Box Tops for Education: 10 Things Every Parent Should Know about Supporting Their Child’s Education

BY: - 28 Jan '13 | Entertainment

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Panelists from the Box Tops of Education Town Hall held on the campus of Spelman College on January 24, 2012.  Photo Credit: General Mills

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Panelists from the Box Tops of Education Town Hall held on the campus of Spelman College on January 24, 2012. Photo Credit: General Mills

Last Thursday, I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Box Tops for Education Town Hall that was held on the campus of Spelman College. And one might think that my excitement about the evening was due to meeting husband and wife team and celebrities, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, in person. And the groupie in me is not going to lie…I was pretty excited to meet them. But, I was also excited about the fact that hundreds of parents, educators and community organizers came together for an evening to discuss the importance of parental involvement in their child’s education.

The audience and panel engaged in a very lively conversation about how to encourage African American parents to become more involved and invested in their children’s education.  The evening’s star studded panel included: Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum – President of Spelman College, Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas – from the Grammy Award-Winning Group TLC, and Tommy Hillman – Box Tops for Education brand manager. And the moderator for the evening was Jeff Johnson- MSNBC contributor and executive editor of

Throughout the evening, we not only discussed the many challenges that we face as African American parents, but we also discussed possible solutions. And, here are 10 things that I learned from the panelists and audience members that every parent needs to know about supporting their kid’s educational journeys (and plus some really great pictures from the event):

#1.  It truly takes a village.  Parents can’t do it alone.  If we are going to turn things around at our local schools, the entire community needs to contribute.  Chilli encourages everyone to get involved in supporting the local schools (even if they don’t have kids.)  Chilli’s entire family (including her sister that has no kids) clips Box Tops.  Chilli also admitted that she will continue to clip Box Tops even after her son starts college!

Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas poses during the Box Tops for Education Town Hall held at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Photo Credit – General Mills

#2. As parents,  our responsibilities don’t end when our kids walk through the doors of the schools.  The schools need our help. We can support the schools by volunteering.  And we can help the teachers by simply getting involved in your kid’s homework and ensuring that they are prepared for school each day.

#3.  “Education can be is such a daunting issue to parents”…. Says Jeff Johnson… “And normally when people feel like making a difference in education, they feel it’s too big for them and they feel helpless.  Programs like Box Tops are great because people that don’t have a lot of money or time don’t have to do any thing different than what they are already doing and buy the products that they are already buying. And it becomes an investment in their kid’s school without changing anything that they are doing and that’s powerful.  And so it becomes a great local easy tool for people to play a role in empowering their local education system.”

Jeff Johnson moderates discussion at Box Tops Town Hall. Photo Credit – General Mills.

#4.  We need to also focus on men who shop and dads who care about education.  There is a need for black men in paticular to be present on these issues.  “Men rise to the challenge when they challenge each other,” says Johnson.  So what better way to get them involved than with the Box Tops for education program.

#5.  “Any time you have a platform, it is your duty and responsibility to use that platform for positive change”...says Boris Kodjoe…”it is all of our duty to do something.” And this is why Boris and Nicole  have decided to support the Box Tops for Education initiative and the town hall.

#6.  When parents are involved, it encourages the kids and shows them that the parents care about their education.   This is why Dr. Beverly Tatum says programs such as Box Tops are so empowering…because they promote parental involvement.

Jeff Johnson, Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, Chilli, Dr. Beverly Tatum, and Tommy Hillman – Panelists at the Box Tops Town Hall. Photo Credit: General Mills

7.  Parents need to lead by example.   Jeff Johnson stated: “What young people need to see is us not talking about education, but us walking education. We show up for sports events at school, but not for science events.”  Johnson challenged parents to show as much (if not more) excitement for academics than they did for sports.

8.  We need more positive images of everyday people supporting their kid’s educational goals.  Sure it’s nice to have celebrities get behind programs such as box tops.  But, Dr. Tatum states that it is also important to see  everyday parents being involved.

9.  We need to do something “in the mean time.”  Sure, we need to continue to put pressure on the local and state governments to adequately fund educational programs.  But, Nicole Ari Parker says, we  (parents and the community) also need to do something in the meantime by getting involved with programs like Box Tops that are providing schools with much needed funds and resources.

Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker – Box Tops for Education Town Hall. Photo Credit: General Mills

10. Start from where you are and build from there. You don’t have to be rich or a stay at home mom.  You don’t have to have a lot of vacation days or a college education. Any parent can be involved in their child’s education.  Just start from where you are.  Volunteer a few times a year, work on projects for the teacher from home, be a chaperone a field trip, or just be consistent with the homework each night .  It’s the smallest things that mean so much to our kids.  And if every parent contributed just a little, then our schools would improve exponentially.

Box Tops for Education has given over $525 M dollars to schools since starting the program in 1996.  There are some schools earning up to $20,000 from the program.  Unfortunately, many schools in African American communities are not taking advantage of this program.  If your local school is not participating, please visit:  On this site, you will find the Educational Success Toolkit, a resource developed by the National Urban League and Box Tops to support parents in being active in their children’s educational journey.   You will also be able to see the the Town Hall webcast that will air on February 4, 2013.

Disclosure: Lamar and I are paid spokesbloggers for the Box Tops For Education program. We will be providing information and stories throughout the school year in hopes of encouraging our community to take advantage of the millions of dollars that are being given to schools across the country each year. All opinions expressed are our very own.  

Click the pages below to see more pictures from the event:

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About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 527 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.


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Program Alert: Lifetime to Air Betty & Coretta Starring Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett

BY: - 31 Jan '13 | Entertainment

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Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige in the upcoming Lifetime Original Movie “Betty & Coretta”

It’s been said for years that behind every great man there is a great woman. Is there truth behind this saying? I would say so. Is it always true? I can’t argue that it is. But, I can argue that some of our greatest male leaders have been fortunate enough to lead with the strength of a good woman standing by their side. That’s one of the reasons why our nation is so in love with President Obama and his wife, Michelle. People love to see a powerful couple that exudes love and strength.

Two of the greatest leaders of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, were able to lead with the love and support of their spouses, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz. As the wives of two men with big dreams, these incredible women were able to provide love, encouragement, and support to Malcolm X and Dr. King. They stood by their husbands, knowing the danger associated with their work — knowing that the drive and dedication their husband’s possessed could lead to their deaths, leaving them to raise their children and carry on their husbands’ dreams alone.

On February 2, Lifetime Television will air the world premiere of “Betty & Coretta,” a film that shares the story of Dr. Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige) and Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett). This film looks at how these women faced incredible adversity, but found the strength to stand tall through it all. Imagine losing your husband to the hands of a brutal killer and then mourning his death publicly. Then, imagine having to stay strong enough to raise your children, without a father in the home, and still carry on your husband’s legacy. The pressure these women endured is unimaginable.

When we think about the day-to-day stress we face as mothers, we often look for another mother we can talk to about things — someone who understands our experience, and can appreciate our struggles. “Betty & Coretta” will depict what it was like for Coretta Scott King to share her pain and wisdom with Betty Shabazz when her husband, Dr. King (Malik Yoba), was killed 3 years after Malcolm X (Lindsay Owen Pierre). Shabazz was left to mother six children alone after her husband’s assassination, and Scott King was left to mother four. Such a sad way to develop a bond, indeed, but the bond these two women had must have been like no other.

I know that if my husband were taken from us unexpectedly, life for us would be incredibly difficult. We have two children. What would I tell them? How would I manage? How would I stay strong, despite the pain? And these are only some of the issues Betty and Coretta had to face, because their world was so much more complicated than mine.

The story of these two extraordinary women and the connection they shared is certainly one to watch. Their relationship spanned over three decades, and this Lifetime movie will focus on how that relationship developed and the impact it had on their lives, and on the civil rights movement.

Betty & Coretta airs on Lifetime on Saturday, February 2nd at 8pm, ET. Take a look at the movies “sneak peak” below:

BMWK Family — Will you be watching “Betty & Coretta” this Saturday?

Photo and Video Credit: Lifetime Television

About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 496 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at To work with her, visit her at Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.


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