Pharrell Williams, Dick Parsons, & Cicely Tyson help Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond launch foundation to empower young women with “New Orleans in the Hamptons” Event. Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien and banker Brad Raymond will host the inaugural fundraising event,

“New Orleans in the Hamptons” August 12 for their eponymous foundation dedicated to providing promising young women a bridge between obstacles and opportunities. O’Brien, who has built a broadcast career giving voice to under-served communities, knew that a lack of resources often limits the success of disadvantaged young women. “We take young, talented young women who really just lack money, and pay for their tuition, their books and their daycare. Whatever they need,” said O’Brien. “It’s incredibly rewarding.”

Informed by their life experiences and fueled by a shared passion to help, O’Brien and husband Brad Raymond, quietly awarded scholarships from their own pockets for the past several years, sponsoring fifteen scholars and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Buoyed by success, the couple formally launched the non-profit Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation this year to fill the gaps in available financial assistance and support. They hope to award six more scholarships in 2012. “Soledad has always mentored young women. We’ve always supported education. This (foundation) was a natural progression, an extension of what we’ve been doing, and allows us to do so in a formal way,” Raymond says.

The Board’s Selection Committee will open the application and intake process early next year. Scholarships are available to young girls ages 15 through 21 years. Full details and submission criteria will be placed on the Foundation’s website. O’Brien and Raymond hope the festive event – also paying homage to the can-do spirit of New Orleans — and inspiring stories from young women who have been supported by their efforts will encourage/embolden donors to join the cause. Among the early supporters: Dick Parsons, Cicely Tyson and Pharrell Williams, will serve as event chairs. The highlight of the evening will be a live jazz concert featuring members of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Grammy-Award® winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, also Chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors.


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