About valaida

writer. thinker. listener. idea whisperer. traveler. mad word geek. absolute scrabble freak. drinker of life. da*n good friend. ridiculous foodie. imaginative dreamer. afflicted party planner. kind conqueror. okra lover. hillbilly w/ southern roots far-stretched global sights. author of new book that reframes portraits of philanthropy. Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists | http://bit.ly/htLxQU

Innovative, Interactive, Provocative: Introducing ‘The Soul of Philanthropy’

Soul of Philanthropy LOGO_final

From a moving tribute toward a triumphant movement of conscious giving for social change

Yesterday, our nation celebrated MLK Day of Service and remembered the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The coming 364 days provides space for the truest tributes to occur.

This year, members of New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP-Charlotte) have the privilege of partnering with Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) to leverage seven years of work on the Giving Back Project by transforming our book Giving Back into the new touring exhibit, Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.

Set to come to cities nationwide, this innovative photography exhibit is made possible with an IMLS grant and launches in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 20. In our latest e-blast, you will learn a bit about . . .

  • Features, concepts and key elements of the exhibit
  • Public programming and civic engagemeent offered in each community
  • Opportunities to support this important new dimension of our work

Click here to access the rest of the Giving Back Project’s latest e-blast and to read more about “The Soul of Philanthropy”.

— VF

‘When Giving Is All We Have’

Tiffany cropped 9681_2_face0A cascade of gifts has, lately, refreshed me. The most generous of gestures from distant and nearby sources have rushed my heart and whirled inspiration, hinting the end of an exorbitantly long parched season.

I’ll likely share more about these experiences over the coming weeks, but here’s a splash of delight from just yesterday. My friend Manoj passed along something a friend shared with him—a poem! A good poem never ceases giving and, veritably, can replenish at a speed few things do. By Alberto Rios, Arizona’s first ever Poet Laureate, this one ripples and flows to my spring.

When Giving Is All We Have

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

Alberto Ríos

2014 . . . Another Very GOOD Year

meka dawn charles at #CIN2014

Top 10 :: Year in Review from New Generation of African American Philanthropists: http://www.icontact-archive.com/jp_xUj0qFyktMLO8BwbS6bPR8EdwvIs9?w=1

Here’s to 2014, gone but not forgotten!

— VF

From BGB :: Lake Institute Hosts First African American Distinguished Visitor in Philanthropy


As the year winds down, reflecting upon it reminds me just how incredible it’s been. Among the best moments was being the 2014 Lake Distinguished Visitor at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Indianapolis was a wonderful whirlwind of speaking engagements and book signings, spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner and the nearly every second in between, hosted by a law firm, church, classroom, community groups and more.

Here’s a BlackGivesBack.com story about it: Lake Institute Hosts First African American Distinguished Visitor in Philanthropy.

— VF


Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Hate will be gone and love will prevail

— Stevie Wonder


A holiday fave. Take a listen!

Have a Wonder-filled Christmas!!!

Exhibiting Humanity

love drawing with light“Drawing with light” is beautifully both a literal and metaphorical description of taking photographs. Our upcoming photography exhibit draws inspiration from that definition as well as from the root meaning of philanthropy: love of what it means to be human. Each a potent concept on its own, combined, these ideas are fueling the design and programming for Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited. A powerful experience awaits gallery visitors and program participants in 2015. Expect an exhibition of humanity where the images glow, the stories enlighten and your soul is set afire.

Sharing love for the holidays. And anticipating the arrival of an exceptional new year!

That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality–your soul, if you will–is as bright and shining as any that has ever been….Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly. — George Saunders

To Live Gratitude

Pruitt prayer hands

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. — Johannes A. Gaertner

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving.

From BGB :: Hartford Fdn Celebrates Black Philanthropy with Stories of Inspiration

It’s been two months since my last blog post due, in large part, to a full travel schedule for book talks and preparations for the upcoming launch of the “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited” exhibition. (More to come about the exhibit over the next few months!!!)

Here’s a BlackGivesBack.com story about my visit to Hartford, Connecticut in September: Hartford Foundation Celebrates Black Philanthropy with Stories of Inspiration.


— VF

From Black Enterprise :: JCSU to Launch Art Exhibit on Black Philanthropy

News of the recent IMLS grant award to Johnson C. Smith University still hasn’t quite seeped in. Translating Giving Back into a museum exhibition that will tour college campuses and historically Black cultural institutions over the next two years is a dream come true. And the dream keeps getting better. Every week a new university or museum reaches out to inquire about hosting the exhibition, titled Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited. Twice as many institutions have expressed interest as are slated for the current tour under the IMLS grant. The possibilities astound me.

Black Enterprise ran a story about the project: Johnson C. Smith to Launch Art Exhibit on Black Philanthropy

JCSU gateway image

Here’s to the passion and purpose, hard work, painful sacrifices, blind faith and resiliency that eventually make dreams come true!

From PhilanthropyNC :: Black giving aims to bridge philanthropy gap

BPM AUGUSTLY BANNER 625X125 (3)Here’s an article recently featured in Triangle Community Foundation’s newsletter in observance of Black Philanthropy Month during August.

Take a look at: Black Giving Aims To Bridge Philanthropy Gap

TCF was an early partner of Community Investment Network (where I now serve as interim Executive Director) when it was formed a decade ago. CIN is celebrating its 10th anniversary conference in Durham in October and TCF is a sponsor.

Many thanks to Lori O’Keefe and Veronica Hemmingway of TCF (@TriComFdn) and Todd Cohen of Philanthropy North Carolina (@philanthropync).