Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, is a national inspiration for her devotion to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African Americans.Founded in 2006 as Essence CARES while Taylor was chief editor of the magazine, the CARES organization has secured more than 130,000 mentors in nearly 50 cities and is now a fast-growing coalition of some of the nation’s most trusted organizations, concerned black Americans and caring supporters.
For her efforts, as well as her 30 years of championing the black American woman as Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine, Taylor will be honored by Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps with the Embracing the Legacy Award on June 9.
During her storied career, Taylor was deemed the most influential black woman in journalism. She left Essence magazine to create a community transformation crusade that rallies the able black community to support and help elevate impoverished young people, and to invest in the next generation.
“To not participate as a mentor, vocal advocate or financial contributor to the recovery of children struggling in financially insecure families and unstable communities is to betray our ancestors,” Taylor says. “No matter where they came from or how they arrived on these shores, their sacrifices and ideals brought so many of us to this place of privilege.”
Taylor’s vision is clear: calling together a critical mass of caring people to work strategically, peacefully and passionately to heal all that is hurting our children, communities and country. It’s a vision that builds on her nearly four decades of groundbreaking work in publishing.
When a drug epidemic forced Taylor’s family to leave their East Harlem community, a young Taylor vowed to help those they left behind.
When a drug epidemic forced Taylor’s family to leave their East Harlem community, a young Taylor vowed to help those they left behind. A lifelong New Yorker, Taylor sees herself as “a bridge between the high and the humble.” She is committed to galvanizing communities across the country to support young people who are struggling along the margins so they will become confident, self-sufficient critical thinkers and life-long learners who are dedicated to their families, community and country.
“We cannot quickly cure all the many ills of poverty, which are rooted in centuries-long disparities,” says Taylor. “But, we can help young people override the harms of living in impoverishment by giving them hope and a pathway to the bright future every child in this nation longs for and deserves.”
Before CARES, Taylor’s commitment to the black community took shape on the pages of Essence, where she celebrated the intelligence, creativity, and tenacity of black women. As Editor-in-Chief, Taylor ensured that every manifestation of Black beauty, including full-figured women, was present.
In addition to overseeing Essence, Taylor penned the magazine’s most popular column, “In the Spirit,” the first in a mainstream U.S. magazine to cite spiritual growth as a pathway to a happy, healthy, fulfilled life.
Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ annual Embracing the Legacy Award celebrates the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy and the work of the organization founded to carry out his principles of social justice for the poor and disadvantaged. The organization’s CEO, Ed Kelley, nominated Taylor for the award to honor her immense influence within the black community as a force of good for the next generation.
“Susan’s devotion to her own community has had a nationwide impact. Her efforts have created a domino effect –National CARES is a force to better social and juvenile justice efforts across the country,” Kelley says.
Through the event, RFK Children’s Action Corps raises money to support some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable youth and families, giving them a second chance for a better life. The agency, which is celebrating 48 years of service, is a national leader in developing and implementing model, successful child welfare, social service and juvenile justice programs.