Diversifying Philanthropy

Hampton Roads Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Month marks five years by celebrating young givers
Black Philanthropy

We were founded with the idea that you’re not a silo—it’s about who you can help and impact through the products and services that you sell and the people you can help.”—Randy Williams, owner of Talley & Twine Young Black donors and community activists are changing the image of philanthropy.

“People don’t know that two-thirds of African-American households give about $11 billion every year to charitable causes,” says Vivian M. Oden, vice president for equity and inclusion at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. “Young Black people are expanding, broadening and diversifying philanthropy in this country.”

Hampton Roads Community Foundation, established in 1950 as the first community foundation in Virginia, has awarded more than $344 million in grants and scholarships, including $20 million in the past year. The organization focuses on economic stability, cultural vitality and educational success. It is committed to racial equity.

For the past five years, Oden has spearheaded the foundation’s Black Philanthropy Month celebration, which began as a national observance in 2011. Held in August, the recognition celebrates giving in the Black community. This year’s focus was “The Power of the Young Voice.”

The main event, a panel discussion, featured Jasmine Crowe Houston, the 38-year-old founder and CEO of Goodr, a tech-enabled sustainable food waste management company based in Atlanta, which strives to eliminate hunger. Local panelists included Kendra Robinson, executive director of Community Outreach Coalition, a youth nonprofit, and Randy Williams, a business leader and commercial real estate investor and president of Talley & Twine, a watch company. Robinson and Williams are active members of the Visionaries for Change giving circle at the community foundation.

The three discussed their efforts to contribute to the community and encouraged others to get involved.

Houston said she had been working in nonprofits for 10 years before she started her company. Through small donations and couponing, she started cooking in her home in 2013 to feed people experiencing homelessness at “Sunday Soul Popup Restaurants.” When she realized she needed to get the food donated to grow the initiative, she discovered that $218 billion worth of food is thrown away annually in the United States.

“I was blown away by how much perfectly good food goes to waste in this country,” she said. “People all around go hungry, and yet these companies were paying a waste company to throw it away. This was a pivotal moment, when I said, ‘OK, I’m going to start a company to solve this’.”

Houston wanted to provide that service for a profit yet offer a sustainable solution to keep food out of the landfill while giving good food to people in need. “They could pay me to do good,” she said.

Goodr now distributes free food through pop-up grocery markets in food deserts, grocery and meal delivery, student snack packs and grocery pantries in schools and organizations.

“Hunger affects one of eight people on the planet,” Houston said. “One of every six kids in this country go to bed hungry, and one of every three Black or Brown kids are hungry. At the end of my life, I will be able to stand before God and say that people were hungry, and I fed them.”

Robinson said she was exposed to giving by her grandmother. “I spent a lot of time with her during my childhood,” Robinson said. “She was always giving back. She was a servant leader in her community, helping with the youth in summer camps, serving senior citizens and delivering food.”

After her grandmother’s death, Robinson continued her work. “This gave me the initiative to start the Community Outreach Organization after high school,” she said.

Williams was also introduced to philanthropy by his grandmother, who raised him. “The first time I learned about giving was through tithing,” he said. “I would get my allowance and my grandmother would make me take 10 percent off for the church.” He also helped his grandmother deliver food to elderly people.

“I think of Talley & Twine as a community organization,” said Williams, who recently established a $10,000-scholarship. “We were founded with the idea that you’re not a silo—it’s about who you can help and impact through the products and services that you sell and the people you can help.”

Williams said his legacy will be the people he helps. “The greatest thing anyone could say about me is that I was a servant.”

In photo above: From left: Aleea Slappy Wilson (City of Norfolk), Jasmine Crowe-Houston (Goodr), Kendra Robinson (Community Outreach Coalition) and Randy Williams (Talley & Twine)

Gail Kent
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