Giving Black, Giving Back: Young Black Philanthropists

We recently learned that August is Black Philanthropy Month and that August 28th is Giving Black Day. We’re celebrating by spotlighting some amazing Black-led organizations and Black philanthropists who are part of our Sadie Nash community. Read on for inspiration on how you can #GiveBlack.

Make sure to check out our other post in this series:

Coco Killingsworth is the Vice President of Education and Community Engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where she oversees creative learning programs and programming for very young to the wonderfully wise and mature audiences and community members in Brooklyn and beyond. Before BAM, Coco worked at Global Kids for 15 years. She has served as both faculty and as a board member at Sadie Nash Leadership Project and was recently a recipient of Sadie Nash’s Petticoat Award. She is grateful to live and work in Brooklyn with her two kids and amazing partner.

Tell us why you give to Sadie Nash

I give to Sadie Nash because it is one of the smartest organizations I have ever worked for and with. The Nashers never cease to elevate the conversation, the thought process, or my spirit. Without a doubt my experience with all Nashers (staff and board included!) have made me a better leader and person.

What are your general thoughts on philanthropy and more specifically black philanthropy? Honestly, I wish we were not living in such an unbalanced system where organizations do amazing work depended so heavily on philanthropy, but because we do and because it does, I think Black philanthropy is crucial. I think representation matters and it matters that black people are seen as being thoughtful, generous (brave givers!), and engaged with the work that is being done. It is also important that young people in organizations, like Sadie Nash, understand that philanthropy should be a part of your future goals, no matter what type of job or career you pursue.

Philanthropy is not just for the rich and white. It is an opportunity, and yes a responsibility, to support what you think is important and make impact.

Besides Sadie Nash, what are black-led and black-benefiting organizations you think people should support as part of Black Philanthropy Month and Giving Black Day?

I love the Laundromat Project, Weeksville Heritage Center, Arts East New York and Little Maroons Childcare Cooperative! I also continue to support and LOVE Global Kids!

As a high school student, Izabelle Denizé was a participant at the Newark site for Sadie Nash Leadership Project in 2009. She currently works as a Grants Manager at Newark Trust for Education and is a Board Member at Sadie Nash Leadership Project.

Tell us about yourself
I’m first-generation Haitian-American. My passion is educational equity — I am a proud graduate of Newark Tech High School and Rutgers-Newark, because of these strong public institutions, I was able to access a quality education. I’m committed to ensuring other young people have the same opportunities through my work at Newark Trust for Education. When I’m not working and thinking about responsible education systems, you can find me checking out new spots in Newark. My current favorite place to eat is at Blueprint Cafe.

Do you see yourself as a philanthropist?
It’s a new term for me, but I’m definitely working to embrace it. I was a participant in Sadie Nash Newark and it transformed my life. It changed the way that I think about race and privilege. I appreciated those who donated to make my journey possible and I want more young women to get the opportunities I did. In my circle of friends, we definitely are always supporting each other’s causes. I encourage them to give to Sadie Nash and I also give to their causes. Even if we don’t give millions, we are investing in our communities. I want others to recognize this power.

What advice do you have for other young philanthropists?

Philanthropy for me is not just about giving from my own wallet. It is about being an ambassador and inspiring others to give. It can be scary to ask others for money, but I’m learning to lean into that discomfort.

I think we can learn so much from the words of Audre Lorde who said, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” When I have dared to be powerful, amazing things have happened. Last year I asked someone aligned with Sadie Nash values to make a contribution. I explained that I give to Sadie Nash and they should join me. Later on, I learned that same person secured a $10,000 contribution to Sadie Nash!

Besides Sadie Nash, what are black-led and black-benefiting organizations you think people should support as part of Black Philanthropy Month and Giving Black Day?
I’m always excited to promote the work of organizations doing great work in Newark! Here are four that I love!

  1. Girls on Bikes,
  2. SHE Wins, Inc.
  3. Girls; Live, Love, Laugh, Inc.
  4. Butterly Dreamz

What is on the horizon for you?

I want to build the base of alumnae and young professionals in Newark to support Sadie Nash. I have a vision of an event that honors the grit and resilience and power of Black women and girls in Newark that can raise money for Sadie Nash Newark to serve even more Newark youth.

Sabrina Hersi Issa is a human rights technologist focused on advocacy and media innovation. She leads the digital agency Be Bold Media and serves as a Venture Partner at Jump Canon- a venture firm for unconventional, underrepresented and spectacular founders. Sabrina also runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualized violence. In April 2018, Sabrina made a donation to Sadie Nash and challenged her network to match her gift. In 24 hours, from a single Facebook post, she raised over $5,000 from 42 different individuals.

Tell us the story behind your donation to Sadie Nash.

I heard about Sadie Nash Leadership Project through my friend Mia Birdsong. I was processing a terrible email I had just received from a toxic, former colleague who had harmed myself and many other black women at a long ago former workplace. It was a really triggering, awful email and it briefly knocked the air out of me. Rather than get caught up in that, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. I asked Mia for recommendations of organizations doing incredible things for young girls of color. She happened to be at the TED Conference standing with Sadie Nash’s Executive Director, Chitra Aiyar and she literally sent me a picture of Chitra’s nametag with the name of the organization.

When I read up on Sadie Nash I was like oh my God, I wish I had this! The more I processed that the experiences that terrible email and workplace brought up, the more I thought ‘young people need this’. If we really want to change the face of leadership we need to raise young leaders through programs like this. I thought, “This is it. Sadie Nash is it!” I donated, posted about the experience on Facebook, and encouraged others to join me in raising young leaders.

What are your general thoughts on philanthropy and more specifically Black Philanthropy?

There is a real need to examine power in philanthropy. Who owns power and why? What would it look like to restructure power? We need more rigorous examination to ensure philanthropy is not just duplicating a lot of the problems it seeks to solve.

I think that Black Philanthropy is amazing and I think it is a form of exercising and building power. I’m inspired by a lot of it, but I’m also angered that so much of it is even necessary in the first place. Black Philanthropy is often informed and led by our experiences with an eye toward solutions, but that’s not necessarily valued across the field. I wish that the experiences and expertise Black people bring to philanthropy was more widely respected in the broader field.

Why invest in young people?

I want young people to know that they are enough and worthy and deserving regardless of what people around them may say and what systems our circumstances find us navigating. If you hold in your heart of hearts that you are enough, you can make yourself into anything you want and that is real power.

I believe what we invest in is a signal to our values and I believe in investing in the ingenuity, creativity and possibility of young people of color. This is a values system and framework that is not necessarily shared across venture capital, which is more often than not conditioned in a groupthink to seek risk mitigation rather than possibility expansion. That is not the game I’m here to play. I’m into world-building, not pattern-matching. I believe that our future will be built by people who look like us and I have faith in us. I bet and invest on the people that the system doesn’t bet on. I will bet on people who look like me and that will compound itself. This is how we will make the kind of world we all deserve where we all can thrive.

Besides Sadie Nash, what are black-led and black-benefiting organizations you think people should support as part of Black Philanthropy Month and Giving Black Day?

Black Feminist Future

Ida B. Wells Society

Assata’s Daughters

Harlem Run