how we got started
ACT is committed to being as much of a 'complete solution' as possible to the issues that affect Black people in America. With a focus on economic development, ACT seeks to become a foundation that provides funds and technical assistance to programs, projects, organizations and individuals that are committed to affecting change in every area of that which affects Black people in America.
There are two defining moments in my life that do well to illustrate why ACT exists. The first moment has to do with my being an early twenty-something investment advisor, at a loss for what he would do next with his life. In my quest for personal meaning, I happened to read a profound book entitled, "Saving Black America: An Economic Plan for Civil Rights." Much of what Dr. Odom describes in his book is, in fact, the framework for ACT. If you want to get at the ultimate purpose, philosophy and plan of ACT, read Saving Black America. I was so moved by the book, I would later find Dr. Odom and we became friends. I owe Dr. Odom credit for, not just the foundation of what ACT is, but for much of who I would become, as a man, from that point forward. Here's the link to purchase the book. I recommend that you start reading it the moment you receive it.
The other moment has to do with my being an early thirty-something accountant, at a loss for how I would actually fulfill on what I knew there was for me to do. I was sitting in the headquarters of one of the largest foundations in the world, the Chicago Community Trust, waiting to pick up a document for a client. As I waited, I started to read the CCT annual report and was struck by a tagline which read, "Anything that anybody wants to do for the good of Chicago, we want to fund it." I was moved by this statement and called one of my very best friends (the smartest guy I knew at the time), Quinn (Q. Scott) Riley, to work through what a foundation of our own (similar to CCT) would mean to and look like for our community. Inside of that incredible conversation, the name, African-American Community Trust, and mission were created: "Anything that anyone wants to do for the good of Black people, we want to fund it."
Both Dr. Odom and Quinn are now passed away but the difference that each of them made for me, and thousands of others, will live on through our two flagship funding initiatives:
The Dr. John Yancy Odom Leadership Award, and
The Q. Scott Riley Entrepreneurship Education Award
We invite you to support us in the continuance of our work and pledge, with us, to create the space for the next generation's class of Black leaders.
Omari Kamal, Founder/Executive Director