INTRODUCTIONS: Meet Moncello Stewart, An entrepreneur and activist sowing seeds in Savannah

Updated January 31, 2023 at 4:07 p.m.

Moncello Stewart is a local leader and grass-roots organizer who is very involved in his community. A native of Savannah, Stewart is an advocate for the underserved, always working to amplify the voices of the historically marginalized. He is the founder of OneSeed, Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that works to elevate and enrich smaller nonprofits in the local community. Through OneSeed, Stewart has been able to provide small grants and opportunities to several local charities including B.E. Loved Moore Foundation, Save Our Youth Savannah, Shelter from the Rain, M.A.L.E. Dreamers and Operation Kid Forward among others.

Stewart developed the idea for OneSeed around 2017 when he was helping to clean up the city in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Matthew. He noticed that much of the clean-up effort was being conducted by small, local community groups.

“I saw these small community groups, the same people I’m used to seeing just doing the small work. The football team or the mentoring club or the gardening club . . . groups that don’t usually get funded by large organizations. And then it hit me. Who funds the small groups? Who takes care of these small groups that may not ever become 501(c)3 nonprofits,” Stewart recalled.

He created OneSeed to fill in the gap for these small charitable organizations.

“I figured that some of these groups just needed that one seed to push them over the top. That one thing. . . It’s like in our personal lives, sometimes we need that one little push. Everybody’s not looking for handouts. Some people just need that little extra step and that help, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he explained.

OneSeed provides mini-grants to local charities, and they don’t have to achieve 501(c)3 status as long as they are verifiable not-for-profit organizations. OneSeed also assists these small nonprofits with board development and training. Stewart modeled OneSeed after United Way, striving to be a valuable resource in the community for smaller nonprofits.

“I’ve learned a lot from the United Way. I’ve participated a lot and volunteered with them. . . I think they do amazing work, but they also can’t fund everyone. So, I think trying to raise money to fund those small groups is essential,” said Stewart.

Beyond OneSeed, Stewart lends his time to a plethora of boards, committees and other community organizations. He has served on the Greater Savannah Pan-Hellenic Council, the Savannah Chatham Citizens Advocacy, the Tatumville Neighborhood Association, the Black Heritage Festival Committee, the MLK Parade Committee, the City of Savannah Equity Task Force and more.

Since 2019, Stewart has been serving as the president of the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce, which aims to educate, empower and elevate minority and women-owned businesses in the Savannah metropolitan area.

“As the president, my role is to make sure that we are consistent with our mission and vision to create economic opportunities for African-American businesses. . . Making sure that African Americans are at the forefront of decision making and [ensuring] that we aren’t being left behind when it comes to planning for our community. . . We do that by creating programming . . . and building relationships,” he explained.

According to Stewart, the ability to build lasting relationships is one of his greatest assets. He believes that progress is attainable when community members come together and work towards a common goal. He is the kind of person who starts most sentences with ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, always emphasizing the importance of relationships and communal collaboration.

“I think the highlights of my career are anything involving community, building community. I look at my neighborhood association. When we were able to get the funding to build a community center [in Tatumville] and being a part of that,” he said.

Other highlights for Stewart include his work over the last decade with the MLK Parade and his leadership and efforts within the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. But for Stewart, it all comes back to being a reliable servant within his community.

“Nothing would get done if someone doesn’t stand up and do it. I think that my thing was always to not wait for it to happen to me or to be personally impacted by it. And that’s important. So, when I was volunteering for March of Dimes or Relay for Life or MS or anything like that, it wasn’t because I had somebody in my family who had MS. It wasn’t because I had somebody in my family who had breast cancer. It was because somebody else had someone in their family who did. And that has always been me,” Stewart expressed.

Stewart is civically-minded and strives to be a good role model and mentor for local youth.

“I think, especially as I’m getting older, how are we passing this information down? What impact are we making? That’s why I try to be a good role model. I think I live my life as a stand-up guy. . . I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I really try to make sure that I look, dress and speak the part,” Stewart began. “[Youth] could see a black guy with dreads who’s clearly got some hood in him, but at the end of the day, they can see the professional side too. I like that,” he laughed.

In addition to his community building efforts, Stewart is the founder, president and CEO of Trident Strategy Group, which is a public relations firm specializing in strategic communications, governmental affairs and political consulting. Through his business, Stewart has worked with several public servants including Stacey Abrams, Tanya Milton, Derek Mallow and others. He is a founding member of the Political Rascals, which is a Savannah-based political action committee, as well as the Movement Matters Coalition of Community Builders.

His political engagement has led to people inquiring as to when Stewart intends to run for office, but he tells them that “there’s no agenda here.”

“I’ve been active in the community since fifth or sixth grade. . . I really love people and I love to work. If that work and people lead me in a certain direction at some point, then I’ll follow that path. But until it does, I’ll just continue to do the work,” he said.

For more information about OneSeed, Inc., visit oneseedinc.com


Published January 31, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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