Valdia Burns-Frazier knew from a young age that she wanted to own her own business, and with this dream, she believed that serving her community should be at the core of her career path and life. As a featured philanthropist at the 2018 African American Philanthropy Summit, we spoke to Burns-Frazier, entrepreneur and founder of Rogers Family Intergenerational Day Care, Burns Kids College, Rogers/Famico BiBi Retirement Center and Rogers Home Care, about giving back to her hometown and the community that inspires her philanthropy. This post is part of a six-part Black Philanthropy Month series “Celebrating the Faces of African American Philanthropy.”
How did you come to be philanthropic?
Valdia Burns-Frazier: I became philanthropic at the age of 18 when I had a great desire to make a difference in people’s lives. I knew that I was getting ready to go to college, but I felt that I had something to offer to the world in terms of always helping people. I started helping people when I was about 12 years old, and at that age, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to give back to the community, and over the years, I was able to do that.
Why do you feel compelled to give back to Cleveland?
Burns-Frazier: I grew up in Cleveland. I knew the good and the bad. I saw a lot of things, early on in life, that I would love to change, and I felt in my years, I’ve been able to make a difference as an advocate and voice for underserved children, families, and the elderly.
What is the area of greatest need in Cleveland today?
Burns-Frazier: One of the areas of greatest need in the city of Cleveland is the lack of quality services for economically disadvantaged people. There are many communities in the city of Cleveland that live well below the poverty line, and as a result, they do not have access to quality services and resources for health, education, food, etc. This is one of the reasons I have stayed committed to the Collinwood community for almost 30 years, serving children, families, and aging adults. My organization provides high quality early education for children, resource support for families, and quality living services for aging adults, so that they can live with dignity. Continual investment and support of the people in this city is essential in order to help people live well and reach their full potential.
What do you want Cleveland to look like in the future? How can philanthropy be a part of that change?
Burns-Frazier: I picture a world of all of us getting along. Where your skin color doesn’t matter, but it’s what you do and how you make people feel. You never know how you can make a difference in somebody’s life, whether they’re old or young. It would be wonderful if we could all get along and not have as much strife and grief, and then we could work together.
Is service also important? How do you serve?
Burns-Frazier: Service is extremely important. Service is what we should all be about; helping each other. I serve in my community, I serve in my church, I serve every day I see somebody. I make sure that I speak to them, making sure they have a wonderful day. If I see an elderly person, sometimes I stop my car and try to help.
What attracted you to the African American Philanthropy Summit?
Burns-Frazier: I like the networking. The Summit gave me the opportunity to meet other people and to see how we could support one another and support other organizations in the community. There was this quote that I thought about, it talked about how people will forget what you say, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. I think this summit ties all that together; making you feel special, making you realize that you really can make a difference. It doesn’t matter how much money you give, but instead the impact you make on someone’s life.
Why did you choose the Cleveland Foundation as a charitable partner?
Burns-Frazier: I like the way the Cleveland Foundation is set up in terms of their mission. I like their goals, community outreach and passion to help the community. While working for a nonprofit organization years ago, I was even afforded the opportunity to watch how the Cleveland foundation worked in the community. I have great respect for the foundation and will continue to give my support and money because I know it will help others grow.
The African American Philanthropy Committee was created in 1993 to promote awareness and education about the benefits of wealth and community preservation through philanthropy. The committee convenes a Philanthropy Summit once every two years to raise the visibility of African American philanthropy in the region and to honor local African American philanthropists. Save the date for the next Cleveland Foundation African American Philanthropy Summit, “2020 Vision: Disrupting the Cultural Landscape through Philanthropy,” in April 2020, and give online to the African American Philanthropy Committee Legacy Fund.
To learn more about becoming a donor and making your greatest charitable impact, visit www.ClevelandFoundation.org/Give.
The Cleveland Foundation is proud to have provided early funding that made it possible for two upcoming exhibits to travel to Cleveland. Check out:
- The Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed and Exhibited, a multimedia re-imagining of the book Giving Back by author Valaida Fullwood and photographer Charles W. Thomas. The exhibit, which conveys and celebrates traditions of giving time, talent and treasure in the African American community, will be on display from Sept. 6 – Dec. 6, 2019, at the Western Reserve Historical Society.
- seenUNseen, a collection of the works of some of the top African American artists dating back more than a century. On loan from the collection of longtime postal worker Kerry Davis, these objects are on public display for the first time outside of Atlanta. The show, which also includes more than 60 works from local and regional artists, will run from Sept. 20 – Nov. 16, 2019, at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve and The Sculpture Center.