Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), observed every August, “is a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African-descent giving.” The core aims of BPM are “informing, involving, inspiring and investing in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms, for the benefit of our planet, our communities, our organizations and our lives.” The BPM theme for 2021 is “TENacity: Making Equity Real,” acknowledging the 10th anniversary of Black Philanthropy Month.
Locally in the Sarasota-Manatee area, a group I am proud to represent – Masala Giving Circle – intentionally celebrates this month through special projects, and also embodies the BPM philosophy of “giving augustly, year round,” not just during the month of August.
Since its inception in 2013, Masala Giving Circle has embraced Black Philanthropy Month through targeted programs in the Black communities of Sarasota and Manatee counties. For example, in 2019 MGC members donated hundreds of dollars worth of back packs and other school supplies to Dollar Dynasty for distribution to school children in Newtown.
Our 2021 Black Philanthropy Month project focuses on the Sarasota One Heart – Diversity Public Art Project. We support this project because it represents Sarasota’s “aspiration and commitment to equality, inclusion, and diversity” and because it provides MGC the opportunity to support art in public spaces for all Sarasota residents to enjoy.
"The mission of the Diversity Public Art Project is to create an iconic artwork installation for Sarasota’s Bayfront Park, representing our city’s aspiration and commitment to equality, inclusion, and diversity." (Photo and copy from the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.)
Throughout the rest of the year, we sustain the Black community through our signature annual grants program. Over eight years, more than $105,000 has been granted on behalf of our members to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Truly Valued, Hope Family Services and Newtown Nation. Most of our support has centered on organizations that are working to address evolving and longstanding needs in Sarasota and Manatee, causes such as human trafficking, breast cancer prevention, access to healthy food through a community farmer's market, and self-empowerment and mentoring programs for young girls.
While I am proud to recognize this month that more than $45,000 has already been granted in 2021 through Masala to provide services to the local Black community, it is critical that BPM not be seen as a singular, annual event for and about Black philanthropic organizations.
"On December 19, 2020, The Masala Giving Circle partnered with Dollar Dynasty, Inc. to distribute toys, books, school supplies and other needed items to children in the Newtown community." (Read more in Tempo News)
BPM is an opportunity for all foundations and nonprofit organizations to examine their internal practices to ensure that a culture of racial equity exists within their organizations. Embracing a culture of racial equity means “examining the structures, roles, processes, and practices that negatively impact people of color inside and outside of organizations,” leading to a “change in the mindsets, systems, and practices that enable emerging leaders of color to thrive.” (Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture - W.K. Kellogg Foundation (wkkf.org)) Instead of trying to change some people to fit an organization, a culture of racial equity focuses on transforming organizations to fit all people. (Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity (hbr.org)) This philosophy will truly promote economic and personal empowerment of African American/Black communities.
Masala Giving Circle looks forward to continuing our record of Black philanthropy during Black Philanthropy Month and throughout the year.
Dr. Caryl Sheffield is President of the Masala Giving Circle.
For more information about the Masala Giving Circle, visit www.masalagivingcircle.org.