Jasmine Tsunoda Apr 2022 Client Highlights

AQUME Foundation: Ciarra Adkins

Tsunoda Stylings is a Japan-based agency that strives to create successful, responsive websites that are fast, easy to use, and built with the best techniques. At Tsunoda Stylings, we search for new and experienced small business owners looking to promote their businesses without breaking the bank! Not too long after we opened our doors, we received a request from a charity organization founder that wanted her foundation's website refreshed and redesigned.

Please meet Ciarra Adkins. She is not only the founder of the AQUME foundation, but she is also a licensed attorney! She is very passionate about equity, higher education, civic engagement/voting rights, and legal accessibility for low-income communities. Read more below to learn more about her and what she plans to accomplish with her new site redesigned by Tsunoda Stylings.

Interview with Ciarra Adkins:

Jasmine: Tell us a little about your background and how you became the founder/president of the organization (How did AQUME start? Was it your idea or did you take over the organization from someone else?)

Ciarra: I am a business and intellectual property attorney and work in local government. I am an active community member who sits on several boards and volunteer my time often. I established AQUME Foundation and became the president of this foundation because I saw a need in our community to have representation in the philanthropic space as people of color.

Jasmine: How long has AQUME been a foundation?

Ciarra: We have been officially incorporated with the State of Michigan, USA, since August 2021, yet our work actually began about 2 years before that.

Jasmine: What is your mission?

Ciarra: Our Mission: AQUME Foundation will center racial equity and economic justice in philanthropy. Our Vision: AQUME Foundation will be an innovative, sustainable, and trusted philanthropic steward of resources for the advancement of BIPOC communities throughout Michigan.

Jasmine: Are you active in any other organizations/foundations/charities?

Ciarra: Yes. We are in the beginning phases of collaborating and drafting partnership documents with other local foundations/charities that align with our mission.

Jasmine: Do you (Aqume) have any sponsors or are you a sponsor for anyone?

Ciarra: Yes, we have several local sponsors, and the philanthropic community has rallied around our organization since we went public in January.

Jasmine: What is your biggest annual event? What does it raise awareness to/money for?

Ciarra: Our biggest annual event is the Gold Gala and it is a fundraiser to support our operations.

Jasmine: What are the biggest challenges of heading a charity organization?

Ciarra: Our biggest challenge is that we are the first foundation both founded and led by a person of color in Michigan. We are trailblazing in our philanthropic practices and community engagement to ensure that we center racial justice and economic equity in philanthropy. Most of the nation's wealth is passed through financial systems and institutions such as foundations. We needed to create a presence for people of color in this space to reap the economic benefits.

Jasmine: What would you do you hope to accomplish in 2022? What are your goals for the future?

Ciarra: Our biggest goal for 2022 is to host a successful Gold Gala Community Fundraiser in our community, as this will be our official launch into the community.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to anyone trying to get involved in their local/national organizations?

Ciarra: Identify your passion or area(s) of interest, and then begin to seek out opportunities to become involved. That can look like anything from occasional volunteering to serving in an active leadership role(s) on the Board of Directors, etc. But sure to know your capacity, yet even more importantly, be unafraid! Often times I enter spaces, and I am the only female, or the youngest person at the table, the only person of color, etc. You can't let it deter you. You must remember that your experiences and expertise add value even when they differ from the majority. The last thing here, be sure to be intentional about lifting up others as you grow in various spaces – the more you get involved, the more you will become a trusted voice in various spaces, and with that comes power and responsibility. Are you being intentional about inviting underrepresented voices to meetings or events? Are you making networking connections for others wherever you can? Etc.

Jasmine: Any closing comments for our readers?

Ciarra: It is our responsibility to create opportunities for ourselves and future generations. I live by the Angela Y. Davis quote: I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am CHANGING the things I can NO LONGER ACCEPT.

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