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Charity's New Look

Minorities Grab Fundraisers' Notice

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 7, 2004; Page F01

Maryland Korean American Jeong H. Kim has donated millions of dollars to educational institutions in the United States. Alexine and Aaron Jackson, who are African American, give tens of thousands of dollars each year to arts groups, health organizations and women's causes in the Washington area. Cuban American John Fitzgerald directs his philanthropic largess to small ethnic theater troupes in this area.

All four are part of the "new face of philanthropy" -- African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and others who are thrusting themselves into the mainstream of philanthropy, which has for the last century largely been considered the purview of affluent Caucasians.

Jeong H. Kim, who sold Yurie Systems for $1 billion, has donated millions to education. (Courtesy Of Jeong Kim)

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Increasing wealth among ethnic groups, and predictions that minorities will make up close to 50 percent of the U.S. population by the middle of the century, have forced the philanthropic world to sit up and take notice. Especially when you consider that the nation's nonprofits -- hospitals, schools, social service organizations and so on -- are searching desperately for ways to replace declining government funding.

As minority communities grow in size and in affluence in the United States, their philanthropy is also swelling. Consider some local recent examples:

• African American publishing magnate John H. Johnson donated $4 million to Howard University's School of Communications in 2003.

• Native American tribes have given a total of $35 million for the construction of the recently opened Museum of the American Indian.

• Hispanic technology investor Alberto Vilar has given tens of millions of dollars to arts organizations (although business setbacks forced him to scale back some of his promised donations).

• Kim contributed $5 million to the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering in 1999, which is constructing the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, the university's first facility named after an Asian. It will open early next year.

• In the past three years, Baltimore African American money manager Eddie E. Brown and his family have donated $6 million to the Maryland Institute College of Art, $1 million to the Enoch Pratt Free Library and $5 million to help African American children in poor Baltimore neighborhoods.

Of course, members of racial and ethnic groups have a rich history of philanthropy in their own communities, but not in ways that always fitted neatly into traditional U.S. models of philanthropy.

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