Groundbreaking in focus and depth, Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy, Reframed and Exhibited presents stories of generosity among Americans of African descent. Centuries-old cultural customs and beliefs about giving, though rarely acknowledged as “philanthropy” in Black communities, have long been an integral and transformational force in lives and communities throughout American society. Photography, poetry and prose weave vivid stories and reveal the long and unsung legacy of Black philanthropists—from generous donors of wealth to ingenious givers carving a way out of no way.

The exhibition draws evocative images and incisive narratives from the award-winning book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, by Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. Both the exhibition and book explore the African American philanthropy experience and giving traditions grounded in faith, mutuality, responsibility, and social justice. Voices and visages spanning ages and generations illuminate transcendent truths and elicit new thinking about philanthropy.

Love of what it means to be human, the root meaning of philanthropy, is reclaimed by the exhibit. The Soul of Philanthropy draws inspiration from that definition as well as from the literal and metaphorical description of photography: drawing with light.  Each a potent concept in and of itself, combined, these ideas fuel the exhibition’s design and programming. A powerful experience awaits gallery visitors and program participants. Expect a moving exhibition where the images glow, the stories enlighten and your soul is set afire.

Learn more about the Exhibit


MRG Foundation envisions a just and joyful Oregon where people, cultures, and ecosystems thrive.

For the past 40 years, MRG has worked towards that vision by celebrating and sharing the stories, customs, and voices of philanthropists in our community; specifically philanthropists most impacted by injustice. Presenting Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy, Reframed and Exhibited is an opportunity for us to share, explore, and elevate African-American philanthropy experiences and giving traditions grounded in faith, mutuality, responsibility, and social justice.

The exhibit tells the stories of individuals who use giving as a tool for social justice, a driving value of MRG’s work. As a social justice foundation, we strive to provide ways for individuals to participate in community-driven philanthropy and social justice activism. We believe everyone has a role in the movement, be it bringing community together, attending a rally, or giving a gift, and through this exhibit we celebrate the important role of giving.

The power of Giving Back lies not only in hearing, seeing, and experiencing the stories of others but also sharing our stories, exploring similarities and differences, and finding inspiration for action. Through community conversations and other events hosted during the exhibit, MRG will create opportunities to connect, celebrate each of us as philanthropists, and work together to achieve social justice in the Pacific Northwest.


Thanks to all of our community partners for understanding the importance of this exhibit and supporting our work in celebrating all kinds of philanthropists. Partnership opportunities are still available. Contact Carol Tatch, Development Director for additional information or with any questions.






Concordia UniversityCollins Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Moda Health, KBOO Community Radio, The Oregon Community FoundationThe Oregonian Media GroupSpirit Mountain Community Fund, and Street Roots.