Friday, October 15, 2010

Join MESSAGE MEDIA ED & JAY-Z in the Fight for Clean Water in Africa for BLOG ACTION DAY!

Greetings Family!

I learned of water pollution and scarcity in Africa from hip hop mogul Jay-Z. Watch the video below of his journey and contribution toward developing water pipes for clean drinking water and flush toilets in Angola. Take a moment and visit to support what is becoming the number one killer of people of color globally. Also, check out all of the blogs today from thousands of bloggers across the globe uniting to spread awareness about this crisis.

Here are some stats to think about:

40 Billion Hours: African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink

38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.

Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.

Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.

We can make a difference together!  

Thank you for your time and please visit to save lives. Donate here

In service,

Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, M.S.
Executive Director
Message Media Ed

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MORE THAN A COMPUTER CLASS... The DIGITAL ELDER Project Addresses a Rising Challenge in the Nationwide African American Community

MORE THAN A COMPUTER CLASS... The DIGITAL ELDER Project Addresses a Rising Challenge in the Nationwide African American Community

By, Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, M.S.

Executive Director, Message Media Ed

Digital Elder defined: Using the role of the traditional African elder as a guide, a Digital Elder™ is a role model who utilizes modern tools of 21st Century communication, to listen, nurture, guide, acknowledge, share wisdom and affirm.


The African American community is plagued with social and economic challenges that have resulted in dismantled family units, rampant unemployment, increased perspectives of self-doubt and communal hopelessness across America (National Urban League, 2007). In 2007, the NAACP declared a nationwide state of emergency in the Black community. In Los Angeles, California, African Americans make up 10% of the population. However, the unemployment rate for African Americans in Los Angeles is 14%, more than double the rate for Whites and Asians, and 13% of African Americans are receiving public assistance, compared to 5% of Latinos and 2% of both Asians and Whites (State of Black Los Angeles, 2005). Since the early 1970’s, South LA has been consumed by gang violence, drug abuse, Black-on-Black crime, and disproportionate incarceration rates for African Americans (, 2010).

The educational system is failing Black youth as well. LAUSD is an outdated educational system, failing to properly prepare our youth to become critical thinkers and to successfully transition into the workplace as a staggering 52% of Black youth do not graduate from high school (Civil Rights Project, 2005). These dropouts lack the skill-set needed to secure jobs and often contribute to disparate rates of teen pregnancy, and incarceration (State of Black Los Angeles, 2005).

As a result, a rising trend is occurring: grandparents are left with the responsibility of strengthening what’s left of the family unit and becoming caretakers for their adult children and grandchildren. This growing local phenomenon is nationwide as well. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, there are 6.2 million grandparents acting as primary caregivers for children under 18 years old. Of those more than 1.2 million are African-American.

The plight of the African American community has placed elders at the forefront of preparing young adults and youth to enter today’s modern workplace. Although we live in the 21st century – deemed the Digital Age due to the infusion of media and technology in the global marketplace, and in every aspect of modern communication – members of the local and nationwide African American community are far behind, and largely contribute to the ‘digital divide’.

In a city plagued with budget cuts and outdated technology, libraries, senior and student community centers in South Los Angeles are extremely limited in their capacity to provide up-to-date computer access and training in skilled use of technology to build job and career skills. Additionally, over 1 million households in Los Angeles do not have a computer and over half of Los Angeles’ population does not have access to the internet. The majority of this ‘digital divide’ is concentrated in the disadvantaged regions of LA, including South Los Angeles (City of Los Angeles, 2009). Therefore, more mature adults, ages 50 and up, lack knowledge of and key skill-sets for, guiding the family in operating and utilizing 21st century communication tools for socioeconomic advancement. Additionally, since this generation of Black youth are large users and consumers of cell phones, iPods and other telecommunication gadgets, grandparents experience an extreme disconnect in communication with their grandchildren.

Lastly, the challenges faced by African American grandparents in strengthening the family unit in the Digital Age can be emotionally and physically exhaustive, making those at the helm of the household in need of positive social connections with peers experiencing similar challenges.

The DIGITAL ELDER Project provides a holistic, culturally relevant, community building approach toward learning in technology (in informal spaces), to build professional skill levels amongst key stakeholders underserved in the Black community of Los Angeles. Upon completion of The Digital Elder Project, graduates leave ready and prepared to become active participants in the digital landscape and to share new technical and internet knowledge with their family and immediate community. The long-term impact of this workshop exceeds beyond the immediate workshop environment. WE PROMISE YOU, THIS IS NOT JUST A COMPUTER CLASS...

“Before I became a Digital Elder I felt distanced and apart from the text messaging/blogging youth, and now that I am a Digital Elder, I at least understand how and why they communicate in this way and I’ve learned the terminology which facilitates my communication with them,” Digital Elder graduate

"This workshop empowers people to become more than themselves and take responsibility for each other."

(extracted from post evaluation surveys)


Send your parents, grandparents, youth here for a two day experience like non other! Consider sponsoring an elder/young adult if you can't make it.  To Sponsor call 323-708-2526 or email 


Copyright 2010 Message Media Ed


1. City of Los Angeles (2009). (Application) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

2. Greenlining Institute (2009). Digital Inequality: Information Poverty in the Information Age

3. Mandara, J., Richards, M., Gaylord-Harden, N., & Ragsdale, B. (2009). The Effects of Changes in Racial Identity and Self-Esteem on Changes in African American Adolescents’ Mental Health. Child Development, Vol. 80, No. 6, p. 1660-1675

4. (2010). Crips and Bloods Made In America: Timeline

5. The State of Black America (2007). New York, NY: National Urban League

6. The State of Black Los Angeles (Marge Nichols, 2005). New York, NY: National Urban League

7. The Civil Rights Project (2005). Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in California Retrieved January 14, 2007 from Harvard University

8. US Census Bureau (2007). American Community Survey. From the LA Sentinel (2009), Back to School Intensifies Responsibilities for Grandparents.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I am proud...

...I am proud to call her mom... mentor... village elder.  Honorary Digital Elder, Jewel Thais-Williams heals our community through music, food, technology and herbal therapy. Join me in celebrating her life's work and attend a free Message Media Ed workshop while you are there... :)

"Laughter for Life 2010: The Village Health Foundation Benefit!"

Sunday, 10/10/10... Visit or see attached flyer for all details

Honoring Jewel Thais-Williams, Founder & Proprietor:
Jewel's Catch One, Village Health Foundation and Vegan Village Internet Cafe

If you can't make it, click here for the live broadcast at 6pm, 10/10/10

Bring the fam! 

In service,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Message Media Ed News: DIGITAL ELDER Early Bird Registration & more!

Greetings Family!

One of my favorite quotes these days is, "Live life out loud. Never let your soul be silenced. Tell your truth not with words but with actions consistent with your heart," by Mayor, Cory Booker (Newark, NJ).  This is the spirit in which we work and serve our community and we would love for you to participate and experience the many transformations we witness all year!

Enjoy our upcoming events below and we hope to see you soon.

In service,




***The DIGITAL ELDER Project - November 2010!***

Early bird registration: $45! Offer ends Wednesday, October 13 and is available only to those who register online here

For more info on The Digital Elder Project, visit


***DIVERSITY LEADERS Boot Camp - November 2010***
Our DIVERSITY LEADERS BOOT CAMP in September was such a success! Special thanks to the Message Media Ed crew, Kristin Parnell and Jason Johnson! Check out what our young Diversity Leaders have to say on the Message Media Ed channel here

We will offer another Diversity Leaders Boot Camp in November... sooo, all you mentors and parents, prepare to register for you and your youth! Stay tuned for more info.



***SBN Perspectives: Countdown to Graduation!***
Many of you may not know, but in addition to running Message Media Ed, I am also pursuing a Doctorate in Education from Loyola Marymount University and will graduate (God willing), May 2011!

As I begin the last year of my doctorate, I'd like to share with you my thoughts, reflections, challenges, scholarship, ideas, rants, etc., I have and have had as I earn this degree. Many of the reasons and passions behind the development of The Digital Elder Project, Rise Above the Noise, Diversity Leaders and other programs from Message Media Ed, have been explored throughout this educational journey as well. This last leg will be a ruthless one... I need your support :) Join me in counting down to becoming, DR. Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, Ed.D!...

Facebook: Join my fan page, click "Like" here
Twitter: Follow me here


***In-Home Computer Tutoring Program***

That's right we will come to you AND provide a computer to practice on if you don't have one. Including: basic computer operation, social media, email, Microsoft Office, website building and much more... Serving youth, adults and seniors throughout South LA!  Sessions start at $20/hr... Yup! That's all! Visit the PROGRAMS section of our website at to download the flyer.



--- Shaping Black Culture in the Diaspora: An Ark for the 21st Century - "We Are the Promise", Thursday, October 7th-Sunday, October 10th in Leimert Park, Los Angeles!  More info visit To register for FREE,visit
For volunteer opportunities, contact Yvette @ (323) 600-3741 or - We need your help! :)

--- Black Women for Wellness presents: Sisters @ Eight-Discussions on Implementation of Health Care Reform Over the Next 6 Months,  the State Budget, and the Upcoming Propositions for the Nov 2, 2010 Election - Friday, October 8th, 8:30am - 10:30am @ DWP (Crenshaw Auditorium), 4030 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles Ca, 90008.
*Free Event* *Breakfast Served* With guest speakers Nancy Berlin & Linda Coleman-Willis. Please call the BWW offices to RSVP! 323-290-5955 or email with your Name & Number. Funded in part by Liberty Hill Foundation

--- ICTC 7th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference, in Long Beach, CA, beginning Thursday, October 7th! . Register online now at All are welcome. A Gala and Award Ceremony Featuring Keynote Speaker Grammy Award Winner Erykah Badu! Our luncheon keynote speaker is public health administrator, pediatrician & neonatal/perinatal specialist, Reverend Dr.Ronald David, MD. There are so many amazing workshops for 4 days, including pathways to Midwifery, FGM, Mothering herbs, placenta awareness, gestational diabetes, water birth, and lots more.

--- Association of Black Women in Higher Education (ABWHE) invites you to our biannual leadership and training conference for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty in higher education. "Mission POSSIBLE: Reaching New Heights in Academia" October 13-15, 2010, Hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of ABWHE at the Radisson Hotel, Culver CIty, CA. More info here:

Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, M.S.
Founder/Executive Director, Message Media Ed
Doctoral Candidate, School of Education
Loyola Marymount University

Message Media Ed - Innovators Uncovered
Producing Black Leadership for the Digital Age
323-708-2526 cell

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"Since new developments are the product of a creative mind, we must stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible" -- George Washington Carver

Tuesday, October 5, 2010