In light of the recent events in the United States that have underscored what it means to be Black in America and around the world, the Brooklyn Nets introduce Community Heroes of New York, a moment during each of our remaining games this season where we honor Black-owned businesses and Black Leaders who are providing opportunities for black communities in the greater New York City area. Together, we can help support these groups, continue to raise awareness, and create impactful change within our communities.
Dr. Melony Samuels
Founder and Executive Director, The Campaign Against Hunger
Today’s Community Hero of New York is Dr. Melony Samuels, Founder and Executive Director of The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH, formerly Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger), a community-based service organization in Brooklyn. In 1998, Dr. Samuels started a small, traditional food pantry located in a church basement, which ultimately grew to become TCAH, formally becoming a nonprofit in 2005. Every day TCAH helps thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers by giving them the food and resources they need to survive by using a community approach to caring and feeding hungry people in Bed-Stuy and neighboring communities. TCAH has grown to become one of the most trusted anti-hunger nonprofits, working vigorously to end hunger and build health in NYC. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, TCAH has served almost one million meals reaching upwards of 7,000 families a week, a number that will exceed 10,000 families a week very soon.
Visit their website for more information at www.tcahnyc.org
Founder and Executive Director, Digital Girl, Inc.
Michelle Gall, Founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn-based non-profit, Digital Girl, Inc. Michelle founded DGI in 2014 as a way to encourage underserved youth - especially girls - to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). DGI works to encourage minorities and young women of color to pursue STEM careers through early application, hands-on training, mentorship, tutoring and social events that help to boost confidence, raise self-esteem and STEM career awareness for young students. DGI now serves has expanded its programming to young adults, ages 16-24, parents and seniors alike. The organization has also become a trusted community partner, leading civic initiatives such as Participatory Budgeting Projects and most recently, becoming an NYC Census Complete Count Awardee to help get the word out to the community about the importance of completing the 2020 Census.
Visit their website for more information at www.digitalgirlinc.org
Founder and Executive Director, I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D.
Karmia Berry, Founder and Executive Director of I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D., a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that aims to promote self-empowerment and appreciation for cultural richness and diversity by helping high school students, specifically black and brown youth, to become innovative global citizens who envision a life beyond their immediate communities. Karmia founded the organization in 2017 with a goal of reducing hate and discrimination by redefining social norms through cultural immersion educational opportunities, and helping youth discover what it means to be C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D. – Confident, Unique, Leading, Tenacious, Unstoppable, Regal, Educated and Daring. The nonprofit combines travel and mentorship opportunities with community service, skill-building, wellness and culturally enriched workshops that challenge students socially and intellectually, while helping them fulfill personal, scholastic and professional goals towards their success.
Visit their website for more information at www.iamcultured.org
Founder and President, Funsport and Beyond The Game
Rickey Rivers, Brooklyn-resident and Founder and President of nonprofit, Beyond The Game Inc., as well as a tri-state basketball leagues held under Funsport, Inc. After working for ten years in the finance departments of Morgan Stanley and Cushman & Wakefield, Rickey founded Funsport, Inc. in 1999, an organization dedicated to creating high-quality, fun, and competitive spaces for student-athletes to learn, develop, strengthen, and thrive athletically. In 2015, Rickey founded nonprofit, Beyond the Game, as a way to support Funsport by nurturing the whole student-athlete and provide complementary programs through a two-fold approach of work and play. These organizations work in tandem to develop high-profile basketball programs with an overall goal to nurture responsibility, academic excellence and sound decision-making skills in youth that participate.
More information at Beyondthegame.NYC
Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance
Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance
Sharon Daughtry, Executive Director of Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), an umbrella organization with more than 600 Brooklyn-based, not-for-profit community partner organizations. These community partners work directly with Brooklyn’s grassroots organizations and underserved communities. Since the DBNA’s founding in 2005 by Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Sr., the organization has partnered with New York Brooklyn Presbyterian/Methodist Hospital in establishing a community health facility, distributed more than 85,000 tickets to arena games and events for members of the Brooklyn community who might not be able to afford them otherwise, and established a Community Foundation focused on funding unrecognized, under-funded, grassroots, Brooklyn based not-for-profits.
Visit their website for more information at www.thedbna.org
Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa
Co-Creators, Black-Owned Brooklyn
Tayo Giwa and Cynthia Gordy Giwa, co-creators of Black-Owned Brooklyn, a digital publication that spotlights Black-owned, Brooklyn-based businesses and the people behind them. Tayo and Cynthia founded the site in 2018 as a small act of hyperlocal service journalism, and it has quickly become the premier record for Black people, places and products. Additionally, the site has grown to document Black life in the borough more broadly – from deep-rooted histories, to beloved cultural gatherings and everyday live experiences that contribute to the borough’s soul and vibrancy.
Visit their Instagram for more information at @blackownedbklyn
Founder and President, Children of Promise NYC
Today’s Community Hero of New York is Sharon Content, Founder and President of Children of Promise NYC, the first and only adolescent mental health clinic co-located with an after-school program and summer day camp specifically designed to meet the needs, interests and concerns of children left behind by a parent serving time in prison. In the United States, 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated. In New York alone, there are over 105,000 children with an imprisoned parent. In 2009, Sharon founded Children of Promise NYC after growing concerned about the lack of support to this target population whom she considered the invisible victims of mass incarceration. Children of Promise NYC envisions a society that values the purpose of every child impacted by mass incarceration and creates opportunities to thrive within and beyond their community.
Visit their website for more information at www.cpnyc.org
Andres "Seats by Dre" Martin
Founder and Exec. Director, HBCU Night
Andres "Seats by Dre" Martin, Founder and Exec. Director of HBCU Night, a 501c3 non-profit organization created in New York that provides college admissions resources, scholarship information, career development, as well as fundraising, enrollment and networking opportunities for individuals aspiring to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dre created HBCU Night after being inspired by Black and Brown youth from the lower socioeconomic areas, the HBCU experience, the rich HBCU legacies and a series of panel discussions he moderated throughout his work-experience. His efforts for HBCU Night have started in 2015 and since then the multifaceted initiative has evolved into a 501c3 that creates awareness for HBCUs. The organization’s vision is to increase the HBCU Night attendance rate each year and to educate attendees about the illustrious HBCUs, scholarships, career development, and fundraisers for HBCUs.
Visit their website for more information at www.hbcunight.org
President and CEO, New York Urban League
Arva Rice, President and CEO of New York Urban League, a civil rights organization devoted to surmounting the educational and economic obstacles faced by African-Americans and other under-served populations in New York City. Arva was named President and CEO of the more than 100-year-old organization in 2009, and has helped make significant strides in furthering the organization's mission by enabling constituents to gain first-class education, economic self-reliance and civil rights protection through programs, services and advocacy. New York Urban League is an affiliate of the National Urban League, and helps thousands of New Yorkers annually with landing living-wage jobs with good benefits, providing college scholars and a path to an educational career, and ensuring everybody has a seat at the table.
Visit their website for more information at www.nyul.org
Founder, Rohan Levy Foundation
Nadine Sylvester, Founder of the Rohan Levy Foundation, a nonprofit that was created in honor of Rohan Levy, Nadine’s late son, who was tragically killed by gun violence in his Brooklyn community when he was just 15-years-old. Rohan’s goal was to become an architect. Nadine created the Foundation to help combat gun violence in Brooklyn communities of color and low socioeconomic status by helping young men to realize their dreams by providing leadership and educational programs; scholarships and mentoring. Even in his death, Rohan, with his amazing smile and zeal for life, is making a difference.
Visit their website for more information at www.rohanlevyfoundation.org
Creator, The Swam Dreams Project
Aesha Ash, Creator of The Swam Dreams Project, an ongoing photo essay and movement in which Aesha aims to challenge - and change - the demoralized, objectified and caricatured images of African-American women by showing the world that beauty, grace, elegance and poise are not reserved for any particular race or socio-economic background. Aehsa began dancing at the age of five and overcame adversity to become a professional ballerina for 13-years, and one of the few women of color to ever grace the stage of the New York City Ballet. She began The Swan Dreams Project in 2011, after putting on her ballerina uniform and taking a series of images in her hometown of Rochester, and has since continually worked to tackle invisible barriers that exist for women of color, particularly those within inner-city communities.
Visit Aesha’s website for more information at www.theswandreamsproject.org
Kevin Sookdeo and Tony Singh
Executive Directors of Calvary's Mission Food Pantry
Kevin Sookdeo and Tony Singh, Executive Directors of Calvary's Mission Food Pantry, one of the largest food pantries in Queens, distributing millions of pounds of food annually to New Yorkers in need. The food pantry was created in 2000, and in addition to distributing food, they deliver medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack basic living essentials due to famine, war, poverty, or natural disaster across the world. Every Saturday, their group feeds more than 1,000 familie Calvary's Mission Food Pantrys in New York City, and this year their goal is to distribute seven million pounds of food to those in-need. In the future, they hope to expand their services to help New Yorkers through free job training and other services.
Visit their website for more information at www.calvarysmission.org
Home of the world famous Gravity Blanket, Gravity is a premium sleep and wellness brand that creates science-backed solutions for sleep and stress. Following their 2017 Kickstarter campaign that raised over $4.7 million dollars, the Gravity Blanket has gone on to be named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2018 and has sold more than 160,000 units across the globe. Gravity continues to innovate on the Gravity Blanket, which is now available in a host of different colors, styles and sizes, and it produces a multitude of non-blanket sleep-enhancing products, such as the patented Weighted Sleep Mask, Gravity Pillow, and Gravity Sheets.
From the beginning, Gravity has believed mental health and wellness should be just as important as physical health. The staff it hires, the products it makes, and the marketing materials it puts out are all executed to advance mental health and wellness for all. To that end, the revenue that Gravity generates fuels numerous charitable contributions, and to-date, Gravity has given over $150,000 to mental health and wellness non-profit organizations. You can rest assured that purchasing a Gravity Product will benefit someone in need of mental health support in some capacity.