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ABFE & HIP Civil Rights Study Trip Reflection
Co-Written By: ABFE & HIP     In November, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) & ABFE shared a week exploring the Civil Rights movement in a collective journey to Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama. Together, we dove deeper into the past and the present systems and policies that have hindered Black and Brown communities from fully collaborating on initiatives to eradicate the social disparities we both face.    The trip allowed attendees – including staff, board members, fellows, and partners – to absorb facts, hear first-hand accounts of American history, and debunk long-standing narratives designed to prevent tangible progress. The time shared was an effort to go deeper into the experience of Black Americans and Afro-Latinxs of the south while equipping us with important tools to continue to advance equity on the path to justice and liberation for our intrinsically connected communities.    “A while later, I am still processing. This trip just opened the door – now it is my responsibility to continue the exploration of this part of American history”, said Lina Cardona, manager of membership operations for ABFE. “It was a privilege to have this experience in community because it provided a supportive environment to take in such heavy material.”    The civil rights study tour featured visits to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s gravesite in Atlanta, Georgia, The Legacy Museum, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to site visits, each day participants were inspired and moved to action through presentations and panels of civil rights leaders, change-makers, and icons.   The trip was further enriched by the guidance of Ms. Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine students that integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, and Ms. JoAnne Bland, co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum and one of the youngest activists to participate in the Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama.    Their firsthand accounts of abuse, racial terror, and activism served as the backdrop and provided additional context to our experience as we traveled between Atlanta and Montgomery. Their leadership and participation highlighted the importance of centering first-person narratives and creating space to accurately tell the stories of Black Americans. This narrative change work is critical to developing solutions to advance racial equity and social justice.     Black America, like Latinxs, are not a monolith. It is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds. ABFE staff includes first and second-generation Caribbean people, first-generation African expats, and employees currently living in the southern states, as well as other parts of the U.S. Each staff member processed the complexities of slavery, race-based violence, Jim Crow laws, and mass incarceration through the lens of their personal heritage. ABFE trainer and advisor Kyumon Murrell, born and raised in NY – far removed from the confederacy ─ was surprised to learn that 50% of New Yorkers at one point were enslavers.   “Growing up just steps away from the ocean in Puerto Rico has had such a profound impact on my identity. It was jarring to see it in a new light at the EJI Legacy Museum— as the vessel for the transatlantic slave,” shared Ana Marie Argilagos, president & CEO of HIP. “12.5 million Africans were brought to the Caribbean, Latin America, and the U.S. Latinxs have to reckon with this truth and with the legacy of violence that persists through systems designed to commodify people. We cannot overcome what we refuse to acknowledge.”   “What many people don’t understand is that Latin America had more enslaved people shipped there than in the entire history of the slave trade in the U.S. White supremacy and its colonizing tactics of fear, rape, genocide, and enslavement were perfected with indigenous communities first, with the arrival of the Spanish, then the arrival of enslaved Africans,” noted Jazmin Chavez, HIP’s vice president of innovation, equity, and communications. “This system was transported to the United States once those ports were established and this traumatic tragedy continued. We have a shared history, a shared memory of this trauma, yet we don’t confront it, we don’t acknowledge it because of our own anti-Blackness and anti-indigeneity in our community and the trauma and fear we carry for being ‘othered’ in America.”    Unfortunately, it was evident that the civil rights movement was an unfinished agenda and that the same tactics used then, continue today. From gerrymandering to voter intimidation and race-based violence, our collective communities continue to be marginalized by systems of white supremacy. And yet, the same tactics to organize communities of color for political representation and self-determination also continue today as organizations in the south register and organize communities of color and voters.     In Montgomery, Alabama, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative said to us, “The real evil of slavery was the narrative that justified it, creating an ideology of white supremacy that persists today.” This ideology contributed to the evolution of enslavement to segregation to what is now the mass incarceration of Black men as well as the detention and separation of asylum seekers, migrants, and their families. He highlighted a system that continues to target and profit from Black and Brown bodies.   “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice was a poignant display of the impact lynching and racial terror has had county-by-county in the United States,” said Michell Speight, ABFE chief of staff. “Lynchings involved accusations of minor offenses, sometimes an arrest, followed by an angry mob that publicly hung and employed other forms of extreme brutality, such as torture, mutilation, decapitation, and desecration. “EJI’s commitment to truth-telling, in a city like Montgomery, Alabama is an example of how communities can start to honestly examine racial history by acknowledging the facts of these public spectacles that celebrated systems of white supremacy. Approximately 4,500 African American men, women, and children are memorialized at this site, but the actual number of victims that were tortured and murdered by white mobs remains unknown.”   One of the main ideas that resonated throughout the trip was the notion of “collective memory” versus individual memory and the importance of truth-telling.  Bryan Stevenson  explained the power of telling the truth, of reframing the conversations around harm & repair in order to move hearts and minds toward our vision of liberation. Alejandro Avilés, associate director of network engagement at HIP shared that, “we need a fundamental mindset shift of how we understand challenges and solutions in the South – from policies to infrastructure to incarceration. We are facing the remnants of intentional multigenerational roadblocks within systems designed to preserve a racial hierarchy. So, how can we achieve justice over one or two grant cycles?”   When we tell the truth and reconcile with what was lost because of the structures and legacy of white supremacy – visualizing reparations becomes possible. For example, many Black veterans and their families faced systemic discrimination in attempting to secure resources from the G.I. Bill (Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944), a law that could have built wealth and provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Or when we tell the truth about the origins and evolution of policing as a way to maintain the perceived racial hierarchy after the Civil War – defunding the police is possible. The Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice memorializes the more than 4,000  Black people who were lynched in the United States. The Memorial provided a visceral example of how the system of policing was designed to perpetuate complicit practices that undermine public safety and create harm and how these practices continue to this day. Imagine the impact it would have on our communities if we were to reprioritize the disproportionate resources law enforcement receives versus social services, education, and more.   For some, the trip reaffirmed their commitment to advancing multiracial coalitions across the south. Bayoán Rosselló-Cornier, associate director of power building & justice at HIP shared how grateful he was to have grassroots leaders from the region present to share “the ways they are challenging attacks on hard-won rights, approaching civic engagement across citizenship status, and confronting anti-Blackness in the Latinx community.”   The trip highlighted the importance of alliances and what they can bring when we lead with compassion and empathy, we can enter them with an open and shared understanding of how our experiences are connected. We utilize empathy to connect deeply with a historical legacy that continues to perpetuate harm in our communities. “Understanding each other’s history is the first step – but how do we apply that historical lens to inform future work?” said T.J. Breeden, ABFE’s director of programs. “We need to dig deeper and address biases within each of our communities so we can collectively address social disparities as a whole instead of as individual communities.”   ABFE and HIP have rooted our visions of success in abundance and will continue to confront the false narratives of scarcity that would have us believe otherwise. The philanthropic sector brings its own daunting limitations, and yet, we have to acknowledge the power and responsibility we hold to move philanthropy forward, despite how long the road to justice, reparations, and equity may seem. It is why we support the funding of the ecosystem of multiracial movements and organizations aligned with our vision because the path to liberation and justice is not solely based on victories. It is also why we seek to learn of the stories and work of leaders like Ms. Minnijean Brown-Trickey and Ms. JoAnne Bland, to build upon what they’ve already provided for us. It is about taking the torch and becoming conduits of power so that the next generation doesn’t have to fight as hard for the world we know is possible.  

ABFE Announces New Vice President of Finance and Administration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Hajrina Shehu joined ABFE in late November       New York, NY; December 15, 2022 - ABFE, a philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities, has selected Hajrina Shehu as the new Vice President of Finance and Administration. Shehu will lead the organizations administrative and financial services and serve on the senior leadership team.   Shehu succeeds Janet Gumbs who announced her retirement earlier this year. Janet has been serving at the organization over the past 9 years and helped to recruit and onboard Hajrina. Janet’s last day at the organization is January 3rd, 2023.   Shehu brings over 14 years of financial account management experience. Most recently, Shehu served as the Chief Financial Officer at Philanthropy New York; a nonprofit membership organization that promotes strategic philanthropy and supports meaningful collaboration and knowledge sharing for funders and their grantees. During Shehu’s seven years at Philanthropy New York, she oversaw all aspects of finances and operations, including the development and management of budgets, preparation of financial statements, organization’s strategic planning, and managing IT and HR operations.   “We are thrilled to have Hajrina join the ABFE team, especially in the wake of Janet’s retirement” said Susan Taylor Batten, President, and CEO at ABFE. “Janet leaves big shoes to fill and I’m confident that Hajrina’ s prolific career experience has uniquely positioned her to help ABFE at this critical stage of our organization’s growth.”   Shehu has also held leadership roles at Reading Partners, Blake Medical Hospital, and Presbyterian Senior Services. Over the years, she has helped these organizations define their strategic direction, prepare new business plans, and streamline financial and procedural policies to ensure financial stability and organizational growth.   “While I’m new to ABFE, I’m not new to their work and impact in the Black community,” said Shehu. “I look forward lending my expertise and passion in community to support ABFE’s network and I’m excited for the organization’s future”.   Shehu graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant candidate in New York.   # # #   If you have any questions, please contact info@abfe.org.

Meet the 2022-2023 Connecting Leaders Fellowship Cohort
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 22, 2022 Contact: Lya Wesley(lwesley@abfe.org)
ABFE Announces 2022 -2023 CONNECTING LEADERS FELLOWS   New York, New York — ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities has selected ten foundation executives for the 17th class of its Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program (CLFP). CLFP is a year-long experience designed to sharpen the skills and strengthen the leadership capacity of foundation staff, donors, and trustees who are committed to assisting Black communities through philanthropy.   The 2022- 2023 cohort of fellows were chosen based on a set of criteria covering their experience in philanthropy, their future goals, as well as their interest and passion for making systemic change in Black communities.   "The Class of 2022-2023 is an inspiring group – all of whom are accomplished trailblazers,” said TJ Breeden, ABFE Programs Director. “In today’s social climate, it is imperative to bring thought leaders together to find innovative ways to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in Black communities. Only through collaboration and meaningful dialogue will we be able to leverage our collective efforts to amplify impact.”   The Fellowship begins with a week-long Leadership Summit held in Atlanta, GA. In addition, fellows conduct a 360-degree evaluation and are assigned a leadership coach. Each fellow is required to complete a community-based learning project, which serves as a vehicle for integrating professional development with community service goals.   This year's cohort will learn from seasoned Grantmakers and peers on a regular basis, understand how to be more effective agents for change within their institutions, and participate in a network that focuses on innovative solutions to community challenges.   “I am honored to welcome this class of CLFP fellows,” said ABFE’s President and CEO, Susan Taylor Batten. “Each year, we select a remarkable cohort of Black professionals who are shaping the narrative of philanthropy. It is our privilege to support their important work and help amplify their voices and innovative ideas.”   Since 2005, ABFE’s Fellowship Program has supported more than 160 Fellows as they pursued ambitious approaches to advancing the sector. This year’s Fellows have vast experience across a range of issue areas and work in diverse fields across various foundation and nonprofit organizations.  
2022-2023 Connecting Leaders Fellows include:  
  • Camarrah Morgan ─ Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Program Partner/Network Partner
  • Chris Ellis ─ The Pittsburgh Foundation, Program Officer for Healthy Children and Adults
  • Christopher LeFlore ─ The Kresge Foundation, Special Assistant to the President
  • Kent Olden, MS ─ The Health Foundation for Western & Central New York Communications Content Manager
  • Lasindra Webb, MPA ─ Blue Cross NC Foundation, Grant Manager
  • Monique Carswell ─ Walmart.org, Director, Center for Racial Equity
  • Nomzana Augustin ─ World Education Services - Mariam Assefa Fund, Senior Manager, Partnerships & Strategic Initiatives
  • Temi Bennett, Esq. ─ if, a Foundation for Radical Possibility, Director of Policy
  • Tyrell Smith ─ Smith Family Foundation, Board Treasurer/ Community Engagement
  • Tenaja Jordan, MPA ─ CHANGE Philanthropy, Research & Communications Director
  View their individual profile sheets here: CLFP Fellows 2022-23              

Celebrating Black history and Black futures
Cowritten by ABFE and Candid
  While recently recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, Black people have long celebrated the historical importance of Juneteenth. From kitchen tables to campuses of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Juneteenth is well revered in the Black community as an important narrative thread with a rich and complex tapestry. This blog provides a brief overview of Juneteenth and the role that HBCUs have played as guardians of Black history and Black futures.     Looking back at the history of Juneteenth and HBCUs   Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas learned that they had in fact been granted their freedom in 1863 and had spent two additional years in bondage at the hands of exploitative plantation owners. While the history of the holiday is a bitter tale that involves immense trauma and deceit, we have grown to celebrate and reflect on the day as the first semblance of freedom Black people were granted, albeit nearly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence boldly offered freedom to everyone else.   It is not a coincidence that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) came into prominence around the same time. HBCUs were established to provide higher education opportunities to Black Americans. This was necessary, as Black students continued to be unwelcome at institutions of higher education, despite legislation that promised otherwise. The first HBCU was established in 1837 (the African Institute; now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania), and a few others were established in the mid-1800s. However, the majority of HBCUs originated from 1865-1900, the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, with the greatest number of HBCUs founded in 1867.   Many history books in American schools fail to include the history or acknowledgement of Juneteenth, but at HBCUs, students get a much deeper and contextualized presentation of what it has meant to be Black in America. Taking a multi-faceted look at Black history that goes beyond notable moments in the Civil Rights era makes HBCUs powerful repositories of historical data, chroniclers of Black lives, and centers of Black culture.   Looking to the future   HBCUs are also about the future. An HBCU Midnight Brunch during Juneteenth weekend at the Roots 101: African American Museum, a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, exemplifies this fusion of the past and what is to come. The event marks a historical milestone, but will also feature nonprofits and young people coming together to learn about and create non-fungible tokens, which are digital assets known as NFTs that use blockchain technology.   “When we talk about history, we always say we teach the past while we teach the future. HBCUs have always been the key to the Black community,” says Lamont Collins, the CEO and Founder of Roots 101.  “We have to pour into that next generation. It’s a natural fit with technology and the history of Black colleges. Juneteenth is about liberation and we're going to be deliberate and continue to grow.”   Since George Floyd’s death and the subsequent racial reckoning, many funders are recognizing HBCUs as leaders of Black communities. A number of foundations, corporations, and high net worth individuals have started funding HBCUs for the first time over the last two years.[1] This philanthropic funding is important, as it frees HBCUs from needing to focus on keeping the lights on, and allows them to focus on the future.   ABFE President and CEO Susan Taylor Batten believes in the power of collaboration across sectors to uplift the Black community. “Juneteenth has been an important and celebrated holiday for Black people in this country for many years.”, says Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE and a graduate of both Fisk University and Howard University. “To recognize the holiday, we encourage foundations and donors to support HBCUs and other Black-led organizations that are the keepers of this history and hold the promise of our future.”   As the nation takes time to learn about and celebrate Juneteenth, remember to acknowledge the past and simultaneously look for ways to help build the way to a brighter future.   __________________________________________________________________________   [1] ABFE and Candid’s upcoming research report will unpack philanthropic giving to HBCUs over the last two decades and offer more details about recent waves of funding.