The Community Investment Network began in 2003 when the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP)  and the Birmingham Change Fund  organized as giving circles. Since then, more circles have joined the Network across the Southeast and throughout the nation. Numerous members have said that they had not known that they were philanthropists until they heard such language used in CIN spaces. 

Our Founder

Darryl Lester, a social entrepreneur and community philanthropist, founded the Community Investment Network in 2006… but his passion for philanthropy was rooted during his early life in Marion, South Carolina.

While growing up on Strawberry Street in a tiny, rural community populated by working families, Darryl witnessed the inherent giving nature among African-Americans long before the jargon associated with community philanthropy arrived. The tenets of racial uplifting and mutual aid were an organic way of life for those who gathered together for rent parties, communal day-care and collecting resources for family needs under the simple auspices of ‘neighbors helping neighbors’.

These concepts influenced Darryl as he and his business partner, Dionne, founded HindSight Consulting in 2001. The early focus of HindSight’s work was to build a collective giving movement among young African American adults in the New South using a giving circle model. This movement was sparked when Darryl organized the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP Fund) in Raleigh, NC and the Birmingham Change Fund in Birmingham, Alabama in 2004. From 2004 to the present, Darryl and HindSight has organized 13 giving circles that are members of CIN.

Darryl continues to conceptualize ways in which to encourage African-Americans to understand their roles as philanthropists — emphasizing their importance from a ‘supply’ side purpose as opposed to a traditionally perceived ‘demand’ function.

Darryl is a graduate of both Wofford College (B.A., Economics) and North Carolina State University (M.A., Psychology) and enjoys the brotherhood that he shares as a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Within the city of Raleigh, where he resides, he is a Development Chair for Sassafras All Children’s Playground, a project which is working to provide a safe play environment for children with special needs. He is the proud father of a son, Bradley, a daughter, Danielle, and two lovely grandchildren.