TSU’s University Museum recently played host to members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were on hand to support the announcement of a CBC Foundation endowment to support its programs that help prepare Black college students and CBC interns to become the next generation of political and business leaders.
“We want to secure our future by creating abundant opportunities for Black college students who are pursuing careers in public policy and social justice, and we want them to make the most of their potential,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, the CBCF’s president and CEO. “Establishing that endowment, we have a goal. And that goal is $50 million dollars.”
Austin-Hillery told attendees she wants them to say ‘wow’ not just about that number, but ‘wow’ when they think about the impact those funds can have.
“That’s the real ‘wow’ factor, when we think about how that can change the trajectory of this country and the trajectory of the lives of so many young people that we can provide opportunities for. We think this will enable us to annually fund more students who are pursuing programs of study in social justice and public policy and civil leadership. And we think, again, that it will make an impact on this country,” said Austin-Hillery.
“We want to have raised by our 50th anniversary three years from now, $50 million,” said U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, chair of the CBCF board of directors. “That’s something we know is doable. And it has to be doable when you think about the impact this CBCF has already had on young, Black talent.”
“I want people to realize that $50 million is more than feasible, more than possible,” said U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, referring to corporate pledges given in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
“We have helped thousands and thousands of students who have been focused on their academics and their professional goals, and we have given them hands-on experience with the legislature, working with the executive branch, and now also working with many corporations around the country where they are getting what we call C-Suite experience,” said Austin-Hillery.
Austin-Hillery also announced a new CBCF initiative.
“Most recently, the CBC has established what we call the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice (NREI) to combat systemic injustice and advance racial equity, human rights, civil rights, education and community and economic development opportunities for the Black community,” said Austin-Hillery.
“We know that we are living in challenging times here in the United States, and the CBCF wanted to rise to the occasion to make sure that we were positioning ourselves so that we could be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. And that’s what our NREI does.”
Austin-Hillery certainly welcomed acknowledgement of the impact the CBCF has had on the lives of Black students over its nearly 50-year history. But she has her sights set on the CBCF’s future work.
“Although we have many successes that we can celebrate, there is still so much work to be done, and so many more opportunities to create for our community and for our young people. We are at an important moment, and we are embarking on an endowment campaign. That is a first for CBCF. And it is a big, challenging opportunity, but one that we think will be a game-changer for the institution and for the future of Black America.
“We want to use this endowment fund to close the educational gap. We want to make sure that we are creating a level playing field so that every smart, young person who wants the opportunity to learn, to grow and to give back, has the chance to do that. We want to make sure that we are preparing leaders for tomorrow’s future and that we are expanding career success for all, regardless of background, regardless of any other factors that should have nothing to do with whether you have an opportunity in this great country of ours to be a successful contributor.”
“Founded in 1976, for 48 years we have been developing African American talent through our leadership institute,” said U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, chair of the CBCF board of directors. “We have also been informing and influencing public policy. And, we have been educating all around the world, the importance of issues facing African Americans. Ours is a global mission. But we can only do it through your help.
“I know I stand on the shoulders of Sheila Jackson Lee and John Lewis, but I had to see it, touch it to know that I wanted to be it. It was an internship on Capitol Hill with my member of Congress [ahem] many years ago, that I had an opportunity to witness firsthand what lawmakers do. And my dream became a reality only because people invested in me. And that’s what this is all about. It’s investing in our future, and the future leadership of our country. And also making sure that we as African Americans leave a strong legacy. A legacy of public policy. A legacy of leadership. A legacy of developing those talented folk who but for the investment would not have a chance to reach their full, God-given potential,” said Sewell.
Visit www.cbcfinc.org for more information.