Watch Our New Jury Honor Our Class of 2024 In This Announcement Video


Twenty years ago, Charlotte-based consultant Valaida Fullwood encountered philanthropy close to home. Her 70-year-old aunt, Dora Atlas, right around the corner from retirement, began a new project: serving free meals to residents in a public housing community in Asheboro, North Carolina. 

Now in her 90s, Aunt Dora’s soup kitchen is still operating. Fullwood tells this story in her book, “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists,” which praises the legacy of everyday givers in black households. 

Fullwood knows the legacy is impressive. Each year, African-Americans allocate a higher percentage of their income to charity than other racial groups. Yet, most hesitate to label themselves “philanthropists,” a term more closely associated with the wealthy. 

To enlarge perceptions of what giving looks like, the Cleveland Foundation hosts the biennial African American Philanthropy Summit. Its mission is to raise the visibility of African-American philanthropy and to encourage more. Anisfield-Wolf jury chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. will deliver the keynote in conversation with journalist Russ Mitchell for the 2014 summit April 26. 

 “The African-American Philanthropy Committee was created as an advisory committee of the Cleveland Foundation in 1993, under the leadership of then-CEO Steven A. Minter. Ever since, the committee has served as a national model of community engagement,” notes Ronald B. Richard and Kaye M. Ridolfi in a joint letter. He is the foundation’s CEO and president and she is its senior vice president of advancement.

Taking a note from the foundation’s centennial, the summit is cataloging 100 acts of African-American philanthropy, encouraging everyone to submit examples of giving, whether it’s in time, talent or treasure. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #GivingHasNoColor or email your story to

A few tickets for this year’s summit remain. For more information or to register, visit