Written by | Ray Cornelius

The 2013 Box Tops for Education Town Hall Meeting was held Thursday night in Atlanta, GA.  Hundreds of parents, educators, students and community leaders gathered inside the Cosby Auditorium of Spelman College to partake in a discussion about parental involvement in their child’s education. The event was sponsored by Walmart and Honey Nut Cheerios and presented by BET Networks.

The one-hour program, which will air on BET.com February 4, featured a number of celebrity panelists including BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood” star Boris Kodjoe and his actress wife Nicole Ari Parker and Grammy-Award Winning artist and mother Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas of TLC.  Also on hand for the discussion was Spelman College president Dr. Beverly D. Tatum and Box Tops for Education brand manager Tommy Hillman.  MSNBC contributor and executive editor of Politic365.com Jeff Johnson served as moderator for the evening.

The panelists talked to the audience about everything from raising children to becoming Box Tops Coordinators and why parental involvement was paramount to a child’s overall development. “When my son gets good grades, I get animated. I get excited,” said Chilli. “And when I’m excited, he gets excited. I’ll take him somewhere during the weekend to hang out. We have to make them work for it.”

Johnson, who also has a teenage daughter, added “What young people need to see is us not talking about education, but us walking education,” for which garnered a round of applause. “We show up for sports events at school, but not for science events.”

Box Tops for Education helps schools earn extra money for such items as computers, library books, art supplies and playground equipment. Participating schools collect Box Tops coupons from 240 products including Honey Nut Cheerios and Pop Tarts and redeem them for cash. The organization recently partnered with The National Urban League to provide Educational Success Toolkit, which contains resources such as back to school preparation tips, parent-teacher conference guidelines and a college preparation checklist.

Since its inception in 1996, the Box Tops for Education program has given away over $525 million to American schools.

Check out a few photos below from Thursday night’s event:

Schools can earn up to $20,000 by clipping Box Tops coupons from 240 products and can earn eBoxTops by shopping online through the Box Tops Marketplace.

 Jeff Johnson, Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe and other panelists listen during press conference.

City of Atlanta Chief of Staff Candace L. Byrd presented a proclamation declaring January 24, 2013 “BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION DAY” to Box Tops for Education Brand Manager Tommy Hillman

L to R:  Jeff Johnson, Nicole Ari Parker and husband Boris Kodjoe, “Chilli” Thomas, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum and Tommy Hillman

 Jeff Johnson introducing the guest panel to the audience of parents, educators and students

 Actress Nicole Ari Parker on the importance of volunteering

Black and Married with Kids  blogger Lamar Tyler posed questions to the panel from their twitter feed

 Box Tops for Education audience

 Sharonda L. Britton, Director of Marketing for Walmart on their partnership with Box Tops for Education

Panelists posing with students from Spelman College

Photography Credit: Liquid Soul Media