Eight organizations, eighteen months of collaboration, and an immeasurable amount of passion were on display at the Flint Enterprising Ventures of Color Capstone Salon Dinner on February 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Hosted by Enterprising Ventures of Color (EVC), the event highlighted the work of the EVC Fellows and their organizations, which included Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint & Genesee County, Flint Early Childhood Collaborative, Flint & Genesee Literacy Network, InvolvedDad, MADE Institute, Motherly Intercession, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, and Voices for Children Advocacy Center.

The organizations presented how their work improves life for Flint residents and beyond — with support from EVC.

“EVC cohort leaders explored how they are collectively striving to permanently improve the lives of families and the future trajectories of children through the work that they’re doing around education, literacy, employment, health care, physical safety, and family reunification,” said Lillian D. Singh, EVC founder, and CEO. “I am so proud of each of the cohort fellows.”

Photo: Joddy Nwankwo

Bringing EVC to Flint

EVC provides programs and offerings that create space and conditions for learning between nonprofit leaders of color and funders.

In 2022, the mission caught the attention of the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities, which was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportional impact on Black and Latino residents. The task force, comprised of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, and the United Way of Genesee County, funded the venture through the Enterprising Ventures of Color Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

EVC then provided support and resources to the Flint-based nonprofit organizations, directed by leaders of color, in the inaugural cohort.

“Thank you to the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities and Racial Equity Philanthropic Subcommittee for inviting me here. Thank you for trusting me to shepherd the process,” said Singh.

Moses Bingham, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, gives remarks on behalf of the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities. (Photo: Joddy Nwankwo)

According to Moses Bingham, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the initiative reaffirms the taskforce’s commitment to equity in Flint.

“These nonprofit leaders are not only shaping the future of the people they serve but also driving positive change in our community,” said Bingham. “We celebrate the achievements of our leaders and also reaffirm our commitment to supporting their endeavors and fostering an environment where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive.”

Angela Hood and Jalen Nunn of the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative presented their findings on February 16. (Photo: Joddy Nwankwo)

Programming and Support

EVC’s invitation to the Flint community opened the door for months of training, resources, and networking for the organizations.

The 18-month process involved “transformational capacity building training” aimed at supporting organizations that connect individuals and families to resources, empowering communities to address the disproportionate impact of crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aimed to highlight longstanding social constructs that hinder progress for Black and Latino communities.

Leaders from participating organizations, such as the MADE Institute, found that the process connected them to a network of other nonprofits in the community.

“I want to thank EVC, the fellowship, and amazing organizations that we’ve had the opportunity to network with,” said Leon El-Alamin, founder and executive director of MADE Institute. “We’ve had opportunities to do projects with organizations and continue to build on it.”

Vincent Slocum, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network, says the opportunity helped his team to “soul search” within their mission of radically raising literacy levels in Flint and Genesee County.

“The cohort recognized that folks are doing good work, but also challenged them to do some soul searching about where they fit in the community,” said Slocum. “Out of this process, we were able to set goals and utilize the training and supportive services with EVC.”

Photo: Joddy Nwankwo

Personal Connections

Years of community impact coupled with personal experience resulted in passionate presentations by the nonprofit leaders.

Leaders shared photos, anecdotes, and data with participants, and passionately expressed the journey their organization has taken throughout the capstone.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint & Genesee County President and CEO Lisa Humphrey shared how mentorship makes a difference in the lives of mentors and “littles” alike.

“We hear the impact of our work through our mentors. They are building their self-confidence and improving their grades,” said Humphrey. “The mentors are actually seeing the community through another lens.”

InvolvedDad executive director Shon Hart presents on February 16. (Photo: Joddy Nwankwo)

InvolvedDad’s executive director Shon Hart shared how his personal childhood experiences serve as a motivation for the organization’s mission — to promote and empower men to become actively engaged fathers or father figures in the lives of every child.

“I’m a survivor of a disengaged father who wasn’t really present,” said Hart. “But if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.”

The evening also heroically celebrated the fellowship, as Singh compared each fellow to an adjacent fictional superhero who represents their leadership style. The team of “Avengers” — comprised of Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain America, and more — works to permanently better the Flint community.

Even with the conclusion of the capstone, EVC plans to continue to host Lunch & Learn networking events and other community gatherings.

“We celebrate the transformational capacity building that took place, where we centered strengths, not deficits, and gave real coaching and consulting,” Singh said. “In the words of our fellows: ‘Let’s go.’ There’s still more work to be done.”

To learn more about the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities, visit cfgf.org. To learn more about Enterprising Ventures of Color (EVC) and upcoming events, visit enventofcolor.com.