The Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Family Foundation

Activist Malaak Compton Rock, Studio Museum of Harlem director Thelma Golden, educator Steve Perry, actor Anthony Mackie and businesswoman Crystal Anthony-McCrary were a few of the friends who came to a private dinner in honor of CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien's education foundation, The Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Family Foundation.

Education is something O'Brien and her husband Brad place at the forefront of their philanthropic work.

They started their foundation shortly after hearing of a young Hurricane Katrina survivor who needed help paying for school.

"My friend Kim said to me: 'I have a young woman who needs a scholarship and you need to pay for it,'" says O'Brien. "I told my husband and he said, 'We should do it. We've been talking about giving back.'"

"The reason we decided to start a foundation was because in a lot of the travels that I was doing and a lot of the stories I was working on, I'd meet incredible people, usually young people, who were this close [indicates an inch's length with her thumb and forefinger] to realizing their dream. Sometimes they just couldn't fund their education. Sometimes they just couldn't pay for day care so they could finish high school. And we realized there was such great need, and I had a good opportunity to meet people, and this was a really good way to underwrite some of the projects that we were really personally committed to." (j-archive.com)

The Foundation has funded the education of students across the country. "I pick people who are sure bets," says O'Brien, proud of her students. "I come in at the point where they've done all these things and I just help them over a rough spot. And we don't give a lot. I don't write checks for $100K. I write tiny little checks."

Read more at essence.com

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