Monday, September 20, 2010

The Black Philanthropy Initiative Aims to Raise $1 Million for African Americans in Rhode Island

The Black Philanthropy Initiative Leadership Team: Walter Stone, Linda Newton and Judge Edward Clifton at the February 10, 2009 launch at Providence Black Repertory Company in Rhode Island.

“We are trying to accomplish something that has never been accomplished in Rhode Island - a new model for philanthropy in the Black community. We can create a legacy for our future.” -- Walter Stone, BPI campaign co-chair

In 2005, a group of Black leaders and The Rhode Island Foundation sat down to discuss challenges facing the Black community in Rhode Island, as well as opportunities for change. They sought a solution that would be responsive to evolving and emerging needs well into the future. Thus, the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) was born, a field of interest fund at the Foundation.

The mission of the BPI is to advance equity and social justice for Blacks in Rhode Island. BPI engages Black Rhode Islanders and other interested Rhode Islanders as active philanthropists to address challenges in the Black community. Through strategic grantmaking, BPI will support organizations and initiatives that measurably improve the status of Blacks in Rhode Island. BPI’s goal is to raise $1 million dollars in 2010 that will create a permanent endowment for growth and grantmaking. The Foundation is matching every dollar raised.

In 2008, BPI commissioned a scan of the Black community to determine critical areas of need and to help shape their initial grantmaking focus - economic sustainability and the Black family. The findings were presented at a panel discussion for BPI’s public launch in February 2009, of which over 100 members of the community attended.

To date, fundraising efforts have been very successful. The Young Professional Outreach Committee of BPI hosted a reception last year to raise awareness and funds for BPI, with the event bringing in $15,000. And this past June, Ruth Barge Thumbtzen, a community service liaison at Salve Regina University, and Michael Browner, Jr., a Newport educator, hosted a reception for friends and newcomers to BPI. BPI co-chairs Walter Stone and Linda Newton, along with Judge Edward Clifton, took the opportunity to share with the packed house their own compelling testimonials about their personal commitment to the BPI campaign. Several guests were so moved by the opportunity to support BPI that they publicly announced gifts to the Fund during the reception, raising $200,000.

Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation, praised the volunteer committee at the reception, noting, “The success of this event is due to the hard work, dedication and vision of the volunteers who are working tirelessly on behalf of the Black community in our state. BPI is creating an opportunity for philanthropy directly for the Black community. We are getting closer to the goal of raising $1 million to build a fund that will grow and respond to current needs and future generations.”

During the reception, event host Ruth Barge Thumbtzen shared, “When I learned about BPI, I was encouraged by the desire to create a resource to advance issues on behalf of the Black community. I was also excited about the opportunity to encourage new leadership within our communities, new leadership to drive new ideas, new energy and new accomplishments that will have a positive impact within our community, now and into the future. By making a pledge to BPI, you can feel proud to give in an important and powerful way.”

For more information on the Black Philanthropy Initiative, visit their website HERE.