DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION HUNTING TO CERTIFY MINORITY SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

5,000 City-certified minority and women-owned businesses puts the Administration ahead of schedule to certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by 2019.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director Richard Buery today announced that the City has reached 5,000 City-certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), meaning the Administration is ahead of schedule of reaching 9,000 City-certified M/WBEs by 2019.

The 5,000th City-certified M/WBE is a Bronx-based transportation firm owned by Miguel Cabrera who was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S. in 2009. After receiving his legal residency, Cabrera worked as a taxi driver and was later inspired to open his own transportation company in 2015. His company, MC Transportation, specializes in delivery services, commercial and residential moving services and construction waste and debris removal. Deputy Mayor Buery and key Administration officials focused on the M/WBE effort presented Miguel with his M/WBE certificate a letter from Mayor Bill de Blasio at a NYC Business Solutions Center in the Bronx. In the letter, the Mayor thanked Cabrera for making contributions to the local economy and highlighted the importance of having all New Yorkers participate in New York City’s economy.

“This City works best when all people – regardless of race, religion or ethnicity – have the resources they need to reach their full potential,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “My Administration is committed to providing those resources to business owners like Miguel, beginning with City-certification, as a way to help grow and sustain their business. I thank Miguel for establishing a Bronx-based firm, hiring locally and reinvesting in the community and congratulate him on being the 5000th City-certified M/WBE firm.”

“We know that with certification comes opportunity. By getting certified by the City as an M/WBE, businesses can access mentoring programs, workshops, networking opportunities and other programs that can help their businesses grow and win contracts with City agencies,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director. “Today marks a critical milestone toward our goal of certifying 9,000 M/WBEs in the next three years. I would like to congratulate Miguel Cabrera, owner of Bronx-based MC Transportation, for being number 5,000!”

“I started my own business to become more independent and give back to my local community by hiring people from my neighborhood,” said Miguel Cabrera. “Working with the City and obtaining City certification can help grow and expand my business so that I can continue hiring locally. I look forward to using City business as a resource and visiting the Department of Small Business Services to learn how I can continue to manage a successful business. I also thank the de Blasio Administration for prioritizing minority and women-owned businesses.”

 

The de Blasio Administration encourages all M/WBEs interested in doing business with the City to apply for City-certification. City-certified M/WBEs have access to the latest contracting opportunities, are granted City resources that help them bid and successfully perform on City contracts, and are added to the M/WBE Online Directory where contractors and City agencies can proactively seek M/WBEs to do business with. M/WBEs interested in becoming City certified can visit nyc.gov/getcertified.

 

The Department of Small Business Services recently streamlined the applications for M/WBE certification and recertification to provide a more efficient path to getting certified while maintaining the integrity of the process. The new, user-friendly applications have 30 percent less paperwork and are simplified and sequenced to expedite the completion process. The City also created a separate simpler application for small businesses that are sole proprietors to make the application process more accessible and user-friendly. This will directly benefit women business owners across New York City since 90 percent of women-owned businesses across the United States are sole proprietors.

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In September of 2016, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his certification goal, the Mayor also announced the goal of awarding 30 percent of the value of all City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021.

 

“City-certification is a resource that minority and women-owned businesses can utilize to help grow and sustain their business,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs. “I’m happy to see people like Miguel get certified and access all of the resources that come along with MWBE certification, and I congratulate him on being the 5,000th City-certified M/WBE. He embodies everything that makes this City great – the entrepreneurial spirit that this City welcomes from all walks of life to establish businesses and reinvest in local communities.”

 

“Minority and women-owned businesses play a vital role in our local economy, and I am proud to support Mayor de Blasio’s vision for investing in their success,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “Today, we are excited to celebrate the 5,000th M/WBE that is certified with the City – and to do it here in the Bronx during City Hall In Your Borough. City contractors should reflect the rich talents and diversity of all of our people, and I’m glad that our agency is leading the way by getting more firms certified and connecting them with contracting opportunities.”

 

PROGRESS:

 

  • In 2015, the Mayor de Blasio established his OneNYC goal of awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by 2025. The Administration has thus far awarded $3.54 billion dollars to M/WBEs putting the Administration on track to meeting the goal.

 

  • Since the beginning of the Administration, the City has seen a steady increase in the value of City contracts being awarded to M/WBEs. In FY 15, the utilization rate was 8 percent. That number later increased to over 14 percent in FY 16 and – in the first two quarters of FY17 – over $571 million was awarded to M/WBEs, representing an 18 percent utilization rate.

 

“Increasing M/WBE participation in the City’s procurement process has been a priority of my Administration from day one. I congratulate Mayor de Blasio and his Administration on reaching this important milestone. As we move forward, I will continue to work with stakeholders at all levels of government as well as the private sector to increase MWBE participation and strengthen this critical piece of our city’s economy,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

 

State Senator Marisol Alcantara said, “Incentivizing minority-owned and women-owned businesses is key to tackling income and wealth inequality in our society. By prioritizing these businesses for City contracts, the City of New York puts our values of diversity and equality into action. I am pleased at the continued success of this program and will continue to partner with the Mayor’s office to set this program on a firm footing for the future.”

 

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “Certainly, the city has come a long way to arrive at this point where it is certifying its 5,000th M/WBE. As the number of City-certified firms increases, so too will the chances that these businesses get a fair share of City contracts. As the newly appointed leader of the Senate Democratic Conference’s M/WBE Task Force, I believe we should be doing all we can to empower these entrepreneurs and level the playing field in a way that helps them realize their full potential. I look forward to the city certifying its next 5,000 M/WBEs very soon and meeting that 30 percent goal.”

 

“It is really remarkable for the City of New York to have reached the milestone of 5,000 City-certified M/WBEs ahead of schedule,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Business Owned Enterprises (MWBEs). “Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Commissioner Gregg Bishop, Senior Advisor.

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CUNY Teams up With Other States on Equality Program

 

CUNY ISLG Working with Dallas, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Tulsa to Measure and Track Equality Among Residents

The CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation and 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), announced the selection of five cities to receive support to develop a tool to track progress towards equality, helping decision makers craft more effective policies to assist communities in each city. This work will build on the model developed by ISLG to measure equality among diverse groups (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, individuals with disabilities) in New York City. The NYC model measures equality across six broad areas, including economy, education, health, housing, justice, and services.

The selected cities—Dallas, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Tulsa—will each work with ISLG to build a tool that prioritizes the needs of each city and will complement the comprehensive Resilience Strategies being developed or implemented as member cities of 100RC.

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The tool will include a number of specific indicators to measure disparities across various sectors and groups that will be identified by each site. ISLG will work with each city and the local community to solidify their priorities and determine which broad areas to focus on. ISLG and the partner cities will then determine a list of final indicators drawing from local data in each of these areas, and together, these indicators will provide practical means to assess progress—or lack of progress—over time and connect it to policy development.

ISLG Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, “We’re proud to expand our work with The Rockefeller Foundation to measure equality in five diverse cities across the country. At this critical time when there is increased scrutiny of local government policies and practices, it’s important for jurisdictions look closely at the data they have to really understand what’s going on, what’s working, and where improvement needs to be made. This work will go a long way towards helping jurisdictions do this in a thoughtful and transparent way.”

“Achieving greater equality within our cities has been one of the defining challenges of the last few years,” said Peter Madonia, Chief Operating Officer, The Rockefeller Foundation. “Policy makers are committed to addressing these disparities through public programs, but traditionally lack the data that allows them to better identify the problems and ultimately the most effective solutions. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support CUNY in its efforts to help cities navigate the realities of these disparities so they can work towards policies that offer the greatest impact to achieving equality.”

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Otis Rolley, North America Regional Director for 100 Resilient Cities said, “Our cities agree that increasing equity is key to building resilience, and this tool will be critical in helping them understand where they need to focus their efforts. If cities better understand where they’re equitable and where they’re not, their leaders both inside and outside government can tailor programs and initiatives in the most efficient and effective way possible. The selected cities will not only work to improve equity in their cities, but by developing and piloting this tool, will be helping cities all over the world address this critical challenge.”

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said, “Notwithstanding the tremendous wealth and prosperity that Dallas has long enjoyed, many of our residents continue to struggle to provide for themselves and their families. If Dallas is to achieve her highest potential as a truly resilient 21st century city, we must strive to expand this abundance of opportunity to our most vulnerable residents. Through the good work of this partnership and the knowledge that we gain, Dallas will endeavor to build an equitable and just city that supports all of our residents in their success and nurtures our children to thrive.”

“The City of Oakland is excited to be part of this cohort of cities working alongside Rockefeller to ensure we are measuring equity outcomes, particularly around our housing and economic security work which are key pillars of our Resilient Oakland playbook,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “True equity is when our entire community has equal access to opportunities that enable them to attain their full potential. Resilience in the face of chronic stresses, such as housing affordability or long-term unemployment, cannot be achieved until we focus on building this equity.”

“Participating in this selected cohort of the Equality Indicators Project is a great opportunity to tie together many of the leading efforts locally to build equity across the City. Using CUNY’s framework will allow us to tailor a Pittsburgh based equity measurement tool,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

“August of 2014 has become a defining moment for both St. Louis and our nation,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson of the City of Saint Louis. “The protests that began in Ferguson marched down the streets of nearly every major American city. As a result, St. Louis now stands at the forefront of the national conversation about equity and the debilitating racial disparities across our communities. What we’ve learned through this conversation is that real equity cannot be defined by merely one indicator, but rather many, and it is something that we have to work toward continuously and with intention. The CUNY Equality Indicators grant and our partnership with 100 Resilient Cities presents St. Louis with an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with other leading cities and experts in order to better inform our local decisions and utilize data to drive the policies that will close our equity gaps.”

“This grant is another important national partnership for Tulsa as we work to ensure that no matter what area of town you live in, everyone has the same access to education and health needs that are vital to the quality of life of Tulsans,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “This grant will be an initial step in the use of data to address racial disparities that exist in Tulsa today.”

About the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance

The Equality Indicators are a project of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG). The CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance bridges the gap between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to address the challenges and opportunities confronting government. ISLG works with government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, philanthropic institutions, and the private sector, to improve public systems to produce better results that are worthy of public investment and trust. For more information, please visit equalityindicators.org and islg.cuny.edu.

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Benjamin Melendez, Former NYC Gang Leader, Musician, Activist Dies at 65

Ghetto Brothers gang leader, Puerto Rican nationalist and Rubble Kings subject passes away at 65.

Benjamin “Yellow Benjy” Melendez died of natural causes a few days ago. Although the word was that he had kidney failure and had been waiting for a kidney transplant. His condition had gotten much worse over the last couple of years. His wife said, he fell and cut his arm badly. He was then rushed to the hospital, however given the complications of his kidney failure, he did not make it.

Melendez, who is also celebrated for negotiating a gang truce between Harlem and the Bronx in 1971, is the subject of Rubble Kings, the 2015 documentary that centers the era of gang violence and drug epidemic in 1970s New York City. Melendez leadership in brokering gang related peace was an historic moment in NYC street history.

“Benjy  went from street gang leader to social activist and inspired everyone around him. He stood as a social activist, a musician, and a friend to many in the 1970s South Bronx — what was then the worst urban area in the United States.”

CITY COLLEGE LAUNCHES NEW MASTER’S PROGRAM TRACK IN DOMINICAN STUDIES

Popular MA Program in the Study of the America’s gets a new focus

The City College of the City University of New York (CCNY) is pleased to announce a new program, the Dominican Studies Track in the Master in the Study of the Americas Program in the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education.  The program is the first of its kind in the nation, and will welcome its first students in the Fall of 2017.

“City College’s new master’s degree recognizes the importance of the Dominican Republic and Dominicans in our city, in our culture and at our university,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “Nearly 10 percent of CUNY’s students are of Dominican ancestry, but we expect that students from many backgrounds will be interested in a program that examines and highlights the Dominican society and economy. This institute brings a wealth of new academic opportunities to CUNY and City College provides an excellent location for the scholars and scholarship.”

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“I commend the students, faculty and administrators at CCNY on today’s launch of the new Dominican Studies specialization in the Master in the Study of the Americas Program,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “This Master track program is a first of its kind in the United States and offers participating students a unique perspective into the legacy and socioeconomic development of the Dominican people in the Dominican Republic, the United States, across the Americas, and in communities around the world. Through their studies, scholars will gain an invaluable understanding of the Dominican culture and have the ability to produce and disseminate research based work as part of the program’s comprehensive approach in Dominican Studies.”

The MA in the Study of the Americas, under the direction of CWE Assistant Professor Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken, is an interdisciplinary, 30-credit graduate program that addresses questions and concepts about the Americas as it focuses on topics such as racial and ethnic identities, migration and immigration, popular culture, politics, gender, and human rights. The Dominican Studies specialization will focus on the legacy and the socioeconomic development of the Dominican people in the Dominican Republic and in the United States and on the relationships between the two countries.

“A rigorous academic program in Dominican Studies will be a real draw to students from the vital Dominican diaspora surrounding CCNY,” said CCNY Interim President Vince Boudreau. “It will also serve as a unique center of intellectual activity for anyone interested in exploring the immigrant experience in America or the interplay of different peoples in the fabric of our society.”

The Program finds a natural home at City College, where the Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York (CUNY DSI) is the nation’s first and only university-based research institute devoted to the study of the history of the Dominican Republic and people of Dominican descent in the United States and across the wider Dominican Diaspora.

“The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute brings unparalleled resources to the table for this exciting new program,” according to Director Ramona Hernández, “including possibilities for internships as well as research and conference participation. We will work with Dr. Kathleen McDonald, Chair of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Department, to ensure that this program has the resources over the long term to compete for the best students and offer them the best education in the field.”

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About the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute
Founded in 1992 and housed in The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at CCNY, the Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York under the leadership of Dr. Ramona Hernández produces and disseminates research and scholarship about Dominicans, and about the Dominican Republic.

About the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at CWE
The Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education under the leadership of Dean Juan Carlos Mercado offers an innovative and flexible curriculum that provides working adults and transfer students with a framework that allows them to connect their learning in the classroom in ways that are relevant to the workplace and the world.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Today more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight professional schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship.  Now celebrating its 170th anniversary, CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself.  View CCNY Media Kit.

 

Photos of The LatinTRENDS Digital Pivot Announcement at Facebook Headquarters

Photos of The LatinTRENDS Digital Pivot Announcement at Facebook Headquarters

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LatinTRENDS was hosted by Facebook in NYC on Tuesday May 23. The event bought together men and women from all fields of endeavor in a progressive-upbeat environment.

The company announced its new direction into a digital first media company and that it is no longer in the print/magazine business. During the brief speech, Juan Guillen, founder introduced two new partners to the brand that will help build out the digital arm, in addition to improve sales, operations and marketing.

The event was sponsored by The Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic and Moet Hennessy, Hors d’oeuvres served by Salsa Catering.

Photos by Jhon Caballero

 

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”38″ gal_title=”Digital Pivot”]

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¡Pa gozar! Your inside scoop on Miami’s Latin music clubs

Hoy Como Ayer 1_reduced

Photo courtesy: Hoy Como Ayer

 

By, Daisy Cabrera

Ahh, glorious South Beach. Tourists flock here to bronze under the blazing sun, break waves on rented jet-skis, throw back some fruity cocktails, “watch me naenae” in mega clubs and relish under tall palm trees swaying to the ocean breeze. It’s a year-round chancleta paradise!

Miami is also an explosion of Latino culture, and the 305’s live music scene is no joke. But, here’s the thing mi gente – you’ll have to get off the Beach (yep, you read that right) and do it up local style. Dust off those dancing shoes, and get ready for some sabrosura.

In the heart of Little Havana lies an iconic, bohemian little gem called Hoy Como Ayer where you can groove to everything from salsa and Latin pop, to rock en español and flamenco. Named after Benny Moré’s hit song, Hoy Como Ayer has been entertaining folks with live music for the last 15 years. You’ll be bumping hips up in here ‘cause it’s a standing room only affair. Don’t miss the happening Thursday night ¡Fuacata! party, a Latin funk percussive soirée courtesy of Spam AllStars’ weekly residency. ¡Tremenda descarga! Famous talent who’ve graced their stage include Willy Chirino, Diego el Cigala, Albita, Pavel Nuñez, Los 3 de La Habana, Isabel Iñigo, Ana Maria Perera, Aymeé Nuviola and many more. Hoy Como Ayer is located at 2212 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135. http://www.hoycomoayer.us

Ball & Chain 2

Photo courtesy: Ball & Chain

 

Don’t put away the guayabera just yet! A favorite haunt for many is the historic Ball & Chain (circa 1935), a gorgeous venue also located on Calle Ocho. The Friday festivities begin early with a live salsa music/lunch hour set at noon, followed by the quite popular happy hour at 4pm. At 6pm, behold the tunes of live jazz and stay for the icing on the tres leches cake – the “Miami Boheme” party – when a full band hits the outdoor Pineapple Stage at 10pm for a serious Latin music jam session. Tito Puente Jr., Nil Lara, Conjunto Progreso, Calle Sol, Tony Succar, Edwin Bonilla, Locos Por Juana, BARRIOACTIVO and countless others have performed here. Ball & Chain’s address is 1513 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135. http://www.ballandchainmiami.com

La Covacha 1

Photo courtesy: La Covacha

 

On to Saturday night, where the place to be is La Covacha. Head over to Doral for this major nightclub that is all about dancing. Think big. Think jam-packed. Think major sound system. Think crazy fun! Since 1988, this has been the go-to joint to hear an array of music: rumba, merengue, cubatón, samba, vallenato – de todo, un poco. Party hard inside, or take it on back to the patio area where national musical bands move the masses ‘til the wee hours. Prominent musicians from across the globe who’ve rocked this house include Calle 13, Frankie Negron, Los Amigos Invisibles, Diva Gash, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Kinky, Hombres G, and Osmani Garcia. Visit La Covacha at 10730 NW 25th St, Doral, FL 33172. http://www.lacovacha.com

Next time you’re in the MIA, you know what spots to hit up! El que sabe, sabe.

The Many Faces of Fidel Castro

Photo by Kenya News

Photo by Kenya News

Saint, idealist, rebel, leader, dictator. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, or simply known as Fidel Castro, was a controversial man of many faces not just to Cubans, or Cuban-Americans, but to people around the world.

During his teens, his mentors and classmates found him to be a stubborn and deeply religious man, almost saintly. As a boy, he was sent to study at Colegio de Dolores in Santiago de Cuba with Jesuits, and when a priest fell down a stream during a hike it was Castro that pulled him to safety. Together, the two prayed fervently after surviving the ordeal.

In 1945, he joined the University of Havana‘s law school. It was there that Castro read Marxist literature, studied everything there was on Cuban politics and befriended Communist students. At this point in his life, he was simply a strong-willed, idealistic and open-minded man that wanted to fight against the oppression of the poor, but radical ideologies began to seep into his school of thought.

Castro’s father, Angel Castro, influenced him to fight for those in need. Angel, an impoverished Spaniard came to Cuba with nothing but dreams for a better life. In time, Angel Castro owned a plantation and became a landowner.

Castro became a lawyer for the poor once he obtained his degree. Since many of his clients had no money, they paid for his services with food.

It was the early 1950s when he started to struggle with the merits of democracy versus communism. Wanting to do more for those that were suffering, Castro ran for Congress only for the elections not to be upheld because of former dictator Fulgencio Batista returning to the country, taking over the government and destroying what was left of the democratic process in Cuba.

As a rebel with a cause, Castro made an appeal through the court system to take a stance against Colonel Batista’s violation of the Cuban Constitution. When that was unsuccessful, in 1953 Castro and almost 200 hundred followers attacked the military Moncada Barracks. His men were outnumbered 10 to 1 when they lost the element of surprise.

Unfortunately, this only led to Castro and what was left of his followers becoming political prisoners. This experience would go on to shape his future and that of Cuba’s for 50 years.

Believing that Castro and his men lost hope and would no longer be a threat, Batista released the surviving members of the Moncada Barracks attack after one year in 1954 so as not to come off as a dictator. This would prove to be a critical error.

Castro and his men were emboldened after their release. First, Castro retreated to Mexico, but then he came back to Cuba on an old yacht with the Argentine radical Che Guevara. With his power of speech and a group of 80, Castro initiated several guerrilla campaigns against Colonel Batista. By New Year’s Day of 1959, Batista fled Cuba.

Within a few months, Fidel Castro became the very thing he fought against, a Cuban dictator. Castro became paranoid after his coup and proceeded over the execution of 500 of Batista’s former officials.

In 1960, Cuba took over land that was owned by American and British landowners angering both superpowers in the process. This led to the Cuban embargo, in which the United States cut ties with the country. Castro turned to the Soviet Union for financial support.

As a dictator, he helped to increase sugar harvests in the country, attempted to bring about racial equality, and made social progress through medical advancements. However, the downside to his dictatorship was extreme poverty, political imprisonment and the loss of rights for citizens of Cuba, especially the middle class.

No matter what you consider Fidel Castro to be, idealist, rebel, or dictator, he was revolutionary and changed the course of history not only for Cuba but for all of Latin America, for good and bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering David Ortiz Last Game against the Yankees

Image: upi.com

Image: upi.com

Famed baseball player of the Boston Red Sox, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, played his 117th and final game against the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Sept 29th 2016. A pregame ceremony was held to honor the DH (designated hitter) with his family and teammates. Yankee retiree Mariano Rivera, along with the NY team, presented him with a gift of a painting, highlighting the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Ortiz’s baseball career in the US started in 1998, playing for the Minnesota Twins. His tenure with the Red Sox began in 2003, where just a year later, he helped “break the curse” for Boston, winning their first World Series since 1918. The Red Sox won two more World Championship games since.

Other than baseball, Ortiz is quite the philanthropist. He helped his city heal after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, including his assertive statement as the start of a game, “This is our f***ing city!”, which he said too quick to be censored during the live broadcast.

With a heart for children, he founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which is committed to helping children in New England and the Dominican Republic with critical pediatric needs. He also appeared in an episode of the YouTube series “Undercover Lyft”, where celebrities disguise themselves to be a Lyft driver for a day and surprise their passengers! Check it out below:

Ortiz is now officially retired as a major league baseball

What You Didn’t Know about Carmelo Anthony

melo

Carmelo Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York to an African American mother, Mary and Puerto Rican father who he is named after. He is the youngest of four and before his third birthday his father passed away , leaving Mary a struggling single mother.

While his mother worked as a housekeeper, his much older siblings helped to raise him as they lived in the projects of Red Hook. To pass the time, Anthony would watch hours of March Madness and NBA Playoff games.

After the passing of his father, his life would go on to change more once his siblings went on their own paths and left home. This time around, Mary had to take care of Anthony on her own and she moved her son to Baltimore when he was eight. What she didn’t know was that the area called the “The Pharmacy,” was plagued by drugs, prostitution and crime.

To keep her son away from trouble she threatened to keep him off the basketball court if he didn’t behave. This incentive would later help him in his high school, college and NBA career as a basketball player. By 1999, the high school sophomore from Towson Catholic High School was becoming one of the best ball players in the Baltimore area.

Although he was 6’5″, Anthony and his mother knew he wasn’t ready for the big leagues of basketball yet.  To keep from slipping with grades in school, Anthony later attended the strict Oak Hill Academy, and worked out more so that he would go from a skinny high school basketball player to become a possible division one college prospect. By the time he graduated he went to Syracuse University where he shined by helping the team out of a slump to become a winning streak that led to the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Carmelo-Anthony

 

From this point, the freshman and his teammates knew he had what it would take to join the NBA. He left college, with his coach’s support, and he became part of the top three picks in the NBA for 2003. He was selected by the much beleaguered Denver Nuggets. Once again, this time he went even further than his college team and brought the Nuggets to the playoffs, and later that year helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in the Olympics.

More change would come in Anthony’s life. His behavior on and off the court started leading to his reputation as being “thug like,” and he knew that he quickly had to change his ways.

In 2008, the U.S. Olympic team would win a gold medal at the Beijing games redeeming themselves from the previous Olympics. When it came to playing in the U.S., the Nuggets went through turnover after turnover with coaches. After eight years with the Nuggets, Anthony was traded for the Knicks.

If there was anyone to help mellow Anthony out during that transition to the Knicks, it was Alani “La La” Vasquez, his girlfriend since 2004. In 2007, the couple welcomed their only child, son Kiyan and by 2010 the couple had married shortly before the trade announcement. In 2011, the Knicks made it to the playoffs and Anthony tied his postseason personal high of 42 points. Now, Anthony is playing for the team that he grew up watching during his childhood.

 

More Carmelo Fun Facts…

He owns a Soccer Team in Puerto Rico
♠He holds the record for the most points ever scored in the Madison Square Garden by any player in history. This game was in 2014 and he managed to get a whopping 62 points!

♣Carmelo and his Puerto Rican dad share the same first name. His dad also sadly passed away when Melo was only 2 years old, and the passing was due to cancer

♥He was cut from his high school team as a freshman.

♦He bought a pet camel.

♣He’s afraid of cats.

♠He listens to Willie Colon every day.

♥His father, Carmelo Iriarte, was a member of the Young Lords.

♦He won the Big East Rookie of the Year Award 10 times surpassing Allen Iverson even though he was in college for one

♠He became the sixth youngest and the 40th player to score 20,000 points in his career this year

♦He was on the cover of LatinTRENDS Magazine

photo

 

What You Didn’t Know about Celia Cruz

celia 3

Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, or for short Celia Cruz, was one of the most accomplished singers of the 20th century. Hailing from humble beginnings in the poor neighborhood of Santos Suarez in Havana, Cuba, her mother knew immediately that she was destined to be a singer.

It was on the radio in diverse Santos Suarez where Cruz would grow up listening to all types of music. Rumba, mambo, guaracha, bolero, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano was apart of her musical education. As a youth Cruz and her sister were taken to cabarets to sing by their aunt. At radio stations, Cruz sang tango “Nostalgias” (unrequited love songs) to win cakes during the “Hora del Te” broadcast, often coming first place.

Her piercing and powerful voice carried a great warmth. At a music conservatory, her own professor took notice of it and told her to drop out and let her talent shine as she was already gaining momentum on the radio for her recorded and live performances in the late 1940s.

Her vocal style was distinctive because it incorporated pregon, the wails of street vendors (usually fishmongers and peanut vendors). As an Afro-Cubana, her early music was influenced by santeria (Cuban blend of Christian and traditional African religious music) songs which used the religious African dialect of Lucumi.

After leaving school she was the singer for a dance group, Las Mulatas del Fuego. In 1950 she was the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, one of the most prominent Cuban orchestras. But that didn’t come easy, because when she joined Sonora, she was replacing a previous singer and she had to gain the public’s support. By her bandmates sticking up for her, Cruz eventually became well love not only in Cuba, but throughout all of Latin America. Slowly, she was becoming the leading female voice of modern salsa at a time when the music was dominated by men.

Soon, Cruz’s life will change forever, for better and for worst in the early 1960s. While travelling with Matancera in Mexico, Fidel Castro came to power turning Cuba into a communist country. With all but one bandmember refusing to go back under such a regime, Castro issued them a lifetime ban. Over a year later she would take up residency in New Jersey and marry Matancera trumpet player Pedro Knight.

In the mid 1960s, she followed the New York music scene which had musicians from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of salsa, she also sang guaracha and all the other types of Latin music she grew up listening to. This was a time of experimentation when many artists would blend and mix many different musical styles and perform with musicians from different styles of music.

By the 1970s, Cruz made music with Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, and the Fania AllStars. She had a catch phrase, Azucar, which she used to energize her audience and band. Also, she became a fashion icon because of her bold, daring, and wild costumes and wigs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she performed and was featured on songs with Wyclef Jean, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, and David Byrne. By the early 2000s, The Celia Cruz Foundation was created in order to help impoverished students that wanted to study music.

Celia Cruz made music until her death from brain cancer in 2003. Within the 55 years that she made music, she released 75 albums, 23 of which went gold. Throughout her career, Cruz was honored as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, and the Queen of Latin Music.

Fun Facts

  • She was awarded an American National Medal of the Arts
  • For the 2015-2016 TV lineup, Telemundo will have a musical drama about The Queen of Salsa
  • While with La Sonora Matancera, Cruz and the group appeared in five motion pictures
  • She sang the spot for WQBA in Miami
  • There is an exhibit in Washinton D.C. dedicated to her

 

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New York’s Havana Film festival. Now Through April 7th

New York’s Havana Film festival Now through April 7th.

HFFNY RUNS MARCH 30 – APRIL 7, 2017

The Havana Film Festival NY (HFFNY) announces two new and hot releases coming from Chile and Uruguay to join the competition for the Havana Star Prize: Vida de Familia (Family Life), a 2017 Chilean drama directed by Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, which premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and El Candidato (The Candidate) by renown Uruguayan actor Daniel Hendler, who recently won Best Director at the Miami International Film Festival.

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Family Life, the collaboration between Chilean directors Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, is an adaptation by writer Alejandro Zambra of his own story (Jiménez also directed a feature film version of Zambra’s previous novel, Bonsai). A funhouse mirror of self-examination, one that turns intimate spaces inside out and reveals how even the most private corners of our lives are not entirely safe from invasion.

The Candidate, second film directed by Daniel Hendler, delivers a behind-the-scenes tale of a campaign run in an effort to get voiceless millionaire Martin Marchand (Diego de Paula) elected to office. A team of advisors is brought in to shape the image of Marchand, producing social media profiles, commercials and a new public persona. Conflict arises when it is revealed that not everyone is who they present themselves to be. Is fiction mirroring reality or vice versa?

HFFNY will award the Havana Star Prize for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor/ Actress. The awards will be given at the Closing Night Ceremony, April 7 at 6:30 pm at the New York DGA Theater (110 West 57th Street). The recipients will be chosen by three prominent members in the film industry, award winning directors Flavio Florencio (Made in Bangkok), Martin Rosete (Money, Voice Over); and actor Carlos Enrique Almirante (Fátima, Four Seasons in Havana).

The 18th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) showcases the diversity of Latino voices and stories in a program that includes over 35 films. This year, HFFNY pays homage to one of Cuba’s foremost forces in animation and storytelling, Juan Padrón, and the late Argentine director Eliseo Subiela. The festival continues its tradition of presenting the history of Cuban rhythms with a cinematic retrospective on the music, religion and dance of the island. Plus, our audience can look forward, as they do every year, to screenings of critically acclaimed films, many in their World, US and NY debut accompanied by panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other special events hosted by leading figures in Latino cinema.

 

HFFNY Venues:

  • Bronx Museum First Friday HFFNY Kick-Off at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture: March 24, 2017
  • DGA Theater: March 30 & April 7, 2017
  • Museum of the Moving Image: March 31 to April 1, 2017
  • SVA Theatre: March 31 to April 2, 2017
  • The NY Film Academy: April 3 & 4, 2017
  • Art exhibition opening & screenings at The Clemente: April 3, 5, 6, 2017
  • AMC Loews at 34th St: April 5 & 6, 2017

 

The presenting sponsor of the 18th HFFNY is NBC/Telemundo 47. Additional sponsorship is provided by El Diario La Prensa, Cuba Travel Network, Roger Smith Hotel, Singani 63, Habanero Films, AMC Independent, New York Film Academy, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Aguijón Films, DGCine, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, Funglode, Horns to Havana, Ron Barceló, Lipariri Photography, OnCuba, EnRola TV, QueensLatino.com, Playa Betty’s, Cinefuegos, Matiz Latin Cuisine, Publimax, and Giovanni Quinche. HFFNY is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State legislators and supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council.

Detailed information about all festival programs available at www.hffny.com

The Havana Film Festival New York is a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through programs in the arts.

 

Op-Ed by NYC School Chancellor Carmen Fariña on “A Path to College and Careers”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Op-Ed: By NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Navigating the college process can be challenging for students and their families. As the first person in my family to go to college, I know how stressful this process can be. As Chancellor, getting every student on the path to college regardless of their home language or zip code and graduating a productive citizen is at the heart of what I want to accomplish. In support of this effort, across the City today we are celebrating College Awareness Day.

Now in its second year, College Awareness Day promotes a college-going culture across all New York City schools and encourages students to consider a wide range of college and career options. And now as part of the DOE’s first College and Career Month, 250 high schools are participating in career exploration events and activities. This means schools will be visiting companies and non-profit organizations to shadow professionals, and inviting alumni and recent college students to discuss college and career planning with students. We are also hosting the first-ever citywide Summer Enrichment Fair on January 28, where high school students and families can learn about summer employment opportunities and participate in career skills and planning workshops. Educators across the City are helping students understand that going to college is attainable with hard work and determination and families should can overcome the financial considerations, geographical barriers, or other roadblocks.

2017 College Awareness Day

College Awareness Day is part of College Access for All, one of Mayor de Blasio’s Equity and Excellence for All initiatives. Through College Access for All, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus by 2018 and every high school student will have the resources and support to develop an individual college and career plan by 2019. For the first time this spring, every high school junior can take the SAT free of charge during the school day and we’ve also eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students applying for college, removing a significant financial barrier for families.

Early Conversations and planning around college and careers are critical, and helping our youngest learners see higher education as attainable begins with raising greater awareness of what college is and why it matters. We are laying this groundwork early, by building on our promise of Pre-K for All, working toward universal literacy in 2nd grade by 2026, and expanding bilingual programs in classrooms as early as pre-K. Every student must have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and we are making unprecedented investments to make that a reality – especially for students who are new immigrants, just learning English, and will be the first in their family to go to college.

Every day can be College Awareness Day across the City. Our schools will continue to share information with students and families about college and career readiness as the school year moves forward. By making a clear path to college and career for everyone, we are going to make a real difference in our City and country. I encourage all educators to share their college experience with students and continue the college conversation today.  Additional information about College Awareness Day and College and Career Month are available at: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/OPSR/CareerExplorationMonth.htm. Together we can eliminate obstacles and make the path to college and careers for all a reality.