“What we lost in the fire we found in the ashes”


Founded in the ruins and aftermath of the fiery summer of discontent when Detroit erupted in one of the deadliest most costly urban uprisings in the history of the United States, the Black United Fund of Michigan, Inc. (BUF of MI) boldly emerged from the ashes of the 1967 Detroit Riots as a stabilizing inner-city community force of self-determination and revitalization in 1970.


Led by legendary community development activist & social worker Brenda L. Rayford, 15 courageous Detroiters united for impact in a small basement office on Detroit’s west side to establish the Black Causes Association, an alternative funding and resource center for residents and community based nonprofits for change.  The charitable resolve was simple:  spark community involvement and harness the professional expertise, networks and financial activism efforts of the collective to create more capital to help fellow residents rebuild their lives while simultaneously resurrecting the local economy and stimulating job growth.  They used proceeds from a seed grant from New Detroit and labored alongside generous donors to establish an endowment as a sustainable reserve and financial bedrock to ensure that empowerment efforts continue unimpeded across time and circumstance.

BUF of MI made a strategic move in 2010 to directly address the impact of the 2008 recession on families and youth, just as organizational legacy demanded by partnering with corporations, entrepreneurs, and other non-profits to administer programming. The most successful BUF of MI partnership for impact programs continues to be Career Readiness, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, BUF 45 Leadership Circle Youth Mentorship and Project Aviation: The Sky is the Limit!

In 2013 BUF of MI activated the young professionals and influencer arm of the organization, now known as BUFConnect (Connect) to ensure the intergenerational legacy of giving continues.  BUF of MI remains a safe-haven and stabilizing force in the community, earning the reputation as change-agents and trusted financial stewards. BUF is guided by the fearless example of founders and continued leadership of BUF of MI’s President & CEO, Kenneth Donaldson who has helped to bring millions of dollars to non-profit, community-based organizations that make a difference in our communities.  Armed with a passion for family and community service, Ken has dedicated 30+ years to BUF of MI’s philanthropy, mentorship and community organizing.