Three Bus Tours during the 2013 Conference

Three bus tours spread over two days during the 2013 Beyond the Mountaintop conference, which is October 3-6 in Denver, Colorado. The bus tours will give out-of-towners the chance to get out of the the DoubleTree hotel and out to experience key sights, neighborhoods and institutions in Denver’s pristine climate in the early Fall. Visit the conference website for the full schedule, to book your hotel room ($109/night for a single or double) and register today!

Friday, 9:00 – 2:00


Join us Friday morning for the
Denver Black History Tour as we learn more about black pioneers that have been blazing trails in Colorado for over 100 years, and as we take in some sights in and around the Mile High City! We will start with a visit to the Black American West Museum and then enjoy a walking tour of historic Five Points. The walking tour will lead us to the  world renowned Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. We will then head out of the city and check out Red Rocks Amphitheater which was voted by Rolling Stone magazine as the number one amphitheater in the world. Next we will come back down to the Denver and see the Colorado State Capitol Building. As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, our last stop will be at the MLK Monument at beautiful City Park as we contemplate how we go Beyond The Mountaintop and collectively reach new heights by giving.


Saturday, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

On Saturday, October 5th from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, the Connecting with Your Ancestors Tour will be a how-to lesson hosted at the downtown branch of the Denver Public Library on how to use genealogy and ancestry sites to research family history. As the summary on the at-a-glance schedule states:

This workshop will give participants the opportunity to explore their roots.  Experts in genealogy will provide information and tools to trace your family tree.  There will be a novice and an advanced class.  To prepare for the workshop, please bring a list of your grandparents, great grandparents, etc. if you are new to genealogy.  If you are more seasoned, bring a list of questions or concerns regarding your current research efforts.  Connecting with your Ancestors will be a fun, eye opening experience.


Also on Saturday between 3-5pm, the Roots, Beans and Greens Tour guided by members of the Eastside Growers Collective. We will be fortunate to have Neambe and Ietef Vita, Beverly Grant, and Faatma Mehrmanesh lead the conversation as we head to the Eastside Growers Collective. The conference hotel is in a food desert. It happens to be an area with a high population of African Americans, with one major grocery store that serves over 55,000 residents. Join us for conversations about food justice and food security as we take a tour of The Grow Haus, which does an amazing job growing organic food indoors, with innovative methods like the hydrofarm and aquaponics farm.
This tour will inspire us to think differently about our connection to food and each other.


Reserve Your Seat when You Register for the Conference
Save your seat on one of the bus tours when you purchase your conference registration on Eventbrite. Conference tickets are available, with the early registration discount ending on September 1st.Through August 31, prices are:

  • $300 for a three-day pass (for the community rate)
  • $400 for a three-day pass (for institutional rate)
  • $125 for an All-day pass on Saturday
  • $75 for the Youth Track (for people between 8-22)
  • $50 for Saturday’s lunch with Clyde Anderson
  • $25 for Friday’s Welcome Reception and BBQ at the Holly Area Redevelopment Project
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The Five Minute Philanthropy Plan

Cedric Brown is a managing partner of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which mobilizes tech for positive, progressive change.

photo of Cedric

Cedric Brown

 He is a former board chair of Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy and a 2007 Connecting Leaders Fellow of the Association of Black Foundation Executives. Cedric lives in Oakland, CA.

This Black Philanthropy Month, I want to talk about cash. Yes, I believe in the power of contributed time and talent, but I have separate soapboxes for those. Right now I want to talk about our personal power as philanthropists. I know that label conjures images of stone libraries and big checks presented at ribbon cutting ceremonies, and hey, if you got it like that, do your thing! But for the rest of us 99%ers, I’m focusing on the power of our small dollars to add up to bigger action.

Firstly, my soapbox is built on a 20 year career in “organized philanthropy” – working for the institutions with big benefactors and bigger dollars that make five and six figure grants. From that vantage point I know that there are thousands of community-based organizations doing great work across a range of issues, and they need our help! I can say for a fact that generating a few dollars can go a long way, especially when leveraged by the deep concern, commitment, and charisma of competent leaders. We have ample proof, most visibly through the power of the Obama presidential campaigns, that small dollars do make a difference with an overall goal. And new crowdfunding platforms like IndieGogo and Kickstarter have made that kind of concentrated incremental fundraising much more accessible to folks with good ideas but a lack of capital.

five minute stopwatch

Ready. Set. Click!

For a fellowship project I worked on a number of years ago, I conducted a series of interviews to gauge personal giving patterns. These were done with black men with good jobs, political awareness, and solid values. I was shocked to find that out of the ten I spoke with, only two had given much thought to making charitable/strategic donations. I was so surprised and disappointed that I abandoned the project, not wanting to write up what I thought was an embarrassing result. Unfortunately I  didn’t have the foresight to use those results and that disappointment as a springboard into action, recognizing that sometimes people need to be asked and inspired to give.

So here’s my inspiration: The Five Minute Philanthropy Plan! All you need is a timer, pencil, and paper (or type away if that’s more suitable!). Ready?

  • 00:00 – 01:00 | In the first minute, write down all of the social/political issues that you care about (or more bluntly put, list all of the changes you’d like to see in the world). Pencils ready! Don’t get overwhelmed or mad at the issues, just write (and try to be specific).
  • 01:01 – 02:00 | List of all of the black community-serving institutions that you know, both nationally and in your local community. I’m focusing on black-community serving orgs because this is Black Philanthropy Month and our orgs need our support*, but it’s your list, so write what moves you.
  • 02:01 – 03:00 | Compare the two lists. Do any issues line up with orgs you know? In either case, prepare to do more research – outside of this challenge – on the best one(s) to focus on. I’m not asking the world of you, just for some action!
  • 03:01 – 03:30 | In THIRTY seconds, write down a number that you think is a reasonably-sized donation that you could make on a monthly basis. DO NOT freak out and start thinking about rent and food; I mean reasonable for your budget.
  • 03:31 – 04:30 | Over the next minute, list all of the people you could possibly ask to make a ONE-TIME donation of that “reasonably-sized donation” to a cause of your choice. Your Facebook or Twitter communities are excellent resources (provide that you’re connected like that).
  • 04:31 – 05:00 | Look back at the basic plan that you have devised in just five easy minutes! And not only could this serve as a framework for your own philanthropic priority-setting, you’ll also be leveraging your dollars with those donations in your networks.

As an extra challenge, how much could you raise for a cause or organization in 24 hours? Last year I asked 19 people to give $50 each; together we raised $1,000 in the course of a workday! And that was on a whim, so I know y’all can do better than that now that you have your Five Minute Philanthropy Plan!

Now you know how Luther said:

a house is not a home when there’s no one there?

Well similarly, a plan is just a list without YOU to put it into action! Our good friends and sponsors of Black Philanthropy Month have made it easy to get involved. Once you get started, may you quickly find the joy that comes from contributing to a greater good through word and deed.


* “With public funding cuts, minority-led nonprofits face the additional challenge of serving a population that has fewer financial resources to contribute to organizations that serve them…Moreover, recent studies show that foundation grantmaking for ethnic minorities is low and is not growing at the same rate as overall giving.” The Network Journal, August 2008

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Forward Giving Circle Launches

GOLDSBORO, NC—On August 4, hosts Charles McNair and Cheryl Alston will launch the Forward Giving Circle, a new circle for farmers and educators.

Charles McNair

Charles McNair | Photography by Sino Chum

The purpose of the event is to connect local individual and organizational givers and activists who are currently practicing the heART of giving in Wayne County and eastern NC. The goals are to share what everyone is doing, assess needs and access to resources, set up a communication network with protocols to facilitate the sharing of information and resources that will FORWARD the missions of each individual, organization and the collective. A long-term strategy is to identify and train people to act as a de-centralized cooperative “information brokering” corps, with the ability to identify funding sources (for profit and nonprofit), thinktank on sustainability strategies for the circle(s) and members, etc.

Cheryl Alston | Photography by Sino Chum

Cheryl Alston | Photography by Sino Chum

Members from other NC Community Investment Network giving circles will speak at the gathering. A youth presentation will represent the future. The Elders presentation will represent the past and the final segment will be mobilization of the current philanthropists who represent the balance and the connection between the two. A monthly dinner will be established for community building, face-to-face fellowship, sharing, and celebration.

Represented organizations include Dillard Academy Charter School, Wayne Food Initiative, The Village Rising, The African American Heritage Society, Buffalo Soldiers, etc. They represent local efforts in Education, Sustainable Agriculture, Entrepreneurship, History and Culture, respectively, with other areas of the community represented as well.

To share your BPM 2013 events and to learn of other events, click here.

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BPM 2013: GenWhy

cropped-bpm-cin-badge-625x125-7.jpgThis summer Community Investment Network sponsored Changing the Face of Philanthropy, a two-day, NYC summit for Black Millennials. Friends of Ebonie organized the first-ever gathering of its kind focused on next-gen giving and civic engagement.

In an opening segment at the June event, we gave summit participants slips of paper on which was printed: Why I Give Back. We then asked them to express in writing their motivations for giving and to post the slips on a wall in the room.

We’ll share the nearly 20 anonymous responses we received here via blog posts over the course of Black Philanthropy Month. After reading them, feel free to share your own answer. Here’s the first response.


I am the beneficiary of being a part of a family and extended family / community that provided me with opportunities and support to pursue my goals and dreams.  Realizing just how critical and important those pieces have played in my development, I give back because others gave and invested in me. I want to help provide those  same opportunities and support for others.

Why I Give Back_NYC1

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BPM 2013: Q&A with Men Tchaas Ari

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.

BPM LOGO (FINAL)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


Men Tchaas Ari | Photography by Charles W. Thomas Jr.

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)

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Lessons from Charlotte: How to Recruit New Members

By Ed Franklin and Meka Sales, who are members of the New Generation of African American Philanthropists.

We are blessed to be part of a giving circle – we have enough time, talent, and treasure to give. So, we are blessed. More so, we have been tapped to be the front persons for people interested in our giving circle.

Going through the process to get like-minded individuals to commit to our circle is trickier than it looks. Said another way, we all assume members “just happen.” This is no fault of one person or another.

Current and future members at NGAAP's 7th Anniversary party held last month.

From left: Charles, Keysha, Lucious, Aaron, Evan and Ed — who are new generation and newer generations of philanthropists at NGAAP’s 7th Anniversary party held last month.

To help circles like our’s, we have decided to put together a list of five questions and answers providing a few good lessons learned to help you along the way! Good luck!

1.    Who represents your circle best?
If possible, put “faces” to your circle by engaging interested parties early and often with diversity – you need people who know what they are talking about and can represent your circle well. In our case, we utilize members that are new to the circle and some who have more history and experience to accurately display the history, breadth, and evolution of our giving circle journey.

2.    How do new members reach you? What is your engagement process?
New members can reach us by phone, text, multiple websites, and Facebook! Too many times we assumed it was clear to new members how they reached us and and the process to become a new member. Over time, we learned to be clear and simple on how new members can reach us – no matter who or how they reach out they go through one contact point to be followed-up and led through the process.

3.    What locations or settings make people most comfortable when you first engage them?

Friend, New Member and Founding Member: Lucious, Keysha and Patricia

Friend, New Member and Founding Member: Lucious, Keysha and Patricia

Conversations over lunch seem to work best! Public places are much easier to strike up conversations and allow us to engage more deeply. We always let the prospective new member select the location to allow the food (and sometimes the ambiance) to complement the conversation. Additionally, we limit our invitee list to 2 – 3 members per engagement so we don’t overwhelm and crowd our potential circle member.

4.   What is the best approach to engage new members?
During the meet and greet we try to share why we got involved, how we got involved, and what drives us to stay involved. Then we let someone discuss our upcoming activities and forward-looking objectives. Last we let the prospective member share their background, how they got to Charlotte, and why they’d like to be part of our circle. It is crucial to connect the dots during the session through active listening to pull out important points about why the relationship may or may not work. We don’t seek out opportunities to turn potential members away; instead, we provide enough information and opportunity for them to decide if they like what we’re doing, how we do it, feel like they fit, and ultimately, if they want to be part of the NGAAP circle. 

5.   How do you seal the “deal”?
Well, it takes two. Just because someone is interested in your circle doesn’t mean they are a “fit” for your circle and vice versa. The meet and greet is crucial to set the right expectations — eating lunch and smiling doesn’t constitute acceptance. We stress the importance of completing an application / pledge form, paying their donation, and committing to sharing their time, talent, and treasure.  We put caveats around time commitments since most of our circle members are busy professionals who may or may not have spouses and children at home! Gather folks to engage with the prospective member that can passionately share why they give and why the giving circle model is appealing to them. Lastly, we have a designated “closer” who will make one last phone call to try and close the deal (if necessary)!

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Black Cowboys and the Harlem of the West

File Photo: Stephan Gater (l) at the 2011 Leadership Summit at the Penn Center.

File Photo: Stephan Gater (l) at the 2011 Leadership Summit at the Penn Center.

Stephan Gater is a founding member of Denver African American Philanthropists as well as a member of the Mile High Mavericks. Stephan offers anecdotes and insights as he exudes hometown pride for the Mile High City.

Denver — October is an ideal time to explore Denver, a month that offers a relatively mild climate in town and cooler temperatures up the mountains. As we gather in the beautiful Mile High City to help each other collectively reach new heights we also encourage you to take in all of the beauty and the history of the city and my hometown.

Denver is rated as having the fourth-most walkable downtown in the country so if you are up to it there are plenty of things available to explore including the Black American West Museum. The museum began as the personal hobby of Paul W. Stewart, who as a child playing cowboys and Indians, always had to be the Indian because he was told, “There is no such thing as a Black cowboy.”

One in Three Cowboys Was Black
After Mr. Stewart reached adulthood, he met a Black cowboy and learned that one out of three cowboys in the American West was Black. His search has took him to nearly every corner of the West, gathering personal artifacts, memorabilia, newspapers, legal documents, clothing, letters, photographs, and oral histories. It was this original Paul Stewart Collection that formed the nucleus for Museum which formally began operation in 1971. Located in the former home of Justina Ford, it is a sight to see.

Denver’s Five Points community is a very historic area located in the heart of the city. it originated in the 1880s as an upper middle-class neighborhood for professional and business men.  The city built one of its first cable streetcar lines into the area and numerous neighborhood businesses emerged along its tracks. White residents initially occupied the area, but a few prosperous African American families began moving in around the turn of the century.

Harlem of the West
Five Points was known as the “Harlem of the West”. It became a predominantly African American neighborhood in Denver because discriminatory home sale laws in other neighborhoods forbade black people from settling in them. From the 1920s to the 1950s

Light Rail along the Welton Street Corridor, from downtown to Five Points. (Source: Wikipedia)

the community thrived with a rich mix of local business and commerce along the Welton Corridor offering the neighborhood butcher, real estate companies, drug stores, religious organizations, tailors, restaurants, barbers and many other main street services. Welton Street was also home to over fifty bars and clubs, where some of the greatest jazz musicians such as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and others performed. Black performers that other hotels in Denver would not accommodate stayed at the Rossonian Hotel, built in 1912, and performed there, making it a famous music venue.

Black doctors, lawyers, dentists, clergy, railroad porters, as well as cooks, janitors, domestic servants, and other service workers all made their homes in Five Points, attending its many churches, patronizing black businesses, supporting three newspapers, a YMCA and YWCA, baseball clubs, and social activities of all kinds. Five Points residents wanted for little—other than the opportunity to move into other neighborhoods or into higher economic brackets through education and jobs.

Five Points, circa 1885. (Source:

Today, many recognize the neighborhood’s important history, and efforts to renew and revitalize the neighborhood have begun to pay off.  Five Points received an historic district designation and important buildings along Welton Street have received state preservation money for restoration. Two of these buildings, the Rossonian Hotel and Benny Hooper’s Casino, played vital roles as gathering places for jazz aficionados.

The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, named in honor of Tuskegee airman Omar Blair and Denver politician Elvin Caldwell, houses a growing collection of research materials related to African Americans in the west is also located in this area. City leaders and planners along with preservationists are all working to restore the neighborhood’s former dignity and recognize its significant role in the life of the city.

A visit to the Mile High City puts you in easy access of some of Colorado’s prized peaks. Many mountains remain snow-capped throughout the year, which is a sight to see.

We look forward to your arrival so we may gather on the other side of the mountain that MLK spoke of, sharing the best practices of how we as average, everyday citizens can make a difference so that our communities and generations reap the full benefits of our work in supporting and shaping collective philanthropy.

See you in Denver.


Be sure to Like DAAP on Facebook.

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A firmer resolve: why I am going to Denver for the 2013 conference

Jan Bright is a member of the Circle of Joy, a retired high school English teacher after 26 years, married 42 years, with two children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Her hobbies and interests include traveling, shipping, music, dance, and movies. She is a chartered member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and a Red Hatter.
Jan’s Life Philosophy: Life is a precious gift; treasure every moment of it and give it the respect and consideration that it deserves. Live deliberately (with intention).

Henry David Thoreau wrote that men live lives of quiet desperation. If that is indeed true, what makes us so desperate? I think that we may be driven by two forces:

  • relevancy and purpose;
  • we want to know that we matter, and we want to know that we can make a difference.

    Jan (r) with Ken Perry, at the 2013 Leadership Summit: ELF | Evaluation, Leadership, Fundraising.

    Jan (r) with Ken Perry, at the 2013 Leadership Summit: ELF | Evaluation, Leadership, Fundraising.

I know that personally I achieved both of those things through my family, friends, and career. I received great satisfaction knowing that I was loved and respected in all three of those areas in my life, but what happens when life’s dynamics change things, and families grow up and out, friendships change, and jobs expire? Where do you find relevance and purpose then?

I found them in philanthropy, something I had done all of my life without ever giving it a formal word or definition. I thought that I was just being thoughtful, kind, a good person, but in my own, small way, I had been a philanthropist all of my life. It wasn’t until I joined a philanthropic group that I realized the significance and the power of my giving spirit.

I was blessed to be invited into a giving circle, the Circle of Joy, a little over a year ago by one of my former students who founded the group and started it with a few friends who were also former students of mine. Because I had already made such an important impact on their lives, they thought that the Circle of Joy would be an organization that would be a perfect fit for me. It is! It is so wonderful to be one of a dozen individuals who pool our monies annually and along with fundraisers donate those monies to various groups which we have chosen to support. Our focus is youth, and so far we have nurtured, mentored, supported, and sponsored three groups over the past five years: Children Without Mothers (the mothers are incarcerated), All Grown Up (teen girls needing a helping hand), and Pride for Parents (a neighborhood community struggling to provide for their families).

So far we have been able to grant these three groups a total of $15,000 over a fairly short amount of time, and we don’t just grant dollars and cents; we also give of our time, and as a result of this partnership, we have established a strong bond and sense of community with them. We are one of fourteen organizations in the US right now who have formed philanthropic circles, and we work extensively and intimately with the Community Investment Network, and they provide us with financial support, leadership training, and a social network that indeed strengthens and educates us so that we are more efficient and beneficial to the communities we serve.

Jan at the Philanthropic Renaissance in Birmingham in October 2012.

Jan at the Philanthropic Renaissance in Birmingham in October 2012.

In the year since I have been a member of the Circle of Joy, I have already attended the 2012 Conference, The Philanthropic Renaissance held in Birmingham, AL and a Leadership Conference in Raleigh, NC in April 2013. Those events were totally beneficial and rewarding to me, and I will cherish those experiences forever. To collectively be with like minded individuals who share your same vision and joy for improving improving and sustaining communities in your local area is just awesome! To have members of the CIN staff who are there to share ideas, techniques, and strategies with you that will make you better equipped to nurture not only your giving circle but any group that you choose to partner with in the future is incredible! To see what other giving circles are doing on a national level in their own communities is just mind blowing: from hearing about the Birmingham Change Fund changing policies in the Birmingham School System to people in Raleigh/Durham who are impacting the food desert in their state and trying to change the way food is grown and distributed so that families don’t have to go hungry, to the newest circle consisting of Native American Indians who are striving to change the quality of Life for a group of people who have been downtrodden for far too long in this country. CIN provides us with the opportunity to combine our strengths and our talents and our vision and know and feel the difference that we can make!

The next big conference is October 3-6 in Denver, Colorado and we are committed to making Beyond the Mountaintop the best one ever. I strongly encourage all who can to attend this event because it will only help to further ignite a rededication, a recommitment in every philanthropist who attends. I believe that attending the conference will instill a firmer resolve of what we need to do and what we need to be to truly make that difference that we want to make, not only in the world in which we live, but in ourselves as well!

I love the fact that I am able to make that difference, and I encourage others to do the same; our lives do not have to be filled with quiet desperation; instead, we want lives that are filled with the riotous, joyful, satisfying, and energizing giving!

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Making a difference: 10 questions for Terri Southall

BCF Group

Terri Southall is a member of The Birmingham Change Fund.  Giving Back is in her DNA. 

1) Who are and what do you know about your ancestors?

Mother’s Side – Lydia (Garner) Southall Irene and Coleman Wilson lived in Whitehall, LA and had five children. Lydia Wilson (daughter of Irene and Colemen) married William Garner and had eight children. Edna (Sugar Pie) was the eighth child and my grandmother. Edna passed away last August and was the oldest living known family member on my mother’s side. My grandmother was born in 1918. I currently do not have any information concerning my mom’s father. Father’s Side – Walter Southall John Southall and Lucille Southall were my grandfather’s (Benjamin) parents. John worked in the coal-mine and served in the military. Lucille passed away when my grandfather was about six years old. John never re-married. Thomas Ferguson and Ella Mae Ferguson were my grandmother’s (Ella Mae) parents. Thomas Ferguson worked in the coal-mine and served in the military. Thomas Ferguson was biracial (mixed with African American and White). Ella Mae Ferguson was also biracial mixed with Cherokee Indian and African American. Ella Mae was original from the West Indies. My father’s parents, Benjamin and Ella Mae moved to Chicago Heights around 1955 from a farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky which was owned by my great-grandparents. They had 10 children. Benjamin was a mechanic and a brick-layer and Ella Mae was a house-wife.

2) Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Springfield, IL.

3) During your childhood, how were you exposed to cultures of giving back?

I was exposed to giving back by my grandmother, Edna Garner, who was the Director of General Community Programming for Springfield/Sangamon Community Action Agency and my father, Walter Southall, who worked for Springfield Housing Authority. As a child growing-up I was surrounded by people who were active in the community and worked for equality in our community. Hearing conversations of equality and change was common in my environment. I always say “that being active in the community is in my DNA.”

4) How has your giving changed by being in a giving circle?

My concept of giving has changed since becoming a member of the Birmingham Change Fund (BCF). Giving back as an individual will have an impact on the community, but giving back as a collective group with like-minded people will have a greater impact.

5) How do race and culture influence giving, in your opinion?

Before attending my first Community Investment Network (CIN) conference in Birmingham last year I would have answered this question differently. Since being educated on philanthropy, I now understand that race and culture has little influence on giving. Philanthropy means “love of humanity” which means anyone that has love for people can be a philanthropist.

6) What issues most concern you? Why?

The issues that concern me the most are the current state of our family structure. There appears to be a lack of solid family households coupled with financial disadvantage and lack of financial education in our community. Based on my experience, the lack of a solid family structure and the financial disadvantage is the root to the majority of our problems.

7) What surprised you about being a philanthropist?

I thought a philanthropist was an extremely wealthy person who gave back before being educated about philanthropy with the assistance of the BCF and CIN. I discovered, I was a philanthropist at a very young age and was not aware of it because I always had a heart to give to others.

8) Do you have a will? Why or why not?

Yes – I wanted to ensure my family was aware of my last wishes and protect them.

9) What is 1 request and 1 offering that you have for your community?

My one request for my community is to have people not live without barriers, which will assist with people reaching their full potential. My one offering for my community is my education in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M). I currently use by background to tutor students at my church.

10) What is your greatest hope for humanity?

My greatest hope for humanity is having people understand their differences and be able to work through them regardless of the situation.

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The New Philanthropists

Dorothy Clark of the 20/20 Sisters of Vision wrote the following article two years for an online magazine.

Are there any philanthropists living in your neighborhood? When you think of charitable donors, you might think of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Cosby. Over the last decade, we saw the development of grassroots philanthropy in the form of giving circles. These circles are like-minded friends, neighbors, or family members who pool their resources and make joint decisions on grant-making. An active network of circles started here in North Carolina.

Eight years ago Darryl Lester began organizing young African-Americans in the South “to strategically invest their time, talent and treasures back into their communities in an effort to address issues of race and equity.” His efforts led to the creation of the Community Investment Network (CIN) headquartered in North Carolina. CIN, according to the stated mission, “…inspires, connects and strengthens African Americans and communities of color to leverage their collective resources and create the change THEY wish to see.”  The organization currently includes giving circles across the South as well as in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

20/20 Sisters of Vision in Durham, NC is representative of the member circles. It was organized three years ago by Joanne Jennings and Denise Rowson. They regularly solicited $20 donations from friends to help out someone in financial crisis. But they wanted to be more systematic in their giving. They invited a group of friends to share a meal and to talk about their giving philosophies. Finding that they had similar goals, they decided to form a giving circle and to fund organizations that empower and improve the lives of women and children. They selected the Triangle Community Foundation to host their funds. Past grants recipients include the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Durham Center for Senior Living, and Angel Food Ministries. Their current project is to sponsor a fundraiser in March to raise funds for a group in Eastern North Carolina.

The increase in giving circles shows that there are philanthropists at every income level. If you’d like to find out how to start your own circle, or support an existing one, get more information at You can make a difference in your community.


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