Joe and Kaliq Simms with their children

By Baltimore Community Foundation

“Ours is a very Baltimore story,” says Kaliq Hunter Simms, an educational consultant and incoming president of Sisters Academy in Baltimore. Kaliq grew up in a close-knit family in West Baltimore while her husband Joe Simms, chief diversity officer for Stanley Black & Decker, grew up in a similar community nearby. The two met at Morgan State University and bonded over their families’ histories and values. Both had parents who were among the first integrated classes in Baltimore City public schools. Both families had instilled reverence for faith, education, the Black community, and the city of Baltimore. Both were full of past Morgan State University alums.”

After graduation, Joe and Kaliq took job opportunities out of state, but moved back when they had kids.  “We always knew this was home,” says Joe. Surrounded by extended family and with successful careers, the couple began considering the legacy earlier generations had left and how they might do the same for their children. “They were trailblazers—breaking color barriers, breaking into the middle class to create new opportunities for us and getting the very most out of the Baltimore experience,” says Joe of their respective parents.

The Simms quickly realized that they wanted to build upon their parents’ value of giving back to their community. “They modeled supporting the Black community and the importance of education for that community,” says Joe. Now, he says “We’re running our part of the race: trying to create a generational legacy of philanthropy.”

The couple had made many charitable gifts over the years, but they hadn’t considered a donor-advised fund until they began meeting with their financial advisor, Byron Deese, a member of BCF’s Professional Advisor Recognition Society. Byron suggested the couple might appreciate seeing their efforts concentrated and connected them to BCF Donor Services Officer Nanyamka Hales, who helped establish the fund and has continued to provide guidance and support along the way.

“It was a milestone,” says Kaliq of the creation of the Joseph and Kaliq Simms Charitable Fund, which has made grants to Morgan State University, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, among others. “It’s one of our proudest moments because it signified that we were having an impact. We were being good stewards of what has been given to us.” 

Beyond consolidating their giving and making it easy and organized, Joe says they appreciate how their BCF fund connects them to the broader philanthropic community. “We’ve found it helps us do more because we know more about the community.” Also, adds Kaliq “you start to get inspired being connected to other philanthropists, seeing what they are doing and who they support.”

Although the fund was established in 2020, the Simms still feel new to philanthropy and are only beginning to think about how to engage their children—who are already making socially conscious choices, participating in service organizations, and buying from brands that reflect their values. “Engaging them in charitable giving is the next step,” says Kaliq. “We’re modeling giving for our kids, showing that you don’t have to have a lot of money, you just have to be focused and disciplined in your giving to be impactful, they do know we have a foundation,” adds Joe. “Now it’s time to show them how it works and continue fostering the lifelong learning of what it means to give back.”  

This article was originally published by the Baltimore Community Foundation.

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