Connectivity, collaboration and networking: Christal Jackson says all three are essential to achieving greater impact.
Jackson has spent the last seven years practicing these three crucial elements of success, convening funders, corporations and impact-driven organizations as founder of Head and Heart Philanthropy, a social impact agency focused on improving social, economic and educational outcomes for communities of color. In 2017, she launched Mosaic Genius, a platform dedicated to wealth building in communities of color. Last month, the latter organization hosted an event in Washington, D.C., that represented the largest gathering of social impact leaders of color. Attendees heard from female nonprofit founders, youth leaders and celebrities who dedicate their time to philanthropy.
With more than 20 years in the social impact sector, Jackson is well-versed in solving problems and connecting changemakers.
Lifting Up Communities of Color
Mosaic Genius was born to solve the problems of lack of infrastructure and networking capabilities specific to communities of color — many communities that need support simply aren’t well networked. Mosaic Genius’ mission is to promote wealth building in these communities by supporting venture capitalists who can help create a more sustainable economy. Examples include leaders like Aaron Walker, founder and CEO of Camelback Ventures, and Larry Irvin founder and CEO of Brothers Empowered 2 Teach, who are working to create inclusive leadership and increase the number of black males teaching.
“When I look at the thread of genius in black and brown communities that just don’t have the access, that keeps me up at night because I know for a healthy economy, you have to have an inclusive economy,” Jackson said.
Jackson “connectivity, collaboration and networking” approach is demonstrated a few ways:
- Providing venture capitalist and venture philanthropists of color with access to impact-driven organizations. “How do we help get them in front of more people that care about what they care about?”
- Helping thought leaders in underserved communities think about new tools they can use for impact. Jackson prioritizes lifting up the work of people with proven outcomes and encourages adoption of best practices. She hopes others can then replicate successes in their own work.
- Connecting well-known athletes to impact philanthropy and investment. One of the best ways Jackson has found to get the message out is by tying it into the personal philanthropic work of well-known celebrities and athletes and using their brands to amplify good work being done across a given field. Jackson recently honored retired NFL player Charles Johnson and retired NBA player Devean George for their philanthropic work in the affordable housing space. Jackson believes their influence makes them “positioned to push the conversation toward thinking about impact investing.”
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Where Philanthropy Can Help
Jackson, who said she was a product of a strong public school education, stresses the importance of improving education outcomes in urban communities. The starting point: Getting more minorities into education leadership roles. She notes the need for more male, black teachers in the classroom.
“[Invest] in leadership that cares about young people,” Jackson said. (She is so devoted to the need for improved education that the recent Mosaic Genius event included free STEM workshops for teachers.)
The tie between housing and youth success is also on Jackson’s mind. Black and Latino youth are 83 and 33 percent more likely than their white peers to experience homelessness. When young people are affected by homelessness, the consequences can be dire for their development. But philanthropists have an opportunity to approach their giving with an equity lens.
“Investors and funders are the nucleus of the ecosystem,” Jackson said. “They should understand the role they play and if we can support them, the better for all of us.”
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