Usher’s New Look charity celebrates its Sweet 16

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This Buzz column was written by Erica Relaford, a journalism student at Savannah State University.

Usher’s New Look Foundation celebrated its “Sweet 16” last week with the President’s Circle Awards Luncheon at the St.Regis Atlanta.

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 23:  (L-R) Recording Artist Ludacris and recording artist Usher Raymond attend Ushers New Look United to Ignite Awards Presidents Circle Luncheon  on July 23, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher's New Look)

ATLANTA, GA – JULY 23: (L-R) Recording Artist Ludacris and recording artist Usher Raymond attend Ushers New Look United to Ignite Awards Presidents Circle Luncheon on July 23, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher’s New Look)

R&B star Usher and rapper-actor Ludacris, who served as emcee, made a red-carpet entrance. The event featured remarks from New Look CEO Yvette Cook and President Shawn H. Wilson.

Usher established the New Look Foundation with the help of his mother, Jonetta Patton, in 1999.

“The New Look Foundation and our leadership program have continuously developed service-minded youth leaders who see that they can be the change that they wish to see in the world if they simply try, ” he said. “Education, talent, career and service — that’s how we’re making a difference every day for the future that’s projected for our young men and women.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed  and Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle attended Usher's awards luncheon. Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher's New Look

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle attended Usher’s awards luncheon. Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher’s New Look

Honorees included Ludacris, founder of the Ludacris Foundation and a longtime New Look supporter, who received the Ignitor of Service award. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who has championed Georgia’s “Healthy Kids Challenge” and the Georgia College and Career Academy Network, received the Ignitor of Education Award.

Michele Lai, founder of Kids 4 Kids, a Hong Kong-based nonprofit that creates opportunities for young people, received the Ignitor of Global Youth Empowerment award. Elizabeth Williams, who joined Usher’s New Look Detroit branch as a high school student and is now a senior at Grand Valley State University, received the Ignitor of Global Youth Leadership Award. She and her sister, Rebecca, launched an organization called Books IV Bonding, which provides literature to struggling schools both in Kenya and Detroit.

Ludacris with his wife Eudoxie at the luncheon. Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher's New Look

Ludacris with his wife Eudoxie at the luncheon. Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher’s New Look

New Look members performed dance, song and spoken word selections during the event. Usher’s New Look Choir and Dance Team performed to Mark Ronson’s hit single, “Uptown Funk.”

The event left everyone inspired.

“I’m so excited that Usher’s New Look Foundation is committed to educating, empowering and engaging today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders, ” said Rea Davis of allhiphop.com.

Added Hip Hop Town Hall founder Renee Gardner: “Usher’s New Look program inspires people of all economic levels and abilities to extend a hand to the community and make the world a better place.”

Guest columnist Erica Relaford

Guest columnist Erica Relaford