Stars shine at Diamond Empowerment Fund benefit

Mario and Joe via allthatsfab

Russell Simmons threw a bash last week for his Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF), a non-profit that raises money to support education in African countries where diamonds are a natural resource. The celebration, which helped raise funds for the organization through a glittery auction, was held at the new Greenhouse venue, one of the most environmentally friendly clubs in New York, built with bamboo walls and LED lighting. The DEF, which was founded by Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, has taken on the motto to “help Africans help themselves,” explained Dr. Chavis, while at the event. The party was filled with stars like Mario, Joe, LL Cool J, and David Blaine. In the words of LL Cool J, the night was one of “positive energy.”

In addition to an auction, the foundation also announced their first Africa’s Angel award to model Nicola Breytenbach, a native South African, for her commitment to the charity. Nicola Breytenbach, who has been featured in the pages of Elle, Vogue and Cosmopolitian, had been looking for a charity to support and felt that “education is the most important thing” to empower young people. She even visited one of the foundations first schools which they built, in correlation with the Community and Individual Development Association (CIDA), in Johannesburg. Breytenback was touched to see the students be so “confident and proud of who they are and where they come from. They know they are going to be successful and they know how privileged they are.”

Russell Simmons, a thriving force behind DEF, decided that starting a foundation was the direction to head in after both he and Dr. Chavis went to South Africa and met with Nelson Mandela. “There are resources but no one to mine those resources,” Simmons tells CGG. He did not just want to give money; Simmons wanted to be able to see the money empower the young generation to “lift themselves out of poverty.” Russell explains it perfectly when telling CGG that “charity is good, but empowerment is better.”

by CGG Contributing Reporter Alexandra Gonzalez

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