ABFE Presents ─ Blog and Announcements

ABFE Announces 2023 – 2024 Connecting Leaders Fellows
    ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities announces  ten exceptional foundation executives selected for its esteemed Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program (CLFP).  CLFP is a year-long initiative meticulously designed to elevate the expertise and bolster the leadership acumen of foundation staff, donors, and trustees deeply committed to advancing Black communities through philanthropy.   The 2023-2024 cohort of fellows was carefully chosen based on a set of criteria, including their extensive philanthropic track record, future aspirations, and unwavering dedication to catalyzing systemic change within Black communities.   “This group of fellows embodies an inspirational assembly of accomplished pioneers,” said TJ Breeden, ABFE Director of Programs. “In today's ever-evolving social landscape, it is essential to unite thought leaders in the pursuit of innovative pathways to advance effective and responsive philanthropy within Black communities. Through the cultivation of collaboration and the nurturing of meaningful dialogue, our aim is to harness the combined force of our efforts for the utmost impact."   The Fellowship commences with an immersive week-long Leadership Summit hosted in Baltimore, MD. Additionally, each fellow participates in a thorough 360-degree evaluation process and is matched with a leadership coach. Furthermore, every fellow is entrusted with the responsibility of spearheading a community-based learning project, effectively bridging the gap between professional development and community service objectives.   "I am privileged to extend a warm welcome to this new class of CLFP fellows," remarked Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE's President and CEO. "As an alumni of the program, I know first hand how instrumental this fellowship is in ensuring a pipeline of committed and effective change agents for our sector. Every year, we carefully choose an outstanding group of professionals who are shaping the philanthropic narrative. It is both an honor and a responsibility to support their invaluable work, amplifying their voices and championing their innovative ideas."   Since its inception in 2005, ABFE's Fellowship Program has provided vital support to over 170 Fellows as they embarked on ambitious endeavors to advance the philanthropic sector. This is the 18th year of this fellowship.    2023 - 2024 Connecting Leaders Fellows include: Kiara Boone - Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Network Officer Ashanti Bryant - W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Senior Program Officer Sabrina Greig - The NBA Foundation, Program and Grants Manager Saskia Guerrier - Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Senior Advocacy Officer Samuel Ndely II - The Minneapolis Foundation, Philanthropic Advisor Rodney Nickens, Jr. - San Francisco Foundation, Program Officer, Policy and Innovation Jasmine Sessoms - Community College of Philadelphia, Chief Engagement Officer Jason Terrell - Walton Family Foundation, Program Officer Kimberly Collins - MacArthur Foundation, Senior Program Management Associate Jeremiah Steen - Skillman Foundation, Trustee

ABFE’s Latest Blog: Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month 2023

Embracing the Essence of Black Philanthropy:

Honoring ABFE's 52-Year Journey and

the Power of Community and Collaboration

    This August, ABFE is excited to celebrate Black Philanthropy Month! We firmly believe in the transformative impact of philanthropy, especially when it is fueled by a commitment to racial equity and social justice. Our network of members and partners continues to be a driving force in our mission to empower Black communities across the country.   As we reflect on past achievements and look forward to the future, we are reminded of the tremendous strides we have made together. For over 50 years ABFE has served as passionate pokers and tireless pushers, relentlessly moving the needle of philanthropic action and equity for the betterment of Black communities. This Black Philanthropy Month  ABFE will spotlight philanthropists, Black community funds, Black giving circles, Connecting Leaders Fellowship Alumni, Black Philanthropic leaders, and foundations who have firmly committed to supporting Black communities and share their efforts in reshaping narratives, confronting inequitable systems, and fostering lasting impact.   ABFE drives philanthropic action and equity through transformative initiatives, uniting advocacy, community, and culture. Together, we create lasting footprints and sow seeds of investment for the next generation of philanthropic leaders by leveraging our resources and extensive networks to influence policies and create holistic solutions prioritizing the empowerment of Black professionals and communities.    As we embark on this special month of celebration and action, let us remember that this is long-haul work. Let us continue to be bold and intentional in our giving, recognizing that when we invest in Black communities, we are investing in a brighter and more just future for all. Together, we are building a legacy of positive change that will benefit generations to come.  

Every month at ABFE is a celebration of Black Philanthropy.

  Access ABFE's Full Blog & Announcements Page Here. 

ABFE’s Statement in Response to the US Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

"With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness…the majority pulls the ripcord and announces 'colorblindness for all' by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life." 

- Ketanji Brown, Supreme Court Justice.

    The latest Supreme Court decision limits the use of race as an indicator for university admissions, and while this is just the latest in a string of blatant attacks on Black and Brown communities, the stench and burn of a nearly 60-year legal precedent being overturned hit many of us deeply. For so many in our community, affirmative action served as a step stool to a piece of the American dream. And while our highest courts may feel otherwise, we know that race continues to impact every indicator of wellbeing, so we will continue to hold the line on pushing for equity and justice in this country.   My hope is that your commitment to equity and justice for all people remains unwavering, especially during this season. I am encouraged by the leadership of many Black foundation CEOs who remain committed to prioritizing this work in their institutions and communities. Below is a list of the statements we’ve captured so far, which includes some updates.   -Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE President & CEO  

Affirmative Action Statements from Black Foundation CEOs:

  Brooklyn Community Foundation  California Wellness Foundation  Congressional Black Caucus Foundation  Fairfield County’s Community Foundation  Ford Foundation  Health Forward Foundation  Jackie Robinson Foundation  Kaiser Permanente Foundation  Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation  McKnight Foundation  Mellon Foundation  Meyer Foundation  San Francisco Foundation  Schott Foundation  Southern Education Foundation  Tides Foundation  The Boston Foundation  W.K. Kellogg Foundation     Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation   

Strengthening Philanthropy’s Ability to Withstand Political and Legislative Attacks on Racial Equity and Justice
  There has been a vengeful and aggressive attempt to silence Black voices and erase Black history from our classrooms and workplaces. In the latest attempt, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a series of cases that may overturn 40 years of legal precedent and potentially prohibit considerations of race in higher education admission policies nationwide. These cases have the potential to weaken opportunities to underrepresented groups beyond education and could have deep impacts on philanthropy’s commitment to celebrating and supporting racial diversity and equity in grantmaking.   We recognize that this decision may make it easier for opponents of affirmative action to challenge similar programs at other institutions, including other types of nonprofit organizations that have race-explicit missions such as ABFE, the NAACP, Unidos and the Anti-Defamation League among others. It may also impede on the progress many Foundations have adopted with racial equity-specific grantmaking programs and portfolios.   While we don’t yet know the impacts of the court’s decision, this opportunity only amplifies ABFE’s commitment to addressing the impacts of anti-Black racism in philanthropy and further mobilizes our focus to be central to a movement of Grantmakers and nonprofits committed to improving the lives of Black communities and the country.     In response to whatever the court offers, ABFE is committed to supporting the sector in a multi-pronged approach. We will curate and design tools and strategies for foundations and nonprofits to use when responding to backlash on racial equity and will arm the ABFE community and our allies to move with legal understanding and confidence, not retreat in fear, to ensure that we continue to prioritize our shared commitment to equity.   We have begun cataloging resources on this topic and have started to develop tools and talking points for your consideration. This resource bank will be continuously updated as information is shared, and tools are released.  

A Homecoming for Black Philanthropy: Embracing Belonging – TJ Breeden ABFE’s Director of Programs First Harambee Experience
  At this year’s welcome session at Harambee 2023 I greeted attendees with my noticeable southern drawl. I said  “I not only want to welcome you to Harambee, but to North Carolina. I’m from here".   I joined ABFE in May 2022, so like so many others, this was my first Harambee conference. And while I embraced this experience with the natural curiosity, jitters, and excitement of any first-timer, it was not lost upon me that as a new attendee and a new ABFE staff member that a sense of belonging was etched into each piece of the program design. This sense of belonging is at the center of my responsibilities as Director of Programs at ABFE, where content and discussions prompt action, and the good works of one organization informs the future works of another. And so, while I contributed to organizing the details and nuances of the planned week, admittedly I was unsure as to what to expect. The Homecoming for Black Philanthropy? A friends-giving for the sector, where each of us brings something to the proverbial table and shares in the tradition of our ancestors? One of the dopest parties for racial equity and social good you could ever hope to purchase a ticket for; featuring lectures and plenaries featuring some of the premier rising voices in the sector? Emphatically, my 2-and-a-half-day experience affirms “Yes” to all the above.     Affirming is how I would describe my overall experience at this year’s conference. I had the pleasure of moderating a few sessions and introducing speakers at the conference, but for the most part, I simply stood along the back wall and listened. Harambee convenes some of the most gifted Black leaders in philanthropy, who are not only deeply invested in the work, but who, in the spirit of collaboration and partnership, fully display the range of their knowledge and intellectual capital. The dividends issued through the constant flow and disbursement of information, insight, and experience is truly powerful to witness. Imagine leading a community-based non-profit organization and having the opportunity to engage with corporate funders, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and family foundations whose grantmaking interests align. Or serving on a foundation board and yearning for “safe spaces” to build peer-driven, independent, corporate communities of shared practice where you will feel empowered to initiate bold change. Or being a college student from Shaw University who perhaps joined us out of curiosity as the tenets of their social philosophy take shape, fueled by their desire to lead in spaces where racial representation and diversity-centered, equitable perspectives are scarce. Harambee made room for all, and all participated as their full selves.     Not to be overlooked is the beautiful and very powerful peer learning benefit, oftentimes experienced by simply being in proximity with so many inspiring changemakers. Again, here I am, speedily bouncing from session to session – in a work capacity, of course, but wishing that I could simply sit as a full participant, fighting back the urge to raise my hand during Q&A. The benefit of knowledge-sharing comes free with the price of admission, and my professional capacity as a director in the sector was no doubt enhanced, on many occasions because I happened to greet or sit next to someone as passionate, inspired, challenged, and committed as I was. I found Harambee to be a space abundant with opportunities for natural connection, where you’re first greeted with gratitude for your commitment before professional contact information is exchanged in the conference app. A place that reaffirms the need for our presence, brilliance, and gifts, whether they center on conversations around criminal justice reform and gender equity or are displayed through the screening of award-winning documentarians’ screening of the personal impact that our criminal justice system has on Black families. Harambee is a marketplace for ideas, support, and relationship. The strengthened sense of belonging; fortunately, I learned; is complimentary, shared through the passing down (and up) of tools and resources, from one to another.     The moment felt best served as an opportunity to encourage all 800 or so of us attending, both in-person and virtually, to leverage this moment to engage and build. Having stepped away for several weeks, it dawned on me that “I’ll see you around” was as much an invitation to Harambee 2024 as it was an offer to create space for engagement. Perhaps my lens is subjective, but I experienced Harambee from a unique perspective. As a lifelong North Carolinian, one with a heightened sense of the social challenges facing the place we were gathered, an appreciation for the founding of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on an HBCU campus just blocks away from where we were convened. Not goodbye, but I’ll see you around in the webinars, events, conference tables, and board rooms where our work will no doubt intersect until the next time we come together at the Black homecoming. I’ll be there;  still seeking spaces for work and professional investment; and I hope to see you too for Harambee 2024!       In the meantime, let the learnings and vibrancy of the conversation propel and support your work as we commit to the full liberation and abundance of our people. Check out all of our conference videos here.