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Black philanthropic leaders in Chicago confront racial inequality

The Grand Victoria Foundation began a strategic planning process to focus more explicitly on racial inequality in 2019, but Floyd’s death changed everything, Bush says.

After President Bush wrote an op-ed in The Chronicle of Philanthropy titled “Race Equality Needs to Be More Than a Philanthropic Catchphrase,” the Board of Directors of the Grand Victoria Foundation responded to its call to action. I started thinking about how I could respond. The organization currently plans to complete the strategic planning process in the spring of 2023 and will begin implementing that plan that summer, at which time it will begin accepting grant applications, Bush said.

The Grand Victoria Foundation has also teamed up with Chicago Beyond and the MacArthur Foundation to launch Abundance, an initiative aimed at directing more funding to Black-led and Black-centric nonprofits. The idea came after Bush and his colleagues discussed their philanthropic experiences. This prompted Bush to consider the difficulty of raising money for black-led organizations. She wondered why Black-led organizations, for example, are subject to stricter due diligence than other nonprofits.

“We have to be very introspective about the processes and structures we put in place that create barriers to funding underfunded groups,” Bush says.

In Fall 2021, the Chicago Foundation for Women launched the SHEcovery initiative, which aims to help women recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting affordable, quality health care through an anti-racist lens is one of her focuses at SHEcovery, she says, Davis Blakley.

“We see discrepancies in how women of color and women of color have more harmful outcomes, including life expectancy, cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survival rates, and pregnancy and childbirth outcomes.” she says. she says. “It’s part of the perception that there are inherent biases in the system, and you can see it. Even very famous and super-healthy women like Serena Williams and Beyoncé have dealt with themselves and I have an issue that needs to be defended. We know what that means for other women with less means and less agency.

Similarly, the Chicago Foundation for Women is beginning to focus grants on black women-led organizations. In Spring 2022, the nonprofit awarded her five-figure grants to organizations such as Black Girls Dance, Ladies of Virtue and Southside Center of Hope.

Support black leaders and communities

At some Black-led social nonprofits, the coronavirus pandemic and racial justice rhetoric has forced officers and board members to urge recipients to access funds and receive additional support as soon as possible. We are now looking at the grant process so that

Research shows that foundations that provide grants are relaxing their rules on how grantees use their funds. According to his 2022 survey for the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), 36% of nonprofit respondents said they received more than half of their funds, including general operational assistance, in unlimited funds in the 2021 fiscal year. I’m here. Since March 2020, we have made the use of funds more flexible.

For example, one infant and children nonprofit that responded to the survey visited families at home before the COVID-19 pandemic. Given coronavirus concerns, the nonprofit was able to redirect its funds to buy strollers for parents who didn’t have one and conduct “walking visits” instead, NFF said. A spokesperson confirmed.

Prior to 2020, the Coleman Foundation, ranked 16th on Crain’s list of Chicago’s largest foundations, works closely with grantees to develop projects, programs, or other forms that align with the grantee organization’s mission. said Coleman CEO Davis. However, the organization began awarding general operating grants in 2020 to provide faster access to funding. While the foundation still offers limited grants in specific circumstances, it also continues to provide general operational support to help organizations deploy those resources where they are most needed, she said. will explain.

“Limited funding has its place,” said Davis, who has a long career in the philanthropic field. “We strive to be as flexible a source of funding as possible, whether through general operational support or ensuring that the way we craft our grant agreements provides as much leeway as possible. We as humans know when someone gets, things can change when we move on to a project, so the leader should do the mission in the best possible way given the resources they are given. We need the flexibility to achieve

Shortly after becoming president of The Field Foundation of Illinois, Daniel Ash explained that the foundation not only awards funds to grantees, but also helps them raise funds from other organizations. , said it hoped to support grantees, as far as offering advice on finding potential board members. .

“We … have to ask our grant partners: ‘How are we doing? What are we missing? What should we do more? What should we do less? Do you need it? We?’” he says. “Especially when it comes to racial equality movements and movements towards racial equality, we have to partner with organizations that we know are absolutely essential to advancing the movement. We need to be seen as strategic partners that bring value.Moving beyond the value of grants.”

keep the momentum going

At the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, businesses and nonprofits are working to address racial inequality by hiring more Black employees and providing anti-racism training in the workplace. From implementing to donating more money to racial justice causes, we pledged to do more.

In a 2022 Nonprofit Finance Fund survey, 68% of nonprofit respondents said their focus has been on promoting racial equality in the past two years. Board (79%) or its employees (78%).

With these efforts underway, what role can black nonprofit leaders play in keeping the racial justice momentum going?

In Hightower’s role on the Metropolitan Planning Council, holding businesses and government agencies accountable for their 2020 promises means having one-on-one conversations and finding allies within the organization who can champion their work. she says. For example, the MPC provides training to the Chicago Housing Authority so the agency can create policies and procedures with justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in mind, she notes.

Helen Gale, who stepped down as CEO of the Chicago Community Trust in June to become the president of Spelman College in Atlanta, has been writing editorials and speaking at events on issues of racial justice to black nonprofit executives. We advise them to keep using their voices by speaking and sharing information. Examples of how to make substantive changes.

“There are many projects underway that seem to give hope to the community,” Gale says. “They’re telling stories in a different way. Using the power of your voice and the power of your pen and everything else, hopefully we can keep things moving forward.”

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