As Pastor Joseph Frierson, Jr., head of the young adult ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church, says, “The story of the Young and Dangerous Giving Circle is filled with so much inspiration.”
First, there was the inspiration to start the giving circle, which came from discussions around philanthropy that the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro’s Expanding Community Giving initiative hosted at the church. Expanding Community Giving encourages and supports philanthropy in communities of color through training, collaboration, and matching donations.
Frierson says he wanted young adults to be engaged in the process of researching and creating this giving circle. By putting his young adult and young professional parishioners in the middle of conversations about money and investing, investing locally, and the history and impact of community giving, it turned young professionals into young philanthropists.
Then came another stroke of inspiration. Once the Young and Dangerous (YAD) Giving Circle raised the $5,000 required to create the fund, another entirely separate organization felt called to come alongside them and match their $5,000, setting them up for even greater success.
Two years on, the YAD Giving Circle remains true to its mission of providing grants to African American youth or young professionals, with emphases on social justice and entrepreneurship. Grants have gone to support scholarships, to provide after-school STEM programming in East Greensboro, and, most recently, to send two young professionals from Greensboro on a guided civil rights journey through the Deep South with stops in Atlanta, Montgomery, and Selma.
“This grantmaking ability enables us to put young people in situations where they are face-to-face with civic leaders and mayors of major cities,” Frierson says, adding, “These young people realize they have a seat at the table now.”
The giving circle is structured in a way that allows it to remain nimble, awarding grants quickly as needs or opportunities arise. The civil rights journey was one such instance, but there are countless others. Such as the time a youth event was scheduled, but a large donor—the one responsible for providing sneakers for all the kids—pulled out at the last minute. The organizing body approached the YAD Giving Circle requesting funds for shoes, and they were able to deliver immediately.
Frierson is quick to point out that it’s not just about the money, though. Whether it’s sending two members on a civil rights journey or sitting united—a dozen or more strong—at a pivotal school board meeting, it’s also about putting young people and young professionals in situations where they are present and involved in the conversations that affect them.
When asked if the giving circle has helped young people become more civically engaged,
Marcus Thomas, YAD Giving Circle Councilmember and Dream Team Director at Mount Zion Baptist Church, says, “Absolutely!”
“Giving circle members are able to see the big picture, to see how grantmaking affects their community, and to see how successful this has been even in such a short time,” he says.
Thomas adds, “Another important point is that we’re creating a legacy for young adults. This giving circle, this ability and the opportunities it provides, it’s going to outlive all of us. It’s going to be here for future generations to come, even as I and as Pastor Joe move on to do different things, it will always be a part of our church and will continue to inspire and impact our community in positive ways.”
To learn how you can make a lasting difference in the community by creating or donating to a giving circle, contact us today.