Magic Johnson, Common join Coca-Cola’s ‘Pay it Forward’ program

Magic Johnson, Common join Coca-Cola’s ‘Pay it Forward’ program
Common and Magic Johnson join forces with Coca-Cola for the Pay It Forward apprenticeship program

Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Common are overachievers and supremely confident. The former is an NBA legend and business mogul and the latter is a multi-Grammy Award-winning music artist, actor and philanthropist.

To whom much is given, much is required is a biblical scripture familiar to and heeded by them. It’s evidenced by their good deeds via of the Magic Johnson Foundation and the Common Ground Foundation, respectively, and more recently by answering a call to action set forth by Coca-Cola’s vice president of multicultural marketing for Coca-Cola North America Group Lauventria Robinson.

Robinson shared in a statement to press: “There is no better way to empower a community than to arm its youth with the necessary skills to succeed. Coca-Cola’s ‘Pay It Forward’ program is a signature program to uplift the next generation.”

Coca-Cola, the world’s most recognized brand, has enlisted the help of these leading African American history makers to offer exciting apprentice opportunities to aspiring youth. Magic, Common and Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) chairman and CEO Debra Lee will serve as mentors, giving four lucky young people the opportunity to shadow them and their teams for a week during the summer.

Kicking off the movement’s second year at Coca-Cola headquarters on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, Magic and Common met with a select group of reporters before addressing college students and Coca-Cola employees during an empowerment session.

Magic Johnson, Common join Coca-Cola’s ‘Pay it Forward’ program
Common and Magic Johnson flank Frederick Douglass High School student Devion Lewis and Amber Hughes at Coca-Cola Headquarters in Atlanta

If it sounds like they are delving into life coaching, well they are. They’re imparting fortitude bestowed upon them that has served them well.

Magic credits his parents with steering him in the right direction, “I have to thank my parents; both of us have mothers who love to help us. We’re blessed to be in this position. I want to thank the Coca-Cola Company for developing this incredible concept. We were there once and someone helped us. We’re excited by this opportunity to give back. It’s funny, because this is natural for both us. We are successful, but we never really left the neighborhood; we’re still a part.

“My mentors Joe Ferguson and Greg Eaton were the first to give me a real job. They took me around.”

When asked by Frederick Douglass High School student reporter Amber Hughes how it feels to work with young people and helping them get on the right path to reach their career goals, Common answers, “It’s heartwarming and I feel inspired to do it. I like to see young people like you exude professionalism and enjoying themselves. When I have opportunities like this one, to be a part of the Coca-Cola Pay It Forward program, and ones with the Common Ground Foundation, I feel I am fulfilling my life’s purpose. I am blessed to do it.”

Expanding this year’s program offering, the Company has partnered with UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the country’s largest minority education organization, for a text-to-donate program.

Parents, relatives, friends, mentors and members of the community, 16 years of age or older, can visitMy Coke Rewards ( now through March2 to nominate an aspiring young person for the exclusive “Pay It Forward” apprenticeship experiences. The experiences are open to young people between the ages of 16 to 21 as of May 1, 2013. You can nominate up to five people and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $5,000 sweepstakes with each nomination. Eligible youth are also invited to nominate themselves.

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