Participants at 2011 Uplifting Change
Liberty Hill’s fourth Uplifting Change Summit takes place Thursday, February 28th. The day’s menu of activities includes a morning session with expert advisors on fundamentals of strategic giving followed by a festive lunch spotlighting inspiring philanthropy leaders. In the afternoon there will be interactive conversations on political giving, board service, and closing down the school-to-prison pipeline. The summit closes with an informal networking reception.
We talked to Liberty Hill Board member Latonya Slack, a member of the Uplifting Change planning committee. For event information, please visit www.LibertyHill.org/UpliftingChange
Please explain why Liberty Hill initiated this annual event and how it’s changed since it began.
LS: There was a need to have a forum where African Americans could come together to talk about what philanthropy means and how it impacts our lives. There really wasn’t a space for that in Los Angeles prior to this. I have been involved in Southern California Blacks in Philanthropy, an affinity group for employees and trustees from philanthropic institutions to share resources and support each other. But there wasn’t a place countywide where all African Americans—not only those who were involved professionally, but others who were just becoming involved or those who wanted to take their giving to the next level—could explore topics, learn new information and gain a deeper understanding by having access to experts in philanthropy.
The first few years, the summit proved to be really a good way to bring people together, to reach out to people who had never thought of themselves as philanthropists. It was a good place to hear about African American-centered funding, and gain new information about the issues affecting Los Angeles.
This year, we’re concentrating on how African American philanthropists can come together in a more strategic way, either by forming Giving Circles, and/or by increasing or strengthening the support they give to causes, including those involving social justice organizing and agenda setting. We’ll discuss investments and vehicles they can use for those opportunities and how best to address those needs.
2012 panelists (l to r) Virgil Roberts, Susan Taylor, Charles Fields
What has your personal experience with Uplifting Change been like? Were there any surprises?
LS: At previous summits, it was an amazing experience just to connect with folks who were in the room, people with tremendous experience who were sharing and learning from each other. The energy was dynamic and electric. It was a revelation to me to be exposed to Ange-Marie Hancock’s research about Black philanthropy in Los Angeles (“Giving Black”). I had heard about and had some experiential understanding of how philanthropy is different in the African American community, for example, what it means to tithe, and how providing family or community support is not generally recorded or reflected in most statistics. It was enlightening to understand and to value the community that those numbers represent.
What are the planning committee’s aims for this year’s Uplifting Change Summit?
LS: The Summit will provide some practical advice with a pre-summit intensive facilitated by experts with experience in philanthropic planning. We’ll have guests discussing different strategies on how to leverage your giving, through a variety of approaches, such as through giving circles – highlighting one very successful example inspired by Uplifting Change – or through board leadership. We’ve also decided to delve more deeply into topics that resonate with African
Americans – for example education, but specifically how our efforts can change the school to prison pipeline for our young people. We are also going to examine how the recent electoral fundraising wins for President Obama among African Americans can be leveraged for Los Angeles’ communities. It’s our goal to attract people who have the means, the capacity and most importantly, the desire to give more strategically. Using a social justice lens, we want to help them find a space to discover how they can channel their resources more effectively.
Latonya Slack, JD, Principal, Slack Consulting Group, is a member of Liberty Hill Foundation's Board of Directors. A former senior program officer at the James Irvine Foundation, she previously served as Executive Director of the California Black Women's Health Project, Inc. She is a 2006 German Marshall Fund fellow and has served as chair of Southern California Grantmakers’ Board of Directors as well as on a variety of other boards and philanthropy-sector initiatives.