Underserved Groups Gain Advocates in Philanthropic Community

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County began developing an Equity & Inclusion Committee in late 2019, and the new initiative is ready to launch. The committee is being led by Jazmyn Thomas and 14 other community members. Thomas is an Associate Planner at the Community Action Agency in Macomb.

The purpose of the Equity & Inclusion Committee is to support bold philanthropy that allows underserved groups to tell their own story, be supported, and become philanthropists in their own circles of influence. The first objective identified by the group is to focus on locally owned minority and women-led small businesses. They partnered with the Foundation’s  Thumbcoast Regional Response Fund to hire two consultants, Kanchan Wankhede of Great Workplace LLC and Shannon Schwabe from the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC).

Wankhede and Schwabe will help business leaders navigate current funding options and build relationships with the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) and the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce. Their consulting services are free to business owners in the targeted groups identified by the Equity & Inclusion Committee.

The committee is focusing its outreach efforts on Women, Asian, African-American/Black, Native American, Hispanic, NativeHawaiian/Pacific Islander, the Disabled and Veterans with the hope of expanding the influence and participation in philanthropy among underserved residents and stakeholders throughout the region.

“The Community Foundation is going to continue down our path of growth through diversity and inclusion. Over the years we have been sensitive to gender, age and geographic diversity, but we know there’s room for improvement for racial equity as well,” said Randa Jundi-Samman, Board Chair for the Community Foundation.

Members of the Equity & Inclusion Committee are: David E. Wandelt, Josh Greer, Shawn Shackelford, Tyrone Burrell, Nichole Hatcher, Bobby Brisby, Pilar Gonzales, Roni Lloyd, Cerees Hazely, Jazmyn Thomas, Alex Crittenden, Josh Presnell, Tony Miller, Tangie Christmas, Jeanette Ettin, and Kevin Totty (Foundation staff liaison).

Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand