Tyrone McKinley Freeman

Author, Professor of Philanthropic Studies 


Tyrone McKinley Freeman is an award-winning writer, speaker and teacher whose work examines the intersections of philanthropy, activism, and race in America. A nationally recognized expert in African American philanthropy, he writes and speaks about various forms of Black generosity and social change, past and present. Currently, he is an assistant professor of philanthropic studies at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. 

Freeman notes, “My work is all about helping people of color reconnect with their deep and rich philanthropic heritage to maximize their impact today, and helping the larger nonprofit and philanthropic sectors sustain inclusion in their community engagement and social change strategies.”

His work has appeared or been cited in TIME, O: The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, NewsOne, Blavity, Chicago Tribune, The Conversation, Black Perspectives, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the Stanford Social Innovations Review

He is author of Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 2020), which examines African American women’s history of charitable giving, activism, education, and social service provision through the life and example of Madam C.J. Walker, the early twentieth century black entrepreneur. He is also co-author of Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), which explored the personal lives and professional challenges of African American and women nonprofit executive leaders. 

The son, grandson, nephew and cousin of Baptist preachers and first ladies, Tyrone grew up in South Orange, NJ. Prior to becoming a professor, he was a fundraising professional and raised money for a range of nonprofit organizations in community economic development, youth and family services, and higher education. He also served as associate director of the world-renowned The Fund Raising School, where wrote curricula and trained fundraisers and other nonprofit leaders across the United States and in Asia, Africa and Europe.

A dynamic and versatile speaker, Tyrone engages diverse audiences on a range of topics related to philanthropy, philanthropy in communities of color, and African American history. He conducts workshops on fundraising and leadership for nonprofit organizations.

A proud HBCU alum, Tyrone graduated from Lincoln University (PA) with a B.A. in English. He earned a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University, and a M.S. in Adult Education from Indiana University. He is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

TOPICS: Philanthropy, Activism, Race

In the News

The Oprah Magazine

What Self Made Got Right—and Wrong—About Madam C.J. Walker

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TIME Magazine

400 Years of Black Philanthropy, From the Days of Slavery to the 2019 Morehouse Graduation

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Black Perspectives

The Collectivist Roots of Madam C. J. Walker’s Philanthropy

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