Last week I had the privilege of attending Town and Country’s Philanthropy summit. The 175-year-old magazine highlights amazing people who are doing great work in their July Philanthropy issue and then brings them together for inspiring conversations on giving, social issues and ways to get involved. Sound familiar? Historically, the event is held in New York City. This year due to COVID the event was online. It was so fantastic to listen to incredible conversations. So I thought I would share a few of the highlights.
Day one: Darren Walker
This year’s line up began with a conversation between Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation, and Ava DuVernay of the ARRAY Alliance. The two spoke about race relations in the United States and ways to support causes that can impact change. Darren Walker said, “What philanthropy can do best is to support people whose ideas change the world. Philanthropy seeks out change-makers and ask how can we help you do that?” Darren Walker went onto say, “Philanthropy can change lives and society together.”
Day Two: Robert E. Smith
The second day was an interview with Robert E.Smith, the infamous billionaire who donated forty million dollars to the Morehouse College Class of 2019’s student loan debt. Robert came from humble beginnings and amassed a five billion-dollar fortune. He said,” My wealth is to be used to liberate the human spirit.” Robert Smith is founding a nonprofit called the Student Freedom Initiative to launch in 2021. The mission is to fund eleven historically black colleges’ students in STEM opportunities for a flexible, lower-risk to high-interest private student loans.
Day three: Matthew & Camila McConaughey
Day three of the Philanthropy Summit was an inspirational conversation with actor Matthew McConaughey and his wife Camila. The couple spoke about their nonprofit Just Keep Livin Foundation that they began in 2008. Since that time they have served over 3,500 high students teaching wellness, fitness, and social-emotional learning.
McConaughey went onto say that he believes, “It is selfish to give but it feels good.” And when asked, where can you start with philanthropy his reply was, “ In the mirror. We are giving back to ourselves when we give-not giving up.”
I think the real highlight of the Philanthropy Summit was when a young student (pictured above) from the Just Keep Livin Foundation spoke about her time in the program and her lessons learned. She said, “Giving is the best way to receive.”
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