America’s Leading Black Philanthropists

From education to health, African Americans pump billions into charities and causes, fueling their clout and mission to change the world

closely tying their volunteerism to their charitable interests by creating donor-advised funds through community foundations. Not to mention many black churches have moved beyond the collection-plate mentality and are using sophisticated giving vehicles such as endowments.

Too many people of means don’t have wills or trusts that provide support to the causes they love, says Carson, who is also chairman of the National Council on Foundations, a trade association for private, community, corporate, and operating foundations. “We spend a lifetime accumulating things; we ought to spend a day trying to figure out what we want to happen to those things when we are no longer here.”

Historically, the full impact of the generosity of wealthy individuals was not felt until they bequeathed their estates. “We have the first generation of truly megawealthy African Americans who are just hitting their peak earnings years,” Carson says. “They have a long time before they depart this earth, but when they do, there is every expectation that they will be charitable in their estates and that we will see a new renaissance of African American giving the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

TOM JOYNER A Passion for Education Tom Joyner is passionate about making sure students attending historically black colleges and universities actually graduate—and he puts his money where his fervor is. In fact, the host of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show and founder of REACH Media Inc. may well be best remembered for his philanthropic work through the Tom Joyner Foundation.

The foundation’s mission is to help students with financial problems. Each month, the foundation sends support money to a designated HBCU, which the schools’ financial aid department will award to individual students based on financial need.

Since its inception in 1997, the foundation has raised and distributed more than $20 million in scholarships. It recently donated $205,000 to Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, and $155,000 to Prairie View A&M University. The foundation also donated $225,000 to Lane College and Lemoyne-Owen College, $600,000 to North Carolina Central University, and $400,000 to Virginia State University. In 2003, the foundation donated a little more than $3 million, enough to make it one of America’s leading philanthropic organizations. Various corporations, such as ExxonMobil, Anheuser-Busch, Allstate, Kraft Foods, and Daimler Chrysler, have partnered with Joyner. Over the last five years, for example, ExxonMobil and Anheuser-Busch have each donated $1 million.

“A majority of the scholarships don’t go to 4.0 or 3.0 students,” explains Thomas Joyner Jr., 31, the eldest son of Joyner and the foundations’ president and chief executive officer. “A lot of the scholarships go to students with 2.0 and 3.0 GPA and within 30 credits of graduation. As my pop would
say, ‘we’re looking out for the C students.’” —Kenneth Meeks

SHEILA C. JOHNSON A Rich Tradition of Giving Little is known about Sheila C. Johnson, other than that she is the former wife of BET founder Robert L. Johnson. But for many people within the world of philanthropy, Johnson is a well-established benefactor who provided

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