America's leading black philanthropists: giving back is one of the major tenets of the Black Enterprise Declaration of Financial Empowerment. In doing so, we advocate using money to develop our community and build wealth. On the following pages meet America's largest, and most strategic, black philanthropists.
PAYING IT FORWARD IS DARRYL LESTER'S PHILOSOPHY on giving back. "I am trying to get people to understand that someone invested in them to help them be where they are today. Now, they can pay something forward for someone who comes behind them," explains Lester, principal of Hindsight Consulting, a firm that mentors African American philanthropists through a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Lester practices what he preaches: He has launched giving circles in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Regardless of your financial standing, you can make charitable donations. In fact, you should make it a habit to earmark a portion of your annual income for nonprofit organizations or charities. One of the precepts of wealth building is our Declaration of Financial Empowerment principle No. 9: to use a portion of my wealth to strengthen my community.
BLACK ENTERPRISE spent eight months compiling a list of America's leading black philanthropists. We contacted approximately 300 people from our Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street, America's Top Black Lawyers, Top 75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America, and Most Powerful Blacks in Sports lists. To find those among the most generous individuals and private foundations, we sent out hundreds of surveys and pored over tax records, press materials, and other information. We also received leads from organizations such as Associated Black Charities and the Twenty-First Century Foundation (see our methodology).
The editors of BLACK ENTERPRISE recognize that philanthropy is the giving of money, time, and talent. Numerous people are giving back and leveraging their clout by serving on community boards or encouraging their companies to invest in black causes. But for the purposes of this list, we chose to focus on philanthropy in terms of actual dollars. Philanthropy is one of the true cornerstones of economic advancement. If we are to tackle the social ills of black America, then strategic giving must continue to be a big part of that prescription.
Studies show nearly 75% of charitable gifts in the U.S. come from individual benefactors. Traditionally, when people think of a philanthropist the image of a white male comes to mind. But the ranks of African American philanthropists date back to those of historical significance such as Harriet Tubman. Others include contemporary tappers and sports figures such as Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Tiger Woods. Black philanthropists range from those of modest means, like the late laundress Oseola McCarty who bequeathed a portion of her life savings to provide $150,000 in scholarships for minority students, to billionaire talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who has donated more than $130 million since 2002 to fund myriad causes.
Truth be told, African Americans give more than any other group, donating 25% more of their discretionary income to charities than whites, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. On average, black house-holds give $1,614 to their favorite causes. In addition, many black families embrace the practice of tithing--contributing 10% of their incomes to the church.
ROOTS OF BLACK BENEVOLENCE
From abolition and the Underground Railroad to anti-lynching and the civil rights movement, most causes were funded covertly by black dollars. "We can begin to trace organized black philanthropy to the 18th century with the development of mutual aid societies," says Rodney Jackson, president and CEO of the National Center for Black Philanthropy Inc. in Washington, D.C. "These were early efforts out of our communities to take care of social, educational, and economic needs that were not being taken care of by the general society."
Throughout the 19th century, institutionalized black philanthropy was expressed primarily through black churches, which were among the earliest grant makers, raising funds to build schools and provide scholarships. "It was philanthropy for and by African Americans that helped establish historical black colleges and universities," adds Jackson. "Black fraternities and sororities are also a part of this heritage."
The traditions of African Americans giving to churches, social organizations, and educational institutions are very much alive today. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chicago-based research firm Target Market News found that in 2004, African Americans made $11.4 billion in contributions. Of that amount, $7.2 billion went to churches and faith-based organizations and $4.2 billion went to charities, education, politics, and other causes.
GIVING AS PART OF A STRATEGIC PLAN
African American households no doubt are generous givers. But they tend to "give small amounts of money to various charities in cash or checks, usually in reaction to friends, relatives, and neighbors with the best sales pitch," explains Erica Hunt, president of the Twenty-First Century Foundation. "We do so much social and reactive giving that we have very little left from our discretionary income for intentional or planned giving." The New York-based foundation was created in 1971. It now raises money from black donors to support community change.
Planned giving is done in a way that maximizes financial and tax benefits for both the donor and the charity (e.g., bequests through wills, charitable trusts, and donor-advised funds), says Kharmia DeLemos Powell, a financial adviser and partner with The Barth/Wolf Wealth Management Group at Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client Group. "It also helps create community self-sufficiency by reducing the reliance many organizations have on receiving government and corporate grants, and it enables you to leave a legacy for future generations."
Lester's Birmingham Change Fund has about 22 members, many of them twentysomething engineers and corporate professionals, while the IS-member Next Generation of African American Philanthropists Fund in North Carolina primarily comprises entrepreneurs in their mid- to late 30s. NGAAP completed its first grant cycle in January, awarding $11,500 to seven local grass-roots organizations. The Birmingham group, which has $30,000 in funds, awarded its first grant in July. Similar in structure to investment clubs, members of giving circles pool their money, meet on a regular basis, and vote on what to do with their funds. But instead of investing in securities, they make charitable donations and sponsor grants and scholarships for institutions or individuals.
From coast to coast, giving circles have become all the rage. In the last four years, their numbers have swelled from just a handful to roughly 250 groups, with donations totaling $400 million, reports New Ventures in Philanthropy, an initiative of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Lester, who worked briefly as a banker in the mid-1980s before moving into the nonprofit sector, says: "We are building on an old tradition, but we have more access to capital and resources than our parents did, which speaks to the need for us to pool and collectively invest our money."
African American philanthropists typically give to educational programs with which they have direct experience or offer enrichment and scholarships to high school and college students. Black civic and professional groups, including 100 Black Men and the Links, raise funds for scholarship programs. Individuals such as Matel Dawson Jr., a retired forklift operator at Ford Motor Co., donated more than $1 million to educational institutions and charities before he died in 2002 at the age of 81.
Emerson U. Fullwood, on the other hand, is building on a family legacy of giving. He recalls how his grandfather gave land in Cedar Grove, North Carolina, on which one of the first black churches was built after slavery. His cousin Harlow Fullwood Jr., who owns several KFC franchises, has given, raised, and generated hundreds of thousands for scholarships during his lifetime. In that same vain, Emerson Fullwood created a scholarship fund in 1995. What began as a golf outing between colleagues has grown into an annual fundraising tournament garnering sponsorship from companies such as Nike, Kodak, and Pepsi. Raising $15,000 to $20,000 per event, the Fullwood Johnson Scholarship Fund awards three to five scholarships between $1,500 and $2,000 each.
Fullwood, one of BE'S Top 75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America, is a corporate vice president and executive at Xerox North America. In the last three years he has given more than $80,000 to various charitable and community organizations and educational and religious institutions. His deep conviction is to not just be a giver but also an active participant, which includes serving on the boards of the Urban League of Rochester and the Rochester United Way, where he also chairs a leadership initiative intended to increase African American participation. "I believe that supporting charitable causes that have a significant impact on the community is very important," he says.
Arts, technology, and health are other areas of concentrated black donor support. For example, St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk created a technology center in San Diego to impart job-related skills and computer literacy. Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin S. Carson is helping to create an endowment to provide grants to the uninsured and those with limited insurance.
Jada Pinkett Smith and other celebrity alum of the Baltimore School for the Arts owe a world of gratitude to its visionary, Margaret D. Armstrong. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, BSA is a public city school that supplements its curriculum through its endowment and annual fund drives. Each year a graduating student receives The Margaret Armstrong Award for Excellence and a $1,000 check The 89-year-old benefactor created the scholarship five years ago with a little more than $5,000 in seed money. Recipients are chosen based on courage, commitment to the arts, and enthusiasm to share it with the community. "The arts belong to the community. It takes a skilled person not only to share their talent but their willingness to show how the arts can improve life," says Armstrong, former music teacher and cultural arts coordinator for the city's public school system.
Reginald Van Lee is a patron of the arts and an avid collector. "I want others to be able to experience quality African American art. I also want evolving and emerging artists to have a place to show their work," says the senior vice president with New York-based Booz Allen Hamilton. Van Lee is also treasurer of the board of directors for The Studio Museum in Harlem. Early on in his career, Van Lee helped stuff envelopes for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. But as his status grew, "I stepped up to writing checks to hosting events to doing fund raising to sitting on the boards of nonprofits." Today, he supports the museum and various performing arts venues through charitable donations, which add up to about 10% of his annual income.
A charitable gift can be cash; real estate; stocks; income from trust funds; and personal belongings, including artwork, jewelry, or a used car. Powell says some giving strategies depend upon what the organization has in place--for instance a charitable gift annuity program--or whether it has policies for accepting non-cash gifts, such as real estate and appreciated securities. The United Negro College Fund is a national organization with systematic giving programs. Another is Associated Black Charities, which organizes donor funds and workplace giving through payroll deduction.
Other giving strategies include making a bequest, leaving a stated amount of assets to a charity in your will; making the organization the beneficiary of a life insurance policy; and/or setting up a charitable trust. It is important that you work with professionals-financial, tax, and legal advisers--to help make an informed decision about what strategy is best for you, "in that it not only incorporates your values and your motivations for giving, but also so that you understand any relevant investment, tax, and estate planning considerations," adds Powell, who sits on the board of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey and is a member of the National Center for Black Philanthropy (see sidebar for other giving strategies).
BLACK PHILANTHROPY BEARS MANY FRUITS
The new millennium has borne witness to a greater number of celebrities and professionals creating private foundations and pledging large sums to their favorite charities. It's clear that as African Americans are coming into more wealth. Their gifts are getting larger, says Emmett Carson, president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation. Black celebrities and private citizens are also becoming more global by associating their names and dollars with education, AIDS, and genocide in Africa.
Carson believes black donors are more closely tying their volunteerism to their charitable interests by creating donor-advised funds through community foundations. Not to mention many black churches have moved beyond the collection-plate mentality and are using sophisticated giving vehicles such as endowments.
Too many people of means don't have wills or trusts that provide support to the causes they love, says Carson, who is also chairman of the National Council on Foundations, a trade association for private, community, corporate, and operating foundations. "We spend a lifetime accumulating things; we ought to spend a day trying to figure out what we want to happen to those things when we are no longer here."
Historically, the full impact of the generosity of wealthy individuals was not felt until they bequeathed their estates. "We have the first generation of truly megawealthy African Americans who are just hitting their peak earnings years," Carson says. "They have a long time before they depart this earth, but when they do, there is every expectation that they will be charitable in their estates and that we will see a new renaissance of African American giving the likes of which the world has never seen before."
Leading Foundations & Charities NAME(S) Occupation ORGANIZATION(S) Oprah Winfrey TV Talk show host The Oprah Winfrey Foundation; Oprah's Angel Network; Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation Eileen Harris Executive Peter Norton Family Norton Foundation Inc. Tom Joyner Radio talk show host Tom Joyner Foundation Inc. David & Valerie Former NBA player/ The David Robinson Robinson philanthropist Foundation Tiger Woods Professional golfer The Tiger Woods Foundation Sean "P. Diddy" Hip-hop artist, actor Daddy's House Social Combs Programs Inc. Rachel Robinson Philanthropist The Jackie Robinson Foundation Eddie & Sylvia Money manager/ The Eddie C. & C. Sylvia Brown philanthropists Brown Family Foundation Alonzo Mourning NBA player Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc.; Zo's Fund for Life Earvin "Magic" Former NBA player/ The Magic Johnson Johnson philanthropist Foundation Ben & Candy Pediatric neurosurgeon/ Carson Scholars Fund Carson philanthropist Russell Simmons Recording executive/ Rush Philanthropic Arts philanthropist Foundation Charles Barkley Former NBA player The Charles Barkley Foundation Hank & Billye Former MLB player/ Hank Aaron Chasing the Aaron philanthropist Dream Foundation William & Actor/philanthropist William Henry Cosby Jr. Camille Cosby and Camille Olivia Cosby Foundation; Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation Marshall Faulk NFL player Marshall Faulk Foundation Chris "Ludacris" Hip-hop artist, actor The Ludacris Foundation Bridges Montel Williams TV Talk show host The Montel Williams MS Foundation Warrick Dunn NFL player Warrick Dunn Foundation Inc. Alphonse Fletcher Money manager The Fletcher Foundation NAME(S) CAUSES 2003 GIFTS Oprah Winfrey Education, the arts, $10,537,131 public health, women Eileen Harris The arts, education, 4,595,260 Norton community health Tom Joyner HBCUs 3,064,119 David & Valerie Education, 1,727,629 Robinson feeding the hungry Tiger Woods Education, sports 1,519,099 Sean "P. Diddy" Youth, education 1,333,333 Combs Rachel Robinson Education 1,220,104 Eddie & Sylvia Education 1,142,493 Brown Alonzo Mourning Underprivileged 1,015,864 children; Kidney disorder research Earvin "Magic" Health, urban 430,206 Johnson education Ben & Candy Youth, education 518,351 Carson Russell Simmons Art, education, 388,798 youth Charles Barkley Education 319,200 Hank & Billye Education, youth, 220,362 Aaron William & Education, dyslexia 215,500 Camille Cosby awareness Marshall Faulk Inner-city youth/ 133,027 children Chris "Ludacris" Abused/homeless 121,830 Bridges children Montel Williams Multiple Sclerosis 120,000 research Warrick Dunn Single-mother 108,091 families Alphonse Fletcher Art, youth 101,450 SOURCE: B.E. RESEARCH Leading Individual Donors NAME(S) TITLE Oprah Winfrey TV Talk show host, The Oprah Winfrey Show Sheila C. Johnson Partner, Lincoln Holdings John H. Johnson Publisher, Ebony magazine Robert L. Johnson Founder, BET Carl & Mary Ware Philanthropists Dennis W. Archer Chairman, Dickinson Wright P.L.L.C. Edward A. Blackmon Attorney, Blackmon & Blackmon Eunice Walker Johnson Secretary-Treasurer, Producer-Director, Ebony Fashion Fair Willie Gary Attorney, Gary, Willliams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson & Sperando Bishop William A. Hilliard Retired bishop Calvin & Tina Tyler Jr. Philanthropists Eddie & Sylvia Brown Investment manager, Brown Capital Management Jalen Rose NBA player/Founder, Jalen Rose Foundation Jonas T. Kennedy Owner, Kennedy Turkey Farms Louise Tarver Jackson Former teacher, alumni NAME(S) RECIPIENT(s) Oprah Winfrey The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation Sheila C. Johnson Parsons School of Design, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation John H. Johnson Howard University Robert L. Johnson National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Carl & Mary Ware Clark Atlanta University Dennis W. Archer Wayne State University, Dennis W. Archer Community Development Fund, et al Edward A. Blackmon Tougaloo College Eunice Walker Johnson Talladega College Willie Gary Shaw University, Florida Atlantic University Foundation, Edward Waters College, Gertrude Walden Day Care, Virginia University Lynchburg, Alonzo Mourning Charities, et al Bishop William A. Hilliard Livingstone College Calvin & Tina Tyler Jr. Morgan State University Eddie & Sylvia Brown Howard University, African American Museum of History & Culture Jalen Rose Detroit College Scholarships, Assist Donations, Celebrity Charity Weekend, Chicago Children's Fund Jonas T. Kennedy Claflin University, Africa University Louise Tarver Jackson Paine College NAME(S) AMOUNT YEAR(s) Oprah Winfrey $132,580,000 2002-2004 Sheila C. Johnson 7,350,000 2003-2004 John H. Johnson 4,000,000 2003 Robert L. Johnson 3,000,000 2002-2004 Carl & Mary Ware 1,500,000 2004 Dennis W. Archer 1,217,665 2002-2004 Edward A. Blackmon 1,149,300 2003 Eunice Walker Johnson 1,000,000 2003 Willie Gary 950,000 2002-2004 Bishop William A. Hilliard 500,000 2003 Calvin & Tina Tyler Jr. 500,000 2004 Eddie & Sylvia Brown 400,000 2003 Jalen Rose 261,200 2003 Jonas T. Kennedy 254,000 2003 Louise Tarver Jackson 250,000 2003
Making The Cut The methodology behind our selection process
Emmett Carson, president of The Minneapolis Foundation, described it best: "Philanthropy is the giving of money, time, talent, or goods." And we agree with him. For the purposes of this article, however, we chose to focus on philanthropy in terms of dollar amount. Our staff spent the last eight months in search of philanthropists from within our community. Some prospective candidates, however, didn't want to reveal their charitable giving. Others had made pledges but not actual donations. Here's how these philanthropists made the cut for our inaugural list:
For our list of individual philanthropists, we reached out to more than 300 entrepreneurs, professionals, executives, and lawyers who appeared on our top lists: Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street, America's Top Black Lawyers, Top 75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America, and the Most Powerful Blacks in Sports. We then reached out to a number of well-known black philanthropists. Each candidate received a survey that requested information about donations from fiscal year 2002 to 2004 because, unlike foundations, individuals do not necessarily give every year. We followed up by directly contacting every individual who received a survey.
On our survey, we asked each participant to provide their top five pledges made to charities--including faith-based organizations, foundations, and colleges and universities. We then asked each participant to list the top five donations made to charities. For the purposes of this article, we chose to rank individuals only according to donations--actual money paid. Many candidates, naturally, chose not to complete the survey because of fear of publicity and/or unwanted solicitation for money. In cases where donations had been reported in the past, we confirmed dollar amounts, the date of the gift, and the type of gift with either the philanthropist or a senior-level executive at the organization receiving the gift. The minimum donation for individuals considered for this list was $250,000.
Charities & Foundations
We collected financial information from Internal Revenue Service 990 forms provided by GuideStar, a national nonprofit database company. Qualifying foundations and charities must file a 990 each year by the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of their fiscal year. Each non-profit has a different fiscal year-end date, therefore filing dates for the 990 vary. The most complete forms report donations from 2003. In addition, not all foundations are required to file a 990. We did not include those organizations. We also did not include foundations that do not donate money.
Because foundations devote a large portion of their grant money to operating costs, they often give less than individuals. On our list, we only identified donations--actual money paid to organizations, charities, and causes--and excluded administrative costs. The minimum donation for charities and foundations to be considered for this list was $100,000.
Seven Ways to Give to Your Favorite Causes
Many of today's philanthropists are everyday citizens attempting to give money to worthy causes. Philanthropic efforts can be a random act of kindness such as giving loose change to a homeless person, or something as sophisticated as setting up a trust or foundation, complete with a board of trustees and an executive director. There are options, and each with its own tax implication. For this reason, we offer you seven ways of giving. You don't have to be rich and famous to set up a foundation, just willing to give to charitable causes that you believe are worth keeping around. In addition to working with your financial planner to develop your philanthropic strategies, explains Dwight Raiford, a financial planner for nearly 30 years, it is important to consult with a tax adviser.--C.M.B.
1 Make Annual Gifts to an Established Charity This contribution can be to a church, an educational institution, a fraternity or sorority, or other nonprofit organization. Make sure that the organization has a 501(c) 3 legal status. This means you can claim the appropriate federal tax deduction, up to 50% of your adjusted gross income for the year for cash and 30% for stock or property. Understand that tax-exempt means the organization doesn't have to pay taxes and tax deductible means you can write off your contribution.
2 Create a Trust. A Charitable Remainder Trust allows you to take a charitable deduction for your gift in the year in which the trust is formed. You then receive income from the trust for life, after which the assets pass to a philanthropic fund or charity that you designate. A Charitable Lead Trust fund provides for a regular, fixed amount to be paid to a fund or charities of your choosing for a specific number of years, after which, the remainder of the trust passes to your designated heirs or other beneficiaries.
3 Establish a Giving Circle. Find like-minded people with whom you can pool funds and then distribute the income and/or principal in the form of grants. Members may chip in anywhere from $100 to $2,500 or more, The funds may be held at a public foundation or at some other nonprofit or commercial entity that will invest the funds to earn income. This setup also saves individual donors the cost of setting up their own private foundations.
4 Create a Family or Private Foundation, This allows your family to retain control and flexibility in its giving to specific organizations. The foundation can be organized as a nonprofit or charitable trust. The tax benefit is that you can deduct up to 30% of your annual adjusted gross income for cash donations and 20% for gifts of stock or property. By law, private foundations must pay out in annual grant funds totaling 5% of their assets and 1% to 2% excise tax on net investment income.
5 Develop a Corporate Giving Program. Many companies have an annual giving program to make grants (funded as part of their annual operating budget) and to match employees' cash gifts and volunteer time to nonprofits. Companies often make in-kind gifts of products to charities. Tax deduction is 10% of pretax profits. If you have a family-owned business, you can establish a giving program or corporate foundation, which usually starts with a single donation that can become an endowment. The owners are usually the governing board, and the foundation is subject to the excise tax and minimum payout requirement.
6 Develop a Donor-Advised Fund Through a Public Charity. Donor funds allow you to make simple tax-deductible contributions, These funds are set up through a public foundation and are considered an alternative to establishing a private foundation since there are no fees or complex paperwork. You can designate one or more charities to benefit from your donation, The financial decision on grant distributions rests with the board of trustees of the community foundation managing your tax-exempt donor funds.
7 Establish a Supporting Organization. This entity lies between a private foundation and a donor-advised fund. Essentially, your organization supports and funds a public charity with a mission compatible with your values. Family members can sit on the governing board and participate in the grant-making decisions. There is no excise tax or payout requirement as with a private foundation.
Before you give to a nonprofit organization, make sure it is registered with the proper state or local government office. To learn more, check out these resources:
Associated Black Charities; www.abc-md.org Council of Better Business Bureaus; 703-276-0100 Council on Foundations; 888-239-5221 National Committee on Planned Giving; www.ncpg.org National Center for Family Philanthropy; 202-293-3424 The Giving Forum; 202-467-0383; www.givingforum.org The Foundation Center; www.fdncenter.org The National Black United Fund; www.nbuf.org
TOM JOYNER A Passion for Education
Tom Joyner is passionate about making sure students attending historically black colleges and universities actually graduate--and he puts his money where his fervor is. In fact, the host of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show and founder of REACH Media Inc. may well be best remembered for his philanthropic work through the Tom Joyner Foundation.
The foundation's mission is to help students with financial problems. Each month, the foundation sends support money to a designated HBCU, which the schools' financial aid department will award to individual students based on financial need.
Since its inception in 1997, the foundation has raised and distributed more than $20 million in scholarships. It recently donated $205,000 to Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, and $155,000 to Prairie View A&M University. The foundation also donated $225,000 to Lane College and Lemoyne-Owen College, $600,000 to North Carolina Central University, and $400,000 to Virginia State University. In 2003, the foundation donated a little more than $3 million, enough to make it one of America's leading philanthropic organizations. Various corporations, such as ExxonMobil, Anheuser-Busch, Allstate, Kraft Foods, and Daimler Chrysler, have partnered with Joyner. Over the last five years, for example, ExxonMobil and Anheuser-Busch have each donated $1 million.
"A majority of the scholarships don't go to 4.0 or 3.0 students," explains Thomas Joyner Jr., 31, the eldest son of Joyner and the foundations' president and chief executive officer. "A lot of the scholarships go to students with 2.0 and 3.0 GPA and within 30 credits of graduation. As my pop would say, 'we're looking out for the C students.'"
SHEILA C. JOHNSON A Rich Tradition of Giving
Little is known about Sheila C. Johnson, other than that she is the former wife of BET founder Robert L. Johnson. But for many people within the world of philanthropy, Johnson is a well-established benefactor who provided a variety of philanthropic gifts in the areas of arts, education, and services for children and young adults.
"I was in charge of all of the philanthropic ventures that BET was involved in. I was the one who made all of those decisions. So as BET went into Viacom and I was out on my own, [being a philanthropist] was always a part of me."
Today, Johnson, 56, now resides in Middleburg, Virginia. She's using her business skills to build Salamander Hospitality and to expand the Washington International Horse Show. She recently made history as the first black woman to be an owner in three professional sports franchises (see Newspoints, this issue).
But none of this trumps Johnson's philanthropic endeavors. She has contributed $7 million to New York's Parsons School of Design; $2 million to the United Negro College Fund; $1 million to Bennett College for Women; and $7 million to build a performing arts center at the Hill School, where her son attends grade school in Middleburg. And while these are her larger philanthropic contributions, she says that she has made smaller contributions such as giving $50,000 to the local community children's choir. In 2004, Johnson and Microsoft joined together to donate $1 million to help the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children launch a global campaign against child pornography.
So what does Johnson find challenging about being one of America's top black philanthropists? "Being able to say no," she says. "There are so many people, and once you start to give to an organization, the network passes on and then everybody and their brother has their hand out."
EDDIE & SYLVIA BROWN The Power of Service
Eddie C. Brown, president of Brown Capital Management Inc. (No. 4 on the 2005 BE ASSET MANAGERS list with $5.2 billion under management), is a prominent businessman in Baltimore. He's also one of the most renowned stock pickers in the world. His firm has amassed its billions mainly from large institutional clients and pension funds. The 64-year-old asset manager has also earned a reputation as a "good citizen." He and his wife, Sylvia, have given more than $15 million to various educational and charitable causes, including $1 million to the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore and $6 million to the Maryland Institute College of Art for the Brown Center.
The benevolent couple started the Eddie C. & C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation back in 1994 with about $200,000. Their two daughters, Tonya Ingersol, who is president, and Jennifer Brown, who serves as vice president, run the foundation. The siblings sit on the five-member board of directors while their parents serve on the grant-making committee.
Brown explains that their main motivation "was to have our daughters think beyond themselves ... about others in the African American community who were less fortunate, and to have a vehicle to be able to channel monies to causes they were passionate about." The Browns chose a charter foundation instead of a charitable remainder trust or other after-death estate vehicles primarily because they wanted to see the results of their giving during their lifetime.
"The biggest problem is not being able to give to more groups. And then there's the frustration of not being able to give more money," says Sylvia, noting that hundreds of requests are screened and narrowed down to roughly 35 for consideration. She holds dear a quote from the late Shirley Chisholm, "that service is the rent we pay for our space on this Earth."--Carolyn M. Brown
CHRIS "LUDACRIS" BRIDGES A Good Rap on Charities
People love rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges for his hits. such as Get Back and Stand Up. What they may not realize is that Bridges' love for rap is only the tip of the iceberg. As a young DJ for Atlanta's Hot 97.5. he began to take part in local community service projects. When Bridges noticed black children in his neighborhood without a sense of direction, he decided to concentrate on youth development. In December 2001, Bridges began The Ludacris Foundation (www.theludacrisfoundation.org) with partners William Engram and Chaka Zulu. "I wanted to give back. I wanted to help my community." says Bridges. The foundation's mission statement is "Helping youth help themselves."
To date, the organization--run by his mother, Roberta Shields-has donated more than $500.000 to nonprofit organizations, focusing on educational programs for music and the arts. The foundation also targets the needs of abused, neglected, or homeless children and supports I'ndigo, an organization that awards two annual four-year scholarships of $10,000 to high school seniors.
Bridges does not just shell out cash and walk away. He takes a vested interest in every recipient of his foundation's grants and scholarships. "My most memorable moment would have to be the time that I took this girl to her prom," says Bridges, who made headlines when he escorted a wheelchair-bound teen living with cerebral palsy to the prom. For his tireless efforts, Bridges received the key to the city of Atlanta and a declaration proclaiming June 7 as Ludacris Foundation Day. Bridges is determined to make an impact in the lives of young people who have no hope or opportunity. "The youth are our future," he says.