Black Philanthropy Month: Amplifying Black Donors Making an Impact in San Diego

Black Philanthropy Month launched in 2011 to commemorate the United Nations Year and Decade of People of African Descent.
Black Philanthropy Month launched in 2011 to commemorate the United Nations Year and Decade of People of African Descent.

Marking its 10th anniversary this month, Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), is a global celebration observed every August and a year-round social action initiative to elevate and encourage African-descent philanthropy.

The monthlong celebration was founded by Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland, Ph.D., founder and governing board president of the WISE Fund. According to the Black Philanthropy Month website, the celebration aims to amplify the transformative impact of philanthropy in Black communities by “informing, involving, inspiring and investing in Black philanthropic leadership to strengthen African-American and African-descent giving in all its forms.”

Black Philanthropy Month is an opportunity to honor some of San Diego’s Black philanthropists who, through donor-advised and scholarship funds with The San Diego Foundation, have made a lasting positive impact on San Diego’s Black community and beyond.

Read their stories and consider the ways that you can partner with The San Diego Foundation to prioritize and invest in community-led, innovative efforts that advance racial and social justice, foster equity of opportunity, and build resilient communities.

Amid Heartbreak, Elene Bratton Brings Joy to the Community

Jamie’s Joy Memorial Fund

“We wanted to build a legacy around who Jamie was because it was really important to us that his spirit and legacy live on. Through the Jamie’s Joy Memorial Fund at The San Diego Foundation, we were able to honor the life of Jamie by enriching the lives of all living beings through supporting activities and organizations that promote joy, love, connection and peace.” – Elene Bratton

Elene Bratton and her family were moved to give back to the community with funds that mourners had contributed after their son Jamie Bratton-McNeeley’s life was tragically cut short. Through Jamie’s Joy Memorial Fund, San Diego remembers Jamie not just as a young boy with a passion for life, but as someone who was and is forever committed to helping others. Learn more about Jamie and his legacy here.

How UCSD Black Alumni Scholarships Increase Classroom Diversity

UCSD Black Alumni Scholarships

“We’re continuing to work hard to raise funds for scholarships and entice more Black students to come,” said Manuelita Brown, whose decades-long relationship with UC San Diego (UCSD) includes being the spouse of a faculty member, a graduate student herself, mother of a student and member of the San Diego Black Alumni Council.

For nearly 20 years, Brown has served as the Chair of the UCSD Black Alumni Scholarship Fund, aiming to increase the number of African American students on campus. Following the passing of California Proposition 209, which banned public universities from awarding scholarships based on ethnicities, the funds have been awarded through The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Program. Learn more about the fund’s impact here.

Constance Carroll: Championing Education Equity in San Diego

San Diego Promise Program

While Dr. Constance Carroll’s list of career achievements is long, there may be no greater example of her impact in the community than the San Diego Promise program. Launched as a pilot in 2016 for fewer than 200 youth, the program is designed to boost student success by providing individualized support, educational plans and two years of tuition. Today, the San Diego Promise is benefiting thousands of San Diego Community College District students each academic year, most of whom would not have attended college if it were not for the program.

Dr. Carroll’s life experiences are part of the reason she continues to work for equity and opportunity for all students, particularly the most underserved and under-represented. Here is her story.

Alicia Gwynn Builds Character Among San Diego Youth

Impacting the lives of young people

Alicia Gwynn, local businesswoman and wife of the late Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn, has been making an impact in the San Diego community for so long that it’s now part of her DNA.

“For as long as we were together, Tony and I always believed in helping others,” explained Alicia. “When Tony was playing baseball, we would learn about local children who were in need of help for one reason or another. We would receive calls about parents putting children out or kids who lacked basic resources like food and a roof over their head.”

That’s when the couple knew they needed to act, and act in a major way. Read on to learn how they changed the lives of 40 children by welcoming them into their home.

William “Peasy” Johnson Increases Opportunities for Lincoln High School Students

William “Peasy” Johnson Scholarship

When you speak to him, William “Peasy” Johnson likes to share the story of two little boys who were walking to school and realized they were going to be late. The first boy said, “I am going to pray that we get to school on time.” The other boy responded, “I’m going to pray and run!” This belief in the power of asking for help but also believing in the empowerment of helping yourself, is reflected in his life choices.

Even after he retired, Peasy wanted to continue helping the community in any way he could. He recognized what the combination of hard work and opportunity did for him as a youth, and he knew he wanted to do the same for other young San Diegans. Learn about Peasy’s life and impact through the William “Peasy” Johnson Scholarship.

The Honorable Leon L. Williams

Leon and Margaret Williams Scholarship

From the Mission Valley East trolley line to establishment of the Centre City and Southeast Economic Development Corporations to improvements including new parks, recreation councils and neighborhood watch groups, Leon Williams is a visionary civic leader whose accomplishments are an important part of San Diego history.

With integrity, compassion and intelligence, Mr. Williams, The San Diego Foundation’s first Black Board of Governors Member, is known nationwide for his ability to bring people together through the unified purpose of serving the common good. In 1999, Mr. Williams established a scholarship fund at The San Diego Foundation to support local Black students who attend a four-year university and pursue a career in health or healthcare, with a demonstrated commitment to improving health in our community. Because his fund is an endowment, Leon Williams will continue to improve the lives of others – forever.