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R&B superstar Usher gives $500 checks to brightest kids to improve community

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by Simone Weichselbaum, New York Daily News

R&B superstar Usher is giving away $500 checks to some of the city’s brightest kids so they can make a change on the toughest streets in town.

The pop sensation has doled out five grants citywide since September to youngsters in Harlem and the Bronx for a shot at neighborhood glory. Kids in Queens and Brooklyn are also eligible to apply for the youth grants.

“It’s a matter of putting the skills and the financial resources directly in their hands and letting them create change on their terms,” Usher said.

The grants are part of the crooner’s nonprofit New Look that expands his Power by Service project.

The singer is also working with younsters in Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, Milwaukee and Los Angeles, and plans to expand his new program to all major U.S. cities. Usher has pledged $1 million to the youth grant project.

Two boys in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx are using a $500 grant to build skateboards for 18 teens who’ve promised to help the duo plant trees in a nearby community garden.

“It is our world and we have to take care of it,” said Kendrick Martinez, 14, a Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School sophomore and the co-founder of Eco Riders. His partner, Victor Davila, 15, said they picked skateboards as their Usher-funded project because they want more Bronx teens to learn the sport. “Not a lot of kids have cars, so skateboards is an alternative way to travel,” Davila said.

Nyea Garner, 16, a junior at Harlem Village Academy charter school, received her grant on Dec. 10 and enlisted two schoolmates to help her create a talent show called Evolutionary Movement, starring her neighbors. The East Harlem teen said she will send cash from her tickets sales to Ethiopia to help battle the epidemic of childhood malaria in the African nation. “I am very excited,” Garner said. “One person can make a change, but even a bigger group can make a bigger change.”

Youngsters in the city, ages 12 to 20, can apply for the grants by going to http://www.ushersnewlook.org. or http://www.poweredbyservice.org. The next application deadline is Jan. 18.

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Written by Symphony

December 30, 2009 at 9:58 am

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