Akira Barclay is a dynamic philanthropy professional with more than 20 years experience in Grantmaking, Fundraising, Strategic Partnerships, Media and Marketing. Prior to founding Fresh Philanthropy, Akira led the AT&T Imagine Your STEM Future project at Girl Scouts of the USA, earning recognition from the White House Council on Women and Girls for strategic partnership development. She has managed a capacity-building grants program, and before her grantmaking roles raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for small youth-serving organizations across New York City.
Akira is author of The Value of Giving Circles in the Evolution of Community Philanthropy, which examines community foundations and ways to build bridges between grassroots and institutional grantmakers. That paper is the culmination of her research as an Emerging Leaders International Fellow (2012) at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The Graduate Center, of the City University of New York. She is best known for promoting the significance of giving circles and the “everyday giver”, advancing causes benefiting women and girls and amplifying the stories of Black philanthropists.
Akira is a proud member of the South Side Giving Circle, a Black-led giving circle paving a path of investment into women-of-color-led community initiatives on the South Side of Chicago. She earned a Master’s degree in Fundraising and Grantmaking from New York University and a Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.