Black Women Philanthropists Making “Herstory”
Black Women Philanthropists Making “Herstory”
Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Inc. is set to advance the work of The Center for African American Health with a historic investment
Investing in Black-led and Black-serving organizations continues to be a priority for the Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a philanthropic institution with deep roots in the community which dates back to 1952.
Now, in recognition of Women’s History month, the Denver Chapter is making ‘herstory’ with its largest donation to date – a $100,000 gift to the Center for African American Health’s (CAA Health) capital campaign. The investment represents a collective giving model, which is fueled by a long-standing tradition in the African American community that has historically and culturally played an important role in reinforcing the financial stability and sustainability of Black institutions. The initial investment from the Denver Chapter of $25,000 more than tripled when members steadily followed with additional donations. This effort marks CAA Health’s first contribution from an African American led organization in support of the capital campaign.
“For nearly three decades, the Center for African American Health has been a place for the Black community to gather for health resources and services,” said philanthropist and long-standing Links member Tina Walls. “Now, more than ever, as we navigate the COVID-19 challenges and their intersection with racial justice, CAA Health is uniquely positioned to meet the direct needs of our community while also addressing the systemic challenges that require broader intervention.”
As one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are influential decision makers, opinion leaders and distinguished achievers committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry, The Links, Inc. has built a chain of friendship around the world with 290 chapters totaling 16,000 members strong.
“As African American women, we recognize and embrace our social and civic responsibilities in transforming our communities and elevating the voices of Black women,” said Denver Links’ Immediate Past President and Founder of Black Resilience in Colorado Fund, LaDawn Sullivan. “As we look to dismantle systems of oppression, we lean in, go above and beyond, and invest collectively and strategically. We are led by the voices of African Americans in our community.”
One of those voices is CEO and Executive Director for the Center for African Health, Deidre Johnson. Serving in her current role for more than five years, Johnson has established CAA Health as a Family Resource Center and tripled the organization’s budget while expanding its work to serve multi-generational community members with select direct health services, including mental health, access to health coverage, and patient advocacy. The organization began almost three decades earlier in 1993 as the Metro Black Church Initiative under The Piton Foundation. It was later reorganized as an independent organization in 1997. Led by then Founder and Executive Director, Grant Jones, the organization transitioned into the Center for African American Health in 2005 with a focus on addressing the systemic health disparities in the African American community.
“The significance of this Legacy gift from the collective efforts of the Denver Chapter of The Links is so much more than the six-figure investment,” said Deidre Johnson. “It sets an example, and issues an invitation, encouraging others - individuals and organizations - to also make a contribution to our work and in the programs of other African American institutional anchors in our community.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CAA Health has demonstrated its ability to be nimble and serve the needs of the community through COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, food distribution, crisis counseling and more. Much of this work is happening just outside the building, in the parking lot in adherence to the state’s COVID parameters. The Links’ donation to the capital campaign will further cement the foundation of CAA Health’s physical space and will provide the opportunity for the organization to own the facility.
The 67 active and alumna members in the Denver Chapter of The Links, Inc. make quiet contributions that have historically been a cornerstone in supporting African Americans and especially women, girls, and youth. Rooted in sisterhood and with a commitment and dedication to service, the organization focuses in five distinct facets – the Arts, Services to Youth, Health and Human Services, National Trends, and International Trends and Services. These facets implement programs through strategies that build capacity such as public information and education, economic development, and public policy campaigns. In its early response to COVID-19, the organization recently made financial contributions to the Montbello Organizing Committee and the Center for Trauma and Resilience. In 2002, the Denver Chapter made a generous and historic donation of $50,000 to support the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Beyond financial donations, 5,000+ hours of volunteer time are given each year as Links’ members engage with various activities across the metro area.
“We see each other – meaning that we understand our role as Black women in narrowing the divide of racial inequities to ensure better outcomes for ourselves, our families and our communities,” shared Jada Dixon, Denver Chapter President. “From bolstering better results in education to addressing health disparities, our consistent and coordinated investment of money, time, talent and testimony illustrates the impact and power of our collective.”
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
Editor’s note: For more information about the Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and upcoming activities, please visit www.denverlinksinc.org or contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center for African American Health welcomes donations to their capital campaign at www.caahealth.org.