8 Game-Changing Organizations in the African American Community
In honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on eight organizations led by young African American professionals who are making incredible strides. These organizations run the gamut from philanthropy, technology, and education to social justice, politics, and law, with each one leaving a distinctive mark on the African American community.
- The Dream Defenders
Decades after Martin Luther King Jr.’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, many African American youth are still mired in underfunded schools and an unjust prison system. With chapters across Florida, Executive Director Phillip Agnew and his team of “Dream Defenders” strive to train and organize young people in non-violent civil disobedience, civic engagement, and direct action, with the goal of combatting the “criminalization of our generation” and defending the right of all people to live free from police brutality and racial profiling.
- Capital Cause
Founded by five young professional women in Washington, DC, this nonprofit organization brings together young philanthropists between the ages of 21 and 35, connecting them with nonprofits that can benefit from their skills and resources. Under the leadership of Chairwoman Kezia Williams, Capital Cause has distributed more than $20,000 in grants and provided more than $40,000 worth of skills to nonprofits such as the Black Student Fund, the DC Lawyers for Youth, and the Center for Minority Achievement in Science and Technology since 2010.
- Friends of Ebonie
In 2009, Ebonie Johnson Cooper founded Friends of Ebonie as a fundraising and volunteer blog. It has grown into a for-profit social impact organization that helps young black professionals get involved with charitable giving. Friends of Ebonie hosted the 2013 Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summit at NYU and MTV headquarters. This major event included workshops, keynote speakers, and discussion to help attendees plan their community engagement.
This nonprofit network of young professionals of color focuses on the core principles of economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement. IMPACT connects emerging leaders from a variety of backgrounds, such as Capitol Hill, leading nonprofits, start-ups, or the private sector, for events such as roundtable discussions, candidates’ forums, lectures, workshops, and networking events.
Founded by Trabian Shorters, this network aims to recognize the community contributions of black leaders. With chapters in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, BMe recognized 50 men in 2013 for such projects as helping black youth get excited about math, advocating against violence in inner-city neighborhoods, and using equine therapy to raise youth awareness about HIV.
- Walker’s Legacy
Named for Madam C. J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in US history, this business collective helps female entrepreneurs build leadership skills, find mentors, and connect with the resources they need to succeed. Founded by Natalie M. Cofield, Walker’s Legacy hosts an annual Power Women Summit, annual community and business leadership awards, and occasional meet-and-greet events.
- Black Girls Code
After noticing the lack of African American women in computer programming, engineering professional Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls Code to encourage a new generation of coders and teach young girls of color marketable skills in computer programming. The Summer of Code workshops and one-day workshops held in cities across the country teach girls ages 7–17 how to build a mobile app, a website, or a computer game.
Founded by PR professional Lauren Wesley Wilson, this Washington, DC, organization brings together women of color working in public relations, corporate communications, political communications, and similar professions. Members gather monthly for happy hours, community service events, networking luncheons, and much more.