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InteractiveOne, LLC, The Digital Connection for Black America and the digital division of Radio One, Inc. the largest African American multimedia company, today announced the launch of BlackPlanet Rising (www.blackplanetrising.com), the first comprehensive platform to provide tools, information and connections for African Americans to give back their time and resources to the community.  Interactive One will seek to activate African Americans through a broad cross-platform outreach program leveraging the Radio One stations, and its own robust online platform which reaches more than nine million monthly unique visitors and includes the original social networking site, BlackPlanet.com.

“This is the first platform that allows African Americans to connect around services for and by the community,” says Maria Weaver Watson, who as head of marketing oversees the community outreach program for Interactive One. “It also allows organizations, communities and individuals to tap into the largest African American audience across our various platforms to seek volunteers, board members, employees, and donations.”

In order to provide users with a vast number of volunteer opportunities that reflect their geographic location, skills, and areas of interest, BlackPlanet Rising has partnered with VolunteerMatch one of the Web’s most popular volunteer network (www.volunteermatch.org) with more than 68,000 nonprofit organizations to help Americans easily find where and how they can give back.  This will enable users to go onto the site, enter their zip code, skills and interests, including education, public service, etc., and secure a list of active local volunteering opportunities.

“Times are tough in our communities, but it’s clear that more Americans than ever want to help solve local problems. We’ve already seen an increase of more than 12% in community service activity this year alone,” said Robert Rosenthal, Director of Communications of VolunteerMatch.

“Our hope is that we are giving a community that is inspired to contribute the tools and information to make an impact on the causes that are most important to them,” said Tom Newman, President of Interactive One. “Community service is at the heart of Radio One’s mission and history and we felt that in these challenging economic times we needed to be front and center as leaders.  I am very excited to see how BlackPlanet Rising will mobilize the community further by introducing and encouraging acts of service and social change online.  There is really nothing out there like this.”

Additionally, BlackPlanet Rising will put a strong emphasis in the area of education by partnering with DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit website that connects users to public schools in need. This provides BlackPlanet Rising’s community with the chance to help build the next generation of future leaders, and provide funds to support critical resources, including books, computers, supplies, field trips, and much more. The user chooses an educational project written by a public school teacher to support and DonorsChoose.org delivers materials directly to the school.  In return, the user receives photos and thank you notes from the teacher and students whose lives were impacted.

“We are grateful that BlackPlanet Rising has chosen to highlight the importance of education and offer their users the opportunity to give back to their local schools and students,” said Yaritza Olmeda, East Region Associate Director, of DonorsChoose.org.

Other highlights of the site will include the Riser of the Month, which will profile individuals who have done exceptional work and made a difference in their community; a News section to provide briefs on community service; and an Upcoming Events section to highlight large scale and regional events that encourage users to get involved.  BlackPlanet.com will host the BlackPlanet Rising group for members to share stories, insights and personal recommendations for community involvement.

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