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What Is BACKSACK International?

BACKSACK International (Be A Corporate Kid, Support A Corporate Kid) is a social enterprise founded in 2012 by Marje’ Etheridge, a film producer and social entrepreneur, based on the belief that all youth should have the opportunity to discover and follow their dreams.

BACKSACK also believes that we all have a story, and that when youth hear the stories of leaders who are living their dreams and are not afraid to share their accomplishments as well as the challenges they had to overcome to be successful, they too will be inspired to do something positive to impact their community, their city, and their country.

We believe that the youth of today can contribute valuable ideas and innovative solutions to societal problems. Through collaborative mentoring, the youth can also serve as mentors in their own right, and the industry professionals can help youth become entrepreneurs and, ultimately, the industry and world leaders of tomorrow.

Our Story

Impact your story…Impact the world!
BACKSACK International began with a dream.

A Dream is Born

Marje’ Etheridge, film producer and social entrepreneur, used to dream about one day becoming a world-renowned speaker because as a child she would hear inspiring messages, sermons, and speeches that provoked positive reactions from the audience. After hearing those words, she believed they would turn into actions, and the actions would create positive change in society.

She dreamed about becoming a New York Times best-selling author because as a teen she had heard community leaders quote from great books…and she thought this would lead to making a difference in the world, which she wanted to do.

A Discovery Realized

It was good to dream about doing those things, but Marje’ slowly discovered that the world was not getting any better. So, she decided to open her eyes and heart and put into action the inspiring speeches she had heard, the thought-provoking books she had read, and the knowledge she had gained from people who really cared about humanity.

Dare To Dream – A Promise Made

She realized:
“There is something I can do…
There is something I can do about youth crime.
There is something I can do about racism.
There is something I can do about human sex trafficking.
There is something I can do about hopelessness.”

And she promised herself and the world to do it, to live her dream, to change the world.

And So It Began…

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, the BACKSACK Campaign was launched at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Munson featuring three amazing CEOs – Jane Ann Covington, Essie Cha, and Jim Munson. These CEOs were chosen because of their powerful stories.

Our Vision

To create a world where people are inspired and empowered to dream and to make those dreams a reality. To embrace and spread the idea that humanitarian efforts and corporate success can blend to produce profits while doing good in the world.

Our Mission

BACKSACK International is dedicated to positively influencing the face of modern business practices so that they reflect the needs, desires, and greater good of citizens around the world. We do this by using the global influence of media and the innovation of entrepreneurship and modern technology to show how powerful we can be if we work together for the greater good of our society, our youth, and our future. Our goal is to show that humanitarian efforts and corporate success can blend to produce profits while doing good in the world.

Our Team

The Executive Team

SHERWOOD HERNDON
CEO

Sherwood is an entrepreneur who was an early-stage investor and executive board member of software company Advanced Technology Systems of Illinois, book publisher Noble Press, music recording label Arise Entertainment, and NFL sports agency American Stars. Sherwood is the Chairman of the Executive Board of Herndon International Hotel Properties, a land and property acquisition company that develops upscale boutique hotels. He is a partner in Wu-Tang Management, Protect-Ya-Neck Productions, and Wu-Tang Records. Wu-Tang’s prominence in the music industry allowed the brand to expand into fashion merchandising, comic books, animation, games, and film. During this tenure, Sherwood successfully negotiated the first “Destiny’s Child” In-Demand pay-per- view concert event with AEG-TV Chairman and CEO John Ruby. Sherwood has created valuable partnerships and business cooperatives in filmed entertainment and television production, including the CBS franchise “Caribbean Next Top Model,” the live major network broadcast of “Championship Title Boxing,” a slate of featured films to be produced in Minnesota, and the development of a digital network channel. In addition to his music and film and broadcasting endeavors, Sherwood is the catalyst behind a planned professional sports arena project in Virginia Beach, VA, and is spearheading the development of 4 Star Lifestyle Boutique Hotels. He is also the Founder of Hennepin Pictures, an independent film production and distribution cooperative of entertainment professionals and businesses, and the Vice Chair of the Board Of Directors of The Givens Foundation For African-American Literature, which advances cultural understanding and learning through programs that inspire a passion for African-American literature and writers. He is the co-owner of Wu-Tang Digital Radio Platform Kreating Kulture Konscious Kommunication for the Hip-Hop Kingdom. Sherwood holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Culture and Communications/Media Studies from Westmar Methodist College.

MARJÉ ETHERIDGE
FOUNDER AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Marje’ is a social entrepreneur.  She received her B.A. in psychology at St. Louis University and has been committed to the business of preparing youth for college and/or business for more than 25 years.  Marje’s wealth of talents has afforded her the opportunity to meet many people of influence, making her and her network a magnet for success.  

REX FRIEDLEIN
CHIEF BUSINESS OFFICER

Rex is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pupshire Builders, a custom home-building company in Atlanta. Because of his love for the outdoors, he also started a landscaping business. Rex says, “I’ve spent my life doing the things that I love to do…who could ask for anything more?”

NONI WALKER
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER AND PRODUCER

Noni is the producer for the Health and Wellness episode of the “Dream to Lead” TV series. She is also a Personal Development Coach, Consultant, and Author. She holds a Master of Public Health degree and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has spent most of her career in public health, focusing on academia and nonprofit organizations.

SHUAA ALROBAYAN
CHIEF CONCEPT OFFICER AND ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Shuaa is the founder and CEO of Sultanah Productions, which promotes diversity and empowers the women of Saudi Arabia through art and film. Shuaa has two MBA degrees. Her work experience also encompasses Marketing and Technology, with an emphasis on the value of education.

FLORENCE OLAJUMOKE ADU
CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER AND ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Florence was born in London and raised in Nigeria. She worked in the Diagnostic Healthcare sector for 21 years and then ventured into non-profit and social services sectors creating Jays Uniting Services, LLC, endeavoring to build a structured community for children, getting the best possible resources to effectively and efficiently meet their needs mentally and physically.

BUKOLA V. OYEKAN
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER, BACKSACK PRODUCTIONS

Bukola has a B.A. in Film Production and a minor focus in entrepreneurship. She has worked as a production assistant and coordinator on an assortment of independent films and web series and developed her own documentary feature. She writes for online publications and has developed and executed corporate videos and projects, written proposals and editorials, and produced content for corporate and creative ventures.

FAITH WHYTE
EVENT MANAGER

Faith is the CEO and Founder of Concierge & Events Made Easy. For more than 25 years, she has successfully run businesses in Toronto, Canada, and Atlanta and planned countless events in Toronto, Jamaica, and Atlanta. She is also the Founder and Organizer of “Come See the World,” a Multicultural Festival and International Women’s Symposium.

JAMES CALDWELL, PH.D
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WORLD OF DREAMVILLE SMART CITIES

James has more than 20 years of experience in cross-cultural business leadership, resilient economic development, and alliance building with corporate, governmental, and non-governmental organizations. He is a Director of the U.S.-China Green Energy Council and Chairman of its Green Building and Eco-City Task Force. His work focuses on smart city development.

COREA MARSHAE
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Corea has had a fascination with fashion since grade school. She attended Georgia Perimeter College for Communications and Full Sail University for Media Communications. She is also a personal trainer, stylist, and motivational speaker and creates innovative concepts and strategies involving millennials’ development. She looks forward to living her dream as a CEO, fashion designer, and film producer.

SHARON HATCHETT
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BACKSACK FOUNDATION, AND PRODUCER

Sharon holds undergraduate degrees in both Political Science and Spanish and a Juris Doctor. She has worked for the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the United States Trustee, and a global automotive manufacturer and has served in various other leadership capacities. She has been a member and/or Board Member of many legal and civic organizations and is the author of several legal publications.

MELBA ROBINSON
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIRST DREAM PROGRAM

Melba is a leader in the fight to eradicate human sex trafficking of domestic children and an advocate for girls and young women. She has a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Social Work. She is the Program Director for an Anti-Human Trafficking program with the Salvation Army. She has worked with many NGO’s serving survivors of sex trafficking and exploited and homeless youth, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

ANTHONY HUIE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DREAMSPEAK

Anthony migrated from his birthplace in the Caribbean Nation of Jamaica, West Indies. He has more than 30 years of sports experience (soccer), specializing in youth development, and experience in the arts and entertainment. He is the author of several books and a screenplay, “The Spirit That Guides Us” (his memoir).

Additional Team Members

Njeri Thubei – Partnership Officer for Africa
Monica Kelsey – Graphic Artist & Web Developer
Stew Cariveau – Business Consultant
Joel DeVisser – Producer
Clifton Spivey – Business Mentor
Russell Hill – Chief Transformation Officer

Our Partners

Alliance of Women Directors
AllianceOfWomenDirectors.org

USC’s Media Institute for Social Change
uscmisc.org

Reachme TV
reachme.tv

Centsables
centsables.com

Our NGO’s

Ambition
Ambition.org

Airline Ambassadors, Inc.
AirlineAmb.org

Old Skool Café
OldSkoolCafe.org

Upendo Women’s Foundation
UpendoWomensFoundation.org

The Talboy Foundation
TalboyFoundation.org

Techwadi
techwadi.org

“Life without dreaming is a life without meaning.” – Wale