The African American Experience Fund

Who is this masked woman?

Hello Good People!

Recently, ThatKellieGirl was invited to the first annual Masquerade Ball to benefit the African American Experience Fund (AAEF) of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the official charity of America’s national parks.  The event was hosted by lifestyle guru, restaurateur, B. Smith and her husband and business partner, Dan Gasby (President of B. Smith Enterprises) at their B. Smith’s Union Station Restaurant. (The masked couple in the above picture. 🙂 ) B. Smith was recently named the national spokesperson of the AAEF.   

The AAEF was established in 2001 with a mission to connect all Americans to the considerable contributions of African-Americans throughout our country’s history.  The AAEF raises private funds to support educational, volunteer and community engagement programs in national parks and historic sites that celebrate and tell the story of African-American history and culture.  These sites include:  Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, (Washington, D.C.), African-American National Civil War Memorial, (Washington, D.C.); Brown V Board of Education National Historic Site (Kansas, MO.);  George Washington Carver National Monument (Missouri); Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (Arkansas);  and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama), just to name a few. 

Since the funds establishment,  AAEF has provided more than $1.3 million in grant support for projects and programs at 20 national parks and historic sites.  AAEF parks and sites welcome more than 2 million visitors annually.

As a proud Ward 8 resident.  I was happy to hear that the  Frederick Douglass National Historic Site was one of the 13 national parks to receive the AAEF “Building Common Ground” Grant.  The grant program finds ways to help national parks develop relevant and creative programs that tap into their own untold stories and welcome all Americans, regardless of their race, color or creed, to our shared heritage—America’s National Parks. In addition, this grant will help NPS sites build community relationships around a park/community event during Black History Month or National Park Week 2010.  With generous support from the Walt Disney Company, NPF and AAEF awarded more than $125,000 to 13 national parks to advance the goal of creating an awareness and appreciation for the diverse heritage and cultures that play an important role in our national parks.

 Also congratulations to the AAEF “America’s Best Idea” Grant Recipients–  The African Burial Ground, Brown v. Board of Education and Carter G. Woodson, among the 35 national parks who received grants.  Inspired by The National Parks America’s Best Idea, the National Park Foundation established a new grant program to connect underrepresented audiences to their national parks. With generous support from Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and the Popplestone Foundation, NPF awarded $500,000 to 35 national parks to develop outreach strategies and sustainable community partnerships.

Unfortunately, the event was the day before the Boo Bash, so I could not attend.  However, my good friend and fellow blogger of Substance and Style attended the event on my behalf.   The evening included an exclusive four-course meal, live entertainment, a casino room, and a presentation on the AAEF.  The mistress of ceremony was WJLA anchor, Cynné Simpson.  Event proceeds provided funding for AAEF’s Internship Scholarship Grants, a new program in partnership with the National Park Service to increase student internships at AAEF sites and career opportunities for minority students.

Clarence was able to get some great shots of the event.  I hope you enjoy!

Which National Park is your favorite? 🙂

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