ABFE Presents ─ Blog and Announcements

Leverage The Trust: A Convergence of Black Trustees to Advance Racial Equity
By: Juston (JC) Cooper, Director of Networks and Partnerships at ABFE
  In a powerful demonstration of commitment to advancing racial equity, Black trustees from diverse philanthropic institutions gathered at the prestigious National Council of Negro Women in Washington, DC, for ABFE’s Leverage the Trust (LTT) National Convening. As a cornerstone within ABFE's leadership events, the trustees united with a shared mission to drive a transformative racial equity agenda within their organizations and the sector. 
    The event kicked off with a compelling fireside chat with Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE and trustee at Schott Foundation, and Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project, who also sits on the board of Hill Snowdon Foundation. Judith spoke about the importance of funding Black leaders, the funding cliff many Black-led nonprofits are navigating, and the need for philanthropy to trust Black leaders more.         The convening explored opportunities to leverage trustee positions to advance a strategic agenda benefiting Black communities through diverse investment practices, governance, support of Black-led nonprofits, and emerging strategies to organize in a post-affirmative action landscape. Each topic contributed to building momentum towards strategy exchange, information sharing, and peer-to-peer networking. The urgency of fostering a climate of Black Trustee leadership became evident, with trustees showing a remarkable sense of urgency.          The ensuing discussion ignited a fire in the hearts of the trustees in attendance, who explored ways to leverage their positions on foundation boards and the billions of dollars in assets to advance a strategic agenda benefiting Black communities. The panel emphasized the crucial role of smart investment in Black communities, urging trustees to promote equity in hiring, contracting, and the development of a pipeline for Black and BIPOC asset managers.       Participating in conversations with Black trustee leadership was invigorating. The depth of expertise and brilliance in the room was essential for mitigating the undercurrents of the current political climate and advancing equity for Black America. The convening concluded with a significant moment – trustees sharing their personal commitment statements.  This exercise affirmed a collective responsibility, accountability, and acknowledgment of the power of coming together as Black Trustees.        In the face of challenges to civil rights, attacks on the quality of life in Black communities, and attempts to cast shadows on progress, witnessing Black leadership poised to fight for progress and advance equity is encouraging. What an amazing event! It is an honor to be a part of ABFE’s 2023 Leverage the Trust National Convening.   

Leadership, Healing, and Legacy: Black Women in Philanthropy Retreat Recap
By: Tahira Christmon, Vice President of External Affairs at ABFE   I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal I cannot be comprehended except by my permission I mean...I...can fly like a bird in the sky...   Nikki Giovanni, Ego Tripping   I haven’t found anywhere more perfect than being in community with Black women. When it’s just us in the room, our laughter is so genuine it makes our heads tilt back a bit, even our hugs linger a little longer, our embrace a little tighter.       In August, more than 120 Black women leaders in our sector convened in St. Croix. An island stretching only 28-miles long, but bursting with lush beauty, deep ancestral connections, divine tranquility, and a resounding quietness that can so easily soothe the mind and quell the body. The island is a perfect manifestation of simple abundance.   “Goodnight”, exclaimed Sonia Jacobs, Executive Director of the St. Croix Landmarks Society, who served as our resident culture bearer as she kicked off the retreat to give us all a sense of place and space. Most of us sat a bit puzzled by that greeting, as we were just starting to get settled into the program. Sonia quickly picked up on the silence and explained the Crucian tradition of saying Goodnight similar, to how most of us would say Good Evening, and promptly told us a proper greeting goes both ways. We chorused an exuberant “Goodnight” as we all picked up on the cue and paid our respects.     We all watched as the hot sun tucked away behind the ocean, giving space for us to be engulfed by the moonlight, and ate dinner amongst the stars. Deanna James, President of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, shared reflections of her life on the island; her fierce dedication to St. Croix and its people were palpable as she encouraged us to rewrite the colonial scripts that have been taught to us. With mother nature’s ocean waves as our musical backdrop, Deanna shared how the Foundation isn’t endowed and rather their unflinching commitment to holistic community development situates them as a conduit of philanthropic resources, rather than a container. Our resounding adoration and celebration of her leadership is the backbone of the Black Women in Philanthropy Retreat. It’s here that we get to fill our cups with praise, support, and affirmation.   Many of us ended the night at the pool, as we did most other nights, glaring at the night sky, leaning on the shoulders of our sisters, letting down whatever we were carrying, and just letting go as our skin wrinkled in the water. Simple abundance.     We don’t ask much of our attendees at this retreat, after all we’ve designed this as a space of radical rest and healing. We ask that women come ready to receive and hold tightly to sisterhood, that we all commit to making space for the intersections of our femininity, that we feed our souls with just as much intentionality as we feed our bodies, and that we come to the retreat with at least one all-white outfit to be a part of our iconic photo. My mouth dropped in amazement as I watched droves of Black women in white making their way through our beachfront hideaway for our photo. To watch their Black beauty glitter in all white gave me goosebumps.     “What would it look like if you rested?” said Dr. Yaba Blay, scholar-activist, public speaker, and cultural activist. How ironic that all of us had committed to a rest and leadership retreat, but many of us admitted that we got the leadership part down, but that rest part… not so much. How can I devote more time to rest, if I haven’t defined what rest for me looks like? I took time in that session to write a few ideas including more time to write, less time on screens, being more vulnerable in my leadership, and welcoming spaces of ease. I held on to this question as I made my way to the beach the following morning. “What would it feel like for you to rest?” I asked myself as the sand and waves surrounded me.     That night we all dressed up in cultural attire and celebrated each other in an impromptu fashion show. We strutted down those beachfront aisles like red carpets had been stitched just for us. Our hips swayed down the makeshift runaway as our heads raised in joy and delight. We began our founder's celebration dinner with Trinnette Cooper, ABFE’s Director of Philanthropic Advising Services, reading from Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”.       “We never could have imagined this 10 years ago” said Sherece West-Scantlebury, President and CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and one of the founders of this retreat. “Back then it was hard for us to get Black women to see the value in taking care of themselves in this way” said Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO at ABFE. The retreat, ideated by 6 trailblazing women including -  Susan, Sherece, Karen McNeil-Miller, President and CEO at Colorado Health Foundation; Gladys Krigger Washington (Retired), Deputy Director for Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation; Toya Randall, Senior Director at Casey Family Programs; and Dani Johnson - is now a sanctuary of support and a birthplace of sisterhood where Black women executives can prioritize their wellbeing amidst a profession that can be stressful on most days, and brutal on others.     I left St. Croix with a deep appreciation of the land, adoration for the work and commitment of Black women to this sector, and deeply encouraged by the beauty and value of the simple abundance of the Crucian people. There’s simply no space like this space, and I’ll forever be in gratitude to the founders of this retreat for creating a safe space for Black women to trade our strength for moments of softness and ease, and for reminding us that the only way we can continue to powerfully lead in this sector is when we can rest in the arms of true community.     I was born in the Congo I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred years falls into the center giving divine perfect light I am bad   Nikki Giovanni, Ego Tripping  

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