Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Froswa’ Booker-Drew saw giving back in action, watching her father feed the homeless from the restaurant he ran. “He always gave them dignity in doing it,” she says. She went off to college at UT Arlington and didn’t know a soul, but her passion for service and organization. She was elected form president and led the college’s NAACP chapter.
After college, she worked for University Outreach Center in South Dallas, where she helped young students of color find their way to college . Later, she attended graduate school and came back to the region where she worked at the South Dallas Cultural Center. “That was the beginning of seeing what disparity looked like in our communities,” she says.
A shocking statistic from Candid, a philanthropic research database, gives meaning to her mission: in 2016, only .6 percent of total funding from 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations was targeted at women and girls of color. “There is such a deficit of funding for folks [in] communities with a need,” Booker-Drew says.
She eventually found her way to the State Fair of Texas as vice president of community affairs, working to repair community relationships that had been bulldozed by racist park leaders. She helped create the Juanita Craft Humanitarian Awards, honoring the activist who helped integrate the fair, and facilitated the donation of $2.1 million to nonprofits that benefit South Dallas and Fair Park.
Along the way, friends approached her about co-founding a giving circle for Black women through the Texas Women’s Foundation.
“We saw that organizations that were black led were not getting the support that they needed in terms of funding or mentoring or any level of support,” she says. “We wanted to pull our resources and funds together to be able to support those organizations, especially those that are led by black women.”
Since its inception in 2017, HERitage Giving Fund has given roughly $100,000 in member dues and donations to Black-led nonprofits that provide after school support, midwife training, and housing for homeless teen mothers and their babies.
The giving circle is about more than just funding. Organizational guidance, legal assistance, and emotional support are just as important as dollars for a young nonprofit. “We informally mentor the women in those are running those organizations,” Booker-Drew says. “We have workshops that we’ve provided where we’re teaching them so that they can build their capacity for long term sustainability.”
“It’s a safe space to have camaraderie with folks who are in the field,” she says. “I understand what it’s like to be in nonprofit management as a Black woman. It’s a benefit to have community and to connect to people who have the same passion and want to make a difference.”
This past April, Booker-Drew stepped away from the State Fair to work as an author, speaker, and leadership consultant, but she continues to be active in HERitage. She says there is added value in the fact that the mentoring and funding comes from women of color, as many of the nonprofits are serving people of color. That added perspective allows them to identify with the challenges these communities face.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she says. “Representation matters. It’s also being able to have this lived experience and institutional knowledge of what people go through when they’re dealing with being marginalized, and being able to take your experiences and help shape how programs can help people deal with that is so important.”