On October 24, 2023, The Belafonte Family Foundation marked a historic milestone last night with its first-ever gala at Sony Hall in New York City.
Hosted by renowned actor and entertainer Taye Diggs, he began the evening stating
“I stand before you on this stage, in this room, it’s only possible because so many courageous men and women sacrificed themselves so the generations after them would have opportunities that they have only dreamt of”
Prior to the gala, Taye Diggs said,
“Harry Belafonte helped open doors so that I could become who I wanted to become. I know it has been hard for the family to lose this man who, to us, was a legend, but to them so much more. Malena and David are continuing his work in their own way, and knowing that Harry Belafonte‘s legacy also lives on in his grandchildren is inspirational.”
Throughout the night, guests were treated to world-class entertainment, including captivating performances from neoclassical piano prodigy BLKBOK and The National Dance Institute.
“We are equally delighted to have National Dance Institute as a special part of our evening,”
said, Malena Belafonte Co-Founder and Vice President of the Board.
“NDI has been a magical part of our family for years, especially when seeing it through the eyes of our own children. With such pride, their grandpa would watch them perform on stages that he himself had performed on, and we are excited to have NDI perform in his honor. The Belafonte Family Foundation is proud to be supporting National Dance Institute’s mission, and creating many more beautiful moments together.”
“Harry Belafonte was a champion of National Dance Institute, having shared a decades-long friendship with our founder, Jacques d’Amboise. Together, they dreamed of a better world, each walking the walk and talking the talk throughout their extraordinary lives. We are deeply honored to be part of the Belafonte Family Foundation’s mission, and congratulate Amadeus, Sarafina, Malena and David for continuing the Belafonte legacy,” said Kay Gayner, NDI’s Artistic Director.
Consuela Vanderbilt accepted an award on behalf of musician Jimmy Dennis, who survived a wrongful conviction and 25 years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.
Guests enjoyed an evening of elegance and sophistication, and a behind the scenes look into the life of the entire Belafonte family, which included pictures and video of the late Harry Belafonte.
A few highlights of the evening included a duet sung by Sarafina Belafonte and Amadeus Belafonte and also a heartfelt address by co-founder David Belafonte, one of the visionaries behind the Belafonte Family Foundation.
He spoke passionately about the organization’s mission to empower underserved communities, promote education, and advocate for social justice on a widespread scale.
Notable attendees included Ruben Blades (Musician), Seth Herzog (Comedian), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Tony Award Winning Actor), Monte Lipman (CEO of Republic Records), Terrence Mann (Tony Award Winner), actor Frank Wood and Phillip Boykin (Tony and GRAMMY Award Nominated Singer and Actor), all of whom expressed their admiration for the Belafonte Family Foundation’s dedication to creating a better world for all.
The Belafonte Family Foundation’s wide-ranging plans are focused on multiple pillars, areas of support that are critical to human development and success: opportunity, education, and health, humanity & well-being. The latter is currently addressed by two of the foundation’s innovative programs:
Bright Road Farms, an urban, vertical farming initiative which supplies organically and locally grown greens to underserved communities and food deserts. This distributed farming network, operated in cooperation with Freight Farms, provides nutritional food produced year-round and in any climate. Bright Road Martial Arts recognizes the mentorship and power of martial arts disciplines which improves lives through self-control, self-discovery, and self-respect, offered to qualifying at-risk youth in partnership with leading academies and instructors. Serving over 100 students this summer and fall, between New York and the Dominican Republic alone.
To improve educational opportunities, BFF offers full academic scholarships for selected, deserving students, one of which has provided full scholarships for students in Haiti, inclusive of transportation, books, and food. Those who have received a scholarship were announced at the gala.
Aligned with the foundation’s multi-generational approach, BFF is also creating programs that focus on social justice, wrongful incarceration, sex trafficking, and mental health and wellness.
The event was a resounding success, bringing together prominent figures from the worlds of entertainment, philanthropy, and business.
Overall, the first Belafonte Family Foundation gala showcased a commitment to creating meaningful change in the world.
Photos by: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images
ABOUT THE BELAFONTE FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Belafonte Family Foundation (established in 2020) is a public charitable foundation with an innovative approach to creating access and opportunity for historically underserved, marginalized youth, adults, and communities across racial, gender, and economic lines. The organization focuses on progressive programming and resources, structured around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Created by a family whose lives are devoted to serving others, the Belafonte Family Foundation has taken a multi-generational approach to philanthropy formed around pillars critical to human development and success: education, opportunity, mentorship, arts, and health & well-being. Its innovative programs address the deeply imbalanced socio-economic playing field, promoting access and opportunities for improving lives.