BUFI passes the torch

When Jeffrey Osborne brings his great, resonating voice to The Harold Washington Cultural Center this Saturday to perform and launch The Black United Fund’s Culture of Giving program through its Living Legends Passing The Torch Awards Gala, he will

When Jeffrey Osborne brings his great, resonating voice to The Harold Washington Cultural Center this Saturday to perform and launch The Black United Fund’s Culture of Giving program through its Living Legends Passing The Torch Awards Gala, he will be helping Chicagoans of all ethnicities realize the senseless violence in our communities among our youth must stop.

The awards ceremony was created eight years ago as a visionary project dedicated to recognizing the achievements of local luminaries, while promoting the development of future generations of young leaders, and mentoring their dreams and aspirations.

BUFI’s new Save Our Youth Fund matches dollar for dollar contributions from new individual donors and increased giving over an individual’s previous year’s contribution. BUFI receives matching funds for youth development projects from the Cultures of Giving Fund, established by The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors with major support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

The tradition of “Black people helping Black people” through philanthropy has a deep intrinsic value and rich history. This tradition has its roots in the leadership of Prince Hall, who in the late 1700s in Massachusetts was credited with creating Black Freemasonry.

Prince Hall was a property owner and a registered voter in Boston. He worked as an abolitionist and a civil rights activist and he fought for laws to protect free Blacks in Massachusetts from kidnapping by slave traders.

Also, he campaigned for schools for Black children, and he operated a school in his own home.

These efforts lead to what can be considered as our first formalized philanthropic institution that worked to provide support for our people just like today The Black United Fund of Illinois continues in that tradition of self help.

The African American community faces critical challenges at this hour in history, and it must rise to the occasion to intensify its efforts to help address so many of the problems that it faces in areas of education, family deterioration, drugs and violence, homelessness, and the disproportionate number of our people becoming caught in the throes of the criminal justice system.

Twenty-four years ago, The Black United Fund of Illinois was developed in a storefront office on East 71st Street in Chicago. Today, BUFI occupies nearly an entire city block, providing rental offices to small businesses and other non-profit organizations.

Its Corporate Partnership program with The Leo Burnett Company allows employees to reinvest individual resources through its charitable payroll deduction campaign. Other companies are invited to join too.

In the true spirit of “Helping People Help Themselves,” The Black United Fund salutes its Torch honorees this year.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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