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Black-Owned Creative Agency Surprises 50 Unsuspecting Teachers and Staff With $150,000 Self-Care Grant at Local Public School

Co-host of CBS News' "CBS Mornings" Gayle King makes surprise visit to help Elite Media with school adoption ceremony as part of the “Schoolys” launch

Co-host of CBS News’ “CBS Mornings” Gayle King makes surprise visit to help Elite Media with school adoption ceremony as part of the “Schoolys” launch

NEW YORK, June 27, 2024 – On Tuesday, June 25th, a black-owned advertising agency surprised 50 teachers and staff members with a $150,000 ‘self-care’ grant at a local public school in Harlem. The group was joined by co-host of CBS News’ “CBS Mornings” Gayle King at Teachers College Community School (TCCS) a few blocks away from the agency’s office, just one day before the end of the school year. Each teacher received a $3,000 “self-care grant” that can be used toward self-care and career development.

Elite Media, a Black-owned, female-led advertising agency based in Harlem, made the surprise announcement – with King’s help – to 50 unsuspecting teachers and staff as part of the agency’s new the “Schoolys” program–one of several programs Elite Media has developed as part of its disruptive, impact-based model. The agency hopes acts like this can demonstrate how businesses, organizations and people can use their own gifts to help solve challenges in their communities.

To honor the school staff further, Elite Media also put up billboards saluting school staff around the neighborhood.

“Public school staff work tirelessly throughout the year,” said Christopher Crawford, Founder & CEO of Elite Media. “We are reinvesting our own operating budget into the “Schoolys” initiative to ensure that support reaches the people who put their hearts and souls into the work the institution does every day – to protect the people who support and protect our youth. And in the process, we hope to set an example for how other local businesses can repurpose a portion of their operating budgets to create an outsized impact in their own backyards.”

Part of the incentive for the “Schoolys” program is personal: Crawford’s father worked at PS 28 in Harlem nearly 50 years ago.

Gayle King, who attended the event noted, “All of us have teachers in our lives that have impacted us. And, you know, that sometimes when teachers get extra money, they give it to others and spend it on their students. I love that this grant money has no strings attached and that the staff can use it on anything they’d like, preferably themselves!”

The “surprise and delight” moment is just phase one of Elite Media’s multi-pronged, multi-year commitment to supporting the school. In the months to come, the agency will work towards enhancing the curriculum, making physical improvements to the building and playground, and providing agency staff to act as grant-writers to help the school receive continued support.

Commented Michelle Verdiner (“Ms. V”), principal at TCCS, “Retention of staff is a critical lever in sustaining student and community impact. Teacher turnover is way too high: last year alone, it was reported that 23% of teachers left their schools. It’s important we remind teachers and staff of how valuable and appreciated they are. We applaud Elite Media for helping to lead by example. Caring in this way for the staff only helps to aid our recruitment and retention efforts.”

To learn more about how you can partner with a local school and change the world by changing a world, visit

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