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The Nate Parker Foundation Celebrates Student Films “Black Bones” and “Showtime” at the Largest, Most Prolific Black Film Festival in the World

Vlad Poptamas



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The Nate Parker Foundation (NPF), which is dedicated to empowering young black filmmakers, today celebrated two student films “Black Bones” and “Showtime,” which were featured this weekend at the Pan African Film Festival Los Angeles (PAFF-LA), which is largest black film festival in the world.

Nate Parker, NPF founder and CEO said, “This is a proud moment for our organization. I’m humbled that our students are seeing so much success and others are celebrating their work. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to help foster diversity behind the camera and to see this happen brings so much joy to our foundation’s faculty and student family.”

Shemar Yanick Jonas, NPF student and “Black Bones” co-director said, “I always had a big passion for directing, but NPF gave me the tools to understand angles and different shots that helped me co-create this film. I’m forever grateful. Black Bones is a story that in some way assists in healing and finishing the unfinished business of our ancestors.”

Shawn Antoine II, NPF student and “Showtime” director said, “Showtime takes viewers into the unforgiving world of a New York City subway dancer. As a Harlem native and daily train commuter, I was always mesmerized as kids would strut onto the train and shout “Showtime.” For many of my friends, dancing in the subway was their way of not falling victim to the rampant crime in our neighborhood. Manifesting this project was certainly a process, but fortunately I was able to call upon two of my instructors from the Nate Parker Film Institute.

NPF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower young black storytellers, proudly helped to facilitate the production of two films featured at the PAFF, which was held from Thursday, February 7, 2019 to Monday, February 18, 2019. This year, the PAFF, which is an Academy Award qualifying festival, featured two NPF films. One of the films, “Black Bones,” was codirected by several 2018 Summer Institute students including Shemar Jones, Brianna Clay, India Johnson, Melissa Rocca, Adrian Woodard and Garret Stiell.

“Black Bones,” which was presented at the Cinemark at Baldwin Hills, details the story of children who are mysteriously confronted with horrible unknown truths from their family’s past while playing a game of “domino bones.” “Black Bones” was filmed during the NPF summer program at Wiley College, a four-year, historically black college/university (HBCU) in East Texas. NPF founder, Nate Parker, was introduced to the college as a young actor in “The Great Debaters” alongside Forest Whitaker and Denzel Washington, who served as mentors to him.

In addition to “Black Bones,” 22-year old NPF student Shawn Antoine II’s film “Showtime” was added as an official selection of the PAFF. The film tells the dynamic story of Darius, a Harlem, New York street dancer or “litefeet” dancer. In addition to the PAFF, “Showtime” was named an official selection for 7 other film festivals across the country. Antoine is a public relations major and double minor in film media and Africana studies at the University of Rhode Island.

SOURCE Nate Parker Foundation


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African American

Minister Rodriguez Celebrates Start of Black History Month at Commemoration Event

Vlad Poptamas



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This year’s Black History Month campaign theme is: Black Canadian Youth: Boundless, Rooted and Proud.

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, hosted the Government of Canada’s 2019 Black History Month commemoration event at the National Art Centre in Ottawa today. This month is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements and contributions of Black Canadians to this country.

The theme for this year’s Black History Month campaign is “Black Canadian Youth: Boundless, Rooted and Proud.” Throughout February, we will honour numerous inspirational youth in the Black Canadian community who have made an impact in shaping Canada’s open, inclusive culture. We invite all Canadians to visit the Government of Canada’s Black History Month website to learn more about these inspiring Black Canadian youth. You can also download the government’s official 2019 Black History Month poster.

Black History Month events will take place throughout February in communities across Canada. We encourage Canadians to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Canadians, past and present, as well as recognize the role they play in our society.


“Black History Month gives Canadians the opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of Black Canadians to our country. This February, as we honour inspirational youth in the Black Canadian community, I encourage everyone to learn and celebrate their stories of hope, resilience and empowerment.”
— The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

Quick Facts

In December 1995, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion to recognize every February as Black History Month in Canada. The Government of Canada officially celebrated Black History Month for the first time in February 1996.

Notable Black Canadians will be featured on the Government of Canada’s Black History Month webpage and will be highlighted on social media throughout February. In recognition of 2019’s campaign theme “Black Canadian Youth: Boundless, Rooted and Proud,” several additional notable Black Canadian youth will be featured.

Under the Government of Canada’s Community Support, Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiative Program, organizations can apply for funding for community events or projects that contribute to an integrated, socially cohesive society. This includes supporting Black History Month activities in communities across Canada.

Budget 2018 announced $19 million to address the significant and unique challenges faced by Black Canadians. This included $9 million for Canadian Heritage to enhance community support for youth and $10 million for the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop research in support of more culturally focused mental health programs in the Black Canadian community.

In 2002, the Government of Canada designated June 27 as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. This day is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the contributions of various cultural communities to Canadian society.

A number of other month-long cultural observances are celebrated in Canada, including Asian Heritage Month in May.

Associated Links

Statement by the Prime Minister on Black History Month

Statement by Minister Rodriguez on Black History Month

Black History Month

SOURCE Canadian Heritage

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Great Minds® Unveils Geodes™, Groundbreaking Books for Emerging Readers

Vlad Poptamas



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Reading Time: 2 minutes


Great Minds, developer of highly rated grades PK–12 curricula, today unveiled Geodes™, a groundbreaking new category of accessible, knowledge-building books for new and emerging readers.

Developed in collaboration with Wilson Language Training®, publisher of the evidence-based foundational reading and spelling program Fundations® for students in grades K–3, Geodes combine carefully selected language with highly engaging content and illustrations from top artists. These books build students’ confidence in their ability to read and inspire curiosity with knowledge-building topics.

“Each Geodes book is a gem. Students learn about topics as far-flung and fascinating as Icelandic winters, the origins of the Bolshoi ballet, the Badlands, and how to measure the strength of the wind—all while practicing their phonics. These books are so compelling, kids will not notice what sound-spelling pattern they are practicing,” said Lynne Munson, founder and CEO of Great Minds. “Geodes are an entirely new experience. Gone are the days of tedious, repetitive texts with minimal line drawings. New readers deserve better—they deserve Geodes.

Barbara A. Wilson, the president and cofounder of Wilson Language Training, said, “All too often, books for emerging readers fail to provide the practice needed, while also lacking interest, complexity, beauty, and other qualities likely to compel readers of any age. We wanted to provide students the opportunity for a rich and rewarding reading experience while practicing the very decoding skills they are learning in the classroom. We tapped into our two organizations’ core strengths to do just that. Wilson Language Training’s expertise in foundational reading skills instruction and Great Minds’ experience at building students’ knowledge is a strong combination. We could not be prouder of the result.”

Geodes are named for modest-looking rock formations that contain countless crystals inside. Each Great Minds’ Geodesbook holds a surprising amount of knowledge in a slim volume. A Geodes library comes with a natural geode for teachers and students to examine together, as they build excitement for their reading experience. A video capturing students’ delight in unboxing a Geodes library collection for the first time is available here.

With Geodes, Great Minds introduces a new type of book—Readables™—into the marketplace. Unlike traditional decodables, which focus solely on the application of sound-spelling patterns, Readables give students opportunities to practice language while building and extending knowledge, vocabulary, and more. As a result, budding readers enjoy wonderfully accessible yet rich books.

Geodes align with the module topics in Great Minds’ grades K–8 English language arts curriculum, Wit & Wisdom®. They also align with the scope and sequence of Wilson Fundations®, a structured literacy program for grades K–3 that is supplemental to the core and provides a systematic approach to comprehensively address foundational skills as well as spelling and handwriting. Schools may use Geodes with any systematic, research-based phonics instruction program.

Geodes for Level 1 are available now. Geodes for Level 2 will be available in fall 2019. Geodes for Level K will be available in fall 2020.

Geodes join Wit & Wisdom, Eureka Math™, and PhD Science™ in the growing portfolio of offerings from Great Minds.

Learn more about Geodes and see a book preview here.

SOURCE Great Minds

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African American

Alfred Street Baptist Church Awards Howard University $100K To Pay Off Student Tuition and Fee Balances

Vlad Poptamas



Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick accepts a check totaling $100,000 from members of the Alfred Street Baptist Church. The donation will help pay off the balances of 34 graduating seniors.
Reading Time: 2 minutes


Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC) in Alexandria, Va., presented Howard University with a $100,000 gift to cover the outstanding tuition and fee balances of 34 graduating seniors. Wesley announced the contribution during a special service at Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. Ministers and staff of ASBC joined the Office of Financial Aid to surprise and present unexpecting seniors with the good news earlier in the week.

“The gift of $100,000 from Alfred Street Baptist Church to help our students pay off their financial obligations and make ends meet just before they graduate is truly a blessing,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “Their generosity is a reminder of how one person’s selfless act of kindness can be multiplied and have a profound impact on the lives of others.”

The ASBC congregation raised the funds for the contribution during Seek 2019, a church-wide physical, social media, and financial fast that lasted throughout the month of January.

“About two or three years ago, the Lord gave us a vision for a project called Hidden Halos, which is our realization that whenever you meet strangers, they’re God’s hidden angels,” says Pastor Wesley. “This year, as our fasting ended, we had asked members to make a sacrificial offering that we promised would go out the door of our church. We decided to come to Howard University to find some students who are about to change the world but have some financial concerns, and let them know we’re going to take care of it for them.”

ASBC is a long-time supporter of the HBCU community. The church holds one of the largest free HBCU festivals in the nation annually; which will be held on Saturday, February 23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Moreover, they make a contribution of $25,000 to a designated HBCU during their annual HBCU Sunday worship services. This special contribution is one that has Howard students like Inestin Dante Petit-Homme feeling blessed beyond measure.

“Pastor Wesley brought me in and told me I’m having my tuition balance covered thanks to the Alfred Street Baptist Church,” says Petit-Homme. “That was one of the main issues for me and my family this year in terms of graduating because it’s been a long road even getting to senior year. I still have some rent to pay as well as the balance, in addition to the expense of graduation. I know we’re all God’s children, but I feel like He’s blessing me a lot right now.”

SOURCE Howard University

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