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Ocean State’s Muse Foundation promotes giving in August, Black Philanthropy Month

By Ann Clanton, Contributing Reporter 

Rhode Island’s black population is only 6.9% of the state’s population, yet the need for services and programs amongst African-Americans and persons who identify as Black is extensive. While we often look to our government and community organizations to meet the program and human service needs, the month of August celebrates the “art of giving back”  globally amongst Blacks.  August is Black Philanthropy Month (BPM),  Established in 2011, BPM is a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African-descent giving and funding equity. Black Philanthropy Month was established in 2011.

The Ocean State began acknowledging Black Philanthropy Month in August of last year  when Mayor Jorge Elorza signed the proclamation recognizing August as Black Philanthropy Month on Emancipation Day of 2021.  This gesture by the Capital City of Providence was the first city in New England to do so. 

Rhode Island native son and founder of the Muse Foundation, Juan Wilson is hosting an official celebration while bringing awareness to the issue.  The Muse Foundation is the only minority-led Foundation during the month-long celebration. This week  the Muse Foundation partners with Venture Cafe, a local innovation ecosystem which connects entrepreneurs and innovators offering high-impact programming, spaces, and broad innovation engagement. Muse Foundation hosts “Fireside Chat The Future of Black Philanthropy – Creative Giving” in Venture Cafe’s space on the 2nd floor of the CIC Building, 225 Dyer Street in Providence. 

Muse Foundation, which is housed in the CIC-Building, says their  relationship with both CIC and Venture Cafe allows for access to state of the art facilities, people and programs of color. More significantly, the Foundation views occupying and working in this space as a nod to the late Michael S. Van Leesten. A footbridge across Dyer Street is named for the civil rights activist and among the architects of the Innovation District and building. “This building’s development is a way of carrying on his legacy” says Juan. 

Juan views the Forum as yet another opportunity for more people of color occasionally. We hope more people of color will utilize the space.  There is still time to register for a  Fireside Chat featuring Angela Ankoma ( Rhode Island Foundation) and Juan Wilson. They will discuss avenues to  black philanthropy, nonprofit and creative giving sectors. 

“Juan’s Fireside Chat is just one of several Muse Foundation-Venture Cafe partnerships hosted during our Thursday networking”, says Venture Cafe program manager Caroline Humphrey.  Most networking events begin at 4pm. each Thursday and individuals can register by going to the CIC – Providence website. 
For additional information on Black Philanthropy Month and the Muse Foundation, go to their website.

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