Both Hit Milestone Anniversary At UCR

RIVERSIDE, CA- For 45 years, African Student Programs (ASP) and Chicano Student Programs (CSP) at the University of California, Riverside campus has been providing a home away from home for students.

“‘Our duty in life is to make a difference in others’ lives,’ that was something a mentor once told me,” said Ken Simons, the director of African Student Programs. “That inspired me to do what I do. It’s rewarding to help these students, it’s rewarding to make a difference in their lives, it’s rewarding to provide a space for these students who might otherwise feel alone on a university campus.”

Simons has been the director of ASP for the past 14 years, and he’s been connected to UCR since 1979, when he was a student athlete. He said that, for many of the first-generation black students, ASP becomes the place where they feel comfortable expressing questions and concerns – especially cultural concerns.

“I’m real with the students, I tell them what they need to hear, because I realize they might not hear it from someone else,” Simons said.

Formerly referred to as Black Student Programs, ASP is generally agreed to have formed at UCR campus in 1972, out of the campus’ Black Student Union and Black Studies Department. Over the years, ASP has become a space where students can go to gain confidence, for support, and to feel at home.

“Years after graduating, we have students reflect on the mentorship they received during their time at UCR through ASP,” Simons said. “There are countless stories from students who recall getting through the tough times because of the conversations they had with staff at the organization.”

Since 1972, ASP has been a key component for the success of black students at UCR. Earlier this year, UCR was recognized as one of the nation’s best institutions in successfully graduating black students relative to their white counterparts. While black student graduation rates lag behind white student graduation rates by about 22 percent nationally, UCR graduates black students at a rate 1.7 percent higher than white students, announced The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that analyzed data from four-year colleges and universities in its report, “A Look at Black Student Success: Identifying Top- and Bottom-Performing Institutions.”

At UCR, 69.5 percent of black students graduate, compared with 41 percent nationally. Simons said that success can be linked to the variety of services ASP provides its students – like, informing them about scholarships, internships, research, and graduate school and career opportunities. ASP also sponsors a variety of events and programs every year, including an academic mentorship program, and the Black Graduation Ceremony – which is Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center.

Estella Acuna has been the director of CSP since 2004, and graduated from UCR in 1999. Acuna’s goal as the director is to give UCR students what CSP provided for her.

“I was a first-generation student, and CSP provided a home away from home for me. I felt safe, I felt connected to my peers and the community – I would have a hard time surviving without the amazing staff,” Acuna said.

Like ASP, CSP was founded in 1972. According to Acuna, the creation of the space stemmed from student and faculty movement aimed at developing an organization that would meet the needs of both Raza faculty and students on campus. They wanted a space that would nourish the growing Latino/a population of first-generation scholars coming to UCR.

“We are truly like a family at CSP. There is a sense of community, and unwavering support for the students,” Acuna said.

In 2015, UCR was recognized by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics as a Bright Spot in Hispanic education. As a Bright Spot, UCR is part of a national online catalog that includes over 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics. The university was honored for its student success efforts with the College of Natural and Agricultural Science’s freshman learning communities, as well as for its ethnic parity in campus graduation rates. It is rare in higher education to have little gap between students of different ethnicities.

CSP, like ASP, holds annual events, like Semana de la Raza, the César E. Chávez 5K Run/Walk, and Raza graduation ceremony, which will be Saturday, June 10.

For more information about both student programs, visit their websites: African Student Programs, and Chicano Student Programs.