It takes only a few seconds for a celebrity to write a check in the amount of hundreds, thousands or even millions for a charitable cause but it takes the giving of weeks, months and years to truly make a significant difference in one’s community. It is the latter level of commitment that Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer, Bryan Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Usher, Mary J. Blige) gives to his causes including 100 Urban Entrepreneurs and The Travis Best Foundation.
“People give money all the time but it’s different when you give your time and are in the thick of it with the people,” he noted. “They can see you and feel your voice and gain something from that.”
Indeed many youth are benefitting from Cox through his participation in 100 Urban Entrepreneurs, a non-profit organization that helps identify, finance and mentor entrepreneurs from economically disadvantaged communities. Cox supports the organization by touring the country serving as a judge at business pitch events and mentoring the program's participants. For Cox, sharing his wisdom with youth is driven by the challenges he endured in his own career due to a lack of mentorship, and a belief that it is the responsibility of successful people of color to give back.
“I started a company at 16 years old and didn’t know what I was doing or even look at it as a real company. Being young and Black nobody taught us that growing up,” he recalled. “Now we have wealthy Black people in the urban music world and it’s our duty to teach the young people growing up about acquiring and keeping wealth. They need to learn how to build a legacy for their family. We need to instill that in our kids.”
Cox is also helping to foster youth’s creative skills through The Trevor Best Foundation, a non-profit founded by former NBA player Travis Best that helps underserved youth through arts and athletics. Each year at the foundation, Cox teaches workshops in music production, songwriting, music business and publishing. For his services to both non-profits, Cox recently earned the Inspiration Award at the 2012 SESAC Pop Music Awards. Yet the greatest gift for him is the inspiration he receives from youth to avoid complacency.
“You can get stagnant when you make money but these young people get you back in the learning mode ‘cause they are like sponges. It puts me in mindset that I cannot stop learning and moving forward,” he said.
That renewed sense of drive is transferring over into Cox’s career as he seeks to develop new business models in the music industry and to discover the next Usher or Mariah Carey. While Cox, commends the philanthropic contributions of celebrities such as producers Swizz Beatz and 9th Wonder, he ultimately hopes that other celebrity’s will also give back more in time and not just money.
“Writing a check is easy when you have money to do that. It’s harder to give time when you are really hectic but money comes and goes. Money ain’t s***. It is about giving your time too.”
Souleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates, produces and curates media content, events, exhibitions and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo. Presently Souleo Enterprises, LLC is creator/producer of the adult LGBT, financial literacy and arts programming for the New York Public Library taking place summer 2012 seen here.