Saturday, October 1, 2016

How to “Make America Great Again” or “Stronger Together”

By DeLon M. Stradford and Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

The Poverty Center is tapping into Big Data, learning more about the
housing crisis and its impact on American children.
AMWS-AT-WORK  October 1, 2016, Cleveland, OH –  Hillary Clinton’s skillful channeling of Muhammed Ali’s rope-a-dope tactics may have staggered a sniffling opponent.  However, her failure to land the knock-out punch left just enough doubt in Donald Trump’s mind that he had lost every round in the first of three presidential sparring contests. 
Well over 80 million people tuned in for the face off, setting a new record in the sixty-year history of televised presidential debates.  Among them, 62% are still “with her,” standing by her man, to make America “Stronger Together.”  Contrary to populist perception, scientific polling suggests that only 22% are still in that “basket of deplorables” with him to “Make America Great Again.”  According to National Public Radio, actual scientific polls have shown that Clinton was the clear winner in Monday night’s televised debate.  
The presidential hopefuls’ quest to occupy public housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue rent-free has some beleaguered homeowners wondering if the two-party system has run its course.  This is just one reason why voters need to see all candidates’ income tax returns.  
The current residents at The White House, an upwardly mobile African American family, will be headed back to the block with a handful of explanations as to why simple stuff like the mortgage crisis has yet to be resolved for everyday Americans. 
One could claim that as the first African American president, Barack Obama did all he could to restore America’s economy.  He counseled his predecessor on the Wall Street Bail Out, super-glued Freddie Mac’s and Fannie Mae’s brokenness, and got the auto industry back up and running--ALL without urgently needed appropriations bills from Congress. 
But, a decision not to investigate, prosecute and imprison former Vice President Dick Cheyney, select cabinet members and advisors from a previous administration may prove to be the one executive action defining two otherwise productive terms.  Both the Bush and the Obama Administrations knew about Cleveland, Ohio’s housing problem. 
The American Mentor Wire Service, a program of Youth Achievers USA Institute, started observing economic trends and behaviors as far back as 1998.  That was the year young Americans called for a 10-year Million Youth Movement.  They met in Atlanta, GA and set goals around their individual and collective visions for the future.  Among the less than a million committed souls were beneficiaries of an American Civil Rights era.  They were banking on an inheritance that somehow resulted instead in a compromise on a long-overdue promissory note.
By 2008, the hope of disadvantaged Americans owning their first homes had faded in the cloud of a seven-year mortgage crisis.  Two government-sponsored enterprises (GSE), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suffered large losses and were seized by the federal government the summer of 2008 as two-party presidential campaigning shifted into business as usual.  President Bush attempted to ease concerns with an observation that “the economy is fine.”
Earlier, in order to meet federally mandated goals to increase homeownership, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had issued debt to fund purchases of subprime mortgage-backed securities, which later fell in value.  In addition, the two government enterprises suffered losses on failing prime mortgages, which they had earlier bought, insured, and then bundled into prime mortgage-backed securities that were sold to investors.
Historically, potential homebuyers found it difficult to obtain mortgages if they had below average credit histories, provided small down payments or sought high-payment loans.   So, as some wealthy Americans benefitted from the G.W. Bush era tax cuts, few of them ever bothered to follow through on their obligations through the New Market Tax Credits Act.  
Not everybody is an economist, and most economists you meet are more concerned with their next paycheck than your bottom line.   But, in a nutshell, the September 6, 2008 conservatorship to balance Freddie and Fannie’s books cost taxpayers bigtime.  Freddie and Fannie are "independent" corporations and not federal agencies.  Their combined balance sheet obligations were just over $5 trillion, a significant amount when compared to the $9.5 trillion of officially reported United States public debt at the time of the Freddie-Fannie takeover.
It appears that none ($0) of the U.S. Treasury’s infusion of capital for Freddie and Fannie helped folks that could not qualify for Freddie and Fannie’s help in the first place.  HARP seemed to be a necessary first step toward doing the right thing, but imagine being told you don’t qualify for a mere $100,000.00 in relief after Freddie and Fannie denied you a government-backed loan.  Then, go back and review half the political promises made to get you a job or help you start a business.  Factor in some seemingly unrelated issues such as implicit biases and racial anxiety.  Finally, you’ll want to multiply your own undervaluation by 240 years of economic compromise.   
This is just one formula, to begin quantifying a debt due to historically disadvantaged Americans.   Just imagine what might have been achieved had the U.S. Congress approved the President’s budgets over the last eight years. 
Several government agencies under the Obama Administration took steps to increase liquidity within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 
·      Federal Reserve purchases of $23 billion in GSE debt (out of a potential $100 billion) and $53 billion in GSE-held mortgage backed securities (out of a potential $500 billion).
·      Federal Reserve purchases of $24 billion in GSE debt.
·      Treasury Department purchases of $14 billion in GSE stock (out of a potential $200 billion).
·      Treasury Department purchases of $71 billion in mortgage backed securities.
·      Federal Reserve extension of primary credit rate for loans to the GSEs
Keep in mind that government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) is a financial services corporation created by the United States Congress. Their intended function is to enhance the flow of credit to targeted sectors of the economy and to make those segments of the capital market more efficient and transparent, and to reduce the risk to investors and other suppliers of capital.
Meanwhile, way too many Americans are still struggling with upside down mortgages, limited job opportunities and almost no understanding of their unique small business needs.  There has always been some logic in the belief that poor people can stop being poor as rich people are willing to become even richer at a slower pace.   But, more than 4 million Americans don’t own homes, they own mortgages! 
According to one real estate source, American “homeowners” owe at least 20% more than their homes are worth, totaling $579 billion of so-called negative equity.  The next President of the United States will need to forgive some citizens of that debt instead of compounding the issue with more empty promises and ineffective programs.  Too many families are in serious financial crisis, while our political candidates, members of Congress, and other elected or appointed officials mimic episodes of “Scandal,” “Survivor,” “Empire,” or even “The Apprentice.”   It’s time to stop stalling critical funding, projects, legislation and appointments.  And, it’s past time for Congress to approve a budget. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Homeland Security on Our Street, USA

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired
AMWS, September 30,2016, Kennesaw, GA – The race for President of the United States is looking less like a race and more like a study on race relations.  The latest drain on the news cycle comes at the expense of Terrance Crutcher, 40, of Tulsa, OK and Keith Lamont Scott, 43, Charlotte, NC.  Both men, African Americans, belonged to an historically disadvantaged constituency, systemically valued as “minorities.”

Both men, citizens of the United States, will not vote in the 2016 Presidential election.  They are dead, killed by, perhaps, well-intending peace officers, armed with Big Data, based on a perception of less than equal status. Their perceived value represents a known, credible threat to American lives.  

On-demand digital media is clearly a factor driving previously underreported offenses.  At first glance, the story appears to be a justice issue.  At times, it results in military intervention.  At one point, the President of the United States observed a “gulf of mistrust” between some citizens and law enforcement.  The Presidency, in succession will need to bridge that gulf in order to make America either “stronger together” or “great again.”

Candidates are learning that problems of structural racism are far broader than just police violence.  Alexis McGill Johnson of the Perceptions Institute noted that negative perceptions of black men and boys are held unconsciously by teachers, health care professionals, police officers, lawmakers, members of the media — really, by all of us.  “This fuels discriminatory practices in nearly every sphere of our society. Implicit biases and racial anxiety affect our sense of empathy for boys and men of color and our sense of outrage for the conditions they face — and, therefore, our capacity and will to transform the political and policy environment needed to change structural impediments to their success,” said McGill Johnson.

Some folks view the single most significant change in 21st Century governing with a “take it or leave it” mindset.  But, the newest federal department may ultimately render previous functions obsolete.    Homeland security is an American umbrella term for "the national effort to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and ways of life can thrive to the national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the U.S. to terrorism, and minimize the damage from attacks that do occur."

Homeland security is not constrained to terrorist incidents. Terrorism is one of many threats that endanger society. Within the U.S., an all-hazards approach exists regarding homeland security endeavors.  In this sense, homeland security encompasses both natural disasters and man-made events.  Thus, the domain of homeland security must accommodate a plethora of situations and scenarios, ranging from natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) to acts of terrorism (e.g., Boston Marathon bombing), to historic fears resulting from “implicit biases and racial anxiety.”

Homeland Security identifies a venue for addressing some past actions and attitudes that with proactive solutions.   Somewhere between the first and last presidential debate is public awareness of the problem, and existing policy and programs that can work with just a wee bit of tweaking.

On Main Street, USA, more and more small police departments are gearing up with proactive homeland security strategies.  It’s not complicated here.  Just engage citizens as community assets.  In an economic context, the more assets, the fewer liabilities.

Community policing presents an existing starting point for meaningful engagement.  The concept integrates partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions.  Identified as “threats to the homeland,” these conditions give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Community policing begins with a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and communities. It is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation's crime challenges. When police and communities collaborate, they more effectively address underlying issues, change negative behavioral patterns, and allocate resources.

The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity seeks to develop community partnerships by assisting emerging nonprofits through strategic planning, capacity building and succession planning phases.  The organization has committed a dollar for dollar match to service hours invested by citizens in the Citizens Police Academy.   YouthUSA funds will be applied to equity for youth beneficiaries in revenue-generating social enterprise projects.

The North Georgia Community Oriented Policing Strategies (COPS) Academy is a $___ m social enterprise owned and operated by qualifying community stakeholders.  A shared-use facility for local law enforcement agencies, federal park rangers, and citizen police academy participants transforms an underutilized federal campground into state-of-the-art training space for “homeland security assets.”   Community Policing Programs commonly engage area residents in intentional, prosocial community learning.

A key feature of the envisioned North Georgia COPS Academy is a state-of-the-art small arms range to meet law enforcement training needs while sensitizing citizens to law enforcement concerns.  On-demand training will support at no additional cost to the police department budget.

v Marksmanship

v Judgmental, use of force skills

v Shoot/don't shoot skills

v Less than lethal force options

v Low light/no light situations

v Cover and concealment

v Proper interaction and verbal commands

The public should play a role in prioritizing and addressing public safety problems.  Participants in a police department’s Citizen Police Academy will be invited to collaborate on “Organizational Transformation,” the alignment of organizational management, structure, personnel, and information systems to support community partnerships and proactive problem solving.

Kennesaw State University will be a key partner in a fully funded, and functioning COPS Academy.  KSU uses the umbrella term “community engagement” to encapsulate the various ways in which the university connects with the community. This includes any significant connection between KSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees with the larger community through engaged teaching and learning, volunteering, outreach, community service or other means.

The #WeAreKennesaw partnership addresses a decline in student interest in the law enforcement field through an increased emphasis on the study of community policing.  The veteran-led partnership creates community leadership opportunities for transitioning veterans.  It connects veterans with VA educational benefits with learning opportunities at partnering Kennesaw State University.

Segal Education Awards offer an incentive for KSU students to demonstrate community leadership.  The education award may be used to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary educational institutions (including many technical schools and GI-Bill approved educational programs), as well as to repay qualified student loans.  Since the program’s founding in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have earned more than $2.4 billion in education awards.

National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created a challenge grant program specifically for local Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Councils and shooting sports programs. Challenge grant funds should reflect planning to strengthen and increase BSA Council activities in shooting sports and commitment to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of shooting sports activities and firearms safety.

The range of potential partners is large, and these partnerships can be used to accomplish the two interrelated goals of developing solutions to problems through collaborative problem solving and improving public trust.

Based on an existing local police department annual budget of $6 million, the YouthUSA Community Trust model sets a goal to add value through a measurable increase in community assets.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

By George, It’s “The People’s Agenda”

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps Retired
AMWS May 21, 2016, Atlanta -- 10,000 Black Men Named George is a TV movie about union activist A. Philip Randolph and his coworkers Milton Webster and Ashley Totten.  The film follows Randolph’s efforts to organize the black porters of the Pullman Rail Company in 1920s America, known as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.  The title refers to the custom of the time when Pullman porters, all of whom were black, were addressed as "George".
In this chapter of American history, a movement emerged from organized social action, producing evidence of change in the United States Armed Forces.  Between 1941 and 1946, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin organized The March on Washington Movement (MOWM) to pressure the U.S. government into desegregating the armed forces and providing fair working opportunities for African Americans.  The evidence came in the form of Executive Order 8802.  Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the order prohibited discrimination in the defense industry under contract to federal agencies.  Roosevelt’s executive action opened the door for some 20,000 “Georges” to become United States Marines.
In 2011, President Barack Obama, a beneficiary of Randolph’s social activism, approved the Congressional Gold Medal to the 20,000 “Georges” distinguished as Original Montford Point Marines.  Between 1798 and 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps followed a racially discriminatory policy of denying African Americans the opportunity to serve as Marines.  The name, “Montford Point,” today known as Camp Gilbert H. Johnson, was the site of a segregated boot camp where these “Georges” earned the title, United States Marine.  Coincidentally, the first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to a “George.”  The Continental Congress approved the medal on March 25, 1776.  Its recipient, George Washington, served as the first U.S. President from 1789 to 1797.
Protocol having been established, Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt Britton, Jr., 90, Atlanta, GA is one of 20,000 Original Montford Point Marine.  Just one beneficiary of Randolph’s social action, Britton joined conveners of The National Black Political Convention (@TheNBPC) in 1972 to address policy issues impacting African American lives.  Britton returns to The NBPC June 9-12, 2016 as a 21st Century advocate for veterans’ issues.
According to news sources, two of the last three remaining presidential candidates – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders – have also agreed to participate in a forum in Gary, IN and submit to questions of particular importance to African Americans. An invitation to Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has been extended.  The presidential forum is part of the National Black Political Convention, which will return to Gary more than 40 years after the historic 1972 gathering.
This year’s convention is being co-convened by former Gary, IN Mayor Richard G. Hatcher, one of the original conveners of the 1972 convention; Tuskegee, AL Mayor Johnny Ford, who was founding chair of the World Conference of Mayors and founding co-chair of the National Policy Alliance; Gary, IN Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Newark Mayor Ras Baraka; Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County, TX; Webster Guillory, founding co-chair of the National Policy Alliance; and Thelma Moore, former chair of the National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO).
The presidential forum, scheduled for Saturday, June 11, 2016 will be moderated by George E. Curry, editor-in-chief of He will be joined in the questioning of candidates by Chinta Strausberg, a reporter for the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers and Webster Guillory.
“The 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary was the kickoff to what became the powerful Black political revolution, which led to the election of more Black political leaders than had been elected in the United States since Reconstruction,” the organizers said in a statement. “Now is the time for Black America to return to Gary, convene a second National Black Political Convention; recharge our batteries; develop a Black agenda, and announce it to the world, and leave Gary prepared to implement that agenda.”
That agenda will be developed at next month’s convention, which will be held at the Genesis Convention Center. Positions are expected be taken on such issues as education, justice, energy, voting rights, gun control, health, environment, economic opportunity and the treatment of Black veterans.
In addition to Saturday’s presidential candidates’ forum, on Friday there will be an intergenerational Town Hall discussion.
The first convention had as its theme, “Black Politics at the Crossroads.” The agenda included:
    Home rule for Washington, D.C.
    Establish a national network of community health centers
    Establish a system of national health insurance
    Elimination of capital punishment
    Create a new urban-based homestead act
    Government guarantee of $5,200 income for a family of four
    Minimum wage guarantee of $2.50
    Establish a Black United Fund
    Effective enforcement of anti-trust legislation
To register for convention and obtain more information on the 2016 convention, go to
Conveners of this year’s convention said, “We must set our agenda as Black Americans, and be able to say to both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention…we in Black America have set our agenda and if you want our vote and support, then you must consider the Black agenda.”

Friday, April 22, 2016

$11 Million in My Brother’s Keeper Commitments

National Service Agency Announces More than $11 Million in My Brother’s Keeper Commitments

Apr 22, 2016
Announcement includes more than 125 AmeriCorps members in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico
WASHINGTON, D.C.  – As part of today’s release of the My Brother’s Keeper 2016 Progress Report, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, announced new commitments that will help meet the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) milestones. More than $11 million in new programming includes new AmeriCorps VISTA programs with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and Social Innovation Fund grants through the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Youthprise.
“As a nation, there is much more we can do to help our young people stay on track and reach their full potential in life,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “We are thrilled to join other committed partners to launch new AmeriCorps and Social Innovation programs that will put hundreds of young people on a path to success in school and life.”
Through a new partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an independent nonprofit committed to uniting leaders across philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sectors to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color, CNCS will place up to 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members in MBK communities across the country each year. The AmeriCorps VISTA members will serve through local organizations to advance MBK initiative milestones.
Additional AmeriCorps VISTA partnerships in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico will address opportunity gaps and ensure young people can reach their full potential. In Santa Fe, N.M., an MBK community, AmeriCorps VISTA members will develop and implement a pilot Mentoring, Tutoring, & Internship Hub; coordinate out-of-school time programs; research best practices and support grant writing; and develop community outreach strategies for early childhood issues and ways to reach disconnected youth. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, MBK AmeriCorps VISTA members will create youth leadership councils to provide young people the platform to voice their needs and help design the programs most beneficial to them, as well as support career readiness and apprenticeship programs. They will also create an MBK Partners Institute to help build the professional capacity of small, local community organizations working to achieve MBK milestones.
CNCS, in collaboration with the Michigan Community Service Commission, will place 12 AmeriCorps VISTA members in Michigan Regional Prosperity Zones to develop and implement an action plan to help youth reach their full potential. Beginning in June, AmeriCorps members will assist designated communities and tribes with improving mentoring, job training, and skill development services for young people. These AmeriCorps members will serve in Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Port Heron, Saginaw, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties, as well as the Chippewa Tribe in Sault St. Marie and the Huron Potawatomi-Nottawseppi Tribe in Battle Creek.
CNCS also announced two Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grantees to support evidence-based models for opportunity youth. SIF awarded $1.8 million to Annie E. Casey Foundation to fund 10 organizations that will increase employment and educational opportunities for youth who have been involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, or who are homeless. SIF also awarded Youthprise $3.75 million over three years to six organizations across Minnesota that provide wraparound services to address the discrepancy between high school graduation and employment for youth that are either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, or disconnected from school and education. In addition, the SIF will announce more than $3 million in Pay For Success grants to nearly 20 organizations in more than 10 communities to support MBK-related initiatives.
“My Brother's Keeper Alliance (MBKA) and AmeriCorps VISTA's partnership is one that gives me great hope and pride,” said Blair Taylor, CEO of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. “MBKA is thrilled to put boots on the ground to build capacity around powerful place-based work started long before President Obama launched My Brother's Keeper. We are eager to recruit passionate and committed young people to serve as MBKA VISTAs and look forward to working with powerful partners to march forward on this critical work in short order.”
"The Annie E. Casey Foundation has long been committed to ensuring all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and the increased national attention on boys and young men of color aligns well with our focus on addressing the challenges facing these youth," said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Foundation. "We're excited about helping even more young people of color get on paths to success through our new Social Innovation Fund initiative."
“I’m excited about the newly adopted My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Santa Fe, as well as the new partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA which will support the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to improve the lives of Santa Fe’s Youth,” said Mayor Javier Gonzales, of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In addition to today’s announcements, CNCS and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership recently launched, an online search engine to connect Americans to mentoring opportunities. The new site supports MBK’s call to action for Americans to make a difference in the lives of young people through mentoring. Research shows that the presence of a mentor in a young person’s life significantly improves their potential for success.
On February 27, 2014, President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young people of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, the Administration has joined cities, towns, businesses, and foundations that have taken steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college. Today, the Administration released a two-year report outlining milestones and progress on key priority areas, as well as new federal investments to support the initiative.
Through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Social Innovation Fund programs, CNCS helps advance MBK by increasing entry-level job opportunities and providing access to mentorship and apprenticeship options for all young people, including boys and young men of color. Today’s announcements build on previous commitments from CNCS that underscore the President’s belief that all young people deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. Previous CNCS MBK programs include a partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to fund Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps, a landmark partnership with the USDA’s Forest Service, and Aspire Mentoring Academy Corps, a collaboration with AT&T and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

Monday, February 29, 2016

YouthUSA Chair honored as Woman of Achievement

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS, March 1, 2016, Atlanta - The YWCA of Northwest Georgia will recognize Stephanie A. Walker Stradford as a woman of achievement.   The 2016 Tribute to Women of Achievement will take place on Friday, March 18, 2016 from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Marietta, GA.  

Stradford provides executive leadership for Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity promoting Positive Youth Development as a means of achieving economic security.  

In 1996, she created THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS to celebrate American youth for their vision of their own future.

An on-line application process invites any caring adult to serve as a Community Asset Manager (CAM) for one or more youth applicants.  The CAM assists the youth applicant in writing seven (7) goals valued by YouthUSA as “Money-n-the-Bank.”   Each application identifies one community asset with a “whole village” of 20 caring adults who provide support in one of seven areas of human development.   The program builds capacity for diverse local public charity missions seeking to engage and empower future leaders.

In Cobb County, GA, YouthUSA partnered with the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to invest in community-based organizations.  A federal grant application for Americorps funding addresses “a gulf of mistrust” as a national security threat to America’s future.  Ongoing grant development for the National Learn-2-Earn Partnership connects community leaders with U.S. Marines who have combated racial disparities since the 1940s.

The Montford Point Marine Association, a strategic partner in National Learn-2-Earn, preserves the military history and traditions of the United States Marine Corps while preserving the legacy of the first Black Marines.  The national veterans organization is planning a $2 million monument to promote inclusivity for future generations. 

Perhaps by chance, or divine appointment, the YWCA (Young Womens Christian Association) of Northwest Georgia is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.  The YWCA envisions a community free of domestic violence and sexual assault.

This is the 31st year that the YWCA has recognized Women of Achievement. Fifteen women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in their professional and community endeavors and lives and/or works in Cobb, Cherokee or Paulding counties are eligible to receive this honor.

Tom and Wendy Bunch Heyer will be serving as the 2016 Tribute to Women of Achievement co-chairs.  Additionally, The Honorable Roy and Mrs. Marie Barnes, 80th Governor of Georgia and First Lady, will serve as our honorary co-chairs.  The YWCA is committed to delivering programs and services that increase the awareness and reduce the occurrence of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.

Friday, February 26, 2016


The American Mentor Wire Service (AMWS) a program of YouthUSA, is sponsoring a photo contest as a LEARN-2-EARN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY.  You must be a YouthUSA beneficiary to win.

The next LEARN-2-EARN opportunity will be SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2016 during the 11 Year MLK/Black History Celebration Gala hosted by Cobb County SCLC.

NATIONAL LEARN-2-EARN partners will be in attendance as part of their grant requirements.  Funding for L2E partners aims to create opportunities for YouthUSA Beneficiaries to demonstrate their leadership skills.

As a YouthUSA Beneficiary, your assignment is to meet and interact with L2E partners, take a picture, or two, or as many as you like.  Upload your winning photos to the YouthUSA Facebook Group.  Then participate online in the selection process.

1ST PRIZE - $100 -  This photo must be taken by the YouthUSA Beneficiary or any caring adult member of the Whole Village.  The winning photo must include a) YouthUSA beneficiaries, (b) an L2E Grant Partner, (c) The $3000 L2E Grant Check.   The photo must be uploaded before midnight FEBRUARY 29, 2016 for consideration.  The photo must be tagged to identify FB friends in the photo.  

2nd PRIZE - $50 -  This photo must be taken by the YouthUSA Beneficiary or any caring adult member of the Whole Village.  The winning photo must include a) a YouthUSA beneficiary, (2) an L2E Grant Partner, (3) The $3000 L2E Grant Check.   The photo must be uploaded before midnight FEBRUARY 29, 2016 for consideration. The photo must be tagged to identify FB friends in the photo.   

3rd PRIZE - $25 - This photo must be taken by the YouthUSA Beneficiary or any caring adult member of the Whole Village.  The winning photo must include a) YouthUSA beneficiaries, (2) an L2E Grant Partner, (3) The $3000 L2E Grant Check.   The photo must be uploaded before midnight FEBRUARY 29, 2016 for consideration.  The photo must be tagged to identify FB friends in the photo.  

4th PRIZE - $10 - This photo must be taken by the YouthUSA Beneficiary or any caring adult member of the Whole Village.  The winning photo must include a) YouthUSA beneficiaries, (2) an L2E Grant Partner, (3) The $3000 L2E Grant Check.   The photo must be uploaded before midnight FEBRUARY 29, 2016 for consideration.  The photo must be tagged to identify FB friends in the photo.  

AMWS Task Force will make the final selection.  Any YouthUSA beneficiary or caring adult to include subscribed L2E partners can participate in the winning photo selection process.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stephanie’s “Cancer”

Whose report will you believe?

Washington Media Pioneers saw a” Dream Deferred” as a “test” for #HealingAmerica.  It would require an alternative vision of America’s future.  Stephanie called on a few friends in the profession to “be the ones we’ve waited for.  Photo (c) 1991 Marvin T. Jones & Associates.

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS, February 23, 2016, Atlanta – Stephanie A. Walker Stradford, Chair, Board of Directors, Youth Achievers USA Institute, awakened from a peaceful night sleep in her own bed to report from her own perspective, her status and experience with a recent medical diagnosis. 

“I’m blessed,” she declared. “Praising God for the test-i-mony.   The “assumption of power” clause in her corporate by-laws, legally invoked prior to XI DAVINCI ROBOTIC surgery, has been rescinded.   Now, whatever you’ve heard about “cancer,” chances are you won’t see it or even believe in it until (a) it makes you feel different, or (b) somebody you trust says you have it.  It’s like one in 2.1 billion Christians on Earth explaining Jesus to a dead guy.   You’ve got to hear the story more than once.

Since, trust is so hard to come by, many historically disadvantaged Americans rely on their faith that this too shall pass.   With ObamaCare firmly entrenched into laws of the land, more and more cancer patients are confronting bad news with proactive Psalms.  It seems, the more believers share their personal story, fewer unbelievers walk around feeling hopeless about their circumstances.

On the 6 am prayer call, Stephanie shared in morning meditation with believers and bedazzled that which only they could appreciate.  Pastor Kenneth E. Marcus, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Marietta, GA convenes the Lenten Season morning devotions as daily, proactive treatment for healing sick folk.  (6:00 am EST Mon – Sat.  1-712-432-3900  - Access Code: 586149#)

For Stephanie, a late evening call from “her pastor” could have been Dr. Marcus, or it might have been The Reverend William “Rick” Henley, Senior Pastor of the Beulah Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA. Stephanie’s 102 year old grandmother, Laurena Puriefoy Walker and her husband Deacon J. D. Walker, invested spiritual value in Henley’s West Philadelphia congregation since 1926.  The investment continues to net returns for Stephanie as one of their own. 

At one point, friends like Janice Rubin, Philadelphia High School for Girls, trekked Jewish Prayers from somewhere between California and Miami Beach, FL just to make sure both Old and New Testament beliefs were still in sync.   And, of course there’s the YouthUSA Corporate Village, bound by the alternate reality, “I believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.” 

One might perceive a Facebook text from Penelope “Penny” Vails-Williams to be her late brother, Stellar Gospel Recording Artist Reverend Dr. Donald Vails “channeling” positive energy to a sick friend.  In Texas, Pastor Evangelist Linda Holliday, wife of Matlock Actor Kene Holliday texted reports from the “War Room” that prayer changes things—fervent, effectual prayer of few righteous friends changes things big-time.  Geographically miles apart, but in the same War Room, if you believe in a strong offensive strategy, The Reverend Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant  is “in pursuit of the authentic MANIFESTATION of the power of GOD in the earth realm.” Fellow NBC Media Pioneer, Reverend Aisha Karima weighed in from Washington, DC, “still prayin.”  Rev. Dr. Debyii Sababu-Thomas, no stranger to barefoot benedictions, brought closure with a pinch of emotion, “We love you.”

Dr. Joel Freeman, co-author, Return To Glory, Powerful Stirring of the Black Race, is almost always a heartbeat from the healing.  Our mutual friend John Phillip Sousa, IV, great grandson of the renowned conductor of the U.S. Marine Band reminds believers of the importance of a cadence.  Whether you get it from a drumline or an EKG, where words fail, music speaks.

Depending on that which you choose to believe, Stephanie’s “cancer” is a perception of reality with an undetermined outcome.  Dr. Jeffrey S.  Cohen is awaiting lab reports as a follow-up to Friday afternoon’s surgical procedure.   For the Thomas type of believer, the evidence may be more complex than you are ready, willing and able to receive.  The prescription may be even tougher to swallow.  

The testimony usually starts with a test.  Stephanie’s “test-i-mony” started with a diagnosis or professional medical opinion of Dr. C. Gregory Nesmith, Atlanta Gastroenterology.  He took pictures—digital images, printed some copies, and suggested surgery to remove a malignant polyp in a section of her colon.   The surgery was delayed due to back-to-back abnormal EKG tests. 

Along the way Stephanie’s Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Stanley Dysart, injected prayer along with a double shot of Cortizone.  Chiropractor Dr. Patricia Cohen, no relation to Jeffrey, applied a holistic hug.   After consultations, examinations and more tests with primary care physician Dr. Suzanne Starke, and Cardiologist Dr. Ayushi Ahuja, Stephanie’s “test-i-mony” had rallied a whole village of medical professionals, engaging them in an evolving story about faith and works.

The patient met with her surgical team to pray for them individually and collectively.  She took a praise pill to relax herself, and quietly headed for the operating room.  Dr. Cohen’s team powered up the XI DAVINCI at Northside Hospital, Cherokee, GA for a ROBOTIC LAPAROSCOPIC LEFT COLECTOMY WITH SPLENIC FLECTURE MOBILIZATION.  “Can I watch?” asked the official care partner.  “No. They won’t let us do that,” Dr. Cohen replied.

At that moment, all of a 400 year historically disadvantaged gulf of mistrust came down to the pronoun, “they.”  There was little comfort from healers and holy rollers that met a cadence set some two thousand years ago.  John 11:4 - But when Jesus heard about it he said, “The purpose of his illness is not death, but for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this situation.”

In John 11:43 - Jesus shouted a prescription for raising dead folk, “Lazarus, come out!”  Then later in John 14:13 - Jesus empowered believers for generations to come with promise and provision for making things happen. “You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you.”

Dr. Sharon Davis Williams, a close friend and prayer partner shared a word about “Fervent” at a private birthday brunch just days before Stephanie’s surgery.  Her text messages during the hospital stay ministered healing through the simple word, “walk.”  Dr. Williams was headed out for a long walk as part of her own healing process.  As new “walking partners,” Stephanie saw that maybe this sister gets it.  

Stephanie dumped part of her prayer list on Sharon as a demonstration of how the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution might work in a “more perfect union.”  In a memo on “Heavy Lifting,” Stephanie shared with Dr. Williams the Money-n-the-Bank goals of some fifty YouthUSA Beneficiaries of diverse beliefs.  Collectively, they share a corporate statement of faith, “I believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.  Individually, they represent substance of hope for #HealingAmerica.

Some of the people in this “test-i-mony” or, if you prefer, “cancer” watch things happen.  They are 49% of the folks you meet.  Another 49% are still wondering what’s happening.  They are waiting on the lab to confirm that the best is yet to come.  Then there’s the 2%, those on the prayer team, the medical team, the ministries of learning and earning.  They MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.  

Stephanie’s beloved “Two Percenters” are uniquely endowed to write the vision for an IN GOD WE TRUST” constituency.  But, to achieve that which they individually and collectively believe, they’ll need more trust than most political candidates and religious leaders have been ready, willing and able to invest.