Funding Opportunities for the Social Entrepreneur

Do you have an idea to help build social awareness and support our communities? It can seem like a daunting task to get these ideas off the ground and turn them into reality, especially considering the cost of establishing an organization. Luckily, funds are available for the social entrepreneur. In this series, I explore some of the funding opportunities for activists, scholars, students, artists, teachers and allies. If you know of any opportunities, or you’ve had experiences with social entrepreneurship funders, let us know in the comments!

Echoing Green, a nonprofit organization devoted to developing the next generation to solve the world’s biggest problems, offers over $2 million in seed funding to a diverse group of social entrepreneurs every year. Their highly competitive Echoing Green Fellowship is a two-year fellowship that provides up to $90,000 to launch new organizations. In addition, their Alumni Program fosters a lasting community of Fellows and encourages continued peer learning, shared access to useful resources, and a lifetime commitment to positive social change.


Twenty Years of African Voices

African Voices Magazine is celebrating their 20th Anniversary on Friday, April 6th from 6:30-8 PM with a free event at the Kumble Theater at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus (DeKalb & Flatbush Aves).

The event, “Twenty Years of African Voices” will be an exciting retrospective celebrating the organization’s influence in art, literature, film, theater and dance. Launched as a literary arts magazine, African Voices is most noted for publishing the best poetry, fiction and art by emerging artists. The celebration will include featured performances by poets Ekere Tallie and Derick Cross; Voice Lessons, a one-act play written by acclaimed playwright Cesi Davidson and directed by Mary Hodges; and a preview from dance choreographer Germaul Barnes’ Black Buddha. RSVP here and call 718-488-1624 or 212-865-2982 for more information. While the event is free, donations are welcomed.

Digitizing our Heritage through the Black Vernacular

My maternal great-grandparents, Martha Jane Hicks and Sim Hicks, of Virgina. Photo courtesy of Folashade Kornegay.

Paying homage to our ancestors is rooted in ancient traditions from Africa, where religions such as Yoruba and Lugbara called on those who came before us to help guide our path through our earthly existence. With the advent of the Internet and social media, people have been discovering ways to create digital time capsules and honoring our past. Dwayne Rodgers, a photographer and artist based in New York City has decided to draw on these traditions. This past Black History Month, he began The Black Vernaculara communal ancestral shrine for people of African descent.


Calling all Poets and Creative Writers

Award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez will be leading a master poetry workshop on Friday, April 13 from 6:30-8 PM. Ms. Sanchez will share important information on the craft of writing and insight on how to find the creative space to write. This workshop will focus on Haiku writing and will give writers a chance to participate in Ms. Sanchez’ international “Peace Is A Haiku Song” project – where writers from across the world will have a chance to submit their Haiku poems for an interactive public art for peace mural. Early Bird Registration is $45 and becomes $50 after March 28th. Use the code Writeon12 for a discounted price. Register here.

Daughters of the Dust

My grandmother is from South Carolina and her grandmother was born a slave. 20 years ago, she asked me to take her to a film she read about in The Amsterdam News that was about her grandmother and “her people down south.” I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was sure any film she wanted to go to would not be something that interested me.


The Whitewash of Black Surfing

In the last few years, there have been a few documentaries which have illuminated a growing community of black surfers and highlights their experiences.  In the documentary White Wash, which streams on Netflix, filmmaker Ted Woods refutes the assumption that surfing has always been a “white” sport. As one black surfer says,

People want to ride these things, they want to have fun. And no matter where they are, they want to catch a wave too. You know what I mean? And they’ll do whatever’s necessary within their means at that time to be able to ride a wave.


Lessons from Trayvon

Trayvon Martin (1995-2012) and Emmett Till (1941-1955).

The February 26th killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has rightfully sparked outrage in communities around the country. The heartbreaking situation Trayvon found himself in is one many black men can relate to, and the details surrounding the events have shed light on ongoing racial injustice in the United States. In a powerful and moving piece in the New York Times, columnist Charles M. Blow says:

As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.


The Audre Lorde Project

Portrait of Audre Lorde by Robert Alexander, 1983.

Happy Women’s History Month! Black women from throughout the diaspora have made significant contributions to Black Studies. Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a poet, essayist and activist who created a number of ground-breaking ideas about the relationship between race, class, gender and sexuality. Her most well-known quote comes from her classic collection of essays, Sister Outsider: “…the Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” Lorde believed that activists of color needed to address all forms of oppression rather than seek inclusion into the elite for members of their particular group. She also advocated for radical political and cultural changes that would equalize power relations in our society.


Apps for the Conscious Organizer

According to the Pew Research Center, 83% of American adults own a cell phone and 42% of them identify their cell phone as a smartphone. These numbers say a lot about the trajectory of technology and social media usage. As a grassroots organizer working with diasporic communities, it is smart to pay attention to these trends since the Pew Research Center goes on to say smartphone use is highest among the affluent, well-educated, those under the age of 45 and people of color. Not only can smartphone Apps be a great tool to reach your desired audience, it can also be a wonderful way to raise funds and recruit volunteers. In this series, I explore useful Apps for community organizers, scholars, teachers, artists and students who have a particular interest in the African diaspora. If you have any suggestions for Apps I should feature, let me know in the comments!


The Black Power Mixtape

Black is beautiful, but black isn’t power. Knowledge is power.

-Lewis H. Michaux

As a young girl who grew up in the Bronx and attended public school, my US history courses touched on the subject of the Civil Rights Movement in the most basic ways: Martin Luther King, Jr. was good, Malcolm X was bad. As a pillar of our community, I aspired to be like Martin Luther King, changing the world through nonviolent action and community development. Of course, as a black Latina, I was also aware of the Young Lords Party, a Puerto Rican nationalist group with chapters in many US cities – most notably in New York and Chicago. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about the Black Panther Party because they weren’t brought up in school or in my family.