March 29, 2024
Estimated Read Time: 10 min.

Changemaker Spotlight Series – Ishmael Shumate, Kansas City Chiefs

Welcome to Strat Labs’ Changemaker Spotlight Series! This blog series is dedicated to showcasing the inspiring journeys of remarkable individuals who have transformed their passions into purposeful endeavors, leaving a significant impact on the world around them every single day. Join us as we delve into the heart of innovation and commitment, celebrating the extraordinary stories of those who are not just dreaming of a better future but actively shaping it in their journey as a changemaker.

Ishmael Shumate is a dedicated advocate for community enrichment, currently serving as the Philanthropy and Community Programming Coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. A native of Kansas City, Ishmael’s upbringing instilled in him a profound sense of duty to uplift those around him, igniting a lifelong passion for philanthropy and community empowerment.

In his role, Ishmael works to support and provide resources to programs aimed at enhancing the health and wellness of the Kansas City community. Through this experience in nonprofit management and programming, Ishmael is demonstrating the transformative potential of giving back while leaving an indelible mark on the Kansas City community.


What inspired you to embark on your journey in the social impact space?


Giving back has always been important to me. Those values were instilled in me from middle school through high school and college. It was something I became very passionate about—helping those who are in need. 

I have now found a great opportunity to combine my love for giving back and my love for the sports world. With my position as Philanthropy and Community Programming Coordinator, I’m able to combine those two passions that I have, especially through the platform of an NFL team. It really gives us the ability to touch a lot of people and change a lot of lives.

I’m excited to be on this journey and help a lot of people along the way.


Attending Taste for Tech, supporting JReid InDeed founded by Chiefs Safety, Justin Reid
Attending Taste for Tech, supporting JReid InDeed founded by Chiefs Safety, Justin Reid

Can you describe how you and/or your organization are making a significant social impact?


Through the Hunt Family Foundation and the Kansas City Chiefs, we have four pillars that we work within. Those four pillars are 1) children’s health and wellness, 2) children and families in crisis, 3) civic responsibility, and 4) the legacy of the Chiefs and the NFL.

With direction from the Hunt Family, we have really outlined the important values of the organization, but these pillars also align with the needs of the Kansas City community. We do a good job of not only pushing our community programs, but creating initiatives that are in partnership with the community of Kansas City.


Ishmael Shumate at Chiefs Red Friday
Selling flags on Red Friday alongside Chiefs Legend, Tim Barnett, benefitting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City

Can you tell us about a project or initiative you’re particularly proud of and its impact on the community or issue it addresses?


One initiative that has really grown across Kansas City and has brought the city together is Red Friday. The program usually happens during the first week of the NFL Kickoff. 

As a part of this initiative, we sell Kansas City Chiefs flags that benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Our whole organization is part of it, going to different parts of the city and approaching different businesses to sell these flags. In the last couple of years, we raised up to a million dollars for the Ronald McDonald House!

It’s been a great way to see the Chiefs, the whole Kansas City community, and the Ronald McDonald House come together for one cause and raise money for sick children and their families who need support.


What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered while pursuing your purpose, and how have you overcome them?


I think one of the biggest challenges in the nonprofit sector in general is that there’s so many people who are in need, but they all have different needs. There are so many different organizations that are doing so many great things, but it can be hard and challenging to sort through all of those needs and focus our support where it is needed most.

What really grounds our organization is our pillars; those guide how we support different organizations in the Kansas City community, but it’s always a challenge to cater to all of the different needs.


Souper Bowl of Caring benefitting Harvesters Kansas City
Packing food for the Souper Bowl of Caring benefitting Harvesters

In your opinion, what are some emerging trends or innovations in your industry that have the potential to drive significant change?


One continuous issue that we focus on is food insecurity. We support the Chiefs’ Kingdom Food Drive, which helps tons of families across the Kansas City metro area who are in need of food, snacks, or anything related to food insecurity. This year, we made an additional contribution to the food drive of $100,000 to support children and families in need of food.

This is centered around Thanksgiving, but it’s an initiative that continues, throughout the whole year for our organization. It’s something that we identified as a major need in the community, and it’s something we’re trying to address for those children and families.


How do you define “Changemaker”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?


When I think about a Changemaker, I think about someone who is genuine in how they want to support and interact with others, and uplift their community.


Early Start KC
Attending Eartly Start KC’s Little Learners Luncheon at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own journey as a changemaker within the social impact space?


I have two pieces of advice: listen and learn. Listening is probably the biggest part of working in the social impact space. Personally, I’m not an expert in all of the different sectors of nonprofits, so it’s crucial to listen to experts in specific fields and also to those in need. 

The second piece is learning, as I think that’s the beauty of nonprofit sectors. They have many different community leaders, and you can learn something from each of them about all of the different issues that are going on. 

Listening and learning are very integral parts of my day-to-day job, but also in my life.


Chiefs Training Camp
Returning from Military Appreciation Day at Chiefs Training Camp

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future of your work, and how do you plan to continue your journey as a changemaker?


I really love my job. Being from Kansas City,  I understand the community here on a personal level. Being in a position that allows me to give back to the community that I come from is very important to me.

So, whatever my future holds, I hope to be here in Kansas City making an impact.


What are a few “Things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?


Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Why?” Asking why something is done a certain way, what the motives are behind something, or why you are doing something at all. When you are proactive and come into an organization by asking those questions, it can really help to align and improve your work.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. When you join an organization, they value you and value your opinion. That’s why they brought you in.


Why should people pay attention to the issues you work on?


People should pay attention because these are the issues that the community has proposed to us, and we’re trying to support them in that manner. It’s important because we are truly listening to the community, and our work reflects that.


To learn more about the impactful and important work that the Hunt Family Foundation and Kansas City Chiefs are doing, visit their website at

If you are interested in connecting with Ishmael Shumate to learn more about his changemaker journey, you can contact him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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