THE NEW PHILANTHROPY

 
 

COVER STORY

JERRY ROBERTS

PROGRAM OFFICER

BADER PHILANTHROPIES

 

 

IN MY OWN WORDS

"I owe my life to the community. I grew up in a home that valued family, community and helping your neighbor.
My grandparents owned a bar and my Gramps would host cookouts for the neighborhood families as well as
customers. It was his way of saying thank you.

More importantly, it was community building."

My parents were always engaged in the neighborhood and in the community. There was, somehow, “always enough” for dinner when someone stopped by unannounced. There was always an opportunity to give someone that ride they needed to work or school. There was always that extra $20 “to hold”.


That was my early introduction into philanthropy. Historically, the black community has always been a philanthropic one. It was necessary for survival. It was the actions and gifts of community that supported events like the Montgomery
Bus Boycott – Black taxi drivers offered fares of 10 cents (equal to the bus fare) so their
community could get to work.


Black businesses and individuals, post reconstruction and through Jim Crow making
their kitchens and homes available for travelers who had nowhere else to dine or sleep – that
was philanthropy.

We still live in a world of racism, division, and uncertainty. Making sure that “we're gonna be all right” drives my passion. The role is much larger than just the work I do at the Bader Philanthropies. It’s about being present. Being from, and of, the community (I grew up on 6th and Chambers), I understand and respect the nuances of being a Black person in this
city.

I bring that perspective into the rooms I’m privileged to sit in. In rebuilding community I approach my work through a lens of equity – race, gender, LGBTQ, differently abled – to
ensure that the voice of the entire community is represented. I say the things that won’t normally be said in a room – especially when the room does not represent the audience it is there to support. It’s critically important that people give back to their community. It’s not just about the big checks. We all have something – time, talent, or treasure that we can use to support our community. Volunteering at your neighborhood school, community center, nonprofit is an easy way to give back.

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You don’t have to do it alone! Find your passion and then find others who are just as passionate about the same things. You can start a giving circle – where you pool funds together to support a cause. Communities know what they need better than anyone else. Give your voice, ideas, and commitment to your community and just see what can happen. We’ve seen what can happen on the national level following tragedies like Hurricane Katrina
or, more recently, Harvey.

People came together to make a difference. In addition, I’m very passionate about my family, life, and community. I’ve been married 20 years to my college sweetheart (Norma) and we have been blessed with an awesome daughter (Alexis) who is in her second year at the University of Texas at Austin. I hope that in the end, I’ve made a difference, had fun doing it,
and have no regrets.