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Black Philanthropy Initiative gives back

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Shannon Thompson

Shannon Thompson

Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — As a youngster growing up in Fayetteville whose working parents sometimes found it tough to make ends meet, Shannon Thompson remembers family  friends delivering bicycles one Christmas for him and his two siblings.

Last Thanksgiving, Thompson and his own daughter, now age 7, helped feed homeless people at the Winston Lake Family Branch of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

“As an African-American, we often give back in different ways,” says Thompson, a financial planner and investment advisor at Creative Wealth Management in Winston-Salem, an  office of MetLife.

Earlier this year, Thompson joined the Black Philanthropy Initiative at the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Formed in 2000 to celebrate and encourage giving in the black community, the effort has 14 members and awarded five grants totaling $25,000 in 2008, and four grants totaling $17,500 in 2009.

Grants, which are awarded based on the merit of applications that groups submit, total a maximum of $5,000 each.

On Oct. 5, the Initiative will host its 2d annual fundraising event.

Sponsored by Creative Wealth Management, the event has the theme, “Pulling from Our Roots,” and will be held at the home of Harden and Janet Wheeler.

While last year’s inaugural event attracted about 80 people, this year’s event is expected to draw at least 150, says Michael Clements, vice president of community investment at the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Based on donations it received, the Black Philanthropy Initiative awarded grants in 2008 to organizations that focused on education, and in 2009 to groups that focused on financial literacy.

This year, the Initiative will be making grants to groups that focus on parenting, particularly those that provide parenting and life skills to teens.

A key goal of the Oct. 5 event is to “increase philanthropy in the black community and target issues that affect black folks,” Clements says.

Thompson, who serves on the board of the Winston Lake Family Branch and as an armor bearer at Destiny Christian Center in Greensboro, says the Black Philanthropy Initiative aims to provide the African-American community “something to rally behind and support and see that measures, individually and collectively, can solve greater problems.”

Anyone interested in attending the Oct. 5 event should contact Leila Warren at the Winston-Salem Foundation at 336.714.3441.

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