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June 6, 2024 29 mins

Today's guests are Kaci Patterson and Felicia Jones, cohosts of "Thriving While Black", a new podcast that brings the worlds of philanthropy and community together  to change the landscape of Black Giving and the Black community at large.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
In the philanthropic sector. There are dozens of podcasts discussing philanthropy,
what's missing, a macro view of the sector and how
it actually impacts the Black community, specifically in Southern California.
Enter Thriving While Black the voices of two black women,
Casey Patterson and Felicia Jones, who are shaping philanthropy and community,

(00:20):
while also guest featuring CBO leaders, change makers in philanthropy,
and activists who are using their voices, talents, expertise, and
platforms to change the landscape of black giving and the
Black community at large. Here to discuss more about this
incredible podcast are the hosts, Casey Patterson and Felicia Jones.

(00:41):
This is the Black Information Network Daily Podcast and I'm
your host, ramses Jah. All right, welcome to the show,
Casey and Felicia. How are you doing today?

Speaker 2 (00:50):
Good morning, Good morning. Thank you so much for having us.

Speaker 3 (00:53):
Yeah, I appreciated, too excited to be here.

Speaker 1 (00:56):
Yeah, yeah, I'm excited to talk to you. So what
we do on this show is we start our stories
at the beginning. So what I want to do is
just to acquaint you with our listeners here, give us
a little bit about your background and sort of what
led you to kind of the path you're on, led
you to wanting to get the message out with this program.

(01:18):
Let's start with you, Felicia.

Speaker 3 (01:20):
Sure. So I come to the space by way of
Grassros organizing. I spent two decades as an organizer, and
then I got to meet this amazing woman, Casey Patterson,
who is who actually started out with me as a funder.
So we had a grantee funder relationship, and over time,

(01:45):
of course, it became a beautiful friendship and we started
working together and now we are working together with Social
Good Solutions in the Black Equity Collective.

Speaker 1 (01:55):
But I got to know.

Speaker 3 (01:56):
Casey because she was a fierce leader, but she also
came to us as grantees with a whole lot of
you know, get it right black folks, because we need
you to be well and and do well at your work.

Speaker 1 (02:12):
And so.

Speaker 3 (02:14):
You know, she she was a tough cookie, but she
was also very passionate about black leaders and about our success.
So that's that's sort of how we how we got
to know each other, how we came to this space.
And you know, I just deeply care about the work

(02:35):
and I care about funding.

Speaker 1 (02:38):
Black folks is this Does this have anything to do
with Social good Solutions? Because I remember reading something about
that and am I connecting that in the right place? Yes?

Speaker 3 (02:46):
Yes, we both now work for case I work for
Casey's firm, Social Good Solutions, And I'll let her say
more about what Social good Solutions is and she introduces herself.

Speaker 1 (02:56):
All right, so Casey is your turn, So tell us
a bit about your background, and also I want you
to discuss the Black Equity Collective as well if you can.

Speaker 2 (03:06):
Sure, absolutely, well, Again, thank you so much for having
us on the show. It's really a pleasure just to
be in conversation with you this morning. You know, I
spent about twenty years or so in the nonprofit sector,
doing everything from entry level to executive leadership. A lot
of my work initially was sort of in the education
support services, and I always worked for intermediary organizations where

(03:29):
we were not the primary funding source. We received a
larger grant that we then regranted out to organizations that
were on the front lines. And that's the space in
which I met Felicia and her colleagues. I was working
for a nonprofit organization where I was overseeing an initiative
that was funded by a large foundation and we were

(03:51):
the regranting organization, And in that space I came to
understand very clearly that the mission of the foundation could
not be fulfilled without the missions of the organizations on
the ground being executed at the highest caliber, and our

(04:11):
mission as the intermediary organization was the same. And so
we really relied on the work of the grassroots organizations
in order to fulfill our mission because they were the
ones actually doing the work. We were supporting the work,
providing them sort of coaching, technical assistance a community, but
they were the ones on the front lines. And so

(04:32):
it became very clear to me in that space that
we needed to orient ourselves as funders and as intermediary
grant makers to really supporting the work of organizations on
the ground. And like I said, it was in that
space that I met Felicia. After about twenty years of
being in the nonprofit sector, I was at a point
in my life and in my career where I wanted

(04:55):
more balance, and so I started consulting. I opened Social
Good Solutions in two thous fourteen. We're celebrating our ten
years this year in October graduation and thank you and
it was in that spirit, or sort of out of
that space of consulting that I started working with funders
and helping funders to really design initiatives that were really

(05:18):
community centered and grounded in a sort of cultural expression.
And so I worked with one particular funder for four
years and they funded an effort that I started for
them called the Black Equity Initiative. They were the single
funder for four years. They supported it with almost five
and a half million dollars. Over that time. It funded

(05:39):
fifteen black lead and serving organizations in southern California. And
at about two years or so into that initiative, there
was a real calling from not only the organizations that
were funded, but also from the funder themselves, saying, we
need to figure out how to keep this work going
and create space for other organizations and for other funds

(06:00):
to join. And so we spent about a year from
you know, October of twenty nineteen all the way through
twenty twenty designing the Black Equity Collective to replace what
was the initiative that existed for four years. And so
the Collective is an evolution of that work and an
expansion of that work. And really quickly I'll just say,

(06:24):
because I know you have other questions, I'll just say
that the mission of the collective is to join funders
and communities and strengthening the long term sustainability of black
lead and Black empowering organizations because we know that it's
black lead and black empowering organizations that are on the
front lines of social change, pushing and fighting for social justice,

(06:45):
and we need to strengthen and fortify their work so
that they are prepared to do that work for the
long haul.

Speaker 1 (06:52):
You know, I came across a quote recently. It's an
old quote, so I'm just kind of new to the part,
but it says, you know, the folks that are closest
to the problem are also closest to the solution. So
I think that that kind of fits the spirit of
this conversation so far. I want to shift gears a

(07:13):
bit and continue with you if I can, Casey, Sure,
what inspired the podcast Thriving While Black?

Speaker 2 (07:23):
It's such a good question, and I want to say that,
in part it was inspired by folks like Felicia who
when she was a grassroots organizer and when I met
her actually and started working with her in that capacity.
She is one of maybe a handful of folks who
worked on the front lines, who did grassroots organizing, who
really taught me how to be a good funder. And

(07:45):
it really taught me the importance of staying connected to
the community and staying connected to the grassroots because I
was in rooms that they would never be in, and
it was my responsibility to hold space for them in
those rooms. And so Felicia and others really taught me
how to do that well. And so really the spirit

(08:06):
of thriving while Black is to visibilize those folks, is
to visibilize the folks who are really on the front
lines and really whose names you may never know, but
who are doing transformational work for and with and on
behalf of the black community. And it's our opportunity. It's

(08:26):
to create a platform where we can introduce them to people,
that we can celebrate their work and their contributions, give
them their flowers, hopefully inspire others by the work that
they've been doing, and really elevate and lift up their voices.

Speaker 1 (08:43):
So, Felicia, I want you to continue here if you will.
When when you're talking about the people that are listening
to this show, are those people exclusively people that kind
of walk your path or are their maybe potential allies.
Like who is the target listener and what is it
that you're wanting that listener to take away from the show?

Speaker 3 (09:06):
Yeah, thank you, And that's that's an excellent, excellent question.
It is people like myself who are working on the
front lines and have worked on the front lines of
racial justice and community transformation. But it is also funders.
It is also just regular folks who are curious about

(09:30):
how change happens in the community. And so we you know,
we are hoping to reach a broad audience with this,
but we know that we want to start at home.
The nonprofit sector itself needs to be heard and needs
to see this as a platform that celebrates them, to
Casey's point, But we also know that we are launching

(09:52):
this podcast at a time when black works, specifically in
an investment in black work, is under attack, and so
we do want the message amplified of all the positive
contributions that happen out of black leadership, out of black
led organizations. Uh, and you know, how does how do

(10:14):
we hear from them and understand them deeply and not
listen to the counter narrative that is actually attacking and
attacking our work in really critical ways. So we this
we hope to narrative ship with this uh and raise
consciousness in a very different way.

Speaker 1 (10:35):
Yeah, yeah, I can appreciate that mission statement.

Speaker 4 (10:40):
More than you know, because I you know, I mentioned
before we we got recording that I kind of work
in a very similar space, and you know, my my
path is that of ortifying allies and making sure that
they have the tools to engage in meaningful conversations and
create those sort of ripple effects.

Speaker 1 (11:01):
And so it sounds to me like your mission is
very similar in that you're giving people who kind of
work in this space the tools that they need and
some insight in areas that they may not have. So yeah,
so I can appreciate that. So let's shift yours again.
Talk to me about the California Black Freedom Fund and

(11:24):
how folks can get involved. And I'm not sure which
of you might be in the best position to respond
to that, but I'll take that one. Let's do good.

Speaker 2 (11:35):
Yeah, I'll take that one. California. The California Black Freedom
Fund was born out of the racial uprising of twenty twenty.
I was fortunate enough to be one of three community
leaders who were brought in very early in the formation
of the Freedom Fund and trying to have not only

(11:55):
a response, you know, to what was happening in the landscape,
but try to really physician a broader vision of what
it meant to actually fortify black led organizations who were
working on the front lines. And so we helped architect
the Black Freedom Fund along with several foundation CEOs who

(12:16):
called their peers and said, now is the time for
you to show up and fund the work of black
freedom and black liberation robustly. And the idea of the
Freedom Fund was to ensure that philanthropy would do something different. Traditionally,
what happens in crisis moments is philanthropy will take a
humanitarian crisis approach to funding. They'll fly in, drop a

(12:40):
bunch of money, and fly out fairly quickly and move on.
And we intentionally wanted to set up the Fund so
that it would be a longer term horizon effort, and
so it was initially set up as a five year initiative.
It's now founding executive director, Mark Philpart who is a
dear friend of ours, is now positioning the Fund to

(13:02):
be a long term, permanent foundation to move resources to
black led organizations more permanently, and so we are wholeheartedly
in support of that work. And so I continue to
serve on the advisory committee for the Black Freedom Fund.
But that is its work. It is to fund and

(13:23):
support black led organizations that are working on the frontlines
of social change, to do deep transformational investment, to help
organize peers and allies in the space, and to provide
the kind of backbone infrastructure support that many organizations may
not be able to have on their own absent an

(13:44):
entity like the Freedom Fund.

Speaker 5 (13:47):
Join us for the National Urban League Conference in New
Orleans July twenty fourth through the twenty seventh at High
Regency New Orleans, nod miss out register today and annulconference
dot org.

Speaker 1 (14:03):
We are here today with the host of the Thriving
While Black podcast, Casey Patterson and Felicia Jones. Okay, so
I've seen that you've had a guest on Anthony Thigpen,
who is the founder and president of California Calls. I'm
guessing that you're going to have more guests in the

(14:26):
future to kind of help get the messaging out. Who
are some wish list guests that you want to have
on the show, or maybe some folks you already have
lined up, give me maybe one each off of that
wish list, or maybe somebody that you're looking forward to.
We'll start with you, Felicia first.

Speaker 3 (14:42):
Yeah, Well, we've just talked about one that we're super
excited to share when we launched that episode, and that's
Mark phil Part who is leading the California Black Freedom
Fun Nice Okay, Yeah, I'm really excited for people to
hear his story how he came to the work.

Speaker 1 (15:01):
Yeah, all right, and Casey, let's get yours.

Speaker 2 (15:04):
Yeah, our first season is dedicated to black leaders paving
a new way, and so we started with Anthony because
he has been really, as we call him, sort of
the godfather too, so so much of the work that
we do and has been a mentor to so many
of us. But I'm also really looking forward to the
episode that we'll launch that features Karen Lane, who's the

(15:26):
Deputy Director of Community Safety in Mayor Karen Bass's administration,
and she has a long history as a community organizer
and attorney. She's also worked in philanthropy and now in government,
and so to hear her perspective on what it means
to thrive while black is a really fascinating conversation that
we're looking forward to everyone hearing.

Speaker 1 (15:45):
Sure, sure, absolutely, Okay, So you mentioned earlier, and let's
let's stick with you, Casey. You mentioned earlier that there's
a lot of pushback that were noticed seeing right now
against things like affirmative action, you know, de I initiatives,

(16:07):
and you know, things like this. You know, it's now
getting kind of bunched in with under under the umbrella
term woke, as though that's a bad thing and demonized
and villainized. And I I want to get your thoughts
on where we go from here. So again, in case you,

(16:31):
we'll start with you, and then Alice, I'd love to
get your thoughts as well as well.

Speaker 2 (16:35):
Yeah, I really appreciate you asking this question, Job, because
I think what we are seeing is another iteration of
black erasure happening and the progress that seems to always
follow these uprisings, these sort of awakenings that happen in
our broader society are typically met with pretty fierce backlash

(16:59):
and efforts to not only undo the progress, but to
revert the progress back even further from the starting point
from which it actually began. And so we're seeing that
happen in a very aggressive and assertive way, and as
Felicia mentioned, part of the work of the podcast is
to really begin to position a different narrative. And so

(17:22):
where do we go from here is a narrative frame
that we hope really spreads, which is a narrative around
black permanence and what it means to actually fortify a
people that has a language, a history, a land, a culture, contributions,
you know, sort of cultural assets that come to bear

(17:44):
to really really anchor us in this country. And so
if we are going to push back against these ongoing
efforts to erase us, we have to have a different
frame of mind. We can't just be fighting for survival,
have to be really fighting for us to be able
to thrive for generations to come. And so for us,

(18:07):
what that means is we need a narrative that really
anchors us in a vision of black permanency.

Speaker 1 (18:13):
I agree with that. I like that, and then Felicia,
I want to get your thoughts as well.

Speaker 3 (18:18):
Yeah, I think the only thing I would add to
that is that we see black lead nonprofits as the
engine that gets us there. We're not going to be
able to have permanency if they don't have permanency. They
are waging the real critical fights on the ground that

(18:39):
make it possible for black people to thrive, but they
are often fighting for their own existence. And so the
podcast is trying to do multiple things. But I think
the message of the permanence of a black lead, a
black lead nonprofit sector is equally as important thriving in

(19:01):
California and across the nation. But you know, we need
to be around to make that happen. Let me just
say that we need to be around to make that Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (19:12):
No, I understand. One of the things that troubles me,
mm hmm is that I know that with respect to nonprofits,
with respect to activist organizations, and you know, even street

(19:32):
level activism, typically there's a direct link between what's happening
on the ground and what's happening you know, in the
in the chambers the state and government and federal chambers
and so forth, the legislators, the lawmakers, et cetera. And

(19:55):
in a democracy, the way that you engage, meaning lead
in the system is through voting. And so at a point,
that's a conversation that everyone has to have because and
we all have to be moved to take action toward

(20:15):
that end. And you know, one of the things that
is that that we're dealing with, not just us on
this call, but you know, our people in our country,
is that there's a lot of people feel very apathetic
going into this next election cycle. There's a lot of

(20:36):
people who are very disappointed with both of the candidates,
and there a lot of the people have good reason
to be disappointed with both candidates. And you know, when
I'm when I'm looking at again the weakening of d
I and and the weakening of you know, and the

(21:00):
Supreme Court's attacks on everything, you know, women's reproductive rights,
and I mentioned affirmative action and so forth and so on,
that is a direct result of votes or lack thereof right.
Somebody has to be the president, somebody has to be
the senator, somebody has to function in all these capacities,

(21:21):
and if we do not vote for them, somebody will
vote for them on our behalf, and then those people
will shape or restrict the world in which we live.
And so it's one of the things that I kind
of brush up against when I'm asking that question. I know,
it's a it's a strange question to approach right now,

(21:42):
and I appreciate both of your response to it, But
it's kind of one of those moments where we've you know,
over the past, you know, forty years, sixty years, you know,
depending on which piece of legislation you're looking at. You know,
we've taken a couple of steps forward, but you know,
with with what the Supreme Court has done, we've definitely
taken a step backwards. And that doesn't feel good. And

(22:07):
to know that really the only meaningful way that we
can engage is with with within a democracy is by voting.
It's it's one of those things that you know, we
continually have to come to terms with. And you know,
black people, obviously, we have a long standing gripe with
the political system in this country because we vote and

(22:30):
vote and vote often for the same reasons and often
enough the same people. And you know, our progress is
very much incremental if that, And so I think I'll
add to that that you know, organizations, nonprofit organizations, people

(22:52):
that are actually connected to the communities. You know, we
always say Another thing we always say is that local
voting is perhaps the most important voting. But the reason
we say that is because your reality is shaped by
the people around you and your immediate vicinity, and so
you know, the work that you're doing in fortifying those

(23:15):
organizations you know, and the work that you're doing through
your podcast by making sure that you know, those folks
on the ground have the resources and the insight into
areas that they may not have. You know, they have
something in their heart fueled by some conviction. May I
have the best strategy, may not have the resources. I
just can't. I can't say how much I appreciate the

(23:36):
work that you're doing because it's it's incredibly necessary. Enough
about that, I wanted to make sure I got that
out because I thought of telling you at the end
of the call, but it just kind of felt timely
and maybe our our listeners would kind of understand a
little bit more of why I said that, because obviously
I have a longer relationship with them and have shared

(23:58):
a lot of that. But what's next for you both?
What I mean is, you know, podcasting is something that
is very special, but it's also one dimension in a
multi dimensional media space. Are you thinking of maybe a

(24:21):
book in the future and what ways are you are
you hoping to grow? That's probably a question.

Speaker 2 (24:27):
Yeah, I'll start and again, just thank you so much
for your comments. I also want to just make sure
to recognize the work that black led organizations are doing
to defend democracy and you know, to really fight voter suppression,
which is rampant and quite frankly, if we actually have

(24:47):
free access to the vote without voter suppression, then we
would have a much different country than we have now.

Speaker 3 (24:52):
But the.

Speaker 2 (24:54):
Ongoing efforts to prevent black people from changing the construction
of this country by weaponizing the vote has been something
that we have been persistently fighting over the course of
our history. And we honor the organizations on the ground
like COPE from which Felicia Kane and others who are
doing the kind of integrated voter engagement that Anthony Thinkpin

(25:16):
talked about to really fight back against voter suppression of
the black vote. In terms of your question around what's next, well,
we just launched the podcast, so we're very early in
the development of that platform. Yeah, okay, we're definitely excited
to see what comes of the podcast. We finished, we

(25:38):
wrapped shooting all of season one and so those episodes
will be released monthly and we are in pre production
on season two, and I already have concepts around season
three in the works, and so we're definitely excited to
continue to develop this platform and to grow our audience
and to see what that then leads us to next

(26:01):
in terms of how we continue to expand this vision
around black permanence. Alicia, what would you say.

Speaker 3 (26:08):
Well, I mean, since you put the book idea out here,
I'm like, look, let's talk that around.

Speaker 1 (26:13):
Yeah, that's that's why I was asking the question. I
feel like, yeah, what resources explore that?

Speaker 3 (26:18):
I will say, I do know there was a point
at which we had talked about how we actually feature
specifically women in the movement, and I think you know,
and we've talked about it. I don't know if we'll
go where we'll go with this? Okay, See is probably
hearing this, like, h will we will we go there?
But this certainly has The podcast is a platform also

(26:42):
to specifically uplift the contributions of black women and those
who are behind the scenes but making really impactful change
and their stories oftentimes aren't heard and what it takes
to say wrong and resilient in movement work. So you'll

(27:04):
hear more about that, I'm sure in the seasons to come.
But thank you for putting out in the spirit a
book and we'll come back to you later once we
figure that out.

Speaker 1 (27:14):
Please, trying to.

Speaker 2 (27:15):
Convince me to do a book. So I feel that
I just gave them the ammunition.

Speaker 1 (27:19):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, So put me on your on your
on your press run, come back and we'll talk about,
you know, all the jewels you'll be letting people have
through that book. And before we let you go, of course,
do me a favor. We'll continue with you, Felicia. Let
us know any sort of social media, any sort of
connective tissue. Obviously plugged the podcast and where people can

(27:41):
and find it, and just so that again people can
make that connection and tap in.

Speaker 3 (27:47):
Now I feel like, oh my goodness, you put me
on the spot, and do I have that? While black
the podcast, I don't have our socials okay.

Speaker 2 (27:59):
Okay, I know driving at black LA.

Speaker 3 (28:02):
Thank you.

Speaker 2 (28:04):
You can find us on you can find us anywhere
you get you download your podcasts. You can find our
socials are thriving while black LA. You can find the
firm on all socials as well. So social good Solutions,
you can find the Black Equity Collective on all socials

(28:24):
as well. And me personally, I'm a LinkedIn person. So
find me personally on LinkedIn. I love to drop some
dimes and some gems around what's going on in philanthropy
using LinkedIn. So that's that's where you can find us.
Come check us out.

Speaker 1 (28:41):
Okay, all right, we'll do all right. Well, in that case,
we'll leave it right there. I'd like to thank you
both very much for your time and your you know,
commitment to uplifting this very special segment of you know,
our community and our community at large as well. Obviously

(29:01):
your lives are testaments to that, and you are humans
after my own heart. So the fact that you would
take a moment to share your story with me really
means a lot. Once again, today's guests are the hosts
of the Thriving While Black podcast, Kasey Patterson and Felicia Jones.

Speaker 2 (29:21):
Thank you so much for having us have a beautiful day.

Speaker 3 (29:24):
Thank you, Thank care.

Speaker 1 (29:26):
This has been a production of the Black Information Network.
Today's show was produced by Chris Thompson. Have some thoughts
you'd like to share, use the red microphone talkback feature
on the iHeartRadio app. While you're there, be sure to
hit subscribe and download all of our episodes. I'm your host.
Ramsey's JAW on all social media and join us tomorrow
as we share our news with our voice from our

(29:46):
perspective right here on the Black Information Network Daily podcast
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