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Advancing People of African Descent: The Women Behind the Global Black Philanthropy Campaign

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the globally recognized campaign, Black Philanthropy Month (‘BPM’), with the theme TENacity: Making Equity Real. BPM was co-created by Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women's Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet) to commemorate the United Nations Year and Decade of People of African Descent in 2011. Observed every August, BPM represents a global celebration and campaign to amplify African descent giving and philanthropy.

Two years after Copeland created BPM, she was joined by Tracy Webb and Valaida Fullwood, both chroniclers of Black philanthropy. These two women became co-architects of the global campaign and worked to enhance the campaign as well as work to gain widespread public participation. Tracey Webb is the founder of Black Benefactors, a giving circle based in Washington, DC that provides grants and in-kind support to Black-led nonprofit organizations. Valaida Fullwood is a nationally known writer, public speaker, and project strategist. She is the author of “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists,” an award-winning book chronicling traditions of giving in Black communities. In addition to founding BPM, Dr. Copeland co-founded PAWPNet and is the Founder and Chair of the WISE Fund. PAWPNet is a global association of African-descent and allied women leaders, donors, and activists of all backgrounds. The WISE Fund, which works to advance the social and economic wellbeing of disadvantaged communities in Africa, Australia, Brazil, and the United States. These women have led the way by bringing together Black people globally through philanthropy and giving for BPM and in their own work and initiatives.

Each year since 2011, BPM has evolved and spread, with high-impact events, summits, media stories, and service projects throughout the nation. In 2020, the BPM campaign achieved more than ever before. Measured not only financially but by the number of live streamed events, media coverage, and community service projects. With both the COVID-19 pandemic and an amplification on eradicating racism and anti-Blackness around the globe, 2020’s BPM was more important than ever to promote a culture of giving and mutual support year-round to buoy the spirits and capacity of stressed Black communities to recover and rebuild. In the last decade, BPM efforts have reached roughly 17 million people and expanded beyond the limits of a single month. It has become a diasporic initiative illuminating the ingenuity and transformative impact of generosity in the Black community.

The Prosperity Foundation (‘TPF’) embodies this movement because it was founded as a participatory philanthropic vehicle focused on improving the lives of Connecticut’s Black residents. When we typically think of philanthropy, we think of old White individuals, and not Black benefactors. That could not be further from the truth in the philanthropic community today and TPF is one of the organizations dispelling that myth. Led by Executive Director Orsella Hughes, TPF has an express vision to create healthy thriving Black communities throughout Connecticut with a specific emphasis on addressing disparities in the areas of healthcare, education and economics. Since its inception, TPF has granted to the Black community over $200K and plans to grant an additional $150K by the end of 2021. In addition, TPF has more than 30 funds under management that support various organizations, programs, and initiatives that primarily benefit Black people and the community.

The BPM 2021 Global Summit Series kicks off August 3, in the U.S., with virtual events continuing in Africa, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, and worldwide. TPF is joining the campaign by hosting a Black Philanthropy themed game night on August 28, 2021. Join us and support our organization in doubling the number of proposals we fund in 2021!

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