Families are purposed to grow communities and enrich our children in ways we cannot do alone. The vision is usually so grand, it requires like-minds to support with action, presence and donation. Susan L. Taylor knows this first hand as Founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement. A non-profit foundation that supports children’s mental health, builds outreach to combat suicide among young people of color, creates career day workshops, connecting middle-schoolers to colleges representatives, organizes meals for parents in need, trains mentors to uniquely support their community and so much more throughout 58 cities.
As New York Fashion Week wraps up couples and families came wrapped in their finest for a night that honors charity just as much as it honors fashion. For her 5th annual foundation fundraiser, For the Love of our Children Gala 2020, the red carpet in itself was a runway for New York’s VIP’s thoughtfully set at the landmark Wall Street Cipriani. Right in the heart of the New York Stock Exchange and the headquarters of the National City Bank, it’s clear that the agenda of the National CARES Mentoring Movement is making strategic moves to gain the funding to activate its cause. The purpose of the gala is to raise money to help solve a national crisis among African American families and specifically, among the children. Here, Susan L. Taylor alongside her husband, Khephra Burns enjoy the red carpet with many dear friends who showed their support in deed and donations.
It’s no surprise that Susan L. Taylor can draw a crowd. As a prolific writer, editor, journalist and widely known as the Editor in Chief of Essence Magazine, Taylor is recognized as the most influential woman in journalism. The talent in using her words was what cultivated the ability to connect with people all over the world from entertainment to fashion to politics to the business marketplace. As a teenager reading my older sister’s Essence magazines I was exposed to a world of beauty, success and vision of people who looked just like me. Needless to say it transformed me and to be able to now speak with, engage with and support the very icon responsible for elevating the “black girl” is a testament that her message is effective. I believe the hallmark of Susan Taylor’s success is not in her publishing or media talent or the ability to get the attention of the wealthy but in the relationships that are built on mutual admiration, respect and solid faith-based values.
As we shared red carpet moments with iconic world changers, celebrities, influencers and corporate sponsors, it was moving to hear how each one feels compelled to stand with the National CARES Mentoring team and how unique this brand of philanthropy resonates with their values. During her commencement speech, Susan L. Taylor shares “National CARES is the only organization in the nation that really has boots on the ground doing the healing work in group mentoring format so we can touch and transform multitudes of young people”. Like-minded advocates of impactful change like Grammy Award-Winning artist, poet Common was honored for his contribution; using his craft to promote the beauty of the African American family, speaking highly of women and mothers and highlighting the positive characteristics of men our children should look up to.
Robert F. Smith has come alongside CARES Mentoring through his Fund II Foundation. Last year, this foundation invited young men and women to a restoration retreat in his hometown ranch in Colorado to engage them in enriching activities outside their norm. Motivational and empowerment activities all proved effective as we sat and watched a video of gripping student testimonials on how their lives are eternally changed. Robert F. Smith was presented with the 2020 North Star award for his unmatched generosity towards families and their children. As a married man with children, Mr. Smith has first-hand knowledge on what it takes to successfully build a family and lay groundwork that establishes a legacy for them. His daughters, Zoe and Eliana, joined us on the red carpet and too were honored by their father during his acceptance speech. “Everything I do today is because of the inspiration of my children. I want to create the world that I thought I was born into; that they could live in. Where they would have freedom, liberty, a sense of pride of who they are and a sense of ownership”. As for these basic and necessary rights, Mr. Smith closes, “If we do not fight for it every single day, it will be taken from us bit by bit”. My husband and I sat during this moment and could not have agreed more. Leaders build families and leave inheritances behind that empower children to do the same.
Robert F. Smith is founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners and serves as board of trustees chairman for Carnegie Hall. The nations historic concert venue that presents renowned musicians and supports philanthropy like that of our friend Kelly Hall-Tompkins who will perform May 21st, Zankel Hall.
At the core of every couple building a life together, is the desire to build a family where education, civil rights and economic opportunity are valued. We urge you to support National CARES Mentoring Movement and share this with followers on social media as the season of giving is on-going. As you plan a wedding or a family or make a major purchase, consider extending your generosity towards organizations like this that serve from the soul. Make a tax-deductible donation, make this foundation your favorite charity or gift in honor of a loved one you know are passionate about this kind of work. To do so, visit www.caresmentoring.org and be sure to mention WORLD BRIDE MAGAZINE.
*All Photos by Monica Schipper/Getty Images