Standing Ovation for Yonkers MBK Third Anniversary
Stage Hopping: Guest MC Just Back from Obama Foundation Summit Appearance
Fresh off the Obama Foundation Summit stage in Chicago, De’Andre Brown took the microphone as the guest Master of Ceremonies at Yonkers My Brother’s Keeper’s Third Anniversary Celebration, For Us, By Us on Friday, November 15, 2019 at the Riverfront Library Auditorium. A 2019 graduate of Yonkers Middle High School, De’Andre returned home to support the movement that helped him develop into a leader he told hundreds of attendees at the celebration, a student performing and visual arts talent showcase. On October 29, De’Andre, now a freshman at New York University, shared his story on stage at the Obama Foundation’s 2019 Summit. “When I was in high school, I struggled with emotional challenges, but the My Brother’s Keeper initiative supported me and believed in me.”
De’Andre was selected to serve as one of two New York State My Brother’s Keeper Fellows from Yonkers in 2018 and won a highly competitive scholarship from the New York State Department of Education in 2019 just after being elected President of the Yonkers MBK Youth Advisory Council by his peers.
“De’Andre embodies the promise of this movement,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Yonkers MBK Co-Chair with Rev. Dr. Jim Bostic, Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center. “He is not only focused on his own success, but he works to uplift the next generation as well.”
Rev. Dr. Bostic, said “De’Andre is a very talented young man who first shared the stage with President Obama at the 2018 Obama Foundation MBK Rising Summit in Oakland and is now receiving well deserved worldwide recognition.”
Visual Arts Showcase and VIP Reception
For Us, By Us began with a Student Visual Arts Showcase centering on Taking off Our Masks, an exhibit featuring masks created by MBK students to reveal the dramatic contrast between the outer “masks” they show the world and their true inner lives. Several hundred students, parents, community leaders, businesspeople and dignitaries gathered to support a lasting future for the MBK movement and raise funds for the expansion of Yonkers MBK’s mentorship and college-readiness programs as well as the establishment new initiatives aligned with the movement’s six milestones. The MGM/Empire City Casino, Spolzino Smith Buss & Jacob and the Yonkers Economic Development Agency were among the largest contributors.
“We are working hard to prepare our students to take full advantage of the growing opportunities the MBK movement is bringing to Yonkers,” said Dr. Quezada.
“We have come a long way in three years and I’m excited for where we are heading,” said Rev. Dr. Bostic, whose nonprofit was awarded one of 10 Community Impact Grants from the Obama Foundation’s MBK Alliance in 2018 to carry out the work of Yonkers MBK.
At the VIP reception, dignitaries congratulated Yonkers MBK’s 2019 Defenders of the Dream honoree The Vulcan Society of Westchester County, a fraternal organization of black professional firefighters who have served as mentors to Yonkers MBK high school students since 2017. Distinguished speakers at the reception included
- Shelley B. Mayer, New York State Senator
- Gary Pretlow, New York State Assembly Member
- Nader J. Sayegh, New York State Assembly Member
- Michael Sabatino, Yonkers City Council Majority Leader
- Steve Lopez, Yonkers Board of Education President
- Edgar Santana, Director of Downstate Regional Affairs (On behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo)
- Jason Baker, Director of Sustainability, City of Yonkers (On behalf of Mayor Mike Spano)
Yonkers City Councilmembers Corazon Pineda Isaac, John Rubbo and Shanae V. Williams and Yonkers Board of Education Trustee Abdul Jamal and several members of the Yonkers MBK Steering Committee attended to show their support.
Performing Arts Talent Showcase
The second part of the evening spotlighted a diverse array of student performers including a drumline, two rappers, a bilingual spoken word artist and a folkloric dance troupe. In an exciting flash mob finale, students sang “This is Me” from Greatest Showman as classmates and two MBK advisors stood up in the aisles to join them in a synchronized dance. Special guests included DJ Tri State Jericko featuring Dara Paige singing “My Daddy is a DJ”; author Charles R. Smith, Jr. reciting his poem “About Me” and artist Stefano Luigi Guida who created a painting at the event dedicated to Yonkers MBK.
The performing arts showcase also included the presentation of Yonkers MBK 2019 student awards to
Keon Lee, Saunders Trades & Technical High School Class of 2020 – Tomorrow’s Leader Today
Newton Acosta, Lincoln High School Class of 2020 – Builder of the Future