Support the Generational Power of Black Cultural Spaces


I finally made it to witness the Toni Morrison documentary The Pieces I Am this month while visiting Pittsburgh, PA. By the time I saw it, she was gone from us, so seeing her living & breathing on screen was bittersweet.

As I left the screening, I couldn’t help but think about one of the emergent stories in the film, that of the public library and its role in gifting to the world the Toni Morrison we so loved. Truly, the power of the cultural & artistic space of public libraries & of course the books that filled them created a space where words gave her purpose and journey.

After growing up visiting & working in the library, Ms. Morrison used her position as an editor to begin to pepper the “mainstream” archive with the voices and lives of our heroes of the Civil Rights & Black Arts Movements. She created a library of Black voices that was to be everlasting. She gave us Muhammad Ali & Angela Davis biographies. She gave us Lucille Clifton. Collections of work by Huey P. Newton & James Baldwin. She was a friend of our minds.

This is the generational work of small arts & cultural spaces I talk about when I argue for our deep & personal investment in small & Black arts organizations. This is the work I’m heralding when I ask for collective contributions to vehicles like the Black Art Futures Fund. 

Since May 2018, individual supporters of BAFF have read 89 applications from small and community-based Black arts organizations from 21 states across the US. Over two cycles, 20 volunteers have helped us get to 9 grantees and a total of $36,000 in grants.

All over the country there have been movements of everyday folks imagining a different future for Black arts & artistry & truly learning the value & impact of collective action by starting their own individual funds. We’ve seen regional models like ours from Baltimore to St. Louis to Chicago.  

Black Art Futures invites you to join us in shaping the Blackest artistic future possible with a gift to the Fund. Every dollar builds the grants.

With gratitude,

Shape the future of Black art with a gift to the Black Art Futures Fund. Since 2017, we have granted $36,000 to small Black arts organizations across the country. Help us give more.

BLACK ART FUTURES — Applications are Open!

January 15, 2018

The Executive Board of Black Art Futures Fund is pleased to announce the inaugural application period for prospective grantees is open, and will close on March 1, 2018.  We hope to announce grant recipients by June 2018.

Grants will be approximately $2000 – $6000 of unrestricted general operating support (for Black Arts Organizations) or project support (for projects centering Black Art), and will include an additional stipend towards fundraising support with Red Olive Creative Consulting. Applicants and grantees may be invited to special networking and board matching events throughout 2018.

Black Art Non-Profit Organizations or Fiscally Sponsored projects with operating budgets below $1.5M, or organizations applying for a program or specific project that centers Black Art are eligible to apply.

Ready to Apply?
Please CLICK HERE for the application instructions.
Please CLICK HERE for the application form that should accompany your submission.

Questions? Feel free to contact DéLana at

You don’t have to do it alone

You don’t have to manage, $fund$, program, execute, market your creative project alone.

I fully believe that success is letting the experts make the expert decisions/plans/programs for me where I am decidedly not the expert. 

For example: when I trained for the New York City Marathon in 2014, I started out all alone. I scoured the internet for training plans that matched my woeful inexperience, and tried to map out how many days I *felt like* running. At the same time, I scoured the internet for weightloss plans, because I knew I had to lose some weight if I were to try and conquer running 26.2 miles, and began to eat a diet of salads, light breakfasts, no snacks, etc.

It’s no surprise I got injured. I was literally running all over the place, running myself and my body into the ground. Part of my internet scouring though, was that I found a blog of someone who documented their first NYC Marathon and I was hooked to their writing style, and read through her months of training, and noticed something starkly different between her experience and my experience: she had hired an expert–a running coach.  I thought, “how cute.” And kept reading, trying to figure out how to have my first experience be as great as hers. It took a few weeks (I’m very lucky it only took that long!) for me to realize that I could have a similar success story!

I could hire someone to take the weight off of trying to figure out something I know nothing about (or certainly not enough–I had run several half marathons, double-digit 10k’s before I decided to take on the marathon).

I could hire someone to do the tough thinking about how far to run, and when. That meant all I had to do was “simply” put on my shoes and show up to the run.

And most importantly: I had someone to talk to about successes and failures, and someone could adjust the plan based on where I was on any particular day. This was huge. Part of the injury happened because I didn’t know that I shouldn’t go from 0 to 5 miles in a week. But I did because I knew that on Saturday my internet-prescribed run called for 5 miles. My running coach incremented my runs at a healthier pace, and when I told her that I was still recovering from X long run, she would dial it down for a few days.

Eventually, I took this momentum of having a running coach, and hired a nutritionist. I was on a roll. I didn’t have to do any of this alone, even though most believe running is a solitary sport. Just like we believe starting “our own” business, or creative project must be done alone. The nutritionist told me that I was actually restricting my diet too much, and that I could eat more and still lose weight (WHO KNEW??) so I decided of course, she knew better than I, and I enjoyed adding in foods, the right kind of foods to fuel my 16, and 18, and 20 mile runs. And get this: she had run the marathon, too! So that meant, I got expert, expert advice and we’d pull out the map of the route, and I’d learn when to take in the # of electrolytes or how much water or how much calories to keep me from hitting THE WALL (which is the point in which your body says: no more. we can’t take no more. and most people hit it at 20 miles and struggle to the end of the marathon).

I’m happy to report I did not hit THE WALL. I made my way to the finish line with a little sprint at the end. With my team behind me.

You can sprint to the finish line of some of your personal creative projects’ goals by putting the right people on your team.

It’s with this energy that Red Olive Creative Consulting launched the Monthly Mentor program. We want to be on your team!  Let us help you $fund$ your creative project or get your organization to new $fundraising$ heights.

Build a team!

Thinking About the End of the Year?

A friend on Facebook (she’s in my hometown of Columbia, SC) posted this picture at the end of July. It was at a local grocery store, who was clearly trying to take advantage of those who plan ahead.

In truth, yes, It was July 30, and Halloween is Oct 31, and there’s still 90 days between the two–still more Summer for some (though I’ve learned my friend in NC, her kindergartner has ALREADY GONE BACK TO SCHOOL!), still Labor Day to celebrate, etc.  But the sad reality is: it’s not really that long ago. Let’s look back. Does May seem a century away?

While I like to daydream into the future, and imagine what my life will look like 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and so on, before I transitioned to working in Fundraising for Non-Profits, I never thought  that I’d be someone who consistently looked 6 to 8 months ahead and planned towards that, while also doing the day-to-day things that are required of me.

I like to say that in fundraising, what you do today shows up (or conversely, what you don’t do today) months down the line. You’ll get to that day, and wish so much that you had: 1) sent in that grant, or 2) got to know that major donor who you think funds projects like yours but you kept putting it off and now she’s listed on the front page of Philanthropy Today for giving a major gift to another project or organization. Months down the line you’ll wish that you had sat down and thought: the end of the year isn’t that far away. What can I do today to set myself up for success? 

So I’m here to tell you. The end of the year isn’t that far away! 

Why should you even care about the end of the year? Oh, let me tell you.:

Did you know that people (not grants) make up almost 75% of charitable dollars contributed every year to non-profit organizations?

The majority of those dollars are given in the last quarter of the calendar year, with express focus on November and December.

For over one-third of non-profit organizations, the year-end push for contributions can make up almost 50% of a full year’s worth of revenue! 

Think about that. Most organizations haven’t even earned all the money they are going to earn, and they won’t do it until the end of the year. Certainly, for those organizations, I’m sure that the end of the year seems lightyears away.

Bottom line:

There’s money out there for your cause! Make sure you and your project are ready for the end of year giving push! That means, putting your Jack-o-Lanterns out in July. That means, getting your ducks in a row, and preparing your piggy bank to take those pennies!

Red Olive Creative Consulting can help with that, too. We think it’s just the right time to be thinking about the end of the year, and we’ve mapped many of the steps out for you, so that you can sail smoothly to November and December. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Don’t think about how far away it is. Let’s get started by Labor Day, which is, of course just around the corner. 

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