RUSH: Russell Simmons Family Supporting the Arts in New York

With Alana Galloway.

New York, N.Y.  I first met Russell Simmons several years ago at the United Nations. We chatted about meditation and the earthquake in Haiti. I was inspired by his work and honored to be invited to his Rush HeARTS Education Luncheon last spring at the Plaza on Fifth Avenue with one of our Luce Foundation Young Global Leaders, Alana Galloway.

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - ArrivalsDanny Simmons, Angela Simmons and Russell Simmons.
Photo:
Getty Images for RUSH.

The Grand Ballroom event, hosted by Cynthia Nixon, raised funds for New York City public school arts programs. Russell Simmons, Cynthia Nixon, Kenneth Cole, Cynthia Rowley, and Angela Simmons were also there on the red carpet in support.

Founded in 1995 by the Simmons brothers – Russell, Danny, and Joseph – Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (RPAF) is dedicated to providing inner city youth across New York City with significant exposure to the arts, as well as to supporting emerging artists with exhibition opportunities. The organization has expanded into two separate programs supporting an appreciation for the arts and stressing the importance of art in the lives of all people, especially children.

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - ArrivalsMaster of Ceremony Cynthia Nixon.
Photo:
Getty Images for RUSH.

Since our own foundation supports young global leadership in the arts, education, and orphan care (children), we have an avid interest in what the Simmons are up to.

RPAF created its art programs to stress the positive influence of art in the lives of youth as a means of expression. Rush also emphasizes a correlation between high academic performance and low violence in schools when an art program is present. Rush Arts Galleries, another program, supports and features emerging artists nationwide.

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - Inside  Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation Executive Director Daymond John,
Tangie Murray, with the foundation’s co-founders Danny and Simmons.
Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

This branch of the Simmons’ brother’s organization presents unrecognized artists with increased opportunities. They exhibit the work of over one hundred emerging artists each year in the Rush Arts Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan – as well as in Brooklyn’s Corridor Gallery (Clinton Hill).

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - ArrivalsKenneth and Amanda Cole. Photo: Getty Images for RUSH.

“Rush HeARTS gives a lot of people access to express their creativity and ability to think,” Honoree, award-winning entrepreneur, and Rush Kid Daymond John said at the luncheon.

Rush holds their luncheon annually to thank those who have helped to support them thus far, and promote their cause to others.

   Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - InsidePianist Robert Glasper and Singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius perform.
Photo:
Getty Images for RUSH.

This year’s lunch began with an introductory speech and welcome from host Cynthia Nixon, who has been a Rush supporter for over nine years. She announced that 2014 was the year of justice for Rush, while the year of 2015 embodies the theme of home. Rush wants to enforce and nurture the feeling of home, and promote a feeling of comfort between the organization, benefactors, and beneficiaries.

The Simmons brothers worked together to make the event as successful as possible, contributing each of their individual areas of expertise. Despite being brothers, each Simmons specializes in a different area and was able to contribute a unique flare. Quite like RUSH itself is a collaboration of innovative minds, this article is being written as a collaboration between myself and our Luce Leader, Alana Galloway.

From her perspective:

Rush Kids at Rush HeARTSRush Kids at their Rush HeARTS table. Photo: Getty Images for RUSH.

Since I am only seventeen, I was privileged enough to sit at a table full of Rush kids during the event. Each of them sat with smiles plastered on their faces as they laughed, happily dug into their plates of salad and orecchiette pasta, fought over the surplus of dessert options, and beamed up at every member and contributor of the organization they are a part of.

Thirteen year-old Rush Kid Dakota Jones spoke about what it is to be a Rush Kid during the luncheon. “We learn everything from drawing to the names of new colors we have never heard of,” Dakota said. “Rush has taught us small things like teaching us how to draw to big things like setting us up in life.”

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - ArrivalsAngela Simmons and Russell Simmons. Photo: Getty Images for RUSH.

Dakota continued to answer questions before Rushell White, principal at MS 226 in Queens spoke about her experiences, and how Rush has directly helped her and her school. “A teaching job needs blood, sweat, tears, and, absolutely, the arts,” Michelle said.

The principal explained how MS 226 used to be a lean-on-me school with over five hundred violent incidents a year. Rushell walked into the school on her first day of work and immediately had to break up multiple fights.

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - InsideMaster of Ceremony Cynthia Nixon. Photo: Getty Images for RUSH.

However, with the help of Rush and the implementation of an arts program, students have channeled their anger and feelings into art as opposed to violence. As a result, incidents went down from about five hundred each year to roughly five each year.

“We can contribute all those achievements to our students and staff, but we are absolutely grateful for the help of Rush Philanthropic,” she said. “When you support Rush, you’re supporting our students and numerous students everywhere.”

Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Annual Rush HeARTS Education Valentine's Luncheon - InsidePhoto: Getty Images for RUSH.

After Ms. White spoke, awards were presented to Daymond John, Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers, and Amber and CC Sabathia for their notable work with Rush. The awards they received were portraits of each honoree painted by Rush Kids. In this way, the awards stood for all that Rush represents.

Amber Sabathia said, “We always say being awarded is great, but we don’t do it for the award. We do it out of our hearts.”

The award ceremony was followed by a series of festivities including a featured artist presentation and live canvas painting by Shantell Martin, a Rush Kids live auction, a special live performance sung by Marsha Ambrosius and Robert Glasper, and a final raffle drawing.

Untitled6Barry Klarberg, Alana Galloway, Sara Herbert Galloway and Jim Luce.
Photo: Getty Images for RUSH.

The event was successful in raising awareness for the organization, as well as for the cause. It was especially meaningful to have the kids present, as they added an entirely new dimension to the event and represented an example of the wonderful work Rush has done.

As an artist, photographer, and lover of the arts myself, I can vouch for the fact that exposure to the arts truly has a positive impact on the lives of all individuals.

Growing up in the presence of art provides a positive outlet for expression and imagination, allowing young artists to channel their emotions and paint them on a blank canvas, as opposed to negatively imposing them on others.

Originally published in The Huffington Post, July 22, 2015.

Russell-Jim-AlanaRussell Simmons with Jim Luce and J. Luce Leader 2015 Alana Galloway.
Photo: Sara Herbert Galloway/HerbertCollection.

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (RPAF) is dedicated to providing inner city youth across New York City with significant exposure to the arts, as well as to supporting emerging artists with exhibition opportunities.

The J. Luce Foundation presents annual Luce Leadership Awards to young leaders working to better humanity, either in the U.S. or abroad, who embody the characteristics of honor, intelligence, benevolence, and integrity.

Alana Galloway, age 17, attends the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in Greenwich, CT. She was first recognized and published nationally at 15 after writing an editorial raising awareness about teen suicide and bullying. Since then, she has used her writing and photographic skills to tackle challenging social issues such as human trafficking and prison reform through several publications, including The Stewardship Report and The Huffington Post.

See Stories by Jim Luce on:

Art   |   Brooklyn   | Children   | Corporate America & CSR   | Education   | New York   | Philanthropy   | Social Responsibility   | Young Global Leadership

The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) supporting young global leadership is affiliated with Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW), raising global citizens. If supporting youth is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.

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Alana Galloway, Amanda Cole, Amber Sabathia , Angela Simmons, Arts, arts programs, Barry Klarberg, Bill Powers, Brooklyn, CC Sabathia, Children, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Corridor Gallery Brooklyn, Cynthia Nixon, Cynthia Rowley, Dakota Jones, Danny Simmons, Daymond John, Education, Greenwich, Jim Luce, Joseph Simmons, Kenneth Cole, Luce Young Global Leader, Marsha Ambrosius, MS 226, New York City, NYC public schools, Philanthropy, Robert Glasper, RPAF, RUSH, Rush Arts Galleries, Rush HeARTS Education Luncheon, Rush Kids, Rushell White, Russell Simmons, Sara Herbert Galloway, School violence, Shantell Martin, Social Justice, Social Responsibility, Stewardship Report, Tangie Murray, The Plaza, United Nations, Young Global Leadership

 

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

View all posts by Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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