The Sankofa Fund of Southwest PA (the Sankofa Fund) is a giving circle consisting of a group of individual African American philanthropist who have joined together to strategically invest their time, talent and resources towards the issues and organizations determined by the circle.

Front row:  Janice Parks ,  Frances Hipps ,  Kenya Boswell ,  Dr. Lawrencella Dukes ,  Tina Crisp ,  Mark Lewis   Back row:  Justin Laing ,  Ron Lawrence ,  Lucille Dabney ,  Darcel Madkins ,  Ayanna Ledford ,  Karris Jackson ,  Connie Dunn .  Not pictured:  Will Thompkins ,  Jerome Jackson ,  Penny Paraway ,  Pamela Coates ,  Rob Wilson

Front row: Janice Parks, Frances Hipps, Kenya Boswell, Dr. Lawrencella Dukes, Tina Crisp, Mark Lewis

Back row: Justin Laing, Ron Lawrence, Lucille Dabney, Darcel Madkins, Ayanna Ledford, Karris Jackson, Connie Dunn.

Not pictured: Will Thompkins, Jerome Jackson, Penny Paraway, Pamela Coates, Rob Wilson


To inspire, educate and unite a community of givers to make contributions that transform African American communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania.


Southwestern PA is home to an empowered African American community recognized nationally for its high quality of life and the strategic giving of its philanthropic community.

Theory of Change

In order for positive and radical change to take place in the African American community, it must continue to strengthen its efforts to be self-determining. To this end, The Sankofa Fund of SW PA circle of givers believes that it must provide support to organizations developing and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges of our community. As self-determination is a key value of our work, we place a particular emphasis on those efforts that seek to build and strengthen the institutions constructed and led by the African American community.

News and Events





Sankofa Fund of Southwest PA History

In September 2006, POISE Foundation and Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise (PACE) introduced the concept of an African American giving circle in Pittsburgh.  Approximately, 65 people attended the event held at a Black owned Pittsburgh Jazz club to hear Darryl Lester, Hindsight Consulting, share some of the history of Black philanthropy as well as infomation about the strength and power of giving circles that he has belonged to as well as those hehas helped to form in the South.  Several people expressed an interest to learn more about giving circles.  Accordingly, on November 6, 2006, approximately twenty-five people attended a follow up meeting that included Darryl Lester as well as the main speaker Linetta Gilbert, Program officer of the Ford Foundation. Linetta provided additional information on Giving Circles and the Ford Foundation’s efforts of developing African American philanthropist in the South and in rural communities.

Of these individuals, 19 decided to form the first African American Giving Circle in Pittsburgh.  And on December 12, 2006, the Circle held its first organizational meeting.  For the next several months, meeting once a month, the circle went throught the Journey – Hindsight Consulting’s process of taking a circle from its inception through operation.  Through this journey, the core values, mission, goals, name, focus, and contributions are determined.  After several meetings, the circle finally determined that its name would be Sankofa Fund of Southwest Pennsylvania.

To further engage the various giving circles, Hindsight Consulting created the Community Investment Network (CIN).  With initial funding provided by the Ford Foundation, this non-profit organization provides essential technical assistance in building capacity and furthering the development of the Giving Circles in the network.  The Sankofa Fund became the ninth giving circle member of CIN.