by M. Anthony Davis
August marks the 10th anniversary of Black Philanthropy Month, founded in 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network. The yearly campaign is aimed at increasing philanthropic giving from people of African descent as well as broadening support for Black led organizations worldwide. Here in Washington, a new organization, Black Future Co-op Fund, has launched a statewide celebration of Black Philanthropy Month. They’re hosting a series of virtual events they hope will inspire investment in Black communities by encouraging Black folks to donate time and money to Black-led organizations.
“It was in response to what we saw happening in the streets,” Black Future Co-op Fund Co-Founder Andrea Caupain Sanderson tells me. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Sanderson, along with fellow Co-op founders Angela Jones, Michelle Merriweather, and T’wina Nobles, were on the front lines during the protests. They distributed masks, food, and sanitizers to protestors, but they knew they could do more.
“We saw our young activists storming the steps of City Hall, of police departments, of wherever necessary to challenge the status quo,” Sanderson explains. “So we felt a responsibility to storm the boardroom of philanthropy. And we recognize that each of our organizations receive funding from philanthropy — we were all grantees. And we needed to challenge that status quo. We need to challenge [the fact] that not enough money and resources are invested in our Black community. So we created the Black Future Co-op Fund to do just that.”
Sanderson, who has been CEO of Byrd Barr Place since 2008, saw an opportunity not only to help support the Black community but to do so in a way that has not been done before in Washington on a large scale. On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, May 25, the Black Future Co-op Fund released $1 million in funding. These funds were distributed as $25,000 grants to 40 organizations across Washington State.
“We called it ‘We See You grants,’” Sanderson says. “We see you out here in these streets making a difference for our community. We know you’ve been doing the work. And some of them are very grassroots.”
Some of the organizations funded by the Co-op had formerly been left out of philanthropic funding due to not having 501c3 status or because they had 501c4 status. The Co-op wanted to fund these types of organizations in an effort to shift the paradigm of philanthropic funding and to ensure that all organizations that are doing positive work in the Black community could have access to adequate funding. For the first round of funds, organizations were not required to fill out any applications or go through any rigorous processes. The Co-op simply funded 40 organizations statewide that had been active in their communities.
After speaking with Dr. Copeland and her team about Black Philanthropy Month, Sanderson and the Co-op founders knew Black Philanthropy Month would be the perfect mechanism to drive conversation and awareness around supporting philanthropy to organizations in Washington that were supporting the Black community. Their series of events will push forward ideas about what philanthropy means in the Black community, how we can recognize the contributions made to and from the Black community, and how these contributions can include not just money but also time, expertise, and the act of caring for each other.
“We also want to highlight that there is a disparity in giving in the Black community,” Sanderson says. “We know that only 7.8% of philanthropic dollars nationally go to Organizations of Color, much less to Black-led organizations. We wanted to focus on that as well.”
With these themes in mind, the first virtual event was held Tuesday, Aug. 17. This event discussed Black generosity, the ancestral connection in our DNA, our collective responsibility to care for ourselves and how that relates to Black churches and Black fraternities and sororities, and an overall vision for Black well-being. This panel, moderated by Sanderson, included former Seahawk Doug Baldwin, President and Co-Founder of Ezell’s Chicken E. Lewis Rudd, Executive Board Member of Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Frankie Manning, and Co-Founder of Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network Mattie Mooney.
The next event in the series on Aug. 24 will focus on what has informed traditional philanthropy, how white-led philanthropy has left out the Black community, and how philanthropy can assist with creating a liberated future for Black folks in Washington. The final event on Aug. 31 will ask “Where is the money?” and dive into promises and statements of support made by companies during the summer of protests that haven’t always been delivered. Both of the upcoming events will be held on Tuesdays and are free to the public to join.
To RSVP for the virtual panel series, visit the Black Future Co-op Fund website.
Upcoming panel information:
From Institutional Philanthropic Redlining to Black Freedom
Tuesday, Aug. 24, 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- Ruby Love, founder of Love Resource Development Group
- Stephanie Ellis-Smith, co-founder of Give Blck, principal advisor and owner of Phila Engaged Giving, and senior advisor of The Giving Practice
- Valerie Curtis-Newton, head of directing of UW School of Drama
- Senator T’wina Nobles, architect of the Black Future Co-op Fund, president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, and Washington State Senator
Moderated by Michelle Merriweather, architect of the Black Future Co-op Fund and President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.
Where Is the Money?
Tuesday, Aug. 31, 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- C’Ardiss “CC” Gardner Gleser, director of programs and strategic initiatives of Satterberg Foundation
- Afi Tengue, vice president of philanthropy and impact of Giving Compass
- Aisha Al-Amin, donor relations manager of Powerful Voices
- Victoria Santos, co-founder of BIPOC ED Coalition and co-executive of Young Women Empowered
Moderated by Morgan Dawson, community advocate.
📸 Featured image is attributed to Julian Walker under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.