[First Philanthropy Fridays] Meet Young Black Philanthropist: Simone McDowell

My personal mission is simple–to treat people how I want to be treated.- Simone

How old are you? 33

Where do you live? Charlotte, NC

Tell us a little bit about your background in philanthropy:
I have always been interested in arts and culture…from theater to art galleries. I would even participate–years ago I got up in a dark lounge and read an original poem and I am an amateur painter. When I lived in Baltimore, I trained to be a docent with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of History and Art. When I moved to Charlotte, NC a few years ago I joined The Mint Museum it stuck with me. Now, I am a second year board member and current Fall Gala Chair for the Museum; the only African American by the way and I am proud to to give back to my community.

What is your personal mission?
My personal mission is simple–to treat people how I want to be treated. I feel that it is so important to spread inspiration, knowledge and understanding to others. I also enjoy soaking these things in too! By doing so, you can not only change someone’s perspective, you can literally change some one’s life. There are many ways to give back (time, money, etc) and it’s important to do so–it truly makes a difference!

What has been one highlight of your giving/ community activity this year?
In 2011, I was Vice Chair of The Young Affiliates of the Mint (YAM) Black and White Gala for the Mint Museum which helped in raising more than $20,000 for the museum’s annual fund. This year, I am one of the gala chairs for the Mint Museum Ballot Ball, a tie-in with the DNC. This fundraiser will help to acquire new artwork to the museum’s permanent collection. As a member, I volunteer when needed at YAM events and chat with people at YAM monthly happy hours.

Why does philanthropy in the black community matter to you?
Philanthropy in the black community matters to me because it is important to give back, share and expose us to something new. As we know, knowledge is power and by me simply donating my time and money to organizations I believe in, sheds light to those that might not have been familiar with that organization or cause. In addition, it shows they can do it too!

You love arts & culture, if you could have your dream fundraiser for the arts, what would it be and what organization would benefit?
It would be an would be an event where artistic worlds merge! I’d host a fundraiser bridging the gap between up and coming artists and those more established artists, as well as engaging the community in arts & culture. The event would include musicians, artists and theater and the artists would be able to sell their works at the event and the community would get to know the artists and what inspires their creativity. In addition, following the events the artists would receive mentoring opportunities from the artists themselves, art galleries, museums and the like. The event would benefit a mix of all involved in the project.

What organizations are you a part of?
The Mint Museum (Board Member and current Gala Chair, Ballot Ball); Big Brother Big Sister, Urban League of Central Carolinas and the Harvey B. Gantt Center

Keep up with Simone on Twitter: @honeebeegifts

NYC Event! Defining Young Black Philanthropy | 11.15.12

Millennials aka young professionals, have the greatest social media & pop culture influence. But do we really know what it takes to be influencers of philanthropy?

Join us for an evening of mingling and discussion that will tackle tough questions about who we are as influencers, how this impacts our communities and in what ways are we (re)defining philanthropy. Stay ’til the end to meet and greet non-profits who are looking for volunteer leaders like you!

Community Partner: Imagine Harlem

More information & Tickets: http://definingyoungblackphilanthropy.eventbrite.com/

Last Call to Register for Sunday’s Webinar!



  • You’ll be eligible to win a set of influential and thought-provoking books to help you in your civic work provided by Head & Heart Philanthropy

[Wednesday’s Jump Off] Things We Love: A Ph.D. In Philanthropy?!

They look like they want to learn how to save the world, right?!

“The School of Philanthropy will help them [students] become the next generation of philanthropy and nonprofit professionals and scholars, equipping them to fulfill their dreams of changing the world.”- Eugene R. Tempel, Ph.D. on the new School of Philanthropy coming soon to University of Indiana.

You already know we LOVE this, right?! A school that not only teaches the importance of giving but HOW to give AND make it a career..ohhhh yeah! We just might head out to the midwest for yet another degree! A Ph.D in Philanthropy? Yes, please!

“The new School of Philanthropy and the additional talented faculty and students it will attract will significantly expand the scope and impact of the Center on Philanthropy’s research and training in best practices. The result will be well-informed and equipped nonprofit professionals, donors and volunteers who are prepared to maximize the effectiveness of their organization’s mission and shape the future of philanthropy.”- Center on Philanthropy Executive Director Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D.

Well, alright! Let’s Go!

Full Story on Huff Post Impact: Millennial Impact

[GUEST POST] Each One, Teach One


Welp! Yet again, we have an outstanding guest blogger with an invigorating story to share. Don’t forget to join us tomorrow night to keep the conversation going.


Each One, Teach One
by Angel McNeil

On my very first day of school as a teacher, I remember thinking, “I have no idea what I am doing. What in the world am I doing here?”

Somewhere in the middle of undergrad I decided a career within the major I was studying was not for me. Instead, I chose to answer my true calling of becoming an educator. Post graduation, I accepted a position as an Instructional Assistant in a charter school in Philadelphia. I began the job with little experience working with young children or even knowing how to manage a classroom! I was a mess. Well, thank God for, Mrs. Hohman, the lead teacher. Mrs. Hohman was everything to me: a leader, a professor, a mom, and a coach. I’m quite sure I would not have become the teacher I am today had it not been for her.

Mrs. Hohman taught me the importance of having a seasoned teacher to coach you along the way. Every new teacher needs guidance on his or her performance, someone to give feedback, tips, and that person to hand you a tissue when you have one of those teaching days. Trust me, every teacher will have a “tissue” kind of day.

Constant professional development for teachers is necessary for improvement and success. Furthermore, coaching needs to be differentiated based on the needs of the teacher. If a teacher’s practice is improved then a child’s learning will improve. I get saddened and angered when so much blame is being put on teachers for lack of student achievement. I often want to yell at the top of my lungs “What have schools done to help teachers achieve?” This is what that has driven me to take my next step.

I realize not everyone who steps foot in a classroom for the first time is fortunate enough to have a Mrs. Hohman. Therefore, my passion has become to help teachers, especially new teachers, improve their practice. Statistics show there will be an influx of new teachers from various backgrounds needing more support than knowing where the copy machine is and when lesson plans are due. I want to help the teachers who have the same mix of emotions swimming in their heads that I did. Those teachers who decided that their calling was education. Those teachers who want answers but don’t know who to turn to. Therefore, I’m building a blog site that will offer a Mrs. Hohman-like support system for teachers in need.

My goal for the blog is to provide real advice from a classroom teacher (me) in the areas that are critical and pertinent to the success of a teacher. It is my hope to provide a forum for teachers to come to me with a question or situation and I then provide differentiated coaching posts based on that topic. And of course, like a good teacher, I’ll post an exit ticket that will allow for teachers to share their thoughts, ideas, and progress so this can be a true learning community.

Being a teacher has been a dream come true. I don’t know who I would have become had I not listened to my inner voice and followed my passion. I have stayed in the profession I love because I had someone in my life guiding me and helping me to improve. Now that I am expanding my dream to help others just as someone did for me, confirms how worth it this journey is.

Exit Ticket: Think back to your first year in your job: What is one thing that you wish someone would have coached you on?

Angel McNeil is a Curriculum Specialist at Apple Tree Learning Early Learning Public Charter School in Falls Church, VA. She is a graduate is American University and holds a Masters in Education degree from Grand Canyon University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and a member of Capital Cause where she works to eradicate poverty in the Washington, DC area.


Leaders like Angel who have chosen to answer their calling are the inspiration for tomorrow’s webinar. While Angel chose to answer her calling early, it is never too late to answer yours. Just like Angel, you may already be half way there; you just need to tap into the next level. Or you may be like Ebonie and need to do a complete 180. Wherever you are, we invite you to join us to begin the career you love. REGISTER NOW!

The Art of Le Party Crashing

We remember these guys….

It’s not often you run across an unassuming house party in the hills of a wealthy neighborhood and decide to crash it. Well not unless of course, you’re me and my awesome date last Friday night- or Tariq and Michaele Salahi.

Riding through the posh community of Rock Creek Park here in DC will make any average person slightly envious- or extremely motivated to do better. My date and I were motivated to do better- but first we had to get a glimpse into the life. So, we crashed the party. \o/ Note: This was not planned and 100% spontaneous. I do not aspire this to be my new life career.

Party crashing has nan to do with philanthropy, I know. But what it does have to do with is living life in the moment. We often get so caught up in life itself we don’t take five to just seize the wild, crazy and perfectly legal moments that life presents.

Being at the party, I saw my life 10, maybe even 5, years from now. Good people. Good times. Open bar with a hott bar tender. Passed hor d’oeuvres. Super fabulous home- complete with international artifacts that become to topic of every conversation. Mixing and mingling. (In my version, you’d have to insert a DJ though.) While the party we crashed wasn’t a philanthropic affair like mine will be, it was a celebration. And a damn good one at that!

Friday night was just a plain ol unrehearsed, genuine moment of contentment and bliss that I will hold onto for a very long time. We need those moments more and more as we live our uber busy lives. So the next time you happen upon a party that looks like it is giving life, go in and live it! It will remind you that you too can live the very life you have imagined! Remember:

1. Blend in. Don’t stand out. 
If you act like you’re supposed to be there, no one will think other wise. Note: If you want to take pictures, do it discreetly. Do not post on the internets w/ quotes like “Look we crashed the party” o_O

2. Don’t be afraid to meet the host. 
In fact, I encourage this. Be polite and thank them for having you in his/her home or at the event. If they ask how you got there, just say you were invited by mutual friends.

3. Don’t over stay your welcome. 
Roll in. Enjoy. Roll out. Do not by any means by the last people there. Leave with a wave of folks.

4. Laugh all the way home! 
You were there to have fun and you did. Hopefully you met some really good people and hey, stay in touch.

How exciting! I know. *checks off my bucket list*

For a glimpse into the rest of my love life, check out my latest article on Love, Philanthropy & Having it All on EBONY.com!

Speaking of events, there is still time to register for our latest webinar: How To Plan The Most Perfect Fundraiser. It all happens tomorrow night at 8pm! Register now! 

[GUEST POST] A Closed Mouth Won’t Get Fed

It’s easy to save the world until you realize (unless you have long money) that you have to actually depend on the kindness of others to feed your dream. As civic-oriented folks there is a certain assumed humility that stops us from asking for what we really need.

The biggest issue I find when working with new organizations or individuals called to be community leaders is their not their ability to articulate their wants and desires, but rather it is their inability to say what they need to get their work done. Honey, a closed mouth will not get fed!

So how do we start to get what we really need?…The following is a guest post submitted by Shavonta Arline, co-founder of The Virtuous Diva. While the post focuses on romance (some of us can us this too), I think we can all read between the lines and see how it also applies to our lives as a community of do-gooders. Just in case commentary in purple from me will help you out! _______________________________________________________________

Open Your Mouth!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

One of the funniest scenes in Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America is when Prince Akeem meets his pre-arranged bride-to-be and begins asking her questions about her interests and likes. To each question, from “what do you like to do?” to “what is your favorite food?” the answer is the same, “whatever you like.”

Watching it is hilarious, Murphy is a comedic genius and it’s hard not to burst into laughter as the scene unfolds.

What’s not so funny, however, is how often we as women resist the urge to speak up about the things we need and desire when we should. Many of us have been raised in homes where we were trained to “keep the peace,” where expressing your desires or displeasure for something was frowned upon or considered disrespectful. Instead we have been conditioned to take whatever is given to us with a grateful smile. [Does this sound like us when we get donations but it’s not really what we want- or need for that matter??!]

As we grew older we may have carried this docile, compliant attitude into the workplace and gotten bullied or looked over for raises and promotions by people who have no issues with expressing what they want. [And you wonder why that non profit is thriving but yours is barely surviving!] More close to home, we often carry this same attitude into relationships with men. Many times when we don’t speak up, we end up feeling unfulfilled and sometimes resentful of our partner because we expect them to either magically know what we need or because we are simply reluctant to speak up because we fear rejection or abandonment. We suffer in silence when we could simply say “I don’t like that” or “I’d prefer this over that.” [Translation, we become wary in the mission of our work because we things aren’t getting the funding or in-kind donations we need.]

Holding your tongue when you really need to be heard is not the same as being agreeable or submissive as a wife [sub: non-profit] , and by that same standard, speaking up doesn’t mean you are contentious or difficult. Deuteronomy 28:13 declares that the Lord intends to make us the head and not the tail! God feels that we are important and so do many of the people we work with and love. However, it is the person in the mirror who frequently lowers your value and worth to appease others. We spend so much time trying to understand and meet the needs of others that we do not asses our own, and even when we do, we frequently deny them so as to not “rock the boat.” [Read that entire paragraph again. Then paste it to the wall of your office.]

If the people around you are seriously interested in knowing the things that make you happy, and unhappy, don’t be like ‘ol girl in Coming to America, instead, speak up and be heard. Remember the bible says in James 4:2 that “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

This week, consider ways in which you may be sabotaging your own happiness simply because you are afraid to open your mouth and be heard. Know that God did not give us the spirit of fear and He did not make you be invisible and unimportant. The next time someone you have the opportunity to express yourself, open your mouth!

In summation: The next time someone asks you what your organization needs, tell them. Otherwise, you’ll keep being just as hungry as the population you’re trying to feed.

Shavonta Arline is a co-founder of The Virtuous Diva and enjoys sharing her love for Lord to others through writing. She attended the University of Louisville where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and currently teaches elementary school in Dallas, Texas.


Join us next Tuesday at 8pm: How to Plan The Most Perfect Fundraiser! Our guest experts this time will be, Faisal Al-Juburi of Al-Juburi Events & Kelly Smith Beaty, leading public relations practitioner and VP for Marketing and Communication for Dress for Success Worldwide. REGISTER TODAY!