With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.
Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.
As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.
"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."
Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.
She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.
When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.
If you've watched HBO's documentary The Vow, you're familiar with Keith Raniere. The 60-year-old founded and ran NXIVM (pronounced "nexium"), a sex cult that masqueraded as an expensive, exclusive self-help group, but which appears to have served as a way for Raniere to get his rocks off while controlling and manipulating young women.
Raniere was convicted by a jury in July of 2019 of a host of crimes that include racketeering, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation of a child, according to CNN. On Tuesday, he was handed a sentence of 120 years in prison by a federal court in Brooklyn. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis also forbade Raniere from having any contact with NXIVM associates and fined him $1.75 million for his crimes, which Garaufis described as "cruel, perverse, and extremely serious."
The Daily Beast described the bizarre NXIVM cult as "an ultra-secretive organization that preached personal growth through sacrifice" and that had amassed an estimated 17,000 members since it started in 1998. Raniere was a charismatic leader who used the lure of the organization to indoctrinate women, pressure them into have sex with him, and engage in various forms of abuse. In a disturbing twist, the organization was largely run by women, and five of them—including Smallville actress Allison Mack and heiress to the Seagram's fortune Clare Bronfman—were charged along with Raniere, some pleading guilty to the racketeering and forced labor charges.
More than a dozen victims either spoke out or issued statements at Raniere's sentencing, including a woman who was just 15 years old when Raniere began having sex with her—or more accurately, raping her, based on her age. She said psychologically and emotionally manipulated her, leading her to cut herself off from her family. He also took nude photos of her, which led to his child pornography charge.
- My father trafficked me throughout my entire childhood. It looked ... ›
- Sex trafficking of youth still happens today. Here's why it's difficult to ... ›
- Child sex trafficking organizations set the record straight on QAnon ... ›
Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.
Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.
For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.
Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.
When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.
A college student who was fed up with his classmate has gone viral for calling out his own ignorance
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?
OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.
So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!
Sam White may only be six years old, but he's got skills that surpass most adults.
The Tennessee youngster and his dad, Robert White, have swept social media and stolen people's hearts in their "YouCanBeABCs" rap collaboration. With dad beat boxing in the background, 6-year-old Sam expertly takes us through the entire alphabet in order, naming careers kids can aspire to with short, clever, rhyming descriptions of each one.
You can be a "A"—You can be an ARCHITECT
Catch a building to kiss the sky
You can be a "B"—You can be a BIOCHEMIST
Makes medicines, save lives
You can be a "C"—COMPUTER SOFTWARE DEVELOPER
With programs and systems and files
You can be a "D"—You can be a DENTIST
Cuz everybody loves to smile
Sam's ease in front of the camera, skill in rapping the lyrics, and obvious joy in performing are a delight to witness. And dad in the background, backing him up with a beat, makes for both a sweet backdrop and a metaphor for strong, steady, supportive parenting.
- Texas teen added a 'Hamilton'-esque rap to Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me ... ›
- An 11-year-old wrote a rap about being bullied. His favorite rapper ... ›
- Man skillfully raps Dr. Seuss rhymes over Dr. Dre beats in a must ... ›