The Significance of Charitable Wealth
When it comes to wealth in the United States, the numbers are clear: The typical net worth of white families is nearly 10 times that of Black families.
And though Black individuals give a higher portion of their income to charity compared to white individuals, when it comes to philanthropic wealth, such as endowment funds, disparities also loom large.
"When I chaired the foundation's Women's Endowment Fund, I saw firsthand what endowments can do for a community," said Tracy Carter, Akron Community Foundation board member. The Women's Endowment Fund, which started in 1993 with $106,000, has since grown to $4.4 million – while also contributing nearly $2.1 million to nonprofits serving women and girls.
When Akron Community Foundation began creating its current strategic plan, which included a continued focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, an idea began to form. "Our Black community deserves to benefit from this long-term approach, too," said Carter.
She and community foundation staff began discussing potential next steps with other key members of the board, including Theresa Carter, Carla Chapman, Bennett Gaines and Dr. Rachel Talton, as well as then-president of the Women's Endowment Fund, Kendra Philon. And so, the inaugural Black Giving Collective committee was born.
"Even though we all felt strongly that this would be a great opportunity for our community, we knew we needed to do some serious listening first," said Carter. "The Black community often feels disenfranchised with financial institutions – even charitable ones – so we needed to hear and understand their concerns and requests before we moved forward with our planning process."
Over an eight-month period, the committee met with nearly 150 Black individuals and received candid feedback that will help the foundation build better trust within the Black community and shape a fund with the participants' feedback in mind. Overwhelmingly, though, the committee heard that a collective giving opportunity, specifically created by Black individuals and allies to benefit the Black community here in Greater Akron, is indeed needed.
On Aug. 28, 2023, rounding out Black Philanthropy Month, the Black Giving Collective committee and Akron Community Foundation staff members announced the official creation of the Black Giving Collective Fund. It was established with an initial $50,000 gift from Akron Community Foundation and a $50,000 match if the fund can raise that amount by March 31, 2024.
"Providing the seed money to start this affiliate fund was a first for the foundation. Our other eight affiliate funds have been established exclusively with money from the donors who created them," said John T. Petures Jr., president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation. "And while this fund is being shaped by our passionate board members and the new advisory board members they identify, we felt compelled to make a substantial contribution because this fund is long overdue."
Help the Black Giving Collective Fund meet its short-term goal of raising $50,000 by March 31, 2024. Give today at akroncf.org/give/BlackGivingCollectiveFund.