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Black History Month Spotlight: Uyiosa Elegon

Monday, February 3, 2020   (0 Comments)
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February marks Black History Month, a nationwide celebration for achievements led by African-Americans. This is a time for us to not only honor individuals who have made history, but to recognize those creating history here in the philanthropic fundraising community. AFP Houston will be spotlighting history-makers in the making, and we invite you to pay tribute with us.


Uyiosa Elegon

Institute of Engagement


What is your vision for Black philanthropy?

In regards to philanthropy, I strive to see sustainable support towards fostering Black communities to be more self-determinant. Currently there is a need for giving to efforts that systematically support at-risk and multi-generational residents in historic Black communities like Houston’s Third Ward. How do we support the long-standing efforts of Third Ward organizations and coalitions to build community land-trusts? How do we support coalitions like the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement so it may restrain encroaching gentrification and revitalize marginalized neighborhoods with residents at the forefront of the design and accountability process? How we decide to either answer or avoid those questions showcases our commitment to equity.


What was your first encounter or most memorable experience of Black philanthropy within your family or community?

I vividly remember several trips as a small child to the Western Union nested in our neighborhood grocery store. I always struggled to peer over the counter as my mother sent money to our family members in Nigeria. No matter what financial struggles we experienced, my family always gave often, and asked for nothing in return. That no-strings-attached spirit of giving is a core part of my identity.


How long have you been an AFP member? Why are you an AFP member?

I have been an AFP member for about 2 years. It’s very difficult to be a Black, 21-year-old fundraiser. I would not have access to various long-standing funder relationships and resources if I were not an AFP member. Also, as a member of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance University of Houston chapter, we are often encouraged to engage all the resources offered to AFP members.


How long have you been working in fundraising?

I have been working in fundraising for 3 years!


What keeps you motivated at your organization?

The Institute of Engagement provides me opportunities to meet other young people who believe we can collectively mold our communities into our wildest dreams. Collaborating with people who embody that belief keeps me working with love and persistence. Also, the Institute of Engagement team is so intentional about helping young people take responsible ownership of their Houston that I rarely lack the motivation required to do my best work.


Tell us about a fundraising accomplishment that you’re most proud of.

Thinking about the Institute of Engagement’s relatively long-standing relationship with the Simmons Foundation warms my heart. Years ago, the team and I, as 16-to-18-year-olds secured funds from the foundation to operate our dream, a year-long civic fellowship for Greater Houston area high school students. In addition to that support, the Simmons Foundation staff has consistently given us their time, expertise, and vast network to ensure our success. Without their system-focused support, we would not be where we are today.


If you could describe your job in one to two sentences, what would you say?

My job is to make young people be and feel seen. I help young people be seen, which more than often encourages folks to fund youth-led initiatives. Secondly, I help young people individually feel seen, which sustains their organizing.




Want to share your own story? Use the hashtag #WeAreAFP! For questions contact: Berenice Espinoza,

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