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African-American Community Fund turns 25

Leaders raise funds for philanthropy.

The African-American community has a long and rich history of charitable giving to support a variety of causes and organizations. To build upon this legacy for the Greater Dayton region, two visionary individuals, John E. Moore Sr. and the late Lloyd E. Lewis Jr., established the African-American Community Fund (AACF) through The Dayton Foundation in 1992.

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Twenty-five years later, the fund now encompasses 189 individual funds, totaling $6 million in assets that have awarded $4 million in grants to nonprofits and scholarships to date.

Joshua Johnson, current president of the AACF, and Dr. Willie Houston Jr., vice chairman, say that the AACF stands as a nationally recognized and groundbreaking philanthropic resource for African-Americans in our region.

Q: How was the AACF founded?

Joshua: The vision of the AACF began when John Moore, who was chair of The Dayton Foundation Governing Board in the late 1980s, attended a national community foundation conference. At the time, national leaders were looking to increase programming and funding to address growing needs in the African-American community. He then realized that there weren’t any models to engage African-Americans in organized, long-term giving to support the initiatives that benefit their communities.

Mr. Moore spoke with fellow Board member Lloyd Lewis about creating a permanent method for reinvesting in their community. He then presented the idea to The Dayton Foundation, with Mr. Lewis serving as the AACF’s first chair.

Q: Talk about the importance of this organization for our community.

Joshua: The AACF is the first organization of its kind to promote organized charitable giving among African-Americans. Because of its success, grants have supported such efforts as sickle cell awareness, nutritional programs for homeless children and mentoring programs for urban youth. Our funds also have awarded over $565,000 in scholarships to help more than 400 students pursue their educational goals.

Many organizations have experienced a major reduction in funding opportunities over the years. Government budgets have significantly declined. We realize that if we want to move forward in our community, we must be the ones to do it. There are many organizations that interact with our citizens on a direct basis and are doing a fantastic job with the resources they have available. The AACF is there to support those who are making a true difference in our community.

Willie: Numerous charitable organizations have benefited from the grants issued by our donors and from the AACF discretionary fund. It truly offers an opportunity for individuals and families to create a legacy that will benefit the community or support efforts outside of the region that are equally important to African-American citizens. It’s a place for anyone who just wants to help others.

Q: The AACF recently celebrated 25 years in operation. What impact has it made in Greater Dayton?

Willie: The AACF donors have made a significant impact on Greater Dayton through their grantmaking and community efforts. For example, a recent grant to Homefull supported its Child Development Center to create a therapeutic environment for youth dealing with homelessness. With the help of the AACF’s $3,500 discretionary grant, Homefull’s staff transformed the Center into a fun, colorful and engaging play space and educational room with appropriate supervision. What was once an uninspiring conference room now is an interactive place for children to learn, grow and discover. Grants like this one, along with our grantmaking and scholarship workshops, are just a few examples of how AACF is helping to make an impact in the community.

Q: How is The Dayton Foundation helping the AACF to help others?

Joshua: The Dayton Foundation is an integral piece of the AACF. Twice it has made available funds for matching contribution programs. The first grant of $50,000 helped establish the AACF, and a $100,000 grant in 2012 helped us match new donor contributions that established 71 new charitable funds under the AACF. The Dayton Foundation also has provided the structure to make it easy for our donors to give, regardless of their asset size, and an overwhelming amount of administrative support that allows us to fulfill our mission and goals.

Q: How can someone get involved or support your efforts?

Joshua: For individuals who would like to support the African-American community through the establishment of a charitable fund, we have numerous charitable giving options available through our affiliation with The Dayton Foundation. Included in these are scholarship funds, Donor-Advised funds and the Charitable Checking AccountSM Service.

If you’d like to support the AACF in its discretionary grantmaking to nonprofit organizations in the region, you may contribute directly to the John E. Moore, Sr., and Lloyd E. Lewis, Jr., Community Impact Fund.

For individuals looking to volunteer, we also have opportunities to serve on the Advisory Board or a Board committee, as well as opportunities to assist with other activities associated with the AACF. For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.aacfdayton.org.

Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel ________?”

Joshua: Blessed! Being able to help others by giving back part of the resources that has been given to me is a great feeling.

Willie: Good! If I can help somebody along the way, with a gift, smile, or hug, then my life will not be in vain.

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