l to r: Charmaine Chapman and Dr. Donald Suggs
Philanthropy in the African American community is not a new concept. It has grown beyond providing a means of survival for loved ones to allowing African Americans to generously give to causes that benefit others. One of the most successful examples is in St. Louis, which is well known for its generosity.
During the height of the Great Recession, residents gave in abundance to organizations such as United Way of Greater St. Louis, which is the fifth largest United Way in the country. The organization also boasts the largest African American leadership giving initiative through its Charmaine Chapman Leadership Society.
The Chapman Society is named in honor of United Way’s first African American and first woman CEO, who was known throughout the region as an amazing advocate for giving. The Society, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in September with a gala, has a membership of more than 890 individuals who donate at least $1,000 annually to help people live their best possible lives. The Chapman Society founder, Dr. Donald Suggs, publisher and executive editor of the St. Louis American has also played an integral role with black philanthropy in St. Louis through the American and United Way. A shared focus of both organizations is a commitment to education.
United Way supports several programs to help people in St. Louis transform their lives with a quality education, including providing funding to nonprofit agencies that provide educational opportunities for youth and adults. The St. Louis American offers scholarships to students for post-secondary education through its Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala, also held in September, and provides free newspapers to 7,000 students in area school districts.
Both galas, held during the same weekend, are a testament to the strength of collaboration and giving in St. Louis to make a difference in the lives of people in the community.