Tribune Staff Report
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is the latest entrant into discussions over the future of the financially troubled August Wilson Center for African American Culture, seeking an accounting of the the Downtown Pittsburgh center’s charitable assets since 2006.
With a court hearing coming Monday about a possible foreclosure on the center Kane’s office is intervening in its role as overseer of state nonprofits. It was granted a motion today to consolidate all proceeding over the center’s finances in Allegheny County Orphan’s Court. Dollar Bank petitioned to foreclose on the property last month when the center defaulted on its $7 million mortgage.
“Determining August Wilson Center’s current financial situation through an accounting is an important part of the process in identifying the extent of the center’s problems and options,” Kane said in a statement. “The August Wilson Center is a cultural asset to the community and my office is committed to exploring all appropriate relief to preserve its charitable mission. I appreciate both the center and the Dollar Bank for working cooperatively with our office to achieve that end.”
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Ward is scheduled to hold a hearing to determine if a receiver, the Baker Young Corp., should be appointed to operate the Liberty Avenue facility.
A group of former board members at the center — including former Urban Redevelopment Authority director Mulugetta Birru — is attempting to intervene in the case, too, and work with local foundations to revive the center’s finances.
In early October the Allegheny Regional Asset District board halted funding for the center for the first time in 15 years. Rather than provide any funding for the center in its 2014 preliminary budget, the board created a “contingency” line item in the spending plan totaling $300,000, the amount the August Wilson center would receive should it rectify its problems. Another $225,000 the center was due to receive this year was also held in contingency.
The center is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, a Pittsburgh native whose plays chronicle Black culture.
A telephone message left at the center’s offices was not immediately returned. — (AP)
Philadelphia high school students are now eligible for one year of free admission to 12 of the city’s top museums and attractions thanks to STAMP: the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Teen Program, a new program by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.
The program was launched at a special event hosted by the African American Museum in Philadelphia on Oct. 4. Guest speakers at the event included the City’s First Lady Lisa Nutter, president of Philadelphia Academies, and Pennsylvania Representative Cherelle Parker. The event was sponsored by Wells Fargo.
Students who enroll in STAMP (Students at Museums in Philly) will receive the STAMP Pass, a card that they can present to get free out-of-school-time admission to some of the city’s top museums and cultural venues. The STAMP Pass is available at no charge to teens age 14 to 19 who live in the city of Philadelphia.
To support the launch and make it easier to get to the museums, the Independence Visitor Center Corp. is providing free rides on the PHLASH trolley Downtown Loop throughout the month of October for teens showing their STAMP Pass.
Participating museums and cultural institutions will include the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, Eastern State Penitentiary, Fabric Workshop and Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Mutter Museum, National Constitution Center, National Museum of American Jewish History, Penn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Zoo.
“STAMP reflects the cultural community’s collective effort to invest in the youth of Philadelphia,” explains Cultural Alliance Interim Executive Director Michael Norris. “Our goal is to make sure that Philly teens have access to more of the city’s incredible arts and culture and for them to think of arts and culture as something fun and interesting they can do in their leisure time.”
“The cultural community in Philadelphia — institutions like museums and historical attractions — is a crucial partner for the City in our effort to provide quality programming for students outside of school,” explained Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The STAMP program meets a critical need by providing teens with valuable cultural experiences and activities that are both fun and safe.”
The Cultural Alliance has recruited more than 40 community partners for the program from the city’s youth-serving agencies to ensure that as many teens as possible are aware of STAMP and get the pass, especially underserved and at-risk teens.
In addition to the pass, the program has an online component with a website where teens can discover other cultural opportunities available to them, find out about job and internship opportunities and get invites to exclusive events for STAMP passholders. The website will be a platform to promote the teen programs of STAMP’s community partners. STAMP will also have a lively presence on Twitter and Instagram.
To help create a program that resonates with Philadelphia teens, the Cultural Alliance established the STAMP Teen Council, a group of 11 high school students who have played an instrumental role in the program’s development and branding. The council will continue to be a crucial part of the program, blogging on the website, posting to social networks and helping to promote the program to their friends and fellow students.
STAMP has been more than a year in the planning and is generously underwritten by Virginia and Harvey Kimmel and by grants from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children.
In year one of the program, 12 of Philadelphia’s most popular museums and cultural institutions are participating. The Cultural Alliance hopes to expand the program in future years until all arts and culture is free and accessible for Philadelphia’s high school students.
Teens can register for the pass by visiting www.phillystamppass.org.
A local event will bring some of the nation’s largest mortgage companies under one roof to assist struggling homeowners.
The Making Home Affordable Program and the HOPE Now Alliance are hosting an event for homeowners on Oct. 29 from 1 to 8 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
During the event, mortgage services and several nonprofit housing counseling organizations will work one-on-one with struggling homeowners.
“This event offers struggling homeowners a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with their mortgage company and housing experts to discuss real solutions to their mortgage concerns,” said Chief of Homeownership Preservation at the U.S. Department of the Treasury Mark McArdle.
“There are already more than 17,000 families in the Philadelphia metro area that are benefitting from federal programs to fight foreclosure. Homeowners who attend this event will learn more about their options and next steps to get the help they need.”
Some of the mortgage companies scheduled to be in attendance include Bank of America, Carrington, Chase, Citi Mortgage, HSBC, Nationstar, Ocwen, PNC, Select Portfolio Servicing, US Bank and Wells Fargo.
Several local, HUD-approved, non-profit counseling organizations will also be on-site to meet with homeowners. The list includes Kensington CDC, Unemployment Information Center and The Urban League of Philadelphia.
Homeowners will be seen on a first come, first served basis and are encouraged to bring all mortgage documents, income documents and hardship letters. A full list of the necessary documents can be found at www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov and www.HopeNow.com.
“There are still thousands of area homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments due to unemployment, under employment, medical hardship or other financial issues, and I encourage all of them to attend this free event. There are many tools available to assist homeowners who are current on their mortgages, as well as those struggling to make their monthly payments. Attendees will get good objective advice, and may even go home with an affordable solution that helps them stay in their home for the long term,” said Eric Selk, executive director of HOPE NOW.
HOPE NOW is the industry-created alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, counselors and other mortgage market participants, brought together by the Financial Services Roundtable, Housing Policy Council and Mortgage Bankers Association, that has developed and is implementing a coordinated plan to help as many homeowners as possible prevent foreclosure and stay in their homes.
The Making Home Affordable Program is a free government program designed to help families avoid foreclosure and strengthen the housing market recovery. Making Home Affordable offers options to help homeowners modify or refinance their mortgage loan to make their monthly payments more affordable, take a temporary break from their mortgage payments if they are struggling from unemployment, receive targeted principal reduction in certain circumstances or relocate through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
For information call 1(888) 995-4673.
Services are being held Tuesday Oct. 29 for Cornelius Benjamin Burgess Sr. who died on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. He was 83.
He was the second of four children born to the late Robert and Ellen Burgess on July 22, 1930.
He began his Christian journey very early in life which laid the foundation for his motto, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.” He was a member of Salem Baptist Church where he served as an ordained deacon for many years.
Burgess answered to many different names. He was affectionately known as “Neany” by his beloved wife, “Pop” by his children, and “Pop Pop” by his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was known as “Connie” by all others
After leaving high school, Burgess joined the United States Air Force and was a member of the 6927 RSM United States Security Service during the Korean War. He was a sergeant on the presidential cryptologist unit. He married the love of his life, Mary A. Artis, on Sept. 6, 1951 in Cheyenne, Wyo. From this union six children were born: Richard Artis, of Elkins Park; Cornelius Burgess Jr., who preceded him in death; Darcella Lowe, of California, Md.; Sandra Murphy (Walter), Lancaster; Gladys Steptoe (Steven), of Hollywood, Md.; and Tracy Burgess, of Elkins Park.
Burgess and his wife traveled extensively to places he never dreamed he would go, always with their children in tow. Throughout their marriage of 62 years they continued to travel side by side.
After being honorably discharged from the Air Force, he began to demonstrate his entrepreneurial skills and drive to provide for his growing family. No job was beneath him. He delivered milk and papers, sold insurance and cleaned offices and banks. He went to school and became the owner and operator of his own barber shop and beverage distribution company. He was also a dedicated employee of The Philadelphia Inquirer until he retired. Not being one to sit idle, he became the vice president of Neany, Inc. in southern Maryland. This was the highlight of his working career. He was never more pleased to work for a company named after him.
Burgess was a strong, patient, loving man. He was small in stature but a giant in the eyes of all that knew him. His passion was his family and friends. He spent as much time as possible with them. He enjoyed barbecues in the backyard where he would invite everyone, the more people the better. Good food, plenty to drink and lots of laughter were staples of all parties hosted by him. He provided it all. He loved to dance and socialize. He loved a good party, celebrating his birthday with all and spur of the moment get togethers. He had a genuine love for all he met. If you had a need for an ear he would listen. If you needed advice he would give it. His greatest joy was exceeding the size of his father’s family. As usual he was successful in achieving this goal.
He was preceded in death by his brother Robert Jr.
In addition to his wife and children, he leaves to cherish his memory two sisters, Mary Smith and Ellean Berry, and a brother, Lloyd; one brother-in-law, Richard Berry; and two sister-in laws, Gladys Wright and Dorothy Burgess; 13 grandchildren, Kimberly, Cori, Joi, Damien, Vannessa, Melyny, Jimmy, Stevie, Bryan, Toni, Michael, Brittany and Tracey; six great grandchildren, Symone, Jamarcus, Xavier, Briana, Sebastian, Mia; and a host of relatives and friends.
Services will be held at Greater Exodus Baptist Church, 704-714 N. Broad St. Burial will be at Fairview Cemetery in Willow Grove.
Beckett-Brown and Hodges Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has named former House of Representatives clerk Lorraine C. Miller as interim president and CEO of the civil rights organization.
Miller, a NAACP board member, steps in to replace Benjamin Todd Jealous, who announced in September that he would step down to spend more time with his family. Miller steps into role effective Nov. 1. She will lead the 104-year-old association while the search for a new president and CEO begins.
“Lorraine is a natural fit as interim president of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization,” said Jealous, whose tenure with NAACP officially ends Dec. 31.
“She comes into this position with two decades of experience working for the U.S. House of Representatives and an even longer career in civil rights advocacy and policy. She will have the honor of leading the dynamic staff of this great organization.”
Miller was the first African-American clerk of the U.S House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011, and previously worked for former House Speakers Nancy Pelosi, Tom Foley and Jim Wright, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
“I am honored to have been selected for this venerable role,” Miller said in a statement.
“I look forward to continuing the path forged by Chairman Brock and President Jealous in the months ahead. These are important times and the important work of the NAACP will go on.”
Miller is a commercial real estate broker with Keller Williams and sits on the board of D.C. Vote. She also worked in the Clinton White House, as bureau chief at the Federal Communications Commission and as director of Congressional Relations for the Federal Trade Commission. She also worked at the American Federation of Teachers.
Miller was elected president of the D.C. branch of the NAACP in 2004.
“This is a moment of great change and great opportunity for the NAACP,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock.
“We are excited to work with Lorraine C. Miller during this time of transition. We are confident that Lorraine will serve the association with a steady and experienced hand as we continue the search for the next president and CEO.”