By David Johnson
Where are African American philanthropists giving their resources, and why are they donating to specific causes? What will the future of giving in the African American community look like? Bachelor’s degree student David Johnson reflects on a Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy panel event featuring six African American panelists working in various ways to reshape black philanthropy.
The Mays panel was a very refreshing event! Seeing people that are active in the community, especially the black community, is inspiring and uplifting. I am so proud to be a part of a school that supports such work!
I found that the panel was very structured, and the moderator, Dr. Una Osili, did an outstanding job keeping the panel on topic and continuously talking about key aspects of the community, such as access to education and direct impact initiatives. The panelists were very well established and in different points in their careers, which gave them good perspectives to share.
I liked how each of the panelists had their own voice and thoughts of how the black community could grow, including focusing on programs like financial literacy, strategic economic plans, and food desert solutions. Those thoughts were well understood and were clearly identified. It appears that many of the panelists were aware, knowledgeable, and capable of tackling these issues, and on a daily basis are actively pushing themselves to find appropriate solutions and put them into action.
Perhaps some of the well-off and well-educated African-Americans could talk to their networks to get the jobs done that they identified but again, the average person cannot attain such goals. Maybe the panel was intended for this purpose; to inspire our leaders to do great things for our community in unified ways.
However, on the other end of the stick, the issues and the way they were described needed to be more consumable, broken down and constructed in a way so that the average person could potentially participate or contribute to the growth of the black community. I only heard this information from Akilah Wallace, executive director of Faith in Texas advising a young lady in the audience to take action at her church to start initiatives that urged people to perhaps start a giving circle or a small community foundation. That is something the average person could accomplish with any level of means. More advice from the panelists like this would help, especially when given the floor to speak and when people are listening.
Overall, the panel and panelists were a pleasure to see and experience! A blessing to have such amazing people to be here with us and supporting the field. I love seeing doers doing and I urge all who read this to do the good things we talk about. Identifying issues and brainstorming ideas on how to help are great but acting on the plan is key!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr says, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
My name is David Johnson, an undergraduate student intending to get my Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I run a start-up nonprofit called Spring Oath, who does work bridging the disconnect between community and community organizations in the Indianapolis area.