Engaging the Diaspora for the Development of their Homelands: Diaspora Philanthropy Summit and African Diaspora Braintrust
The Boston University Diaspora Studies Initiative (BU DSI) has partnered with the Charities Aid Foundation of America and Charities Aid Foundation of Canada in organizing the Diaspora Philanthropy Summit that took place on November 2 and 3, 2017, in Alexandria, VA. The Summit brought together individuals and groups from diasporas originating from various emerging and developing economies, to discuss diaspora charitable activities to support their countries of origin. Daivi Rodima-Taylor of BU DSI facilitated a session that focused on mediating tensions and building diaspora unity for charitable giving. The session explored cross-border as well as intra-diaspora perspectives of mobilizing diaspora support to their homelands, with an emphasis on the increasingly prevalent settings of violent conflict and forced displacement. The Summit was attended by several partners and collaborators of BU DSI from among African and Albanian diaspora groups. The delegates also included representatives from Jamaican, Indian, Hmong, Bulgarian, and other diasporas. The Summit constituted a productive venue for sharing knowledge and experience around the issues of diaspora philanthropy from applied, policy-oriented, as well as academic perspectives.
BU DSI also continued its collaboration with the African Union. Dr. Rodima-Taylor was an invited presenter at the African Diaspora Braintrust on Sept. 21, convened by the Constituency for Africa and the African Union, and hosted by the African Union Mission to the United States (Washington, DC). The African Diaspora Braintrust centered on strategies to build a constituency to support Africa, in the United States and in the diaspora. The Braintrust presenters – among them Rev. Jesse Jackson and African Union Ambassador to the United States Ms. Arikana Chihombori – shared their perspectives on the efforts to build unity and support Africa, as well as develop strategies for the diaspora to impact U.S.-Africa policy. This event was part of the annual week-long Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series, themed Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the US-Africa Agenda. This engagement built on our longitudinal collaboration with the annual African Affairs Series – in the Fall of 2014, Dr. Rodima-Taylor co-organized a day-long African Diaspora and Remittances Forum in the framework of the Series events that included presentations by several Boston area scholars and diaspora groups.
Our work has also continued with facilitating the activities of the Boston African Diaspora Coalition that was formed by a network of local diaspora actors at a meeting that took place at Boston University on June 8. The Diaspora Coalition established thematic working groups among various areas of diaspora professional affiliation and interest, in order to implement the strategies for more focused diaspora engagement that were outlined at the recent Boston African Diaspora Roundtable. Another follow-up meeting of the Diaspora Coalition took place in partnership with the Boston Pan-African Forum on August 27 at MIT.