Saturday, January 20, 2007

Putting your money where your mouth is

A few days ago I read a post that was brought in here from one of Clay’s websites (I believe it was the CB). I really struck me, not only by its ignorance, but by its stereotypical tone. The poster angrily related how urban artists are more inclined to acquire “bling bling” instead of spending it on a needy child. I’m paraphrasing of course, but that was the basic message. Even though I wasn’t surprised by her statement, I still couldn’t believe her ignorant view and couldn’t stop shaking my head in disbelief. Her point was to compare Clay’s “charitable ways” or “caring” attitude against urban artists. They sure can find competition in EVERYTHING Clay related, don’t they?

Mentioning Clay’s foundation, the UNICEF and/or Presidential Whatever position he holds, it seems it’s mandatory in any writing originated by a Claymate. A critic’s mention of how bad his CD is, a DJ refusing to play his music, a magazine not liking his new look, anything negative reported and invariably they will be reminded of how great a humanitarian he is, caring, inclusive and someone even dared describe him as a philanthropist!! After reading the mentioned post I began recalling articles from magazines and MTV programs featuring urban artists which show a totally different side of their public personas. Much of their community work is done behind doors or cameras as they’re not looking for a photo op. They do it because they really care and see it as a way to give back to the community which supports them. One such artist is Ludacris. Yes, the same one Bill O’Reilly went after when PEPSI signed a multimillion dollar deal with him to be their spokesperson, but I will touch on that outcome later on.

In order to help this lady about offering facts on anyone, she needs to be schooled on the importance of fact checking before embarrassing herself. I got the idea of featuring one artist and do a comparative analysis if you will, on the works these urban artists are involved with in comparison to Mr. Clay Aiken’s work. As a disclaimer I have to explain that I’m not in any way, shape or form an expert on charitable organizations or foundations. My view is strictly coming from my own standpoint.

There’s a great amount of information on Ludacris and his foundation, but I will try to condense it as much as possible. The Ludacris Foundation was created back in 2001 and it’s centered in Atlanta, but has also helped out in places like NY, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. His foundation according to Ludacris, “is an organization that’s geared toward helping kids help themselves”. He also added that they take on different projects and are not held to just one thing.
Ludacris is believed to have “one of the kindest hearts in the business when it comes to his fans” (Tamara Palmer, Country Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip-hop). This thoughtfulness as mentioned by Palmer is extended throughout his travels as much as he can. In one trip to South Africa, he made it the point of visiting a youth community center (while Mr. Aiken makes it a point to visit all McDonald’s) in a poor area of the town and subsequently made a donation. On a tour through Jamaica he took the bras and panties thrown on stage and donated them to a local shelter for women (while Mr. Aiken wears the ones thrown at him on his head). In 2004 a 17y/o fan with Cerebral Palsy and confined to a wheelchair wrote to BET and talked about how much a fan she was. She also mentioned her Senior Prom was near, but she had no date. Guess who arrived in a white limo to take her to that prom? LUDACRIS, What a guy!

These are just some of the things Ludacris Foundation has done:
1. Hosted meals for hungry people at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
2. Helped local programs like Rah Rah’s, Village of Hope, Bankhead Courts Community Center and The Study Hall.
3. Presented pilot program at Atlanta’s South Side Comprehensive High School offering a course in Hip Hop culture 101 which is taught through music and dance.
4. Go to hospitals with rehab centers for kids.
5. Homeless drive in Miami.
6. Does inspirational speeches in schools promoting education...
7. Food program on the 4th of July weekend.
8. Sponsors Boys and Girls Clubs.
9. Help kids to get uniforms for certain basketball teams.

As you can see, most of these activities are hands on with Ludacris being an active participant as he’s always available for his foundation. He has a very qualified team and a fairly large staff. TEAM – “The Ludacris Foundation includes a team of 11 hardworking individuals with an average of twenty years of professional experience ranging from corporate executives of Fortune 500 companies, legal, healthcare and finance fields, as well as the music industry. These individuals have come together as a team sharing the same passion and concern for young people.” (

BTW, about the O’Reilly controversy, he succeeded in getting PEPSI to withdraw Ludacris participation, but not before they agree to sponsor his foundation to the tune of 1-5 million dollars which is what he was going to get paid by PEPSI. Again, what a guy!!

The intention of this blog was to compare both foundations, but frankly, there wasn’t much to be found at The Bubel-Aiken Foundation site except for a new logo and a few old grants and events listed. I did find the following which, I found to be quite interesting:

BBB Charity/Nonprofit Report
The Better Business Bureau®
Serving Eastern North Carolina
5540 Munford Road, Suite 130
Raleigh, NC 27612

Bubel/Aiken Foundation, The
PO Box 90307
Raleigh, NC 27675-0307
Telephone: (224) 430-0950
Fax: (773) 777-9434

The BBB reports on members and non-members. If an organization is a member of the BBB, it is stated in this report.

Report Creation Date: July 21, 2004
Report Expiration Date: February 10, 2008
Principal: Ms. Fran Skinner-Lewis, Executive Director
Customer Contact: Ms. Fran Skinner-Lewis, Executive Director - (224) 430-0950
Email Address:

Entity: Non-Profit
Incorporated: July 2003, NC
File Open Date: July 2004
TOB Classification: Charity - National
BBB Membership: This organization is not a member.

The BBB has requested basic information from this organization but has not received a response. As a result, the BBB may not have current information about the organization.

Additional DBA Names
The Bubel/Aiken Foundation

BBB Comments
Despite written Better Business Bureau requests in the past year, this organization has not provided current information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to the BBB's charity standards. While participation in the BBB's charity review efforts is voluntary, the BBB believes that this lack of cooperation may demonstrate a lack of commitment to transparency and accountability.

The BBB reports on charities and determines if they meet 23 standards on matters such as charity effectiveness, finances, appeals and governance. Without the requested information, the BBB cannot verify if the charity meets these standards. The Bureau does not evaluate the worthiness of a charitable program.

Stated Purpose
The stated mission of The Bubel/Aiken Foundation is to provide services and financial assistance to facilitate fully the integration of children with disabilities into the life environment of those without.

Industry Tips
Guidelines for Business Giving
Participating in Charity Appeals
Donating Your Used Car to Charity

Report as of January 19, 2007
Copyright© 2007 Better Business Bureau®, Inc.

I hope this can shed a little more light to the ignorant poster before stereotyping someone again. While I don’t doubt there are urban artists that would rather spend their money in other more “earthly” desires, a great majority does the opposite and you will never know unless RESEARCH is done. What they do is done for their communities’ benefit and not for a pat in the back. Yesterday, I heard Terri Erwin said something quite appropriate to this discussion. She was talking about their foundation and what they do and she said that foundations are not only for luncheons or hugs. That they’re not to give out money, have conventions to talk about ideas or suggest programs, they are created (at least hers is) to have hands on experience doing the actual work. I’m paraphrasing, but what she said was quite profound and true.

Talk is cheap, but I guess Ludacris DOES puts his money where his mouth is and doesn’t spends it just on bling bling.