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7 Things High School Grads Must Do This Summer

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By Shay Olivarria –

Check Your Credit Report It’s imperative that each graduate get a print out of their credit report from each of the “Big 3” credit reporting agencies. The government has passed a law that makes our credit reports available once a year for free from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

This is the only site that will provide a copy of your credit report at no cost to you, from each of the “Big 3”, once a year.

You will not get your credit scores though; scores are computed through separate companies. Tip: Nothing in life is free. Any company offering you a free credit report and/or score is more than likely trying to sell you a monthly credit monitoring service. Read the fine print.

Figure Out How Much College Will Cost
Whatever college you choose, it’s important that you understand how much the total cost of your degree will be. Consider the costs of both tuition and books.

Once you see the costs in terms of tens of thousands of dollars it might make you a little more motivated to be responsible with your money. Apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible because you don’t have to pay those back. When you take out loans not only will you have to pay the money back, you’ll have to pay it back with interest.

Tip: Look for opportunities to make small financial changes that make a big difference. Buying used textbooks can save you hundreds over four years.

Consider the Return on Investment
You are going to make some decisions in the next year or two that will be the foundation for your life. Don’t make decisions based on your emotions or what your friends are doing; look at the return on investment. If you are spending money on something, it’s because you are expecting to get some kind of benefit. If you choose to attend an Ivy League university you expect to command top salary at a major fortune 500 company. If you choose to attend a community college it’s because you want to save a few dollars on your foundation classes. You must consider the return on investment with any purchase.

Tip: If you’re undecided about a purchase, sleep on it. Never make a decision in a hurry.

Create a Spending Plan
Writing things down is good. I’m sure you have a general idea of how much money you’re expecting from jobs, financial aid, etc., but unless you have a written plan to spend it the money will pass through your account and you’ll have no idea what happened to it. Have you ever taken $20 out of the ATM and the next day you have no idea how you spent it? That’s what will happen to your financial aid check unless you create a plan to spend it and cover all the things you need to spend money on.

Tip: making the plan before you actually have the money is the key to putting the spending plan into action.

Move Your Money
Visit www.CreditUnion.coop to find a credit union in your area. Credit unions are financial institutions that offer the same products and services as traditional banks, but they are not-for- profit. The only purpose of credit unions is to serve the community; each credit union member loans money to the other members. Pretty soon you’ll want to purchase a car and in the not-too-distant future, a home.

Credit unions tend to be smaller, offer more personalized service, and offer better rates on loans. Moving your checking and savings account to a credit union could potentially save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

Tip: Search for a financial institution that is a good fit for you, don’t just choose whatever your parents have.

Start an Emergency Fund
Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? It states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. It’s up to you to make sure that you have at least $500 in an Emergency Fund at your credit union or bank because there will always be something that you need money for unexpectedly.

Having at least $500 in an account that you can have access to when times are rough might be the difference between having to borrow from a family member or take out a cash advance loan or being able to borrow from your stash and go on about life without being a hindrance to anyone.

Start by opening a money market account at your credit union or bank and then add $20 a week to the account until you have at least $500.

Tip: Don’t touch it unless it really is an emergency.

Open a Retirement Account
Did you know that investing $5 a day will make you a millionaire by retirement? You read that correctly, investing just $5 a day in an average performing mutual fund account that returns 9% a year (industry average is 10%) will put $1.3 million in your pocket. The first step is to find a mutual fund company that will let you open a no-load Individual Retirement Account (IRA) with no money as long as you contribute at least $50 a month. Put your money in an account that’s not too risky and not too safe. You have a long time horizon so don’t be scared to invest more in stocks, but you have to be able to sleep at night. A fee-only advisor can help you determine how comfortable with risk you are and suggest some mutual funds to you. The process is as easy as filling out a one page application and sending in your credit union or bank checking account information.

The second step is to commit to adding at least $50 a month to the account. The third step is to watch your account become fatter every month.

Tip: Set up the account so that the money is added to the retirement account automatically every month from your checking account. Add at least $150 per month to reach that million with no sweat.

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today, a foster care alumni, and the author of three books on personal finance including All My Mistakes: Money tips for kids in care, due out in June. She’s been quoted at Bankrate.com, The Credit Union Times, Redbook, and Essence, among others. Visit her at www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

Charles Bibbs Named Official Artist for Leimert Park Book Fair

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The Leimert Park Village Book Fair Planning Committee has named world renown artist Charles Bibbs as the official artist for the 2011 Leimert Park Village Book Fair (LPVBF).

Bibbs unveiled his work, "The Reader II," in celebration of the book fair's fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 25, from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. “The Reader II” will appear on all LPVBF marketing and event materials.

“Charles Bibbs is a national treasure and we are thrilled to have an artist of his caliber create our signature artwork,” commented LPVBF Executive Director Cynthia Exum. The Leimert Park Village Book Fair will take place in the lot adjacent to the Vision Theatre, 3341 43rd Place in Los Angeles, California 90008.

The LPVBF 2011 line-up includes over 100 authors, exhibitors and vendors, including many of the top African American authors and celebrity speakers.

“Every year we’ve grown bigger and better,” says Exum. “This year, we’re very excited to have many amazing authors and celebrities guests and expect over 5,000 festival attendees. We’ve also organized some very relevant panel discussions that touch on a variety of current issues in our community. There’s definitely going to be something for everyone at this year’s book fair.”

Applications for the author’s tent and vendors are still available online at www.leimertparkbookfair.com or by calling (323) 730-0628.

Bibbs' works displays a unique, strong and stylized quality done in a combination of abstract and realistic interpretations of a contemporary subject. Using his ethnic heritage as inspiration, along with a mixture of realism and fantasy, he has developed a distinctive style. A native of Southern California, Bibbs' exposure to African and Native American art, which both have a distinct spiritual motivation, is strongly reflected in his works. “My most important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements that are ethnically rooted, and at the same time, arouse spiritual emotions within us," says Bibbs.

Mr. Bibbs is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, presented by the African American Chamber of Commerce; a Community Recognition Award from the National Council of Negro Women; a NAACP Freedom Community Award; an Appreciation Service Award by the California State Assembly.

His work has been exhibited at museums around the country and overseas. A partial list of Bibb’s art collectors are Frankie Beverly, Najee, Steve Harvey, Dr. Bernard and Mrs. Shirley Kinsey, Marc Brown, Earl Graves, Queen Latifah, Drs. Frank and Marsha Glover, Dr. And Mrs. Charles Mitchell, the University of Arizona and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Charles Bibbs will also be on hand at the Book Fair to meet and greet festival attendees. For more information on the event, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com or call (323) 730-0628.

The book fair is produced by Cynthia E. Exum and Associates in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, 8th District, and in association with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Los Angeles.

Community Briefs

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SAN BERNARDINO: Nicholson Park Family Learning and Community Resource Center Grand Opening

All local/county residents who are interested in education, community resources and information about school readiness, linkages and programs that are readily available in their community.

The County of San Bernardino Preschool Services Department, in collaboration with the City of San Bernardino Parks and Recreation Department and Project Life Impact will host the Nicholson Park Family Learning and Community Resource Center Grand Opening.

This free and exciting event will provide valuable education, community resources, and information about school readiness, linkages and programs that are available countywide.

The event will take place on Friday, April 29, 2011 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, Nicholson Park Family Learning and Community Resource Center, 2750 West 2nd Street, San Bernardino, CA. 92410 For additional information, please contact Evelyn Solorio at (909) 383- 2003.

APPLE VALLEY: Free crime prevention seminar offered to residents, businesses

According to Apple Valley Sheriff’s Officers, the High Desert has experienced an increase in crimes such as residential and vehicle burglaries, auto theft, and personal theft and identity fraud. The Apple Valley Police Department will host a free seminar on May 5 to teach people how to avoid being a victim of these crimes.

The seminar is scheduled to take place from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Town of Apple Valley Conference Center, 14975 Dale Evans Parkway.

Participants will receive educational materials and officers will be available for questions and answers at the conclusion of the formal presentation.

For questions or further information, contact Sergeant Todd Newton or Detective Dave Burgess at (760) 240- 7400.

FONTANA: Family Fun on Friday

The Mayor and City Council invite the public to the free Family Art Day on Friday, May 6 at the Art Depot Gallery, located at 16822 Spring Street.

Family Art Day is a free event that has hands on art activities, live art demonstrations, food and live music from the five member Indy-Rock band Vordoux. Family Art Day gives families a fun and exciting chance to share their interest in art.

Family Art Day will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 6 at the Art Depot Gallery, located at 16822 Spring Street near the intersection of Arrow Boulevard and Sierra Avenue in Downtown Fontana.

The Art Depot Gallery is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Fontana Arts Program focuses on enriching life through art in the Fontana Community. For more information about Family Art Day and other Fontana Arts events and programs, please visit arts.fontana.org or call (909) 349-6975.

RIVERSIDE: Galleria At Tyler Hosts Facebook Contest

Galleria at Tyler is looking for the most "Marvelous Mom" in town from now - May 11, 2011 with the winner being announced on May 17. "Kids" 18 years and older are invited on Facebook to explain why their mom is the best.

Just visit the Galleria at Tyler Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GalleriaAt Tyler and click on the "Marvelous Mom" tab to describe why mom is marvelous in 150 words or less.

One grand prize winner will be selected to win a Broyhill living room set ($4,399 value) featuring furniture pieces from their Perspectives collection including a sofa, two chairs, square coffee table and a $250 Shop Etc gift card.

ACS Encourages State Communities to Take Action from Cancer

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Opportunities to Volunteer while Providing Free Information and Services to all Californians in Need

The American Cancer Society invites all communities to join in creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays. The Society wants to help diverse communities reduce the impact of cancer by providing free resources, information and support services; funding groundbreaking research; and fighting back through public policy and community mobilization.

Resources such as 1.800.227.2345, a 24-hour, multi-lingual, toll-free number is answered by Cancer Information Specialists, can help answer any question about cancer and provide information and referral to resources for free or low cost cancer screenings.

Multicultural populations throughout California and across the country can access services provided by the American Cancer Society to assist those who have been diagnosed with cancer, such as free transportation to and from treatment, counseling groups, and free lodging for patients who have to travel far distances to receive treatment.

“The American Cancer Society wants to empower all communities in the fight against cancer by providing information that can help prevent cancer,” American Cancer Society volunteer Felix Aguilar, MD, said.

“We encourage all Californians to join the American Cancer Society and make changes that will benefit them in the long run and save lives, including regularly scheduled screenings, eating healthy meals and exercising frequently. We also want California’s diverse communities to know that we have resources available to them if they are facing a cancer diagnosis.”

Nearly two-thirds of all cancer deaths can be prevented through regularly scheduled screenings, healthy eating, regular physical activity and quitting tobacco use. However, multicultural populations continue to have lower screening rates; report less than the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days per week; and eat fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ethnically diverse populations constitute nearly 60% of the state’s population, making California one of the most multicultural states in the country.

The Society would like to raise awareness of cancer prevention and early detection among these many communities that are the face of California.

In 2011, approximately 144,035 Californians will be diagnosed with cancer. Of every four deaths in California, one is from cancer – the second leading cause of death.

Now more than ever, volunteers are needed to save lives and create a world with more birthdays.

The American Cancer Society offers many ways to volunteer through multiple events, programs and advocacy efforts including: Relay For Life®, a 24-hour community event to raise awareness and funds for the local fight against cancer; Making Strides Against Breast Cancer®, a 3-5K community walk to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer; free support programs where dedicated Society volunteers provide direct assistance and service to cancer patients and caregivers; and legislative advocacy where the Society’s advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, has a grassroots volunteer network of hundreds of thousands of volunteers who successfully work to fight against cancer and send strong messages to lawmakers about issues that matter to people touched by cancer.

For more information on how to join the estimated 300,000 Californians who volunteer with the American Cancer Society or for free information or to request support services, go to cancer. org or call 1.800.227.2345.

Afro-Brazilian.com Launches to Bridge Gap Between Afro-Brazilians, African Americans

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Lagrant Communications announced the launch of the first website dedicated to educating African Americans on Afro- Brazilian culture. The website is part of the agency’s commitment to enriching the understanding of the diversity of the Latino and African American culture.

Afro-Brazilian.com will celebrate Afro-Brazilian culture through the development of original content by highlighting the history, culture and historical struggles of Afro-Brazilians. The website will also feature facts on Afro-Brazilians; Brazilian events taking place in the US and Brazil; updates on Brazilian politics; and the upcoming World Cup and the Olympic Games. Afro- Brazilian.com will also feature articles from noted Brazilian and African American reporters across the US.

Brazil has made international headlines over the past several months with the election of its first woman president and the announcement of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

Although Brazil has been a major tourist destination for decades, many do not know much about the country, the people nor its culture. According to MercoPress, an independent online news agency, Afro- Brazilians represent the largest ethnic group in Brazil, making up more than 49 percent of the population. Afro-Brazilians have a cultural influence on Brazil that spans from cuisine, literature, sports, and art, among others.

Some of the little known facts on Afro-Brazilians include:

• 49.6 percent of Brazilians are black, mulatto or pardo

• In Brazil, people of African descent are categorized through several groups, mainly pardo, black and mulatto

• Afro Brazilian ancestry belongs to two major groups— West African and Bantu; West African include the Yoruba, Ewe, Fanti-Ashanti, Ga-Adangbe, Igbo, Fon and Mandinka tribes; The Bantu tribe was brought mainly from Angola, Congo, Zimbabwe and Mozambique

• Slavery in Brazil was officially abolished on May 13, 1888

• As of 2007, the largest Afro-Brazilian metropolitan area is Salvador, Bahia, with more than 1.8 million (53.8%) pardos and 990,375 blacks (28.5%) [Total: 82.3% or 2.859 million people]; The state of Bahia also has the largest percentage of pardos (62.9%) and blacks (15.7%)

• Although Afro- Brazilians are mainly Catholics, many also practice Candomblé and Umbanda

• Capoeira, one of the most iconic symbols of Brazilian culture, was developed by African slaves from Angola and Mozambique

• Many influential Brazilian authors are of African Brazilian descent, including Machado de Assis, Lima Barreto and João da Cruz e Sousa

• African culture has been instrumental in the development of Brazilian cuisine. Feijoada, Brazil’s staple dish, was developed by African slaves

• Blacks and pardos have a low representation on Brazilian television. In 1996 Taís Araujo was the first and only black actress to be featured as a protagonist in a telenovela

• The International Federation of Football History & Statistics Player of the Century lists 15 Afro-Brazilian players among their 20 best Brazilian players list

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rodrigo Pederneiras, the principal choreographer to the world-renowned Brazilian dance troupe Grupo Corpo, said, “The influence of African culture is tremendous in everything in Brazil, in all parts. In the music, in paintings, in the religion like candomblé, in the food, in the dance rhythms.”

“Although Afro-Brazilians have a significant and influential presence in Brazil, they are grossly underrepresented by the media,” said Paulo P. Lima, editor- at-large of Afro- Brazilian.com. “The website was created to raise awareness of the unique and rich Afro-Brazilian culture and the historical parallels it shares with the African American community. “

Afro-Brazilian.com will debut with three original articles spotlighting culture, religion and cuisine.

The articles, written by Lima, introduce some of the most colorful, insightful and tasty aspects of Afro-Brazilian culture. The articles also establish a foundation for a deeper analysis on the complicated history and future of Afro-Brazilians.

Afro-Brazilian.com will also provide partnership opportunities for companies interested in reaching the Brazilian market.

The website will provide a series of advertising opportunities that include web banners, editorial features, background sponsorships and contests, among others.

“Our goal is to educate and encourage African Americans to establish a brotherhood and explore the rich African influences in Brazil. Many do not know that Brazil has the largest population of African descendants outside of Africa,” said Kim L. Hunter, president/CEO of Lagrant Communications.

“Brazil will remain in the international spotlight for many years to come, so understanding the Brazilian people, specifically Afro-Brazilians, is crucial to any American planning to travel and explore business opportunities in Brazil.”

For more information on the culture and history of Afro- Brazilians and their impact on Brazil, visit www.Afro- Brazilian.com.

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BVN National News Wire