Impact America Founder Stephen Black speaks at Rotary Club of Jackson



Monday, June 18, 2018


Brooks Buchanan, Rotary president and assistant general counsel, C Spire, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone.  The invocation was given, the pledge of allegiance and four-way test were recited..

New members were introduced; James Phipps by Jewell Hillery and former member, returning as a senior active member, Robert Sheely.  Both members were welcomed warmly by all in attendance.

Tony Webb introduced visitors and guests.

President Buchanan encouraged all members to sign up for committees.

Mark Fields introduced Stephen Black of Impact America (

Stephen Black, grandson of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo L. Black, grew up in New Mexico after most of his family left Alabama during the 1950’s and 60’s, following his grandfather’s role in the controversial Civil Rights decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education.  Stephen remained fascinated with Alabama and his family’s legacy of public service in his home state.

Mr. Black received his bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.  After 3 years practicing law, he was called to public service.  He founded and lead the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibilities at the University of Alabama.  In 2004, he founded impact Alabama, which then became Impact America, an award-winning non-profit with a staff of more than 90 full-time college students who have provided more than 8900 college students the opportunity to participate in structures service projects designed to promote learning and leadership development.

Mr. Black believes that the most serious challenge to progress in our country is that the transcendent trajectory of progress is no longer inevitable.  The biggest threat to our ability to advance, is the increasing percentage of people moving into less populated areas where there is less community involvement with groups different from themselves (demographic connections to people of different economic groups).  He believes likeminded viewpoints are isolating. There is an overwhelming decline of community involvement.  People are no longer focusing on “what is required of me?” or “what can I do to connect with different people?”.

Mr. Black’s organization suggests that we need to demand more from higher education and from college educated people.  His organization encourages the mindset that college students and graduates are dutybound to participate in the greater good and encourages students to participate in the evolution of communities.

Impact America, specifically, Focus First, consisting of over 3500 college students has done more than 432,000 eye screenings on young school age children since 2004; with nearly 10% of children who failed the screenings, receiving follow up care. 

Mr. Black received a standing ovation.

President Buchanan thanked Mr. Black and reiterated the community service involvement of the Rotary Club of Jackson, specifically scholarships that are awarded.