African American Giving Initiative

Who We Are

Established in 2011, this initiative is focused on creating an endowment fund with broad community support and to provide grantmaking for needs that are specific to the African American community in the greater Rochester region. Members are committed to making a positive change in problem areas experienced most strongly within the African American community.

The group’s goal is to raise $1 million to create a permanent endowment that will grow and respond to the future needs and aspirations of Rochester’s Black community — forever. Members’ gifts to the African American Giving Initiative Fund will be designated for two purposes — half for grantmaking that year and half to help build the endowment. 

All contributors decide together how to best distribute the charitable dollars raised, taking full advantage of the power of giving together. We encourage giving to the Initiative from anyone who believes that a community is only as healthy as each person’s neighbor.

There are several options for getting involved (see details on how to join). In addition to financial support, your participation and passion as a volunteer on the steering committee to direct grantmaking also can help further the work of the Initiative.

2023 Grants

Three grants totaling $7,500 were awarded to:

Cancer Support Community Rochester: For Mapping My Journey in Communities of Color, a comprehensive outreach, advocacy, and education program within the African American and Latino communities focusing on addressing health disparities around cancer preventative health. $2,500

Greater Rochester Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI): A Coordinate Care Services, Inc. initiative focusing on equipping Monroe County parents with advocacy skills to influence their community and increasing DEI efforts in our region. $2,500

Hope Initiatives CDC, Inc.: Restoring Lives, a program that focuses on restoring lives challenged by the effects of incarceration, substance use disorders, and poverty, addresses immediate needs through the provision of furniture, household goods, moving and storage services. $2,500

Our Previous Grants

2022: Three grants totaling $7,500 were awarded to:

  • The Commissary Fund Inc: $2,500
  • Raising the Barcode: $2,500
  • Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition: $4,000

2021: Two grants totaling $8,000 were awarded to:

  • Beyond the Sanctuary: $4,000
  • Rochester Black Nursing Association: $4,000

2020: Three grants totaling $7,500 were awarded to:

  • Center for Employment Opportunities: $2,500
  • Center for Teen Empowerment: $2,500
  • Dress for Success Rochester, Inc.: $2,500

2019: Three grants totaling $8,000 were awarded to:

  • Judicial Process Commission: $2,500
  • Gateways Music Festival: $2,500
  • Mt. Sinai Ministries: $3,000

2018: Three grants totaling $10,000 were awarded to:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester: $5,000
  • Quad A for Kids: $2,500
  • Wilson Alliance: $2,500

2017: Three grants totaling $7,100 were awarded to support:

  • Gateways Music Festival 2017: $2,500
  • Cameron Community Ministries: $2,100
  • University of Rochester: $2,500

2016: The Judicial Process Commission: $5,000 

2015: Three grants of $3,333.34 each were awarded to support:

  • Cameron Community Ministries: $3,333.34
  • Gateways Music Festival: $3,333.34 
  • Group 14621 Community Association: $3,333.34

2014: Group 14621 Community Association: $2,500

2013: Gateways Music Festival: $5,200

Other Significant Work

The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity was commissioned by the Initiative to provide an overview of the racial and ethnic disparities in our community. This 40-page paperback, which is a compilation of essays from prominent community leaders and experts, includes data compiled by ACT Rochester. The book is available in print and in e-book form on

For more information on the African American Giving Initiative, email

The African American Giving Initiative invites you to join and to find your place in giving through these levels:

  • Founder ($1,000+): This annual investment gives you a vote in the grantmaking process that directs dollars to organizations making a measurable difference. Founders receive exclusive invitations to AAGI-sponsored events as well as educational and community programs.
  • Dunbar Society ($500+): This annual investment gives you a vote in grantmaking. Members at this level are invited to attend educational and community programs sponsored by the Giving Initiative.
  • The Culture Collective ($400): A donation of any amount will be put toward grants selected by AAGI members at the Supporter and Founder levels.

Half of all gifts are added to the AAGI endowment fund for the future and the other half support immediate community needs through grants. All contributions are tax deductible.

To join, use our easy and secure online form or mail a check, payable to Rochester Area Community Foundation (with African American Giving Initiative in the Memo line) to African American Giving Initiative, c/o Rochester Area Community Foundation, 500 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607. All contributions to the Initiative are tax deductible.

Through its annual grantmaking, the African American Giving Initiative supports projects and programs that positively impact or directly reduce an identified disparity in the African American community and lead to systemic change. Collaboration with partners and/or the ability to replicate program achievements are also key components of a successful application.

For more information about the Initiative’s grant criteria and annual grant cycle, click here.