An abridged interview with Men Tchaas Ari, a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, from the ‘Of Dreams and Mountaintops’ series of stories. The full interview will run via various media outlets during August 2013.
Of Dreams and Mountaintops | In observance of Black Philanthropy Month, interviews in this series by Valaida Fullwood feature African Americans engaged in multiple facets of philanthropy and focus on interests and concerns, 50 years after Dr. King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.
MEN TCHAAS ARI | Chief Program Officer, Crisis Assistance Ministry
Hometown: Bloomfield, CT, and now lives in Charlotte, NC
Education: BA, Morehouse College
Philanthropic Involvement: Currently a Mentor for the Y Achievers Program.
Black Philanthropy Is . . . The key to eradicating poverty and all of the other ills plaguing the African American community.
What are some of your thoughts on where America stands 50 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?
It seems that the racial barriers that divided our country 50 years ago have been replaced with socio-economic/class barriers.
When it comes to society or our community, what is your “dream” or aspiration?
According to a 2012 Nielsen study, African American’s annual buying power will reach one trillion dollars in 2015. My dream is for that money to circulate in the African American community a few times. This would stimulate the economy in our community and improve its infrastructure. My ultimate goal would be for African Americans to collectively invest a mere 1 percent of that (i.e. $10B) annually. From this collective pool we would be able to address many of the ills in our community and, ultimately, the ills of the world at large.
In terms of your philanthropic endeavors, what’s your “mountaintop” or highest achievement to date?
I would have to say that it is giving of my time to teens in the Y Achievers mentoring program. This program focuses on curtailing the drop out rate at three local high schools. This year, all of the high school seniors that participated in the program graduated from high school.
Name a book that has shaped your philanthropy?
The Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey, by Colin Grant (2010)