Philanthropist, actor and best-selling author Hill Harper held a private event at the Dance Institute of Washington on June 14. Harper is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School. Additionally, Harper has appeared on television shows and in films. He is the author of motivational books geared toward young people and individuals in search of real life wisdom. The Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which started in 2005, is a non-profit organization serving youth and underserved teens. The name of the organization was reportedly taken from the subtitle of Harper’s first book, “Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny.” Harper’s mentorship program is currently based in Los Angeles. The foundation holds empowerment conferences, integrates community service projects, offers field trips and hosts a Summer Empowerment Academy (SEA).
Erika McCall, Assistant Director of Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, said that she started out as a volunteer and relocated to L.A. to work with the organization.
“The program is about everything that he teaches in those two books. This year we will enter our sixth annual Empowerment Academy. The number one question that people want to know is ‘How do we bring this to our community?’ We came up with an idea to start a program so that we can take Manifest Your Destiny on a national level. As Hill travels around the world, we want Manifest Your Destiny to go with him. Why not start at the nation’s capital, right, if we want to take it nationally.”
Flavius Galiber introduced Harper.
“He’s exceptionally passionate about everything that he does, whether it’s his creativity and his work. It could be experiences in life. He’s very ambitious, very passionate. You’re going to see a lot of that exemplified today in his announcement, and in the things that he wants to do here in D.C,” Galiber said.
Galiber added that Harper is going to be devoting a lot of resources to promote change in various local communities as he establishes more of a presence in D.C.
Harper, the man of the evening, finally appeared and stood in front of a group of jovial guests. He said that no matter how well that he is doing in Hollywood, if youth are not doing well in D.C. or Baltimore, then he is not doing very well, because we’re all connected. Harper spoke about a new report that links incarceration rates and graduation statistics in D.C.
“If you are an African-American or Latino male or female in this country, and you drop out of high school, there’s almost an 80 percent chance that you will wind up incarcerated at some point in your life. I want to do something about that. That’s why I created Manifest Your Destiny. That’s why we have the Summer Empowerment Academy to attempt to deal with the drop-out crisis. It’s completely free to the participants. It’s funded chiefly by me, personally. I pay our professional salaries. I pay for our office space. That’s why we want to expand it nationally, because I believe that we have the passion now, and also the blueprint, for having a program. We want D.C. to be the second city where we are located. We want to do work in Baltimore and continue to expand around the country.”
After Harper identified intervention measurers that individuals can apply to try to have a positive impact on youth, he delved into the crux of the reason for the press conference. Harper announced that a major fundraiser for the non-profit will be held Sept. 4. It will also be a kickoff to establish a Manifest Your Destiny program in D.C. Harper continued by stating that a technology-based program will be apart of a social entrepreneurship program that he has been developing for a while.
“All of the programming will be open to people in the D.C. area. We tend to do all of our activities on a college campus. We haven’t identified which college. We subliminally plant the seed in a young person’s head that they feel comfortable on a college campus. Many of the young people we work with have never even been on a college campus,” Harper said.
Galiber will be taking a major leadership role in organizing the board, handling the forthcoming fundraiser and helping with the technology piece that Harper will roll out in the area. Harper said that he will be working to provide jobs and income for young women and men from the community. He expects that the new program will be award-winning.
The afternoon advanced toward a lively discussion of the Manifest Your Destiny Dancing with the Stars event. Harper said that the competition and black-tie affair will be held at the Howard Theatre. The night will also include food, drinks and dancing.
Local celebrities from the D.C. area will dance with professional dancers after being trained by them. Teams will raise money by gaining pledges and sponsorships. Ayofemi Kirby, April Bell, Jenna Carter, Gizelle Bryant, Gregory Shepherd, and celebrity chef, Malcom Mitchell will participate in the competition. McCall reported that singer Raheem Devaughn, and journalist Roland Martin, just signed up to participate. Organizers are still seeking celebrity contestants. The goal is to raise $500,000 for Manifest Your Destiny Foundation and programs that will be launched in D.C. According to Harper, half of the score will be determined by how much money teams raised. The remainder will be calculated based on dancing performance.
Harper said that he went to Officer Candidate School for the Marine Corps and spent a whole summer in Quantico, Va. The philanthropist wants to get military personnel involved in the event. He welcomes participants from diverse backgrounds and stated that enthusiasm matters most.
Tickets for Manifest Your Destiny Foundation’s Dancing with the Stars Fundraiser will be available for sale online within the next month. Visit www.mydf.org for updates.