The Bold Project

Chance favors the prepared mind, and opportunity favors the bold.

– Louis Pasteur  

Introduction

Sowing seeds for a just and transformative new decade where everyone can thrive, in 2020 Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists is launching The Bold Project: An NGAAP Charlotte Initiative for Black Organizations Leading Differently.

About New Generation of African American Philanthropists

Founded in 2006, New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP-Charlotte) is a giving circle with a membership that shares values around preserving culture, building community, and sharpening philanthropy’s social impact for racial equity and equality. Members pool their charitable dollars and collaborate with partners to lead change in Charlotte and the American South. Our vision is “a healthy, safe and prosperous community for African Americans to live, work and flourish.”

NGAAP Charlotte engages in new and innovative as well as time-honored ways of giving through grantmaking, civic engagement and thought leadership. We work to promote philanthropy among African Americans in the Charlotte region. Our definition of philanthropy encompasses gifts of not only money but also time, talent and testimony—the latter, a reference to the potency of authentic storytelling and value in speaking truth to power.

A Watershed in 2016

In late 2015, approaching a decade of work, NGAAP Charlotte prioritized social justice grantmaking. Our giving circle members invested their resources and dedicated themselves to listening to and learning from local and national experts on racial equity and on philanthropy as a tool for achieving economic, social, and political justice.

A string of events in 2016 affirmed that decision and intensified members’ resolve. Charlotte was rocked by three major events: racialized social unrest after a police-involved shooting, release of a high-profile report on economic immobility, and a highly divisive election cycle. 

For decades, Charlotte’s civic leaders pointed to the scarceness of racial protests and riots over injustices, even during the most contentious times, as seeming evidence of local exceptionalism. In September 2016, however, truth in the adage “no justice, no peace” rolled mightily into town when protests and violence erupted after a police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott. The shooting stirred serious questions on policing, bias, trust and the value of Black lives. Still now, an affordable housing crisis, school re-segregation, anti-immigrant hostility and escalating crime offer reminders that peace and prosperity in Charlotte are illusions when justice is absent.

Shakeups in 2016 gave rise to a wave of announcements about newly formed groups and initiatives along with a shuffling of language, priorities and approaches. These sudden changes made it unclear where best to intervene or invest. As a result, NGAAP Charlotte extended its campaign of listening, learning and cultivating relationships.

Emboldened to Lead Differently

Over recent years, NGAAP Charlotte has hosted a series of “Learn + Lead” forums—large public events as well as intimate gatherings for giving circle members and guests—drawing a total of nearly 700 participants. These forums have featured thought leaders and professionals in philanthropy, predominately of African descent.

In 2017, NGAAP Charlotte held a private advance screening of the James Baldwin documentary film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” The film examines America’s history of anti-Black racism in context with Baldwin’s biography and incisive writing. In 2018, our forums’ featured speakers included Darrin Goss, president of Charleston’s Coastal Carolina Community Foundation, and  Susan Taylor Batten, president of the NYC-based Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE). Goss spoke about his leadership in philanthropy and the moral courage required to lead in the wake of the Charleston church massacre. 

NGAAP Charlotte Learn + Lead Forums (2017-2020)
TitleDateVenue# Ppl
I Am Not Your Negro, special screening and discussion of James Baldwin documentary filmFeb 17
2017
Park Rd Terrace Cinema50
Food For { Black } Thought, ft. Darrin Goss, President, Coastal Carolina Community FoundationMay 31
2018
Grace (AME) on Brevard56
For The Culture, For The Future: BPM 2018 Panel w/ Region’s Philanthropy ProfessionalsAug 20
2018
Harvey B. Gantt Center64
Making Change: A Case for Black-Led Social Change, ft. Susan Taylor Batten, President, ABFEOct 25
2018
Harvey B. Gantt Center49
Grantmakers Luncheon, ft. Edgar Villanueva, Author, Decolonizing Wealth Jun 27
2019
Foundation For The Carolinas40
JUST Community, ft. Edgar Villanueva, Author, Decolonizing Wealth w/ Panel of Social Justice
Philanthropy Professionals & Philanthropists 
Jun 27
2019
Bank of America350
YMCA Breakfast Forum, ft. Edgar Villanueva Jun 28
2019
Dowd YMCA25
Civic Reflection Discussion, facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Lynn, Founder, Center for Civic ReflectionJan 17
2020
Stratford Richardson YMCA12
From Generosity to Justice In the South, ft. Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation – Livestream from Duke Univ.Jan 28
2020
The Queen & Glass50
   696

The forum with ABFE’s Batten focused on the historical precedence and centrality of Black-led institutions as drivers of social change. Batten cited various Black-led movements and social justice victories, great and small, that have contributed to advances for not only Black communities but also landmark strides for our entire society. Most telling from ABFE’s research, “Black social change leaders and Black-led institutions have played vital roles in almost every major movement in this country, from the abolition of slavery through today.” 


In 2019, NGAAP Charlotte hosted Edgar Villanueva, author of Decolonizing Wealth, who shared his beliefs about de-centering Whiteness in philanthropy and the importance of racial repair and healing. In January 2020, through a live-streamed forum, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker voiced the imperative of bending philanthropy’s generosity toward justice, particularly in the South.

At these and other forums, members also heard from local nonprofit professionals, grassroots organizers and foundation staff who shared their experiences and perspectives on power dynamics, funding challenges, and intransigent inequities in Charlotte.

Listening, study and reflection for over three years has informed NGAAP Charlotte’s development of The Bold Project. It is grounded in the belief that racial equity and transformative social change in Charlotte can only be achieved and sustained when Black leaders and organizations are fierce advocates and powerful forces in driving the agenda, and not merely seated at the table.

The Bold Project aims to strengthen Black-led organizations to lead differently. The ultimate objective is to produce different and more just outcomes for Black Charlotteans and the widening spectrum of marginalized groups and communities of color—a benefit to all of Charlotte.

‘Black-led’ Defined

Our primary focus is trained on “Black-led social change organizations,” which we define as:

“Groups having a predominant Black or African American racial identity; majority Black or African American stakeholders, board members and/or staff leadership; and whose primary purpose is to build economic, social and/or political power to uplift Black communities and ensure they thrive.”

The wider sphere of community-oriented organizations led by and predominately benefitting Black people and communities is also an interest. Such organizations are characterized by majority Black or African American stakeholders, board members and/or staff leadership and by a mission that benefits a plurality of Black people.

Project Background and Summary

The Bold Project is an NGAAP Charlotte initiative and, perhaps more importantly, a community-wide call to action centered on strengthening and elevating Black-led community-based organizations, which are at the forefront of providing crucial support and resources for communities of color and marginalized people. 

Black-led organizations are addressing a wide range of issues that span from education, health and wellness, community development, youth development, housing, human and civil rights to economic growth, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, wealth building, land and cultural preservation, political and civic engagement, criminal justice, and more. 

In Charlotte, Black-led organizations are often well-recognized beacons of hope and opportunity, delivering critical services, offering training, and giving voice to those frequently unseen and unheard. 

Functioning as the backbone of communities, Black-led organizations possess the deep knowledge, relationships and trust needed to promote and sustain well-being and survival. These organizations, however, experience persistent barriers to accessing philanthropic resources that are vital to sustainability, growth and power. At a national level, it is estimated that less than two percent of funding by the country’s largest foundations is specifically targeted to Black communities.

Patterns of philanthropic under-investment and racial bias, both conscious and unconscious, serve to undermine the operations and capacity of Black-led organizations. Chronic underfunding and imbalances in resources result in these organizations, on the whole, experiencing steep barriers in carrying out operations and sustaining their missions. In addition, they face serious hurdles to collaboration, innovation and advocacy.

Bold Opportunities for Participation and Impact

By engaging nonprofit leaders, community organizers, donors, institutional funders, and the broader community of allies to shift longstanding power dynamics, funding channels and public discourse, we aim to achieve racial equity. Ultimately, Black-led organizations will benefit from more financial freedom, greater organizational stability and broader networks of trusted partners and supporters to advance their missions over the long term. 

The Bold Project seeks to stimulate change in 4 areas, the pillars of our initiative:

  1. FUNDING – Increasing Funding for General Operations and for Multiple Years 
  2. NARRATIVES – Amplifying Fresh Voices, Authentic Framing and Powerful Storytelling
  3. NETWORKS – Fostering New Relationships; Bridging and Matchmaking Community Resources 
  4. LEADERSHIP – Cultivating Visible, Effective Leadership on Racial Equity

The Bold Project seeks to benefit not only Black-led organizations and Black communities, but all marginalized groups and to spur significant shifts in Charlotte’s nonprofit and philanthropic landscape. By elevating and strengthening Black leadership and voices of groups that historically have been marginalized, we can make strides in de-centering Whiteness and ultimately dismantling White supremacist ideology that has dominated Southern culture and sustained institutions and structures that perpetuate distrust, oppression, inequity and injustice. 

COVID-19 UPDATE (Mar 2020): Data emerging from the coronavirus pandemic have laid bare the high-stakes dangers of structural racism for communities of color. Racial disparities, bias and myriad risk factors—which have fueled coronavirus infections and deaths among Blacks people and exacerbated other vulnerabilities (e.g., economic, mental, digital)—underscore the distinct and vital role of Black-led organizations as frontline resources and advocates for racial equity. Relief philanthropy is essential to meet immediate needs, so too is civic engagement and social justice philanthropy to address underlying fractures in our communities and racial inequities in the aftermath of this game-changing crisis.

Envisioning a community where everyone can thrive.

Emboldening organizations to help get us there.

Resources and References:

One response to “The Bold Project

  1. Pingback: 14th | New Generation of African American Philanthropists·

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