The Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust
The Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust is the philanthropic arm of The Los Angeles (CA) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. Under Trust guidelines, funding is provided to support the five program facets of The Links, Incorporated which include Services to Youth, The Arts, International Trends and Services, National Trends and Services, and Health and Human Services. All five facets are supported through our “Umbrella Project,” the annual Debutante Cotillion. The Links, Incorporated has had a long tradition of promoting and engaging in educational, civic and inter-cultural activities in order to enrich the lives of members of the larger community. The Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust supports worthwhile causes in the general fields of health, education, social services, cultural and international.
Los Angeles Chapter Umbrella Project
The Umbrella Project of Los Angeles (CA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, is the annual Debutante Cotillion which encompasses each of the five facets. The Cotillion embraces the Services to Youth facet as a vehicle to provide a transition for young women to grow in grace as well as a fundraiser to support vital community needs. Cotillionettes participate in a variety of enriching activities. First and foremost, each Cotillionette is required to donate a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer service to a community service agency. The Cotillionettes also participate in numerous enrichment activities that emphasize personal development and mastery. Besides the Cotillion itself, all activities planned for the Cotillionettes introduce the young ladies to meaningful service to the community under the umbrella of the five facets of The Links and creates a sense of “Commitment to the Community” in the heart of each Cotillionette.
A summary of the ways in which the four facets are addressed through the Umbrella Project, the annual Debutante Cotillion, follows:
Services to Youth – The Los Angeles Links place great value on achievements, commitment and responsibility; therefore, the events scheduled for the Cotillionettes are not only of a social nature but include volunteer, educational and cultural activities. Each Cotillionette performs a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer service to a community service agency. The Services to Youth Committee schedules a variety of workshops which include CPR training, etiquette, cultural events, self esteem, yoga/meditation, public speaking, college preparation, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and legal awareness for teens and young adults.
The Arts – Cotillionettes participate in a variety of cultural events that provide them with information and exposure to the broad spectrum of visual and performing arts. In previous years, Arts activities have included visits to exhibits at the California African American Museum, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, George Bizet’s opera, Carmen, George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and a variety of other live performances. In addition, Arts activities have introduced the Cotillionettes to renowned artists such as John Outterbridge, artist and curator of the Watts Towers and to unique collections including the private collection of Dr. Joy Simmons.
National Trends & Services – Cotillionettes participate in an annual College Application and Scholarship Information Workshop. The session includes a professional women’s career panel. Additionally, Cotillionettes participate in a Entrepreneurial Workshop which focuses on personal financial information and business concepts. Cotillionettes also participate in a Self-Esteem Workshops, Creative Writing and Legal Savvy Workshop and sessions that create awareness of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
International Trends & Services – Cotillionettes participate in A “Global Get-Down,” an intercultural workshop focusing on the significance, values, similarities and differences of world cultures through the medium of dance. The event focuses on the influence of African and African American dance throughout the world. In past years, debutantes have learned about the cultures and dances that have impacted the countries of Africa, Europe, South America, Central America, China, India and the Caribbean Island.
The “Global Get-Down” is a program designed to bring together youth from various community organizations to learn about the customs of different cultures through dance. Participants learn the history of a selected foreign country and receive an informational folder. In previous years, some of the organizations that have participated are: the YWCA, Job Corp, LA Debutantes, Crenshaw High School Student, Hurricane Katrina Survivors, Ethiopian Club, Union Rescue Mission, and Lula Washington Dance students. This workshop encourages our youth to appreciate and understand and respect our wonderful global diversity.
Through the financial contributions in support of the Umbrella Project, The Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust continues to provide funding support to worthwhile community organizations and programs such as:
- The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law
- T.H.E. Clinic for Women, Inc.
- Los Angeles (CA) Chapter Links, Inc. Books in the Classroom Project
- Coalition of Mental Health Professionals
- The United Negro College Fund
- Sickle Cell Disease Research Foundation
- Southeast Symphony Association
- Opera Noir
- Remedial Reading and Learning Center
- Loyola Marymount University African American Alumni Association
- UCLA Minority Endowment Fund
- USC Black Alumni Association
- HerShe Foundation
- Drew Child Development Corporation
- Annual Teen Health in collaboration with the Charles R. Drew Auxiliary
Los Angeles Cotillion 1952 to Present
1952: First Cotillion
1952: First Cotillion
1st L.A. Links Cotillion: Ciros in Hollywood in November, 1952. At the time, hotel ballrooms in L.A. were not yet available for minority social events. Funds were raised at this event for the L.A. Chapter’s commitment to purchase a NAACP life membership.
2nd Cotillion: Cosmopolitan Hotel in the Wilshire District. It was not until 1953 that the present form of the cotillion was developed as a dinner dance at the Statler Hotel, now the downtown L.A. Hilton. Eligibility requirements were established then, and continue as follows: each debutante, also called a cotillionette, is required to be sponsored by a member of the L.A. Chapter of the Links and must be 17 years old or a senior in high school. Attire: white formal dresses of uniform length, long white gloves and medium-heeled white pumps are worn.
Escorts were added and danced with the debs after the precisely choreographed Cotillionette Waltz was completed. The Souvenir Program was introduced as a permanent keepsake to document the evening. It contained photographs of the cotillionettes, the past Cotillion, a resume of the L.A. Chapter’s annual activities, and supporting advertisements and messages from family, friends, and community groups and businesses. The event now sells out annually. The Los Angeles Links Cotillion is established as the premier annual traditional cotillion in the African-American community of urban and suburban Los Angeles.
As the Cotillion continued with ever-increasing community support, the ball moved to the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the Century Plaza Hotel, and the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and occurs traditionally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
In 1963, the Volunteer Service Program was instituted with each debutante required to complete 15 hours of volunteer community service. This addition proved so successful and inspiring to the Cotillionettes that the requirements were later increased to 50 hours, and currently a minimum of 75 hours are mandatory.
In addition to their volunteer experiences, debutantes also participate in a series of workshops and seminars to enrich pragmatic and social skills for transition to higher education and adult life experiences.