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Donor Story

Making the right call

February 02, 2021

Tony Brothers, a longtime Norfolk resident and NBA referee, uses philanthropy to advance equity and promote social justice— ultimately helping to reshape the narrative of People of Color in Hampton Roads and beyond.

In 2019, Brothers became a founding member of the Visionaries for Change giving circle at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. His annual gift is helping the group reach its $500,000 endowment goal. The group was founded by Black business and civic leaders to provide support for charitable causes in the Black community. Membership is open to all.

“As a Black man, it is incumbent upon me to use my resources to uplift others in my community and help create pathways to success,” he said. “By joining a giving circle, I am connected to like-minded people who are purposeful and passionate about addressing disparities in the African American community and share my interest in making meaningful contributions that will lead to better educational and economic outcomes.”

Brothers graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk and later earned a business degree from Old Dominion University. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Norfolk State University.

Brothers and his sister were raised by a single mother Dorothy B. Brothers, a corporate executive for Bank of America. She passed away unexpectedly in 2002, and her service to others inspired him to do more for the community.

As a referee in the NBA, Brothers has a national platform. But he puts his talent and passion to work in the Hampton Roads region. A longtime philanthropist, Brothers serves on a number of charitable boards, and in 2015 started Men for Hope Inc., which helps young men as well as single mothers raising young men. As a tribute to his mom, he started an endowment in 2018 at Norfolk State University for children of single parents.

Under the school’s naming opportunities program, that donation allowed the naming of the Dorothy B. Brothers Auditorium on campus. Through the Visionaries giving circle, he hopes his involvement will amplify the importance of racial equity and social justice, as well as encourage others to seek opportunities to lend support.

“I have seen firsthand how philanthropy fills the inequitable gaps in the community,” he said. “By working with the community foundation and Visionaries, together we can accomplish more for our neighbors in need.”

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