For their second annual luncheon, the Pipeline Crisis/Winning Strategies didn't have to stretch the impact that a program like theirs can have on a child's life. If an African-American child growing up in a single-parent household can grow up in Hawaii, Indonesia, Chicago and New York, to later become president of the United States, the sky is no longer the limit.
While the program is still young, its founders Will E. Schroeder and William Snipes, --both attorneys with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP-- took the opportunity to honor the efforts and commitment of those who share their passion, helping the development of children in urban areas, and particularly the needs of African-American boys.
"In urban areas, generations of boys are growing up in communities with no structure or a strong economy," Snipes said. "There is nothing new about the cause we are championing, but we are finding support from corporations and law firms who understand that the crisis affects us all."
The annual luncheon was hosted by news anchor Sade Baderinwa, and held at The Metropolitan Club in New York City on Tuesday. This year's honorees were: H. Rodgin Cohen, chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., of Harvard Law School; and Gregory K. Palm, executive vice president and general counsel for Goldman Sachs.
"You can't have success without community involvement," said Palm, who has donated $250,000 to support the programs. "At some point in the educational system, boys fall off the rail, and we need to address that while they are in preschool. Early intervention is the key."
Debra Wright also evoked the importance of community and family support during her speech as keynote speaker. The president and CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank, shared how influential her community and family where, at a time when society was unwilling to open doors for people like her.
"What kids need are the core values to move on, and move forward when the world is telling them: you don't matter," Wright said." It is a tough world out there, but you have yo believe in yourself, and those that stand in your way direct you to your destiny."
Ogletree second Wrights belief in motivation, as well as having the support and core values.
"Black males are more likely to be suspended from school,arrested and incarcerated, " Ogletree added. " Getting to them early in life, and supporting their education is changing the paradigm."
With United Way of New York City as one of its partners, the work of the Pipeline Crisis/Winning Strategies is already having an effect on schools like the Audrey Johnson Day Care Center in Brooklyn, NY.
"Research has shown that the majority of brain development happens by the time a child is 3 years old," said Gordon Campbell, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. "For them to reach full-potential there needs to be a collaboration with the parents and community."