Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

The Power of Philanthropy in the Black Community

By Taja White

A 2017 study shows that there are about 8,000 nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia alone; and the number has since continued to grow. These altruistic foundations include a plethora of services all dedicated to continuing advocacy for specific social issues. However, there are always a few groups that do outstanding work through their innovative programming and commitment. In the midst of a season full of giving, it’s time to recognize some organizations who have continued the selfless act of community enhancement. Organizations like the Black Women Give Foundation and Beech Companies have embodied what it truly means to take progressive action when it comes to the Black community’s needs.

The Black Women Give Foundation was founded in 2016 by four innovative Black women who decided it was time to change the narrative around the idea of philanthropy in communities of color. The organization has a designated service area that includes the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania and makes up a group of volunteers with diverse backgrounds including entrepreneurs, educators, mothers, sisters, daughters, activists, students, and retirees.

One of the main goals is to develop sustainable impact for organizations that are working to uplift communities of color through access to grant funding. Shana K. Salley-Macmillan one of the four founders of the organization started to notice a trend surrounding the lack of access to grant dollars for organizations who were tackling social issues in the minority community. “I noticed that the people that were making these critical funding decisions for minority communities did not look like me.” MacMillan recalled.

She explained that operating underneath the giving circle model, which allows individuals with common interests to come together, to create and build, has been so beneficial for the organization. The members have a collective knowledge of grants and how they are awarded, therefore, they are able to advocate for missions such as health and wellness, education and economic development. Today, the Black Women Give Foundation has awarded grants up to $5000 to various organizations during their yearly grant cycle. In their long-term committed response, they hope to double, and triple their efforts through expanding a space of financial contribution with funding marked for organizations servicing marginalized and underrepresented communities of color.

Beech Companies, another altruistic organization with a strict focus on helping people in North Philadelphia, started giving out grants in the 1990s as a part of the William Penn Foundation. In 1996, they became independent and in 2005 expanded their foundation which now makes up one umbrella that includes eight organizations. Kenneth Scott the current President explained that a lot of the grants go to public schools, and people doing social service work, after school programming, math programs, athletic programs and organizations that need operating support to maintain themselves.

Beech started giving out scholarships about 10 years ago. They have since given over a half million dollars in scholarships to African-American students attending Cheyney, Lincoln, Community College and Temple University. “Resources like this are so important for the communities of color especially in a City like Philadelphia where often times we make up 90% of clients who have social service needs. Beech is one of the few Black organizations in the country that gives out cash grants and financial assistance. Very few Black foundations actually give out cash grants to help support their missions.” Scott recalled. In the future, Beech Companies hope to continue giving scholarship funding and grant funding on a larger scale.

Between these two stellar organizations, the two most prevalent themes included both the importance of monetary giving and progression. Both of these organizations understand that the fundamental aspect of sustaining a philanthropic mission is in fact economical. Economic development leads to progression which is why these organizations are doing so well and will continue to enhance the Black community.