Community-Building Creator Looks Back on Five Years to See the Power of Supporting Non-Profits, Neighborhoods

For the past five years, Chanel Hampton has worked daily in her role of Community Champion at Detroit-based Strategic Community Partners to shout out the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion at the top of her voice.

Chanel Hampton

The firm’s five-year anniversary comes at a time when Hampton’s work with non-profit organizations devoted to helping neighborhoods, people of color and at-risk communities has never been more important. But it also comes at a time when her calls for action are finally being heard in the wake of tragic deaths of people such as George Floyd.

And, most importantly, it comes at a time when business owners and non-profit organizers including Hampton herself are struggling to balance work, family and friends within the context of a global pandemic. To say that it has been a life-changing five-year journey would be an understatement.

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“When we launched five years ago, we started as a capacity-building firm committed to equity. Five years ago, people would ask: ‘What do you mean when you say equity?’,” Hampton says. “Unfortunately, people are getting a sense of that and more (in recent months). In so many ways, we don’t live in an equitable world.”

But what cheers her is that people are reaching out – companies are asking for diversity, inclusion and equity training. They are seeking advice on how to achieve their long-term goals as non-profit organizations with Hampton’s advice. Most importantly, they are learning about how they can still connect with SCP and its work through virtual experiences.

One such event is the inaugural Culture for Change Virtual Conference, which SCP is hosting Sept. 14 through 17. The interactive conference will offer 10 sessions across four days, focusing on skill-building moments focusing on personal leadership development; managing and leading; and organizational culture. The event was going to be in person before coronavirus but the SCP team pivoted to get it done, Hampton said.

“Through our work with community-focused organizations, we’ve seen first-hand the tremendous impact these groups can have. However, an organization is more than just a name; it is a collection of people who envision change and work toward a common mission for their community,” Hampton says.

SCP “cares deeply about people and recognize that management and organizational culture are critical components of the mission-driven employee experience. Culture for Change aims to provide leaders with the tools they need to strengthen their organizations, develop equitable work environments and ultimately drive change with and in their communities,” Hampton says.

SCP history
The brand has committed its services to providing excellent strategy and execution to community serving organizations with an unapologetic community and cultural context. SCP has built a robust array of partners, including The Obama Foundation, Detroit Public Schools Community District, The Skillman Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and many other community-based organizations and leaders.

Recently, Hampton and her team launched a community-impact incubators that is helping five Detroit-area non-profit organizations “go from good to great,” Hampton said. “They’re known in the community, but we’re helping them get bigger, learn and grow.”

Throughout the pandemic, the group has continued to meet monthly for intensive lessons, conversations and strategy sessions, Hampton says. There have been many important moments along the way that she will cherish.

With coronavirus and the untimely deaths of people of color, “it’s finally clicking for folks why we have been so committed and unapologetic about serving the community,” Hampton said. “There’s a storm that’s been brewing, and now people are seeing it.”

One of her biggest accomplishments has been helping others see themselves the way she and her team see them.

“We’ve been helping our partners dig deep into their strategic plans – some of them have gotten the largest grants in the history of their organizations because of our work together,” Hampton said. “Over the past five years, SCP has helped organizations get $10 million directly because of the work we did with them. It was truly a collaborative effort.

“My question for myself is not how are we successful as a business but how we show how Black businesses can thrive,” Hampton adds. “Sometimes, it just takes that one person to believe in what you think is a wild vision. One of the greatest gifts of doing this work is being able to see people’s visions come to life. It can be transformative in a person’s journey.”

Five-year view
All in all, Hampton says she can look at Strategic Community Partners as it celebrates its first five years as a testament to what she holds dear: The dream that is becoming a reality of creating a more equitable society with and in communities standing on their values of passion, excellence and integrity.

Hampton also is celebrating her own anniversary of sorts, working toward her lifelong mission to serve communities under her decade-long expertise embodying her lifelong passions for Detroit, justice, education and equity. Her journey also includes a newfound appreciation for self-care and giving herself time to enjoy her success and that of her firm.

“I’ve been telling my team and friends that I don’t want to come out of quarantine the same person,” Hampton says. “There are some habits I need to unlearn and do better. One is self-care.”

That means taking time for herself, reading more books and hanging out on her newly remodeled outdoor deck area, checking in with friends on the telephone and connecting more to the drive that got her into this business to start with.

“The work is very personal for me so it is easy to give every waking minute to my community and this work, so the opportunities to connect and check in has been really beautiful,” Hampton said. “I think I’ve actually built stronger relationships during quarantine.”