In Omaha, a New Hub for Black Women’s Philanthropy



We’ve written a lot of articles lately about new local giving circles rallying the philanthropic efforts of women and people of color. Such efforts often crop up out of a sense of frustration that established funders are overlooking these groups. But they also reflect growing interest in philanthropy in many communities right now.

The latest giving circle that we’ve learned about is I Be Black Girl (IBBG), in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Nebraska circle recently awarded its inaugural round of grants, totaling $37,600, which will go towards programs that are led by and that support black women and girls. The group’s name was inspired by the author Bell Hooks’ Be Boy Buzz children’s book to capture the essence of what it means to be black and female in the modern world. IBBG is the only giving circle in Omaha specifically committed to that demographic. When asked why this giving circle exists, the leaders replied:

Philanthropy in Omaha looks and operates the same. IBBGives is a platform created to change the landscape of philanthropy in Omaha and invite Black women to give in a way that is meaningful to them.

No longer left out of the philanthropy scene, local black women and their allies raised nearly $50,000 between July and December of last year, largely through memberships that require a minimum $150 donation annually. The giving circle received over $200,000 in requests, which shows that there is a strong need for this type of local work that isn’t being fulfilled by other funders. The Women’s Fund of Omaha is the fiscal sponsor of IBBG, and IBBG is also a member of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network.

Like many giving circles, this one is interested in a wide range of issues that affect black women and girls, including youth, health, and STEM education. The six new IBBG grantees are Curls on the Block, Empower ME-Alyssa’s Piano Studio, LIIT Ladies in IT, Peace of Mine Young Women’s Self Care Retreat, My Sister’s Keeper, and the Keys Foundation/Confidently Me! Mentorship Program. There were 77 voting members who selected these organizations, and interestingly, applicants do not have to be affiliated with a 501c3 nonprofit to receive a grant.

“IBBG was one of the first times I saw a large amount of Black women in a singular space in Omaha, just loving on one another and having fun,” said Devin Owens of IBBG’s advisory committee. “These types of spaces are essential.”

Funded projects must serve at least 75 percent black women and/or girls, be led by black women, serve at least 51 percent low-to-moderate income people, and provide volunteer opportunities for IBBG members. The next IBBG grant application process will open up in the spring of 2020.