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Reflections of Love: A Journey in Black Philanthropy

// August 31, 2022

The Duality of Being a Giver and Receiver of Philanthropy

Tanaka Shipp (She, her, Queen) identifies as a Black, femme, queer educator/entreprenuer. She is the proud co-founder of Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN) giving circle and the Founder/CEO of QueenShipp, a leadership and mentorship program empowering ALL young people including queer, trans, and non-binary. 

Why we started SPIN eight years ago

Almost eight years ago, I sat in a ballroom in Raleigh, North Carolina full of Black philanthropists. I had never experienced anything like it. I was young, green, and in awe of the energy and the passion I witnessed. I wasn’t exactly sure how, but I knew that night that I wanted to replicate the impact I felt, and I knew I wanted to do it with other like-minded Black women. As my co-founder and I began to flesh out the ideas for an all-Black women’s giving circle, we received a lot of cynicism from others. Many questioned the prospect of young Black women being able to successfully work together. We were told it would be catty, confrontational, and competitive. We were told it would be impossible.

My co-founder and I stayed true to our vision because we both personally knew how desperately girls who looked like us needed to be supported, empowered, and validated. We knew that WE needed leaders and mentors to aspire to in community, just as young Black girls needed us to show them the way. We also learned that less than 1% of philanthropic dollars are invested in Black women, and we knew we needed to change that.

Building a true sisterhood of philanthropy

Philanthropy is defined as a love for humanity. The last eight years after founding the Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN) has been just that. It has been a labor of love and a heart work that has fundamentally changed each of our members in significant ways. In addition to being a giving circle, SPIN has become a safe space for Black women who once struggled to love themselves and each other. We have overcome incredible obstacles, from trust issues to childhood trauma to racial injustice, and we have become stronger in the face of our adversities. We have built a true sisterhood.

I never imagined that coming together to make seemingly small grants of $500 or even $5,000 could make such an impact on our lives and the organizations we support, most of whom work with marginalized Black women and girls. We have heard countless times from the Black women who run these organizations how meaningful it is to receive a check from someone who looks like them, someone who relates to their struggles and knows how hard it can be. Even when the checks are small, SPIN is able to demonstrate that we believe in these women and the heart work they are also doing. We do this with our treasure as a start, and then we continue to support them with our time, talent and testimonies.

I now understand the duality of being both a giver and receiver of philanthropy

Earlier this year, I became the founder and executive of my own organization, QueenShipp Empowered. QueenShipp’s mission is to empower all young women, including queer, trans and non-binary students. We achieve this through a holistic approach that includes leadership development, mentorship, and community engagement in order to develop emotionally intelligent and civically minded leaders who contribute to their families and greater communities.

In its most recent grant cycle, SPIN unanimously approved a grant to support QueenShipp, as well as Star Girlz Empowerment, Elevating Connections, Black Boss Summit, Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, and CTN Media. The news brought tears to my eyes. I never imagined myself becoming a recipient of a SPIN grant. Immediately, I understood the duality of being both a giver and now a receiver of philanthropy, and I was overcome with emotion knowing firsthand the hardships and the loneliness of running a business. To have SPIN recognize my passion, work, and commitment to community and choose to support it is such an immeasurable honor. Without SPIN, there would be no QueenShipp and without the power of Black philanthropy, there would be no SPIN. A true love story, indeed.

Group Photo Credit: Meron Habteab

Tanaka’s Photo Credit: Mandle Rousseau

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is a nonpartisan organization. The opinions of guest bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of The Foundation.  

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