Personal Stories of Black Philanthropy

Held every August, Black Philanthropy Month is a global celebration that seeks to “inform, involve, inspire and invest in black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms.”  In this episode of For Good, African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis (AALFI) founding members and steering committee members share their personal stories about why black philanthropy matters and how the fund seeks to address community needs going forward.

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Transcription of episode available below.


WHO YOU’RE LISTENING TO

AALFI steering committee members:

  • Katasha Butler
  • Nickolas Williams
  • Nichole Wilson

DISCOVER MORE


You’re listening to For Good, Central Indiana Community Foundation’s podcast highlighting stories about passion, purpose, and progress in Central Indiana. At CICF, we believe in creating a community where everyone can reach their full potential, no matter their place, race or identity. This is our community and these are your stories.

Hello and welcome to For Good. I’m Dr. Katasha Butler, a founding member of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis, a fund at Central Indiana Community Foundation. The African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis was established in 2019 to promote philanthropy and harness the collective power of African Americans to impact the local African American community. We are a collective philanthropic initiative working to improve life-affirming outcomes for African Americans in our community. And our vision is to inspire a spirit of giving that will uplift and move the social, mental and economic state of African-Americans forward.

Today on For Good, you’ll hear more from me and other founding members of the African American Legacy Fund, who we are, and why we think this is important for our community.

The thing that strikes me the most is that with all of the different things that are impacting our community as a whole, there’s such great disparities amongst the African American population and brown and black people. And so, being a brown and black person, obviously that is disheartening. I don’t know, it just dawned on me one day that there wasn’t a fund, and I knew and had learned that other cities had funds, and I thought, “Why don’t we have one?”.

NICHOLE: I am Nichole. I am vice president of retail health services for Community Health Network here in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I am a founding member and steering committee member of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis.

I just feel it’s really important that we as an African American community be a part of the solution in a meaningful way. If these issues are impacting us disproportionately, and our people, that means our family, our friends, our church members, our coworkers, then we have a responsibility to be at the table and have some skin in the game to make it better. I just think that it’s so important for us to be a part of this solution because it hasn’t been solved as of yet, and this is one way that we can collectively come together and do our part in a meaningful way.

My first memory of philanthropy was actually through the church, giving through the church, and I think that’s common in the black community. That’s where we all have our first foundation of giving, because every Sunday you see your parents pull out money and put it in a basket and pass it down. And at the time, you don’t really know, it just becomes, it’s the habit of what your household does, and so it really didn’t dawn on me until I was in grade school because I certainly don’t remember a time where I wasn’t giving back. It was a part… And I think that’s how it should be. I think that for many African American families, the thought of philanthropy, and giving through church doesn’t click as that is philanthropy, right? That’s part of what I feel my purpose is, is to give back.

In terms of translating that to philanthropy, I don’t think enough of our black and brown kids grow up with that sort of philanthropy and giving as a natural state of their being. My hope for this fund is one, that we actually use it as a means of moving the needle for the black community in those areas that we lag behind. So in the areas of health, economics, education, all of those things where our numbers are worse in the African American community, there, it will be so powerful to say that the African American community came together to help move the needle in a meaningful way.

The second thing is to have a whole generation of black and brown philanthropists and that it becomes just a normal thing for black families to raise your kids knowing what philanthropy is and being intentional about it. My two year old daughter is going to grow up knowing that she has to put money aside and time aside for other people and for other people in her community and she needs to know that that’s just a part of life and that’s just like breathing air, that’s just like going to school. And if we have a whole generation of black and brown young people where that’s normal for them, that is impactful as well because they’re going to make sure that it lasts for generations to come. We were intentional with putting legacy in the name of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis so that our kids and our current youth can pass this down along the generations.

I just think that it’s so important for us to be a part of this solution because it hasn’t been solved as of yet and this is one way that we can collectively come together and do our part in a meaningful way.

I have two daughters. I have cousins that I help raise, so how I want to make sure that Indianapolis is a place that is fruitful for them, that they have access to resources, that if we are smart now, we can provide for them in the future.

NICKOLAS: My name is Nickolas Williams. I am a gift officer at the IU Health Foundation. For a lot of us, we don’t look at philanthropy maybe from the same lens. When I think about some of my first early memories, I remember taking out the tithe box and going back, actually counting the pennies and dimes and quarters and dollars and reporting out, and it didn’t really connect to me at the time that that’s what philanthropy was. But that’s definitely what philanthropy is, and that’s how a lot of us start in that area, giving back through church giving.

I got involved in the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis through some mutual contacts here in the community. It is important to me because the legacy portion of it, being a fundraiser, I raise money and I’m always thinking about longevity, sustainability. So it is important for Indianapolis to have a fund for those in the future.

The fund is a part of the vision I see, because I know today in 2019 may be a little different in 2029, 2039, so I want to be able to raise a fund that has a flexibility to serve the needs of the community at the time when it is needed. So it is important now to start to raise some of those funds so we can hopefully endow some of those dollars, so it can be impactful for years to come and to have the flexibility to serve the community at the current need.

The power of philanthropy and I think plays a couple of different important roles. I want to teach my kids and the people that I influence the importance of philanthropy. So when I give my money to this fund specifically, it won’t just be under my name and my wife’s name, it would be under my wife, myself, and my kids’ names, so they start to see the importance of, of that fund. So that legacy piece is very important.

And I scream from the mountaintops that nonprofits should reflect the communities that they serve. So this particular fund with the founding members are really trying to reflect the community that we’re trying to impact. So it is a fund that is started by us and it is for us, and hopefully will impact us for years to come.

My hope for the future black community of Indianapolis is a state of prosperity. I want people, not just African Americans, but those that need resources, those that are underserved, I want them to have the resources, I want them to have the opportunity to be successful, I want them to opportunity to succeed. And if they have a vision of what they want to be individually and what they want the community to be, I want them to have the resources and access to do that. So this is much bigger than the African American community, but this is a message to all those that may be underserved that yes, if we combine resources, we can start something, maybe at a small level, but we can grow it and it could be very impactful in the future.

Indianapolis is a large metropolitan area. It’s kind of strange that we didn’t already have an African American fund. There’s many African American funds around the country and some in towns that are, you know, have half or one quarter of the population that we have in Indianapolis. Well how can we ask others to give where we are unwilling to do it ourselves? It starts out as a for us, by us.

KATASHA: My name is Katasha. I am a steering committee member and founding member of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis. I am a pharmacist by training and I work for Eskenazi Health.

Our hope for these dollars is to make sure that we are promoting and moving forward important issues to the African American community in Indianapolis, Indiana. Either being the giver or the recipient of a gift has been just a part of my life story and I’m sure most successful African Americans. You don’t have to have millions to do this.

I started with my $1 in church. We were at church every Sunday when the offering collection basket came around. My mother, grandmother, they made sure I had my money ready and we put it in there. You don’t spend all that you have. You do have to give some, because you are blessed enough to give it, and so that’s just my upbringing.

I have been a recipient of the help. You can imagine when you get a check in the mail for $500 to pay for… You know, I was a science major. One science book is $400. I was all the way in Atlanta, Georgia, I’m in undergrad before I came to Butler and finished pharmacy school. But that was someone’s money that they didn’t have to give me and that was a burden lifted from me. Care packages. My sister, who was barely an adult herself, we’re four years apart, she used to send me money. Money that she probably could have used for herself, but she’s giving it to me.

If they gave their money to you, they believe in what you’re trying to do and you have that support, that unconditional support. I firmly believe where people spend their money, that’s what they think is important. And so just to know that you have people standing behind you and they want you to be successful, otherwise they wouldn’t have done it or given it to you. And so that propels you forward as well. These are strangers, or, you know, people who just want to help me and see me succeed in the African American Legacy Fund will do the same thing with the organizations that they give money to.

I think starting this fund and starting the conversation about organized giving, planned giving, will get our children from behind the eight ball. The first time that they hear about things like this should not be when they’re an adult. If you incorporate it into their lifestyle as children, it is not an anomaly when they become adults. I want the college student who’s just now graduating, who sees the importance of giving back, but they may not have $2,000 to give us right now, that doesn’t mean that their voice is not important. And so I think that is what is unique about the African American Legacy Fund, is that we want all voices at the table.

Traditionally we, all of us have not been able to sit at the table, but we want to welcome those who we can reach. That would just be a huge accomplishment. And to look back a hundred years from now and this fund is still going and growing and has grantees and support, I mean, I think it would be major.

Thanks for listening to this episode of For Good. For more information about the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis, visit cicf.org/aalfi. You can donate directly from that page, or you can email us at AALFIndy2019@gmail.com for more information.

For Good is brought to you by Central Indiana Community Foundation in partnership with WFYI public media. We hope you’ll subscribe to For Good on your favorite podcast app, and while you’re there, don’t forget to leave us a review.

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