Monday, June 22, 2009

Join Me in Making a Difference in D.C.!

Here’s a short story about me:

In the spring of 2003, I lost my job. At the time, I was the Director of a teen parent and GED center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. During my four years there, I struggled. I struggled to keep and motivate my staff who were making low salaries. I struggled to put together a board that could help me to fundraise. I, along with my staff, struggled to assist teen parents and youth who dropped out of school to obtain their GED or HS diploma, when most were reading at or below a 4th grade level. I struggled to keep the doors open when funding was cut, but I could not. As I left on my last day, I vowed to do whatever I could to help non profit leaders succeed in their jobs, and to help keep the doors open of programs serving our most vulnerable citizens.

So in early 2005, I founded the Black Benefactors, a philanthropic project designed to support African American led non profits and to benefit organizations serving African American children, youth, adults and families in the Washington, D.C. region. Also known as a giving circle, our group is comprised of dedicated individuals and businesses that pool our monies, and then decide collectively where to give those funds to.

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck and fundraising came to a halt, as many people donated to relief efforts. For nearly two years, I had few members and no money raised. During that time, I reached out to Darryl Lester, the founder of the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP) and the coordinator of many other African American giving circles. He gave me guidance, great suggestions and motivated me to stay with it.

In the summer of 2007, serendipity stepped in and I met members from the Black Philanthropic Alliance (BPA), a group of African Americans working in philanthropy in the D.C. region. To make a long story short, we partnered together and to date, have raised over 10,000 for the D.C. community. Just this past weekend, we finalized our by-laws – this is a huge accomplishment for us!

I’d like to thank some people who give tirelessly to help make my dream a reality: Lee Christian Parker of the BPA and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Edward M. Jones, also of the BPA and the Council on Foundations (you guys ROCK!!) I also want to thank all of the founding members, annual members, the BPA, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Darryl Lester and my sister Stacey for creating our website. Special thanks to the following foundations for their donations: The Hill Snowdon Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Membership for the Black Benefactors is available! If you’re an individual or business who would like to become a member, visit the website at to learn more and for contact information. Or, if you would prefer to make a donation to our fund, (no amount is too small), mail your contribution to: The Community Foundation, 1201 15th Street, N.W., Suite 420, Washington, D.C. 20005. Please make your check payable to 'Black Benefactors/CFNCR' and place "donation" or "membership" on the memo line. We’re having a member event next month, details are forthcoming - I’d love to meet my DC area readers!

Check out an article on one of our members, Terri Lee Freeman, President of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region HERE and follow us on Twitter HERE.


Melissa said...

Thats amazingg!
fundraising is a hard job; especially in this economy, its not easy!

Cheers to Success and Advocacy

Tracey said...

Thanks! I hope to see you at one of our events!