260 Change Fund: Inspiring Collective Philanthropy

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From the student-led Civil Rights marches and sit-ins of the 1960s, to the anti-war protests of the ’70s, to the present-day Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives rallies, history shows us that young people invariably play major roles in the anatomy of social justice.

You can turn to any era and find passionate young people championing for change.

“I like to look at my life as very purpose-driven, so I think this was always in the plan,” said Isaac Addae, 37, a Tennessee State University business professor who launched the 260 Change Fund at The Community Foundation in July 2017.

The name “260 Change Fund” is derived from the February 1960 Nashville lunch counter sit-ins that transformed the segregation of businesses during the Jim Crow era. To honor the efforts of the 1960 change-agents, “260” also was chosen to serve as a synonym for change, as a 260-degree turn represents movement in a new direction.

“We’ve been very specific about our intention with the Fund,” Isaac said. “Communities of color have historically been the recipients of a lot of philanthropic work and support, and we wanted to change the paradigm to shift the focus toward us supporting our own communities.

“So instead of us being on the demand side of philanthropy,” he continued, “we want to create the supply side of philanthropy specifically focusing in on the younger generation, thinking about how we get more young people giving back to their communities and getting involved in community change.”

Using a collective savings and philanthropy concept called susu — a part of Isaac’s family heritage in Ghana, West Africa — the 260 Change Fund labels itself a giving circle. Its 23 members contribute at least $260 annually to the Fund, which then makes grants focusing on community and economic development, health care, and education.

“What I love the most about the 260 Change Fund is that we are trying to change the image of what philanthropy looks like,” said Shia Hendricks, 31, a 260 Change Fund member and Kellogg Company manager.

“And I think there’s a stigma around philanthropy that means you must be wealthy,” Shia continued.

“But I look at philanthropy as community and heart.

Ashley Upkins, 33, an attorney and Nashville native, believes money doesn’t have to be involved at all.

“When I was first hearing about philanthropy, I had this very small box of what the definition was,” Ashley said. “When I really started to dissect what that looks like, I realized philanthropy was all around me.

“It just looked different, she continued. “It wasn’t always giving in the monetary sense. It might have been wisdom. It might have been time. It might have been cooked food.”

The 260 Change Fund seem to share the same can-do attitude that despite your age, race, background or hardships, change is always possible.

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