SCHOLARSHIP FUNDRAISER TO FEATURE SHAHANNA MCKINNEY-BALDON
The Madison Metropolitan Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will host its 3rd annual Community Recognition & Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Madison Marriott West.
“The proceeds of the luncheon will support the scholarship fund of the Links chapter,” says Yvonne Bowen, president of the Madison Metropolitan Links. “It will assist well-deserving African American high school seniors as they pursue their higher educational goals. This luncheon is the major fundraiser of the Links’ Madison Chapter.”
The Links award scholarships each May to deserving and academically talented students in the area community at their African American Student Recognition Program, perhaps their best-known event. The Links recognize over 1,000 students and adult volunteers at the program.
“We’ve been doing this for over 25 years,” Bowen says. “These students plan to attend college in the fall following their senior year and our scholarship is something that really helps them get a good start on their academic career at a higher educational level.”
At this annual Recognition Program event, the Links are joined by other community organizations like the Delta Sigma Thetas and the Alpha Kappa Alphas who also present their scholarships as well.
“The luncheon is important in raising money for scholarships and for helping us reward and recognize and present to the community these wonderful students who have done so well in the community academically,” Bowen says.
The Links, Incorporated, founded in 1946, is an international, not-for-profit corporation. It is a volunteer service organization of women committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. The membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 274 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The luncheon event this Saturday will kick off with a social hour at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon at 12:30 p.m. There will be door prizes and a reflection from a former Links Scholarship recipient on his first year in college — David Cann — a student at UW-Madison. The keynote speaker will be Shahanna McKinney-Baldon, who became the chief diversity officer of the Madison Metropolitan School District earlier this year after having served in positions with the Milwaukee Public Schools and being integrally involved in social justice issues and organizations in the Milwaukee area.
“One of the main areas of focus for the Links Incorporated, in general, and with our chapter on the local level is the area of education and supporting our youth as they pursue their educational goals,” Bowen says. “We thought that Shahanna McKinney-Baldon, the chief diversity officer of the MMSD was a great choice to keynote. She has a rich background in education and now has the responsibility of making our schools not only more diverse, but helping to close the achievement gap. We thought that her mission was very compatible with the mission that the Links had regarding education in our community. We thought she would be an excellent speaker for the program.
“She is a great community member,” Bowen adds. “She’s jumped right into Madison and has been very active in the community and has made her presence known. We are very honored to have her as our keynote speaker.”
During the 2012 annual luncheon, five community members and one organization will be honored for their leadership, integrity, professional achievement, and service to the Madison area community including:
• Clara Franklin - "community leader"
• Rev. Alexander Gee, Jr. - pastor, Fountain of Life Church
• Gale D. Johnson - director of the Wisconsin Well Women Program
• Cora White - founder of Foster Care Children & Family Fund
• Robert Wynn - founder and president of Asset Builders of America, Inc.
• 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc. - community/civic group
“Madison is a community of givers — people who give entirely of themselves and of their time and their talents to improve the quality of life in this area,” Bowen says. “Many of them we know; but many of them are also unsung heroes or heroines. The Links use the luncheon setting each year to recognize and to say thank you to just a few of these people and organizations who have made significant achievements and strides especially in areas that are focuses of the Links major programming.
“These people have made Madison a much better place to live,” Bowen adds. “They have done tremendous things.”
27 years of service
This past August, the Links celebrated 27 years of service to the Madison community. “Our outreach has come in many areas of programming with special attention to education and health,” Bowen says. “We’ve been here for quite a while and we’d like to think that we’ve made a positive impact on the community with the programs that we’ve done.
“We’ve expanded our programming tremendously from the start. We’ve done a lot of different things over the years and we keep adding to and expanding the kinds of programs that we do.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have so many dedicated and diligent Links members over the years who have worked very hard to make an impact in the community in several areas,” she adds.
Links are part of the Links Incorporated, one of the oldest and largest non-profit organizations of professional African American women in the world. The parent organization was founded in 1946 in Philadelphia. “Our chapter reflects the mission of the national organization which concentrates on areas on educational, civic, and cultural endeavors,” Bowen says. “More specifically, our programs are focused on areas encompassing youth, health, the arts, national and international issues and services.”
Bowen has been involved with the Links for 22 years — since 1990. There are many aspects that she enjoys being part of the organization.
“I love the interaction with my Links sisters as we work together on various initiatives,” she says. “As for many of us, I think our favorite activity is the African American Student Recognition Program and putting that together. It touches so many lives of children and families in the community. It gives students the recognition they need from the community and the positive reinforcement that is needed as we focus more and more on closing the achievement gap.”
Bowen and the Links members are anticipating seeing some of the usual faces at the Third Annual Community Luncheon, but they are also hoping to see plenty of new faces, too.
“We have a stellar group of honorees and we would love people to come out to the luncheon to see them,” Bowen says. “Our keynote speaker, Shahanna McKinney Baldon, will definitely not disappoint and she will provide reflections that will give everybody food for thought regarding education in our community. And we would also deeply appreciate the support of the Links Scholarship Fund that attendees would provide.
“It’s a great social activity and a chance to interact with people from the community,” she adds. “It’s a good place to be on Saturday, Dec. 8.”
The Madison Metropolitan Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will hold its Third Annual Community Recognition & Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday, Dec. 8. Proceeds from luncheon will benefit the Chapter's scholarship fund. The Chapter has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to college-bound African-American students and U.S. Savings Bonds to middle school African-American students.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.madisonlinksinc.org for $45 per person or $360 for a table of eight. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (608)233-6345