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Russell Wendell Simmons: Creative and visionary entrepreneur

Russell Wendell Simmons

Russell Wendell Simmons

Russell Wendell Simmons: Creative and visionary entrepreneur

By Malik A. Azeez

Russell Simmons established Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation(RPAF), a philanthropic organization, to provide inner city youth in New York City with significant exposure to the arts. Another goal is to offer exhibition opportunities to new artists of color. RPAF provides two galleries that are available for art exhibits and arts education programs, which include: Rush Arts Gallery (N.Y.C.) and Corridor Gallery (Brooklyn).

Currently, in 2014, RPAF offers the Rush Toddler, Kids and Teens program for ages 2-18 to cultivate the study and practice of contemporary art. While, in 2013, the Rush Arts Gallery featured two exhibits entitled “Zoetic and Physically Practiced” and “Dimensions Variable”. Also, in July 2014, the 15th Annual Art For Life Gala will occur which is given by RPAF. Last year’s honorees were: Tyler Perry, Samuel Englebardt, William D. Johnson and Anne Pasternak.

Mr. Simmons had an entrepreneurial vision, idea and master plan that led to the founding of Rush Communications, LLC. His company is a multi-faceted business that focuses on-entertainment, media, fashion, lifestyles and empowerment.

On April 14, 2012, he spoke at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida.  His presentation was on –”Business Karma: Doing Well by Doing Good.” Mr. Simmons’s primary focus was to share information and ideas to motivate young men to read to improve the quality of their lives, their financial intelligence and their community. Moreover, the program was structured to be an “All Real Men Read Seminar.”

Simmons has done extraordinary work as an entrepreneurial innovator to uplift humanity through his company Rush Communications, LLC, founded in 1991. Under Rush Communications, LLC, he has expanded Hip-Hop culture, music, artists, films, art, fashions, television and video games. Some of the business entities he has created include: 1) Def Jam Records(1984); 2) Def Comedy Jam; 3) Phat Farm; 4) American Classics; 5) Argyleculture; 6) UniRush Financial Services/RUSHCARD(2003); 7) Def Jam Interactive; 8); 9) Simmons Lathan Media Group and 10) Def Poetry Jam.  Also, he believes that any business or philanthropic initiative has to have a vision that propels your business and shapes your business. Furthermore, his overall goal is to help empower people.

As a philanthropist, Mr. Simmons has been a remarkably caring, generous and pro-active businessman. On March 17, 2007, the Third Annual RPAF event was held and hosted by Russell Simmons. The location was at the oceanfront estate of Robert and Linnette Miller in Palm Beach, Florida. The honorees were the following: Rapper/hip-hop artist Ludacris; philanthropist Rena Rowan Damone and Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat. Additionally, $600,000.00 was raised by RPAF for arts education programs to benefit disadvantaged children in Palm Beach County and New York City. Moreover, over 500 guests attended this event.

Conversely, Russell Simmons implemented The Diamond Empowerment Fund(D.E.F.) in 2007 after visiting South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique in 2006. D.E.F. is a non-profit global organization that supports educational initiatives in diamond producing countries in Africa. Third, some controversy emerged concerning “Blood Diamond” star Leonardo DiCaprio doing a diamond boycott against diamond companies. However, Mr. Simmons was informed that Mr. DiCaprio believed later that consumers should embrace conflict-free warranties with diamond businesses and no boycott occurred.

Whereas, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s(HSAN) goal is to harness the cultural relevance of Hip-Hop music to serve as a catalyst for education, advocacy and social change in empowering the youth. HSAN programs include: 1) Rock the Vote; 2) Get Your Money Right and 3) Get Your House Right. Beyond this, Mr. Simmons is a cultural activist who facilitates positive social change in Hip-Hop.

Truly, RPAF has been a guiding light in elevating the minds and souls of disadvantaged youth through visionary arts education programs as well as  “Rush Gallery In The Schools”(RGITS).

Some of the school based programs in public schools organized by RGITS today are the following: 1) The Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School(Harlem); 2) The Young Women’s Leadership School(Harlem); 3) MS 226(Queens) and 4) Lyons Community School(Brooklyn).  Also, Mr. Simmons’s latest book is-Super Rich: A Guide To Having It All, 2011.

In sum, Russell Simmons’s business and philanthropic initiatives have been that of a transformative entrepreneur. Through Rush Communications, LLC, and RPAF, he has exemplified that by building creative business entities and philanthropic organizations to empower people, people take control of their lives and embrace their own economic self-reliance.


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