Friday, November 30, 2012

The Insider: Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, President and CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation


Our latest Insider has been involved in philanthropy for close to 20 years with a professional career that includes experience in community development, public policy and advocacy, and public service. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, Ph.D. is president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private, independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of all Arkansans in three interrelated areas: economic development; education; and economic, racial and social justice.

In addition to running the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. West is active in a number of nonprofits and philanthropy organizations, such as Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families, NAACP Special Contribution Fund, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and serving as a board member for the Association of Black Foundation Executives. She was recently named one of 17 top black charity leaders by TheRoot.com.

Dr. West shared with BlackGivesBack how she got her start in philanthropy, provides advice for those pursuing a career in the field as well as those presently working in the sector, and three things needed to prepare more people of color to make an impact in philanthropy.

Hometown: Owings Mills, Maryland

Education: PhD, Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Maryland; MA, Public Policy, University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Ann Arbor, Michigan; BA, Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland; Fellow, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Policy Institutes; and 2003–04 Emerging Leaders Fellow, a joint program of Duke University and the University of Cape Town in South Africa

Honors: 2010 Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Center on Community Philanthropy, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Center; 2007 Telly Award winner for work as executive producer of the social documentary Power in the People; and Top 180 Power List, 2008, 2009 and 2011, Arkansas Business Journal


How did you get your start in philanthropy and why did you choose it as a career?

I got my start in philanthropy by answering an ad in City Limits magazine for a program associate for the Rebuilding Communities Initiative (RCI) at the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). RCI was a multi-site, multi-year comprehensive community initiative. I applied for the position because it was aligned with my personal mission to promote values and principles that help ensure that all citizens - regardless of class standing, religious preference, political beliefs, or other factors that place them in a marginalized status - have voice and influence in a sustained democracy and civil society. I did not apply because it was a job in philanthropy.

After co-leading the Rebuilding Communities Initiative and similar grantmaking strategies at AECF, I began to appreciate philanthropy’s role in civil society. We supported the ability of those in need and closest to the challenges to play a powerful role in crafting and carrying out solutions to rebuild their communities. We provided resources for civic engagement, policy advocacy, and community organizing so organizations working with and on behalf of marginalized communities could participate effectively in public policy development. AECF was a terrific place to work and RCI was the best experience for me.

With that appreciation and understanding, my career is a series of opportunities and choices within philanthropy to get me closer to fulfilling my own mission.

What is needed to prepare more people of color to make an impact in the field of philanthropy?

Be mission-driven – Race persists as a significant barrier to social inclusion and to achieving equity in the U.S. We need people of color to be change agents in philanthropy. People of color who want to make an impact in the field of philanthropy must have the conviction to promote equity, opportunity, and justice. People of color have to be intentional and proactive in elevating people and communities of color in their grantmaking to benefit society and strengthen our democracy. Being mission-driven helps you become a change agent within philanthropy.

Understand the constructs of structural and institutional racism and power in the U.S. – Race and power have shaped every major economic and social institution throughout U.S. history. Structural racism is still rampant today and remains embedded in every institution, school, and system in society, especially in areas with high levels of segregation. We need to understand the role of race and power as well as the cumulative effects of racialization in order to effectively change systems. I strongly believe we can achieve fundamental and system levels of change in the U.S. We need to understand (1) how and why the systems were created, (2) how and why inequality and disparities persist, and (3) how to implement grantmaking strategies that dismantle inequities and recreate systems that support everyone.

Be flexible and open to where you work in philanthropy – Our country needs the experiences, talent, skills, and expertise of people of color everywhere. Focus on growth and opportunities to do great work. Pursue the work, creativity, and innovation regardless of where it may be in the country.

As a board member for the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), can you share about the importance of their work and why it is needed?

In the field of philanthropy, it is important to have ABFE as the primary organization that is intentional about dismantling structural and institutional racism. ABFE provides the opportunity for Black foundation executives to call to question who we are, what we seek to accomplish, and how we can use our collective resources to change systems, institutional practices, policies, and outcomes in Black communities. Further, ABFE is the place where we create the pipeline of Black leaders in philanthropy to promote and achieve diversity within the field.

ABFE serves as a philanthropic champion for investments in Black people and communities and provides members with ongoing access, training, tools, and support to help them increase their investment, influence, and impact. ABFE unites ideas, knowledge, money, and action to create lasting social change for Black people, families, and communities.

What kind of coaching and mentoring do you think a seasoned grant maker can provide those engaged in collective giving in the Black community?

Seasoned grantmakers can coach those engaged in collective giving on developing a business model for the Fund. The current collective giving model is problematic because it relies on fundraising from donors who want an immediate charitable outcome. This way of doing charity may not be sustainable. Seasoned grantmakers can coach those engaged in collective giving on developing a model where donors agree to invest a percentage of dollars raised to build its corpus and do modest charitable giving initially. The goal is to have the funds become institutions in their communities. Investment management and growing the corpus through a sound business plan institutionalizes community giving funds. Many seasoned grantmakers have experience with growing their corpus through strategic investment management.

What advice do you have for those pursuing a career in philanthropy; and for those already working in the field?

Pursuing a career – I have observed many wanting to get into philanthropy because of the power and prestige that is perceived to come with grantmaking. It is easy to get distracted by all that comes with a career in philanthropy. Focus on your professional and personal growth and what matters most to you. This is hard work and requires dedication and commitment. Be clear about the difference you want to make and make it. It will not be easy. There will not be a straight line to the social change you hope to impact. There are competing ideologies and limited resources. There will be differing opinions and philosophies. There is a power dynamic endemic in philanthropy. There are times when you may have to fight and push and times when you may have to be patient. You must be clear about your mission and purpose. Understand structural and institutional racism and do a power analysis. Be determined to contribute positively and make a difference in people, families, and communities.

In the field – We have to remind ourselves we are here to serve and pursue the social change goals of our institutions. Grantmakers have a responsibility to listen to the needs, concerns, and criticisms of their nonprofit partners and respond to what they hear. They need to trust that nonprofit leaders possess deep wisdom about what they need to most effectively achieve their missions and address critical societal needs. Grantmakers should also seek other forms of data about how grantmaking practices impact nonprofit effectiveness, and they should regularly adjust their approach to maximize the impact of their philanthropy.

What is your greatest career lesson?

Have the conviction to make a difference. Improving the lives of vulnerable children and families is my mission. I am committed to learning what I need to do to be effective to fulfill my mission. Pursuing my mission sustains me. I pursue opportunities that matter most to me, contribute to my growth, and move me closer to fulfilling my mission.

Learn more about the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation at www.wrfoundation.org.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle Presents “Ladies Night Out & Pre-Launch Soiree”


“When the Black Women for Black Girls giving circle was formed as one of the first led by black women in the city, we were very clear that we wanted to impact the lives of black girls as well as be a force in promoting and demonstrating the power of black philanthropy.”-- Angela Hollis, Co-Founder, Black Women for Black Girls giving circle

NEW YORK, NY - The Black Women for Black Girls giving circle (BWBGgc) sponsored a "Ladies Night Out and Pre-Launch Soiree" at Harlem's Make My Cake bakery and café on Tuesday, November 13th to showcase the importance of positive images of black girls in children's literature. The event featured first time author Justin Scott Parr who discussed his new novel--SAGE CARRINGTON - Eighth Grade Science Sleuth.

Sonia Alleyne, editorial director at BLACK ENTERPRISE, co-hosted the event and discussed with Justin Scott Parr his inspiration behind the development of the book.  “The Black Women for Black Girls giving circle believes that as mothers, aunties, sisters and professional role models it is our responsibility to assure that we avail every opportunity to edify and empower black girls, said Angela Hollis, co-founder and co-chair.  Paula Edme,´ BWBGgc member shared, “It is important that OUR books be made available to OUR children in stores, not just online.”

Desserts were provided by Aliyyah Baylor, BWBGgc membership co-chair and co-owner of Make My Cake.

Black Women for Black Girls giving circle is a philanthropic group of black women who donate their money, time and talent in an effort to address the needs of black girls by developing programs and prioritizing grants in areas identified as most critical in fostering the healthy development of black girls.  In 2009, the organization commissioned a groundbreaking study examining the lives of black girls in New York City.  The resulting report, “Black Girls in New York City: Untold Strength and Resilience,” outlines crucial challenges facing today’s young, black female population and offers action items and research-based recommendations towards solvency.  For more information visit www.blackwomenforblackgirls.org.

The GEANCO Foundation Hosts Second Annual Health and Hope for Africa Concert Gala

John McGoldrick, Global Hero Awardee and Afam Onyema, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of the GEANCO Foundation, at the organization's Health and Hope for Africa Concert Gala in Chicago.

By Sandra C. Davis, Chicago Contributor

CHICAGO, IL - On Saturday, November 10, 2012, the GEANCO Foundation celebrated its second annual Health and Hope for Africa Concert Gala at the Museum of Science and Industry raising over  $75,000 to improve healthcare and medical access in Africa.  Dr. Godwin Onyema, MD, co-founder and CEO, and his family founded the GEANCO Foundation to address the needs of the poor and vulnerable women and children in the African country of Nigeria, Dr. Onyema’s home country.  NFL Hall of Famer, MVP of Super Bowl XX and Chicago Bears legend Richard Dent served as Gala Chair.

The night’s festivities began with a Patron Reception cocktail hour supported by community partners such as Aon Hewitt, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Zimmer Holdings, United Airlines, Hotel Lincoln, Neuro Drink, and Schiff Hardin LLP.  GEANCO Director and gala organizer, Nche Onyema, began the evening by welcoming guests.  After a sumptuous dinner featuring curried pumpkin soup and caramelized Cornish hen, a “Health and Hope for Africa Lab Kit” was served, a creative dessert made especially for the evening comprised of a petite lava cake, a mini amarula milk shake and guava glazed doughnut holes rolled in coconut.

Guests then moved to the auditorium for the awards presentation, where each member of the Onyema family gave first-hand accounts of the lack of healthcare, medical access and its devastating effects on Nigerian people.  They also shared their hope to build the Augustine Memorial Hospital, the country’s first world-class hospital in memory of Dr. Onyema’s father and the hospital’s namesake.

The Onyema Family:  Veronica Onyema, Gozie Onyema (GEANCO Director), Nche Onyema (GEANCO Director and Gala Organizer), Ebele Onyema (GEANCO Director), Josephine Onyema (Mrs. Godwin Onyema) , Afam Onyema (Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer), and Dr. Godwin Onyema, MD (Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer)

Ayodele Dance Group Performer

Global health crusader John McGoldrick was presented with the GEANCO Global Hero Award in recognition of a decades-long commitment to saving and improving lives in Africa.  Other noble guests included Chris Amenechi, Vice President, E-Commerce and Merchandising at United Airlines; Audrey Beckmann, Senior Vice President at Zimmer Institute; Lee England Jr., Virtuoso Violinist and member of The Jordan Band; Dr. Marcus Lehman, contestant on Survivor: Gabon; and Andrew Stroth, President of Impact Talent Associates.

The all female African Dance Group, Ayodele and the virtuoso violinist, Lee England Jr. closed the Health and Hope for Africa Gala with a musical celebration of African heritage.

Robert Scales, Johnnie Scales, Ernestine Durham and Thomas Durham

The Onyema Family with Richard Dent, Gala Chair (center)


Dr. Marcus Lehman, Nche Onyema, Ebele Onyema and Michael Green, GEANCO Treasurer

About The GEANCO Foundation
The GEANCO Foundation (www.geanco.org) is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization founded in 2005 by Dr. Godwin Onyema and his family.  GEANCO’s mission is to save and improve lives of the poor and vulnerable in Africa.  Read more highlights from the gala at Social Life Chicago here.


Photo credit: Tim Hiatt

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Icon Berry Gordy, Jr. Celebrated by The HistoryMakers


Journalist Gwen Ifill Conducted Interview with Gordy Who Is Credited with Creating “The Motown Sound”

Chicago, IL – The HistoryMakers welcomed and paid tribute to music icon Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Motown Records, during An Evening with Berry Gordy on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at The Art Institute of Chicago. Award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill conducted the one-on-one interview that was personal, humorous, candid and insightful. The interview was taped before a live audience and will air on PBS-TV in February 2013 during Black History Month. Ifill’s interview led the audience through Gordy’s celebrated life as the founder of Motown Records, once the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the United States. His career has positively impacted the music, television, and movie industries as he groomed and presented such international stars as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five, and Marvin Gaye among many others.

Some of Motown’s most recognizable performers, producers, and colleagues were in attendance to support Gordy during this historic interview. R&B songwriter, producer, and singer Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson fame took the stage to play and perform one of Gordy’s first hits written for Jackie Wilson. Simpson was later joined in a duet with popular singer Kem. Also taking the stage, Janelle Monae, popular new artist, performed a Jackson Five hit – ABC – written by Gordy. Suzanne dePasse, former president of Motown Productions who worked closely with Gordy, provided a glimpse into the unique relationship they have shared for decades. Attendees were also treated to a short scene from the upcoming Broadway production of Motown: the Musical, performed by Valisia Lekae as Diana Ross and Brandon Victor Dixon as Berry Gordy. The musical is slated to open on Broadway in April 2013.

Valerie Simpson performing tribute to Berry Gordy

Singer Janelle Monae performs

Also on hand for the evening were early members of the Motown family, including Claudette Robinson who originally sang with the Miracles, Freda and Sherrie Payne, the Velvelettes, an original singer with the Marvelettes, and others. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy -- known to the music world as Redfoo -- one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, was in attendance with two other Gordy children.

Berry Gordy and his children, Stefan Gordy (Redfoo of LMFAO), Hazel Gordy and Kerry Gordy

Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers -- a national, non-profit institution that develops, preserves, and provides easy online access to an internationally-recognized archival collection of thousands of African American videotaped oral histories -- served as executive producer. Ray Chew, music director for American Idol, was the show’s music producer. Music industry powerhouses Universal Music Group, Sony Music, David Geffen, Clarence Avant, and Jerry Moss were major underwriters for the evening.

Merri Dee, Julieanna Richardson, The HistoryMakers; Jann Honore, Regional Development Director at United Negro College Fund

Julieanna Richardson, Founder of The HistoryMakers and John Rogers, Chairman of Ariel Investments

Richardson and Steven McKeever, President of Hidden Beach Records


Honorary co-chairs for An Evening with Berry Gordy included: Christie Hefner, Clarence Avant, Walter & Shirley Massey, and Richard Parsons. Other major sponsors included Comcast NBC Universal, Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Discover, Abbott Laboratories, Chicago Tribune, and The Ritz Carlton Chicago.  Visit the HistoryMakers website at www.thehistorymakers.com.

Source/photos:  The HistoryMakers

Mentoring to Manhood Presents Awards to "Men Who Make The Difference"

Mentoring to Manhood Founders Rob Malone and Arthur Jones-Dove with Board Chair Therman Evans, Jr. inspire pledges to drive Black male achievement.

Annual event celebrates and raises funds to drive Black male achievement in Prince George's County, Maryland

UPPER MARLBORO, MD - Prince George's County, Maryland is often called the wealthiest black county in the nation, however, its nonprofit sector tells a different story.  A report released in 2011 cited that just over 80% of the county's nonprofits have annual revenue of less than $25,000.  There are initiatives to support existing organizations that are demonstrating success, such as Mentoring to Manhood (M2M), a Prince George’s County, MD faith-based organization that is steadily gaining ground in its mission to empower young men to success.  Launched in 2005, the organization currently mentors over sixty boys ages 12-18 and has garnered recent accolades including being named in the 2012 – 2013 Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of the “Best small charities in the Greater Washington DC region.”  Less than 4% of Catalogue for Philanthropy selected nonprofits have been based in Prince George’s County.

This month, the organization hosted over 170 guests at their second annual “Men Who Make The Difference Awards,” a signature event for Mentoring to Manhood.

Honorees Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; National Jazz Recording Artist and Entrepreneur Marcus Johnson; community member James McClelland; M2M Board Member Therman Evans, Jr.; and Darryl Barnes of Men Aiming Higher were feted for their contributions to the fabric of Prince George's County, especially the impact they have had on others through mentoring.

Sam Ford, Gloria Murry Ford, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and M2M Co-founder Robert Malone

Evans was presented by his mentee, Malcolm Gilmore, who explained how much Evans has influenced his life since his father’s passing. The young student shared how his grades improved from a 1.8 GPA to over 3.0.  M2M Founder Rob Malone stated, “Malcolm is a perfect example of the many boys we have the opportunity to support.  All it takes is time, attention and encouragement.  In fact, just this week two additional students shared their report cards and were extremely excited by the progress they've made.”

The event was hosted by media couple Sam Ford, Assignment Reporter for WJLA News 7, and Gloria Murry Ford, President of Murry Ford Communications.  Music was provided by Marcus Johnson and band; sponsors included Capital One Bank, Chick-fil-A, First Baptist Church of Glenarden and Prince George's Community College.

Board Members of Mentoring to Manhood: Keith Singletary, Therman Evans and Rob Malone




Mentoring to Manhood is already planning for next year's event. Nomination forms are available on the organization's website, or by emailing mentor@m2minc.org.

ABOUT MENTORING TO MANHOOD
Mentoring to Manhood (M2M) has been driving Black male achievement since 2005. Each year, M2M serves over 60 boys, providing them with tutoring and mentoring support. M2M was recently selected as one of the best small nonprofit organizations in the Greater DC area by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.  This stamp of approval validates the accountability, controls, efficiency and efficacy of M2M's program.  Learn more about the organization and sign up to mentor at www.m2minc.org.

Photo credit:  Stacey Trammel/Buzzology  

Metro-Manhattan NY Chapter of The Links, Incorporated to Honor JP Morgan Chase at Ninth Biennial Gala

Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault with young men from the Young Achievers mentoring program at a Metro-Manhattan NY Chapter of The Links, Inc event in 2010.

JP Morgan Chase to be honored for its philanthropic investments in the areas of community development, education and arts and culture

NEW YORK, NY – The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated Chapter will host its ninth biennial gala, Realizing the Dream: Celebrating Excellence in Education and Leadership, on Sunday, December 9th beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.  The biennial gala will support the chapter’s hands-on programs and initiatives to prepare students for college-readiness, reduce health disparities, advance arts education and build leadership in the Greater Harlem community.

JP Morgan Chase will receive the 2012 Corporate Award for the firm’s dedication to making a positive difference in the communities where it operates.  Distinguished guests from New York City’s arts and entertainment, financial and political sectors will attend the benefit gala.  The evening affair will begin with an elegant cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing.

“The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated Chapter is pleased to honor JP Morgan Chase with the 2012 Corporate Award for their philanthropic efforts," said Inez N. Richardson, president of the chapter.  “The firm’s philanthropic investments are directed toward three centers of excellence: community development, education and arts and culture.  These investments are closely aligned with the mission of our parent organization The Links, Incorporated and our chapter’s programs in serving the Harlem community.  We salute JP Morgan Chase for their efforts to make a lasting impact in underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world.”

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in1946.  Working closely with partners, sponsors and supporters, The Links, Incorporated is focused on creating transformational programming and impacting lives in communities of color.  The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated continues the mission of its parent organization through a variety of unique initiatives, programs and grants that focus on five areas: Services to Youth, The Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services, and Health and Human Services.

Inez N. Richardson is the Gala Honorary Chair.  The Honorary Committee includes Monica Azare Davenport, Kimberly Davis, Hazel N. Dukes, Caroline Taylor Ellerson, Toni Fay, Carla Harris, Brenda Neal, Chrystie B. Price and Danyale Price.  The Gala Dinner Chair is LeShann DeArcy Hall. See last year's highlights here.

Ticket reservations and additional information are available at www.metromanhattanlinksinc.org or call 202-302-7360.  Individual tickets begin at $250, table packages begin at $1,000.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Report Highlights African American Giving in Los Angeles



LOS ANGELES, CA - The Liberty Hill Foundation has announced the release of a new study, Giving Black in Los Angeles, a significant contribution to our understanding of Black giving today.

Historically, African Americans have had a rich tradition of giving, but have seen themselves as givers not philanthropists, and have been perceived by others primarily as recipients of philanthropic dollars. With the financial successes of many African Americans over the last half century, that perception must change. With financial success comes greater interest, consideration and sophistication in the philanthropic efforts by African Americans.

The report was authored by Professor Ange-Marie Hancock, Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California and funded by The California Endowment, Tides and Rockefeller Philanthropy Associates. Based on focus groups and survey data from African American donors in Los Angeles there are some surprising findings. The three donor profiles that emerged from this study are:

  • The “Building the Black Community” Donor.  Donors more concerned that their dollars go to organizations that target African American recipients than other respondents.
  • The “Issue Impact” Donor.  Donors more concerned with the issues they care about than the identity of the people affected by the issues.
  • The “Hardwired To Give” Donor.  Donors that embrace giving as part of their personal identity, but are also identifiable by their public as well as their private behavior.
Their findings represent just the beginning of intensifying interest within the African American community about its philanthropic assets and power, and how to deploy them.   The study also provides four opportunities for building black philanthropy, and examines where African Americans make charitable gifts and dispels the myth that African Americans give only, or even primarily, to the church.

Visit HERE to read the report.

About the Liberty Hill Foundation: Liberty Hill Foundation advances movements for social change through a strategic combination of grants, leadership training and alliance building. Uplifting Change, a Liberty Hill initiative now in its third year, creates spaces for African American donors to think collectively about harnessing the philanthropic power of the African American community. www.libertyhill.org.


Celebrating Black Philanthropy


Join The Black Benefactors and the Black Philanthropic Alliance for a Celebration of Black Philanthropy!

The Black Benefactors, a giving circle comprised of dedicated everyday people and businesses in the Washington, DC area, is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year along with the 10th anniversary of the Black Philanthropic Alliance (BPA).   Please join us as we celebrate the season of giving and our anniversary milestones on Thursday, December 6th from 6 to 9pm at the historic Thurgood Marshall Center in Washington, DC.

We invite you to learn more about The Black Benefactors, a membership group that provides grants and in-kind support to organizations that serve the African American community in the DC region. Since our inception in 2007, we have granted nearly $12,000 to organizations that provide mentoring, youth development, arts, and workforce and college readiness.  We were proud to be featured in Ebony magazine for our work in the August 2011 ‘Black Wealth’ issue.  Read more about us in EmPower Magazine here.

The Black Philanthropic Alliance (BPA) is a Washington, DC based philanthropic affinity group, and is the first local membership organization of its kind for Black professionals working in or supporting philanthropy in the greater DC region.  BPA's mission is to increase the presence and leadership of Black professionals in philanthropy and to increase Black participation, giving and leadership through the nonprofit sector.

Visit HERE to purchase tickets, now on sale for $20. Event sponsors are the Thurgood Marshall Center and Imagine Photography.  I hope to see you there!

Black Philanthropy Featured in TheRoot.com



Foundation leaders, black philanthropists and top giving causes among African Americans are featured in The Root.com's philanthropy series:

8 Hot Causes for Black Philanthropists
The Root talks with BlackGivesBack's founder about today's hottest initiatives, projects and areas of focus for African Americans.

Black History Museum:  Philanthropy's Future
Article profiles the Smithsonian museum's young ambassadors, representing the next generation of African-American giving.

17 Top Black Charity Leaders
Meet top foundation executives leading the charge at groups ranging from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the United Way.

Read articles in the series here.  A big thank you to TheRoot for shining a spotlight on black philanthropy!

32nd Annual Jazzy Holiday Luncheon Trumpets Excellence in Charlotte

Guests at the Gantt Center’s Jazzy Holiday Luncheon in 2011, including Attorney T. Michael Todd (center), Carol Lilly of Lil Associates (right) and guest.

Long-running tradition sustains the mission of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture

CHARLOTTE, NC — For the 32nd year, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture is inviting broad attendance to its major fundraiser, the Jazzy Holiday Luncheon.  The 2012 luncheon takes place Friday, November 30, with generous support from PNC Bank, the event’s lead sponsor.

“PNC recognizes the important work that the Harvey B. Gantt Center does for our community,” said Weston M. Andress, PNC Regional President for Western Carolina.  “We are happy to support the Center's efforts to preserve and celebrate African American history and culture.”

Fondly called Jazzy, for short, the midday event is a holiday favorite and one of the longest running annual traditions in Charlotte.  Jazzy benefits the Gantt Center Annual Fund which enables the cultural institution to deliver programming that presents, preserves and celebrates the arts, history and culture of African Americans.

David R. Taylor, President and CEO of the Gantt Center

Dance performance during Jazzy in 2011

Each year brings together hundreds of guests, including local political figures, corporate executives, civic leaders, artists and lovers of the arts.  A marked occasion, Jazzy kicks off the holiday season and draws guests who, year after year, gather to network with Charlotte’s most influential residents, see longtime friends, make new acquaintances, enjoy lunch and live jazz, and invest in the vital work of the Gantt Center.  More than 400 guests are expected this year.

2011 Gantt Center Award recipients: Robert Bush, Senior Vice President, Arts & Science Council; Pat Rodgers, President and CEO, Rodgers Builders, Inc.; and Tommie Robinson, celebrated artist. Each is holding the award, a wooden vessel crafted by master wood turner Charles Farrar.


A highlight of the luncheon is the presentation of awards recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of standout artists, arts patrons and businesses.  The 2012 Gantt Center Awards recipients are: Jeanne M. Brayboy, a community leader, arts patron and retired arts educator; Quentin "Q" Talley, an award-winning theatre professional and poet; and Belk, a leading retailer headquartered in Charlotte.

The Westin Charlotte Hotel is the site of the festive luncheon.  To purchase seats or to become a sponsor, please call (704) 547-3762 or order online.

Founded in 1974, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture exists to present, preserve and celebrate the art, history and culture of African Americans and people of African descent.  Named for Harvey B. Gantt, an architect and former Mayor of Charlotte, the Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure in Center City Charlotte.

The Gantt Center is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art and engages its membership and visitors from across the world through dance, music, literary arts, visual art exhibits, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach.  For more information, visit www.ganttcenter.org.

Story submitted by Valaida Fullwood
Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings a mix of unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, creative consultant and project strategist.  She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists and author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.  On Twitter, follow @ValaidaF and @BlkGivesBackCLT.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Gantt Center

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Winning Looks Like in Black Male Achievement

Shawn Dove, campaign manager for the Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement; Susan Taylor, founder of National Cares Mentoring Movement and Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children's Zone at the Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement, October 3, 2012 in New York City.

NEW YORK, NY - For the past 20 years, philanthropic support has been directed toward black men and boys to improve their life outcomes.   In recent years, this support has remained steady despite the continued disparities facing them in areas such as education, health and employment.   Today, there is a renewed focus in the field of black male achievement, with the launch of the Leadership and Sustainability Institute, a national membership network that aims to help build the capacity of organizations serving black males, and the first ever Innovation and Impact Forum held last month in New York City.

Hundreds of attendees from the nonprofit, foundation, government, media and corporate sectors gathered for the inaugural forum, that was standing room only, to hear from inspiring leaders who have impacted the field, and from young and emerging leaders, philanthropists, elected officials and others committed to the cause.  Major initiatives were highlighted and attendees were provided with practical research, data and field-building tools.  Among the featured speakers were New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, founder of Open Society Foundations, Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children's Zone, Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, John W. Rogers, Jr. of Ariel Investments, Paula Williams Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and Williams Group Holdings LLC, Susan Taylor Batten of Association of Black Foundation Executives, Dr. John Jackson of the Schott Foundation for Public Education and Dr. Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green.

Kenneth H. Zimmerman, George Soros and Christopher Stone of Open Society Foundations and Geoffrey Canada

Opening panel with Geoffrey Canada, George Soros, Alexis McGill Johnson of American Values Institute and Dr. Robert K. Ross of The California Endowment

Roger A. Blissett of RBC Capital Markets leads a discussion with John W. Rogers, Jr. of Ariel Investments

Afternoon breakout sessions featured topics on proven strategies that are working in the field: expanding work opportunity, strengthening family structures, attaining educational equity and promoting positive frame and messaging.   Following the sessions, the inaugural EBONY Manifest Awards were presented to leaders in the field, a panel discussion featured how philanthropic support is impacting the field, and new reports were highlighted, including the Schott Foundation's 50 State Report on Public Education for Black Males and the Foundation Center's "Where Do We Go From Here?," a guide outlining philanthropic support for black men and boys.

Youth participants from the DollarBoyz, Inc.

How You Can Get Involved:

Visit the Leadership and Sustainability Institute's website to learn about the initiative and sign up for their newsletter for events, resources and news in the field. http://leadershipandsustainabilityinstitute.com/

Help to spread the word about the Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green's Black Male Achievement Fellowship. It is the first fellowship program of its kind that targets social entrepreneurs who are starting up new and innovative organizations in the field of black male achievement. An upcoming informational webinar is scheduled on November 29th, and the application period will open in early December. http://www.echoinggreen.org/bma-fellowship

Check out BlackGivesBack's black men and boys series here.

And, sign up now for updates from BMAFunders.org, a web portal for funders, nonprofits and anyone interested in black male achievement that will launch in February 2013. http://bmafunders.org/

To view video highlights from the forum, visit here.

Photo credit: KS Media

Submit Your Nomination Today for the 6th Annual Top 10 Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2012


It's that time of year again for the annual Top 10 Black Celebrity Philanthropists List! We're partnering again with the Admiral Center, an organization that helps celebrities use their resources and influence to develop sustainable and impactful solutions to improve the lives of low-income people in America.

With partners such as author and radio-show host Steve Harvey, and NBA stars Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, the Admiral Center staff have the expertise to help celebrities build a philanthropic legacy that they can be proud of and to think about ways in which they can impact the most possible people and support solutions that last.  This aspect is important, as 2012 hasn't been a good year for some celebrity philanthropists, despite their best intentions. Because of this, the 2012 Top 10 Black Celebrity Philanthropists list will look different: We're revamping the list by incorporating new criteria, and bringing on board a list of impressive judges (to be announced soon) who will determine the Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2012.

In addition to the judges list, you, the readers, will nominate your favorite celebrity philanthropist for our special readers choice list. Below are criteria to help you with your nomination:

  • Awareness: Has the celebrity brought significant awareness to an important cause?
  • Leverage: Has the celebrity integrated their philanthropic platform/message into their overall messaging and image?
  • Honors/Awards: Are you aware of the celebrity being honored for his/her philanthropic efforts?
  • Social Media: Does the celebrity use their social media platform to affect change?
  • Authenticity: Does the celebrity’s philanthropic efforts seem authentic? Do you believe them or is this just good PR?

Click here to take survey. The survey closes on Friday, November 30th at 11:59 pm EST and the list will be unveiled in December.  And, check out last year's list here

Influential Non-Profit and Political Professionals Defined Young Black Philanthropy in Harlem on National Philanthropy Day


Defining Young Black Philanthropy (l-r) Moderator Jovian Irvin; Panelists: Mike Muse, Amanda Ebokosia, Nubia Murray, Virginia Almendarez & Friends of Ebonie, Ebonie Johnson Cooper

On November 15, leading non-profit and political influencers, gathered for a poignant evening of networking and discussion focused on young black philanthropy

NEW YORK, New York –There was no doubt where the philanthropic influencers of color were last Thursday evening. Hosted by Friends of Ebonie, with in-kind support from UPTOWN Magazine, COVERGIRL Queen Collection and CIROC vodka, Defining Black Philanthropy drew more than 80 young professionals of color to ImageNation RAW SPACE in Harlem for a mixer and panel discussion promoting civic engagement.

Following an hour of mixing and mingling, the panel discussion took attendees on an interactive journey through the world giving.  Led by moderator Jovian Irvin, Teach for America executive and Official Chasemaster for Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Arts Society, the discussion opened with a framing question to the audience: How often do you give?  "The core of philanthropy is not just giving, but giving in a strategic and meaningful way,” began panelist Nubia Murray, Senior Associate of Philanthropic Initiatives at JP Morgan Chase.  It was Democratic Finance Committee chair, Mike Muse who enlightened the audience to the power of philanthropy, "Philanthropy is the gateway to power. We [African Americans] are being left out of the conversation.  Being a giver now creates social currency and giving gives you the power to make requests.”  The panel also focused heavily on influence, especially the popular influence of social media.  As attendees live tweeted highlights of the conversation using the hashtag, #DefiningYBP, panelist, Amanda Ebokosia of the GEM Project, reminded the audience that 28% of the active Twitter demographic is African American.  “You don't have to have one million followers or a big title to have a voice,” Muse shared on social media influence.  Irvin fittingly ended the discussion by encouraging attendees to be proactive with their time and resources, “figure out where you are uniquely positioned to give.”  The panel also received artistic giving advice from Virginia Almendarez, Director of Individual Giving at The Apollo Theater.

The evening concluded with the opportunity for guests to engage with five New York-based non-profits looking to build relationships with new diverse volunteers.  Organizations included: New York Needs You, Generation Schools, The Apollo Theater’s Young Patrons Program, Girls Write Now and Figure Skating in Harlem.  Defining Young Black Philanthropy was also a donation site for The 24th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive; collecting a number of coats and warm outerwear for needy New Yorkers.

How was young black philanthropy defined, you ask? Friends of Ebonie Founder and President, Ebonie Johnson Cooper summarizes, "Young black philanthropy is all of who we are. It is our social influence, our culture and how we engage with our communities.”   View more photos from the event here.

About Friends of Ebonie
Friends of Ebonie is a full service social responsibility and career engagement boutique firm for millennials of color. Through its unique approach to engaging young professionals in community and career acumen, Friends of Ebonie is helping to shape Generation-Y into trailblazing leaders.  The weekly blog and daily online engagement provides more than 1,200 professionals between the ages of 22- 35 with the resources to enrich their careers and to promote change in their communities. With its career enrichment service, The Resume & Cover Letter Shop, the firm helps to shape the career lives of its audience through writing and editing services as well as in-person workshops to develop strong professional brands.  Through social engagement, workshops and webinars, Friends of Ebonie has built a community of young professionals of color dedicated to serving their community and enriching their careers.  For more information about Friends of Ebonie, please visit http://friendsofebonie.com/about/.

Image Credit: RudineCarin Photography

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apollo Theater Announces New Board Members

New board member Paul Tudor Jones (center), founder of Robin Hood Foundation with board member Maya Harris, Ford Foundation and Jonelle Procope, President and CEO, Apollo Theater

John Demsey, Paul Tudor Jones, William Lighten, Lisa Garcia Quiroz and Earl W. Stafford Elected to Serve as Trustees on the Nonprofit Theater’s Board

HARLEM, NY— The Apollo Theater has announced the election of three new members to its Board of Directors: John Demsey, Paul Tudor Jones and William Lighten.  The new directors, along with Lisa Garcia Quiroz and Earl Stafford who were elected earlier this year, will help guide the nonprofit theater’s artistic and community programs, fundraising efforts, and strategic planning.  The legendary Apollo Theater has been a driving force in shaping America’s musical and cultural landscape since its inception in 1934.  A truly American landmark, it is one of the only institutions in the nation where the nurturing of emerging talent is given equal priority with the presentation of legendary performers.

The Apollo Board of Directors, the governing body of the nonprofit foundation that operates the Apollo Theater, is charged with stewardship of its mission and preservation for future generations. The 32-member Board is composed of key leaders in the business, civic, philanthropy, and arts and culture sectors.

“We are pleased to welcome these new members to the Apollo’s distinguished Board of Directors,” said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater. “As a nonprofit organization, we depend on the vision and expertise of our board leadership to help guide us to fulfill our mission, and all of them bring a set of experiences and connections that complement those of the rest of our board.”

“As a nonprofit cultural institution, the Apollo depends on the board to ensure our stability and growth, and I know that the knowledge and insight of our new board members will be invaluable assets in enabling us to realize our full potential,” said Richard Parsons, Chairman of the Board.

The Apollo Theater Foundation welcomes the following new directors: John Demsey, Group President of Estee Lauder Companies Inc. and Chairman of M•A•C AIDS Fund; Paul Tudor Jones II, founder of Tudor Investment Corporation and the Robin Hood Foundation; William E. Lighten, Managing Director of Eland Capital Partners, a new division of The Williams Capital Group, L.P. and President of his family’s philanthropic foundation, the Lighten Family Foundation; Lisa Garcia Quiroz, vice president, corporate responsibility at Time Warner; and Earl W. Stafford, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Stafford Foundation and Chief Executive Officer of The Wentworth Group LLC.

Earl W. Stafford (left) is also the founder of the People’s Inaugural Project that brought together the underserved and the marginalized to witness and participate in the inauguration of President Obama; William E. Lighten has more than 20 years of experience on Wall Street, is a graduate of Yale University and serves on the board of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

About the Apollo Theater
The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. In recognition of its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit www.apollotheater.org.

Related post:  Young Patrons of the Apollo Host Southern Social Soiree

Photo credit (top): Shahar Azran/Source:  Press release

Thursday, November 15, 2012

iDREAM for Racial Health Equity Partners with Local Chapter of Mocha Moms for National Prematurity Awareness Month

Mocha Moms from Los Angeles and Pasadena Chapters attend the iDREAM for Racial Health Equity event: Rebecca Bernard (Mocha Mom & Community Health Advocate Leader for iDream), Dawn White, Nikea Johnson, Mika Williams (Mocha Mom & Community Health Advocate Leader for iDream), Lorina Kelly, Gaylynn Moore (Mocha Mom & Community Health Advocate Leader for iDream) and Kim King.

Kick-off event observes National Prematurity Awareness Month in the African American community

LOS ANGELES, CA - iDREAM for Racial Health Equity, a non-profit organization committed to addressing the cultural, societal, environmental and economic issues impacting health outcomes for African-American families, hosted a kick-off event on November 2nd for National Prematurity Awareness Month.  The organization cites that in the United States, black infants from college educated mothers are twice as likely to die as white babies.  The root causes of this disparity seem to be insufficient and uninformed health care and psychosocial risks such as racism.  The basis of iDream's work centers on educating the millennial generation about how they can reverse this startling trend, and break the myth that only poor, uneducated black women have at-risk pregnancies and poor birth outcomes.

iDream believes that by empowering a pipeline comprised of young women who themselves did “everything right” and still experienced problematic pregnancies, the organization can be successful in providing a deeper understanding of the issues impacting the ecosystem of racial health disparity.

For the kick-off event, iDream for Racial Health Equity invited local mothers from Mocha Moms, Inc., a support group for stay at home mothers of color, from the Los Angeles and Pasadena chapters along with special sister friends to the ING Cafe to discuss ways to reverse this trend in the African-American community.  Guests were provided critical information about prematurity awareness and preconception health, viewed a powerful screening of the award-winning documentary, Unnatural Causes - When the Bough Breaks, and listened to uplifting and inspiring stories of motherhood.

Nikea Johnson, Mocha Mom, shares her story about delivering two preterm daughters four years apart.

Wenonah Valentine (right) with Mika Williams, Mocha Mom (Los Angeles Chapter) and Community Health Advocate Leader for iDream for Racial Health Equity. Mika delivered a preterm son at 33 weeks.

Learn more about iDream for Racial Health Equity by visiting www.idreamnow.org.

Reclaiming the Root Meaning of Philanthropy


An op-ed for National Philanthropy Day by Valaida Fullwood, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists

Radical simply means 'grasping things at the root.' — Angela Davis

Let’s engage in the radical work of reclaiming the root meaning of philanthropy: love of humanity. Philanthropy, a curious word to many, evokes a range of images, beliefs and emotions.  To contemplate its semantics and evolution and then to initiate anew our collective philanthropic practice could prove a seminal undertaking for black America.

This moment hangs ripe.  The “season of giving” is near and clears the way to a new year of possibilities.  The election of President Barack H. Obama has substantiated, again, the might of black unity.  And yet, between the hopes and history making and the thanks and gifts giving are uncharitable acts and vitriol that signal a shift back in time, not forward. Indignities, inequities and injustices do not simply dissipate; instead, we must come together in systematically uprooting them.

With community needs great and the need for unity greater, the times beckon a new era of conscientious philanthropy rooted in a love for community and expectations of social change.  Let this generation, both young and old, embody a social transformation with bold recognition of our power and responsibility to give back.

Philanthropy is a gateway to power. It is a chief means to acquiring, sustaining and strengthening our status—economically, politically, socially and spiritually.  Our ancestors knew this.  They originated and supported systems for giving and assisted members of the community, whether neighbor, stranger or kin. Remarkably, a fundamental source of our progress at times seems forgotten.

Remembering our long and prolific history of philanthropy is crucial.  Historical accounts of black largesse and examples of culturally significant vehicles of giving abound.  Look up the Free African Society, an 18th century mutual aid organization established by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. Study the social justice philanthropy of the legendary Madam CJ Walker.  Before the Civil War, up through the Civil Rights struggle and after, our forebears charted paths and lay blueprints for progress.  While the impulse to “give back” lives on in the community and opportunities exist to bring new twists to old traditions, this work must be encouraged and nurtured.

In the starkest of ironies, black Americans give the highest percentage of discretionary income to charitable causes when compared to other racial groups in America; and yet our philanthropy is discounted and overlooked by mainstream society.  Indeed, within the black community, our traditions of giving are seldom acknowledged or celebrated, or even described as philanthropy. Absurd as it is, this cultural disconnect persists for many reasons and shortchanges us all.

Ideas and images of present-day philanthropy frequently fail to resonate and, worse yet, serve to alienate black Americans.  Particularly unsettling is the stunning absence of black people in representations of philanthropists—a few select luminaries notwithstanding.  A point of view endures that renders black donors and benefactors, in effect, invisible.  The familiar picture of philanthropy is narrowly framed and thus gives a false impression that the only giving that matters is beyond the average person’s means.

On the demand side of philanthropy—as beneficiaries and “the needy”—is a common context for depictions of black children, families and communities.  While but one facet of philanthropy, imagery around whites as the benefactors and blacks as those in need has devolved into a stubborn stereotype and produced a picture that distorts and is incomplete.

A richer picture exists.  Widening the lens to include our customs and stories of giving yields a different view.  Vibrant philanthropy is occurring in black communities, whether labeled as such or not. Even so, great promise rests in sharpening our focus to affect social change.  Collectively, black America possesses the assets—heart, head, heritage and dollars—to eradicate a host of social ills. With our legacy of generosity, our shared stake in change and our capacity to leverage centuries-long gains in wealth, education and access, how could we not?

Exercising this power first requires a shift in thinking and wider recognition of the power of black philanthropy.  Strategic alliances among black donors, across black communities and with institutional partners also are vital.

Significant in seizing the moment and sustaining the effort is love.  Love of family.  Love of culture. Love for thy neighbor as thyself.  In its truest sense, philanthropy is rooted in love.  Advancing social change with that spirit opens opportunities for everyone to participate and fixes the focus on liberating people not elevating oneself.

Putting our money where our heart lies.  That is the charge.  Begin doing your part today by deepening your knowledge of philanthropy, by examining your motivations for giving and by joining with others to grasp at the root causes of our collective concerns—for love.

Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida Fullwood (www.valaida.com) brings a mix of unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, creative consultant and project strategist.  She is author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists (www.blairpub.com/alltitles/givingback.html), an award-winning book of stories and photography about black giving.  She serves on the national board of Community Investment Network (www.thecommunityinvestment.org), which promotes donor education and collective giving among people of color.  On Twitter, follow @ValaidaF (twitter.com/ValaidaF)


About National Philanthropy Day:  National Philanthropy Day®, November 15, is the special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The “Philanthropic Renaissance” Illuminates Creative Expressions of Giving in Birmingham

Giving circle members attending “The Philanthropic Renaissance” gather for a group photo at the 2012 Community Investment Network conference held October 4-7 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Annual conference highlights growing movement of giving circles and community philanthropy

BIRMINGHAM, AL - Last month, the Community Investment Network (CIN) hosted its 2012 national conference titled “Philanthropic Renaissance: Illuminating Creative Expressions of Giving.” Hosted in conjunction with the Birmingham Change Fund, CIN’s first giving circle; this year marked the organization’s eighth gathering where donor education and discussions of community-led philanthropy were a prime focus.   The national conference drew seasoned donors as well as emerging philanthropists who were eager to share and gain deeper knowledge.    Workshops touched on pressing issues that communities of color face, including new types of support for executive directors of color, and getting people to give more and leverage resources together.  Breakout and plenary sessions delved into topics such as: Giving Circles 101, Social Entrepreneurship, Collective Giving and Democracy, Social Media and Community Change, Philanthropy in a Faith-based Context and more. 

Diverse and ever-evolving, conference presenters and attendees included leaders of giving circles, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, community groups, civic organizations and foundations.   This year, the conference hosted its first ever youth track, and held new conversations about giving in Native American tribes and sessions on coaching and social enterprise.

The keynote speakers for plenary sessions were Carol Jenkins, an award-winning writer, producer and consultant, who is also the granddaughter of A.G. Gaston, a Birmingham entrepreneur that became one of America’s early African-American multi-millionaires in the mid-20th century; Barry Knight, a social scientist and adviser on evaluation and knowledge management for the Global Fund for Community Foundations; and KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, and a leading authority in the area of civil rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law.

Highlights of the “The Philanthropic Renaissance” included a pre-conference event titled “Philanthropist Where for ART Thou?” at the Birmingham Public Library that featured Valaida Fullwood, author and Charles Thomas, photographer of the award winning book ‘Giving Back;’ a welcome reception and legacy of giving conversation held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where attendees were given a private tour; a workshop hosted by 13-year old Fajhenee Bradford, founder of the “Luv In Motion” giving circle in Charlotte, North Carolina; and a visit to the McWane Science Center to learn how grassroots philanthropy is making STEM subjects more accessible to black youth in Birmingham.

Panelists discuss how they give back in Birmingham at the Welcome Reception and Legacy of Giving Conversation at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Keynote speaker Barry Knight, executive director of CENTRIS and adviser of the Global Fund for Community Foundations.   Knight works with giving circles in six continents, and noted the importance and impact of community philanthropy, despite it being treated like a poor cousin by institutional philanthropy.


The host city of Birmingham was a perfect fit for the conference, given its historical significance. Attendees participated on tours to world-class institutions, such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and a behind-the-scenes look at the Civil Rights Archives at the Birmingham Public Library. In the photo, attendees stand on the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the place where four young girls were killed in a racially motivated bombing in 1963 that marked a turning point in the civil rights movement.


Attendees were inspired by the people and stories, and gained a sense of what giving in black communities and communities of color looks like in 2012.   Ken Perry, member of the A Legacy of Tradition giving circle from Raleigh, NC shared, “the visit to the Civil Rights Museum and the panel discussion were great and inspiring to me.  The Civil Rights Museum reminded me why it is important to give by design because it impacts your community and begins that chain reaction that starts with the individual, and drives us all to act collectively.  The panel discussion stimulated me to take an idea back to my community that has the potential to have a huge impact on how services are delivered in a caring and non-intrusive way.”  Attendees left the conference with resources on how to tap into the time, talent and treasure of donors of color.

Katrina Watson, member of Birmingham Change Fund and founder of Birmingham Natural Beauties, and Dionne Lester, co-founder of the Community Investment Network.

Chad Jones, executive director of Community Investment Network and Valaida Fullwood, author of 'Giving Back' and founding member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists.

Joy Webb, member of Circle of Joy; Herman White and Barclay Jones, members of Denver African American Philanthropists 

Performers sang stirring gospel songs during the closing session.

For highlights and takeaways from attendees, visit CIN’s Storify page here and blog here.

Among the CIN giving circles in attendance were 20/20 Sisters of Vision (Durham, NC),  ALOT - A Legacy of Tradition (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC), Birmingham Change Fund (Birmingham, AL), Black Benefactors (Washington, DC), Circle of Joy (Atlanta), DAAP- Denver African American Philanthropists (Denver, CO), Growing Black Men of Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI), Hope Fund of Jackson (Jackson, MS), New Generation of African American Philanthropists (Charlotte, NC), Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (Raleigh, NC), and the Sankofa Fund of Southwest Pennsylvania.  Conference sponsors included Open Society Foundations, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,  The Denver Foundation, Resource Generation, Birmingham Change Fund, Quixote Foundation and Tides.

If you are a member of a giving circle, thinking about starting one, or involved with a collective giving project in your community, learn more about CIN and its support available to you by visiting www.thecommunityinvestment.org.