BREWER: Black Philanthropy Can Lead to Major Life Changes

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Featured Op-Ed in The Washington Informer

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As we wait for the public grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on Saturday, Sept. 24, I am reminded of how significant and life-changing black philanthropy can be.
It has been widely reported that private donations contributed more than $300 million to the NMAAHC’s capital campaign, helping to surpass its $540 million goal. Impressive.
It is this group of private donors, representing the “diversity of support,” that helped to build organizations such as the NMAAHC and similar organizations like it — that give voice, history and foundation to the black community.
Likewise, it is the generosity of private donors that has helped our organization, H Street Community Development Corporation (HSCDC), to offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to young people in the District through the Global Scholars Foundation (GSF), our educational nonprofit.
We are proud that the GSF marks its milestone 10th anniversary this September, and we believe that investing in the lives of District youth for the next decade ensures GSF’s sustainability and equips these future leaders from within the black community. GSF continues to underscore evidence that black philanthropy can lead to greatness.
Through GSF, we have changed the future stories of some of our District youth — many of whom can become future African-American leaders. Just in the summer of 2015, GSF traveled on an 11-day cultural immersion trip to Spain and Morocco with 30 students — all from the District’s public and public charter school systems — at no cost to the students.
During this two-country, eight-city experience, the young people practiced their Spanish, enjoyed Moroccan culture and reflected on their blessings and the importance of the occasion. The students acknowledged their roles as part of the global community beyond their eight wards in the District.
We realize every day we could be supporting the dreams or the educational pathways of another President Barack Obama, another Mae Jemison (first African-American woman to travel in space) or another Shirley Chisholm (first African-American female elected to Congress). We are humbled that we can be guiding future generations to be featured within the walls of the NMAAHC in the not-so-distant future.
For the past 10 years, the GSF has ushered hundreds of young people toward a certain and successful future. We have carried our young people to China (Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi’an and Beijing), South Africa (Capetown and Johannesburg) and Brazil (Rio and Salvador de Bahia).
But traveling is only one component of our program. Each cohort studies the language and culture of the country that we visit, and past cohorts have studied Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese. The 2016-2017 group is studying Arabic in preparation for their visit to Australia, India and Dubai. The other two components are College Readiness and Financial Literacy. The former exposes the students to all facets concerning college readiness — from the application process to decorating your dorm room — it is covered in this comprehensive component. The latter opens them up to financial concepts such as credit, saving, budgeting, stocks and financial careers.