Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Did you know about the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation?
While at last month’s Blogging While Brown Conference, I met Muriel Hairston-Cooper from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Mrs. Hairston-Cooper is the Senior Media Manager for the organization. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy, research and educational institute. They complete their mission by building a bridge between legislators, business leaders, minority-focused organizational leaders, and organized labor to bring change to African American communities. They also provide scholarships and internships to African American students. The organization is supported by fundraising events and corporate underwriting. What I distinctly remember about our conversation, was how insistent she was in explaining that they are separate from the Congressional Black Caucus.
And because of a New York Times article from earlier this year, it’s not a surprise that she feels the need to make the distinction. The article talked about how the “Congressional Black Caucus” was a money making powerhouse. The article alluded to the organization raising tons of money and not using it for its intended purposes. If you never knew anything about this organization, you would have thought they were gaming the system based on what you read. The writer of the article lumped all the CBC’s (i.e. Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and Congressional Black Caucus) together and in doing so made them one entity. I asked Mrs. Hairston-Cooper if they ever tried to get the situation cleared up. She said they sent a letter to the New York Times telling them to look at their IRS Tax Form 990 (form for tax-exempt organizations). She said they told them that their story was accurate and they were sticking to it. I didn’t laugh on the phone when she told me this because I didn’t want to offend her. But the mainstream media isn’t into accuracy (a la Shirley Sherrod). I’m pretty sure the NY Times has better resources to obtaining organizational records. So if they wanted to they could do their due diligence.....if they wanted to.
Side Note: I googled the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and 990 Tax Form. See here.
I asked Mrs. Hairston-Cooper if this incident has taught her organization anything. She told me that it made them more aggressive in telling their story. The organization spent roughly $700.000 for last year’s Annual Legislative Conference. The money was used for catering costs such as their prayer breakfast and luncheons. The money they raised went to their internship program and fellowships. These programs involve room, board and stipends.
Side Note: You can see their interns first hand in the upcoming September issue of Ebony Magazine.
In 2008, the CBCF came to Charlotte, NC with their Black Health Empowerment Project Tour. The theme of the tour was “Eat, Move and Test for Health.” The tour educated African American’s on the chronic diseases that come from being overweight. Obesity is a big (no pun intended) problem that many American’s have. From conversations I hear often, obesity seems to be a prevalent condition with black folks. One fellow blogger talked about how it was an ongoing problem with black women (via their perception). Even First Lady Michelle Obama has taken up the fight for healthy eating. I don’t agree with every black organization that claims to have my best interests at heart (I’m talking about you NAACP!!!). But I do appreciate when organizations take the time out to explain what they stand for. That is something that I have respect for because some people won’t do that much. Please feel free to check out the CBCF website for more information.