Knowledge, Power and Ubuntu

At KIPP Charlotte Charter School, Ubuntu is ubiquitous, in print and in spirit. A visit to the school campus last week as a volunteer for Career Day affirmed the principle, powerfully. After volunteering for only a few hours, I left having learned and gained as much or more from the students as I hoped to have imparted. I’m grateful for the invitation from Claudia Ollivierre and for the warmth, safety and responsibility that come with we.

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu: the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality, Ubuntu, you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

— Desmond TutuArchbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate 

Career Day at KIPP Charlotte Charter School, where fifth and sixth graders learned about the career path of at least one writer.

Career Day at KIPP Charlotte Charter School, where fifth and sixth graders learned about the career path of at least one writer.

More about the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) here.

Book Learning

Feedback from K-12 and college educators on the educational uses and benefits of Giving Back with students and people of all ages for lessons about philanthropy, social justice, writing, etc. is always welcome, like here and here. The note below is from a recent email from an associate dean at a university in New York.

Hi Valaida . . . I wanted to tell you that your book (which I am now about half-way through) struck the interest of my partner, as she is currently teaching a college course about different ways to do narrative, and your book tells stories so beautifully. She is going to bring the book to her class for her students to share and consider, because you tell stories in a very different way than, say, a novel or a comic book. I thought you would enjoy knowing that. Yours, Phil

Yes, this is so good to know. And I expect to stay posted on how it goes. — VF

Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer

Charles W. Thomas, Jr., photographer

Dr. Ivye Allen: ‘Must have book of our history, great teaching toolkit’

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Deeper discussions about philanthropy and more mindful giving are ongoing aims of the Giving Back Project. The book Giving Back, a centerpiece of the project, is designed to become a springboard for such conversation and strategic giving. Driving forces for NGAAP’s project are a desire to reclaim the root meaning of philanthropy—love of humankind—and a resolve to build bridges between “conventional” philanthropy and the centuries-old philanthropic traditions flourishing in Black communities, for the sake of every community.

Project photographer Charles Thomas shared with me that after a recent lecture on a college campus, the first question posed by a student was: “What is philanthropy?” That’s the central question we explore in Giving Back. Through inquiry, interviews and images, Charles and I engaged over 200 Black donors and asked such questions as: How do you define philanthropy? Juxtaposing photographs and narratives, Giving Back illuminates transcendent truths and elicits new thinking about philanthropy.

We look forward to connecting with schools, colleges and youth programs to engage students, educators and others around the content, themes and questions presented in Giving Back.

Foundation executive Dr. Ivye Allen commented on the promise Giving Back holds to become an educational tool that can enlighten readers and inspire greater giving.

Giving Back is a must have book for all!  It brings to life African American giving and highlights philanthropic acts that many of us perform daily without naming it ‘philanthropy.’ The combination of photographs and narrative effectively reframes the dialogue on philanthropy, particularly among the unsung heroes and heroines contributing to daily growth and prosperity in our communities.

“A must have book of our history and a great teaching toolkit!”

— Ivye L. Allen, Ph.D., president and CEO, Foundation for the Mid South

Please take a look at further commentary and book reviews on Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.