50 Shades of Black Giving Back: Choose One

Last Updated on May 25, 2023

Three Black philanthropy organizations that educate and train individuals and groups on giving methods embraced by the Black community.
Friends of Ebonie and Young, Black & Giving Back Institute founder Ebonie Johnson Cooper (left). HBCU Puissance Scholarship Committee members Roger Rojas, Anastazia Neely, Lauren Legette, Alize Beal, and Brendan Francis (top right). Tracey Webb, founder of BlackGivesBack with Christina Lewis Halpern and Valaida Fullwood (bottom right).

It is better to give than to receive and rightly so as Tis the Season to do so. However, as I reflect back throughout the year, I’ve witnessed a few different approaches to ‘giving back’ among several African American organizations with philanthropic focuses. Rather than concentrating on building membership numbers that in theory would lead to more dollars raised. These groups are educating, informing and training the next generation of Black philanthropists on the importance of giving through structured and organized ways.

One organization that caught my attention is the Friends of Ebonie and their Young, Black & Giving Back Institute. Self-described as the educational brand of the organization, the institute uses in-person workshops and on-line courses to provide learning and engagement for young professionals interested in enhancing their civic and professional footprint.

Since its inception in 2009, Friends of Ebonie has positioned itself as a millennial diversity consulting and young philanthropy-coaching boutique, offering education, training and resources to individuals 20-32 years of age. As part of their consulting component, the organization offer strategies for non-profits to assist them in identifying and attracting black philanthropists whose interest line-up with the needs of the charity.

While educational programming began in 2012, the launch of the institute in September 2014 has allowed for expansion of these programs and plans are underway to extend their reach nationwide.

Another organization with a unique giving back approach is The Puissance Scholarship whose mission is assisting students {via scholarships} offset some of the financial expenditures associated with attending college. Currently, only New York City residents are eligible to apply, however, those students that apply and receive awards can use the aid at any one of the 105 HBCUs.

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has a similar program, which allows awarded students to use the funds at the school of their choosing. However, unlike the UNCF, who is widely recognized as the nation’s largest minority education organization, with a seventy-year history and twenty-four offices nationwide. The Puissance Scholarship is only a year old and only has one office, for now.

According to executive board member Lauren Legette, Hampton University ’11, this is just the beginning; “I want to give scholarships to as many students as we can…I would like to give a scholarship to one student at every HBCU.”

As HBCU alumni, Legette, and her fellow four board members are changing the narrative that black alumni do not give back by encouraging their peers to give. In 2014, the organization awarded its first scholarship funded primarily by patrons that attended one or more of their socials gatherings. These gatherings are hosted and formatted to connect people that share a common belief of supporting HBCUs at swank locations in New York.

One final example, BlackGivesBack is an on-line blog that has proven to be an excellent source for gaining insight on African American philanthropy. I discovered the site a few years ago as I was researching Black giving and found it to be enlightening and informative.

So often African American are viewed as only being beneficiaries in the philanthropic equation when in reality, we should be recognized as benefactors as we give 25 percent more of our disposable income to charity than do Whites.

What started as an extension of her philanthropic work in 2007, blog creator Tracey Webb does a masterful job at dispelling the myths surrounding African American philanthropy. Each post is filled with stories that highlight individuals, organizations and companies that benefit our community. Many of which I share via my social networks and with those that dare ask, “Do Blacks Give?

The organizations listed above represent only a small sample of the various types of giving methods embraced by the Black community. I would encourage you do a little research of your own keeping in mind that our giving comes in many different shades.

About the Author

Nelson Bowman IIINelson Bowman III is the executive director of development at Prairie View A&M University. As the chief development officer, he is responsible for managing major gift prospects, donor stewardship initiatives and the University’s internal school-based fundraising program. He is also the co-author of three book – Unearthing Promise and Potential: Our Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and UniversitiesA Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black College and University: An All Campus Approach and, Engaging Diverse College Alumni: The Essential Guide to Fundraising. The Morehouse College graduate earned a B.A. in Business Management and earned his Master’s in Community Development from Prairie View A&M. He is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

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