Last Tuesday, a gala benefit for National Urban Technology Center, a national non-profit dedicated to helping provide technology for underserved youth with programs in over 700 schools across America, be honored NBA legend John Starks, with a Humanitarian Award. The 2011 Urban Tech Humanitarian Award acknowledges the work of John Starks and the John Starks Foundation as advocates for change. Both the man and the foundation strive to provide under-served youths with positive opportunities, including academic scholarships. Other honorees at this event include Jessica Isaacs, and Ramon Gonzalez. Maurice Dubois served as the emcee, while other celebrities such as Dennis Walcott, Dominic Fumusa, Richard Kind, Callie Thorne, Nadia Dajani, Steven Byrd, and more were all in attendance. The gala took place at Capitale, with a cocktail reception at 6pm, followed by dinner, the awards ceremony, and a live & silent auction at 7:30pm.
National Urban Tech 2011
Unfortunately, honoree John Starks was under the weather and unable to attend the event, but luckily, I was able to catch up with a few notable characters dedicated to this non-profit. Honoree Ramon Gonzalez of MS 223, one of the top schools in South Bronx, seemed excited and eager to talk about his goals for the future. He was honored with the Education Leadership Award, but does not plan on stopping his vision to enhance education in the city. Eight years ago, there were no good school systems in the area, so the new school was created. He know plans to expand the public middle school into a high school, as well, and hopefully, a boarding school. The school would hold grades 6-12 and this new implementation would allow the administration and teachers to take advantage of the the relationships they've formed with the students during their middle school years, and carry them on through high school. The installation of a boarding school would be of even further help because kids would no longer have to be sent away and out of their neighborhood to receive valuable education. This will create a positive change in the neighborhood. Instead of believing that these kids' destiny is planned out for them, Gonzalez instills in them that if you have vision, and work hard, you can create change.
Fellow honoree Jessica Isaacs, presented with the Corporate Leadership Award, is dedicated to revitalizing communities from the economic crisis with her work for Marsh Inc. Seven years ago, she met Pat Bransford (President of Urban Tech) and her husband, Tom, on Martha's Vineyard, where they entered a conversation about Urban Tech and how it utilizes technology to teach and educate young students. Since then, Isaacs has gotten her company involved in Urban Tech's mission and has been very supportive of the organization. She feels strongly about Urban Tech because she works with international markets and has seen first-hand, what future generations will need to compete in the market. Concern for the future of children pushes Isaacs to become involved in the educational system and do good.
National Urban 2011 Gala
Catching up with Kathy Zukerman, daughter of Pat Bransford, who is on the board of Urban Tech, was quite enlightening. She has been with the organization since 1994, when it started, which was created to provide schools and technology for educational purposes. The organization makes its materials very user-friendly, fun, and animated, so that kids are excited to learn. In urban communities, the organization has created centers for kids to go to supplement their education in school and compliments their curriculum. These programs cover topics that don't necessarily get taught at home or in schools, such as financial planning and health. Urban Tech is in 75 schools in the tri-state area. Learn more about Urban Tech by visiting UrbanTech.org