Today we’d like to introduce you to Shante Walker. Them and their team share their story with us below:
The Niles Foundation was founded by Shante Walker the granddaughter of King Charles Mac Niles. Niles was born in St. Thomas-Virgin Islands and had dreams of being the greatest Calypso musician here in the States he could be. He was often referred to as “Calypso Mac Niles” or “King Mac Niles” and King Charles Mac Niles. Yes, that’s right “King” because Niles’s father was of high and prestigious leadership where he was born in Nigeria. Niles was signed to Columbia pictures and has appeared in multiple films such as Affair In Trinidad, Calypso Heat Wave, and Run for Your Life. Fairness, diversity and inclusion were almost invisible during his time, but Niles was highly sought for his ability to speak eight fluent languages, singing and writing music most relative to his career, songs in his father’s native language igbo a popular Nigerian language. Ultimately, Niles acquired high-profile friends working with well know musicians like Desi Arnaz, amongst others and passed on the Niles family gifts to all of his offspring.
Niles’s granddaughter (Shante) born of his daughter (D.M. Niles) both are also musicians at heart like Niles and have performed throughout Los Angeles creating their own names in music. Like Niles, Shante created her own footprints adding philanthropic projects and milestones to give back to her communities to build equity. While Niles toured as an established musician and enjoyed the finer things in life, his family and generational direction would later help to build what we now know as The Niles Foundation. Los Angeles, CA was a very different place in the ’50s and ’60s, with a heavy stain on inequalities, racism and limited opportunities for people of color. Fortunately, the 90s that granddaughter Niles (Shante) grew up in would challenge this.
After Niles passed while his granddaughter was only 12, this is where she believes that her true gifts and talents took place. She used all her gifts and talents to bring honor to her family “Niles” but found even greater purpose focusing on bringing honor to all communities alike that have been overlooked, underserved and underrepresented. This is how and why The Niles Foundation was founded. The Niles Foundation believes that by offering environmental long-term sustainability that it will stimulate economic growth and that by building equity for all our youth, that our youth would inspire each other helping to make greater critical decisions earlier way before high school graduation. The Niles Foundation stands with women which is also why we have built project-based programs to increase autonomy, independence, community, action, and change for all.
Whether you are discovering your gifts and or talents or creating new direction, we want you to know that you have a place to come to help empower, stimulate and support you. The Niles Foundation was built for you!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all! From knowing little about creating a nonprofit, creating a board, finding funding, to meeting and addressing needs it’s been one hell of an amusement park. However, everything is always a teachable moment for me. New challenges are always sprouting up and the needs of our communities continue to grow.
Finding supporters and reaching out to those who you believed would support your mission becomes integrated. Nothing is ever guaranteed and the fight or hustle to stay viable is non stop. You can never have too much funding, but you can certainly have too little.
Our foundation works off “one hundred percent donations” and ninety percent is strictly community program funding. Unfortunately, if there are no donations or grants, there are no community programs for us to address increasing fresh food access and decreasing food insecurity, or supporting women professionals that give free advice to help other women get ahead, youth advocacy and workforce, education or creating more viable green environmental spaces for our communities who need it most.
We work tirelessly to continue to bring awareness to those who have so that they can see what it truly looks like to not. We are always in need of volunteers, collaborations, partnerships and new advocates for our mission. We are a safe space nonprofit for all and we are always looking to build greater equity within our residents in any way we can.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
The Niles Foundation was created and founded by me in 2019. Our focus is women, youth, education and sustainable projects and building equity for our low-moderate income, underserved, underrepresented, disadvantaged residents. We address green sustainable projects, women’s empowerment, youth entrepreneurship, and other creative and educational programs.
We host workshops, classes, events and more to connect with our community. Our community citizens can learn how to grow their own food, and well as we provide the space for them to do it. We train youth and students through on site skills development opportunities and we’re creating micro farms and gardens throughout LA and South LA to increase green spaces making them more environmentally friendly to support food dessert areas, pollination and local vegetation. Community residents can tour our spaces, volunteer, or use the services offered.
The Niles Foundation is comprised of women, educators, minorities, artists and dedicated residents of Los Angeles County. Anyone can get involved, virtually or in person and we accept donations year-round.
What matters most to you?
Access and equity because the two builds healthier more viable and creative communities. Could you imagine being a child or a fine arts-painter and only having access to the same two colors for every creation day after day or year after year? While you might become an expert in using these two colors, you also become limited in the ability to create or produce beyond these two colors. Communities that are underserved, underrepresented, and disadvantaged experience these limitations daily.
In addition, for every developing scientist, musician, entrepreneur, educator, or designer, if they do not have access to quality, meaningful, equitable or sustainable tools or resources, how do they get where they are going or let alone help someone else?
“Access” to knowledge and quality information empowers, just as “equity” creates intrinsic value within an individual and becomes connected to self-identity. In return of this access, it supports these same LA residents in their communities so that when they do get where they are going, this invested equity from access to quality programs, workshops, or classes they can now pass on to someone else to build better programs, build better jobs, find more creative ways to build better homes, centers, and schools to another regardless of race, sex, class or gender.
Access and equity help balance the uneven floors.
- We accept donations
- In-Kind donations
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.thenilesfoundation.org
- Instagram: @tnflosangeles
- Facebook: thenilesfoundation
- Twitter: Foundation Niles
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN–msvw8ce28BtoX3iQpkw
The Niles Foundation and Nauliatyce Thompson at lensightproductions.com