Love in Action Gala Celebrating Black Philanthropy

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An incredible evening celebrating Black philanthropy!

In February 2024 our Black Legacy Fund and its supporters gathered for an incredible celebratory evening. We saw love in action on full display as we collectively honored our fund's founders, reviewed the community engagement the Black Legacy Fund Advisory Committee has done over the last year, and had great conversations with partners! We are eagerly looking to the future of what we can accomplish together.

See the full Facebook album from the evening.

Love in Action

The gala was a celebration of our fund’s founders’ passion to activate their love for community through establishing Black Legacy Fund, then known as African American Heritage Fund. It was a celebration of the many partners – donor, nonprofit, community, volunteer and businesses – who have poured into the fund over the years. And a celebration of the philanthropy that has and will continue to happen in Black communities throughout Kent County and beyond. All of these come together to describe the theme: Love in action.

Video Featuring Founders Ellen James and Elias Lumpkins

Black Legacy Fund, a fund of Grand Rapids Community Foundation led by community volunteers, was established in 2006, then known as the African American Heritage Fund. The founders include the late Margaret Sellers Walker Morris, Shirley Daniels, Beverly Drake, and Cal Jeters. Ellen James and Elias Lumpkins are the two living founders, and at the event, we featured a video with them discussing their vision for the fund and its future. You can watch the video by clicking here.

Year in Review

During the program, Zahna Woodson, Black Legacy Fund co-chair, gave an overview of the fund's activities from the previous year's gala to this February.

  • Over the past year we have found new and different ways to celebrate and uplift Black brilliance and Black joy throughout Kent County.
  • In December of 2022 Black Legacy Fund announced a historic grant round for the fund, where the committee awarded over $600,000 in grants to Black-led nonprofits. That was an incredible moment! And we know that it was not enough. With over $9 million in requests from 87 organizations just in that application cycle alone, we knew that we wanted to find ways to continue supporting Black communities between competitive grant cycles.
  • We have refined our processes for activating resources in community through sponsorships of local events and emerging grants that simply cannot wait until our next competitive grant cycle.
  • We have celebrated the joy of Black philanthropy and giving through fun events like our 616 Pop Up Event at Studio Park.
  • We have brought on new volunteer committee members who are helping to lead this work.

Denavvia Mojet, Black Legacy Fund co-chair, also led a panel discussion with a few of the fund's partners who have received funding through grants and sponsorships.

2024 Competitive Grant Round

As we look to the upcoming year, the advisory committee has begun preparing for our next competitive grant cycle, which will launch this coming August. We know that this is an awesome responsibility, and we will keep you up to date on this process as we get closer to opening the application. View the grant awards from 2023 by clicking here.

Learn more about Black Legacy Fund at