In 1890 the first black-owned and black-operated financial institution in Alabama,
The Penny Savings Bank, was founded by Reverend William Reuben Pettiford –
based in the Magic City.

Created as a necessity of de facto and later codified segregation, The Penny Savings Bank backed and encouraged the development of black businesses, as well as savings by African Americans, especially in urban areas.
(Source: www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1828)

Our Legacy and Inspiration

Through an assets-based approach and identity-based giving, the Penny Foundation provides access to impactful giving at every level and respects the community’s history of generosity.

Identity-based giving is a concept familiar to the Black community, which has long pooled and redistributed its means to support its families, organizations, and businesses on its own — using available community assets to create what it needed. Today, empowering community philanthropists to leverage available resources at every giving level creates the opportunity for us to strategically target the issues that affect us directly.

The global and regional issues in our community are many, and they are complex. You’ve seen them. Likely you’ve been affected firsthand, or know someone who has been, by ongoing racism, violence, economic, health and educational disparities or gender-based discrimination.

Community philanthropy provides an infrastructure and organized means to address these issues and create social change. Our approach is assets-based, drawing on a rich history of charitable giving in the Black community. To that end, the Penny Foundation’s roots, efforts and impact are locally managed, locally driven, and locally accountable.

We celebrate and respect our forebears who linked arms and used their places of worship, social savings clubs, benevolent funds, and penny savings banks as organized instruments to support and grow our community from within. We stand on their shoulders.

A legacy is not only what you inherit; it’s what you leave behind for those to come.

Your gift can support the growth of future leaders and support community development.

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Our Why

From the widow’s mite of old, to coins and bills tucked lovingly into offering plates, piggy banks, and cigar boxes, to hats passed at social events, to savings accumulated in bank accounts, to electronic financial management via apps and the World Wide Web, charitable giving takes many forms. The Penny Foundation’s roots begin in the penny savings banks, social savings clubs and benevolent funds which served as backbones and safety nets for the Black community for years.

We carry these efforts forward and offer a method of empowered, effective, formalized philanthropy that will help ensure that efforts which serve members of the Black community have a firm foundation and solid financial footing — for years to come.

Guiding Principles​

• Money does not inspire people. People inspire people.

• You do not give to the Penny Foundation. You give through the Penny Foundation.

• We do not just serve the community. We are the community.

When you entrust your gift to the Foundation, you ensure that resources will be applied and multiply where they count most.

When you entrust your gift to the Penny Foundation,
you ensure that resources Are applied and multiply
where they count most.