155 posts categorized "Racial Equity"

Learning from trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking: A commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez

August 15, 2022

Women_high_fives_GettyImagesIn 2021, Justice Outside’s Rising Leaders Fellowship program brought together 20 early-career nonprofit professionals, most of them Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), to get hands-on experience with philanthropy. Fellows had the opportunity to design a $40,000 grantmaking program and decide to whom they would award grants and how they would distribute those funds across the selected grantees. They were invited to examine all the “rules” they knew about philanthropy.

Funded by the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative (EEFC), a network for Bay Area funders, the Rising Leaders Fellowship offered an opportunity for young people—who are often on the receiving end of grants—to reimagine and have agency in grantmaking. Supported by Justice Outside, they discussed wealth disparities generated by capitalism and white supremacy culture; and how trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking can be antidotes to inequities in philanthropy.

What’s more important than what they learned, however, is what they can teach us....

Read the full commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez, president and CEO and chief program officer, respectively, of Justice Outside.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Sustaining progressive change through community-based participatory research: A commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams

August 12, 2022

Doctor_woman_patient_GettyImages_croppedHow many of us have spent countless days producing exacting research reports informing the most salient social issues today—only to find a box of undistributed reports in the office storage closet a year later? Even the most impactful research aimed at influencing public policy makers and other targeted audiences has a short shelf-life. By contrast, participatory action research (PAR), also known as community-based participatory research, can make a far greater, longer-term impact—especially when the intended audience for the research includes communities that are the most marginalized and affected by the issues being studied.

Many marginalized communities have long and often sensitive histories of being “researched”—being the object of the research, while the job of identifying, defining, and assessing the issues is left to outside “experts.” Regrettably, excluding instead of centering the expertise of community members who are directly impacted by the issues not only leaves them feeling used but is a missed opportunity to catalyze and sustain progressive community change on many levels.

Those of us who have worked alongside communities have witnessed the consternation and dispiritedness felt by individuals when they are placed under the microscope without being given the opportunity to define challenges as they experience them. This omission also precludes the synergy and devotion that is often generated by problem solving from multiple perspectives. Conversely, community-based participatory research offers a collective, dialogic process for expression, reflection, perspective taking, and information sharing, and, ultimately, creative solution-based action among stakeholders. This process helps form a nexus of dynamic connections and relationships that can lead to sustained change over the long term....

Read the full commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams, a community-based participatory research consultant for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI).

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Ensuring equitable access to mental health care in communities of color: A commentary by Daniel H. Gillison, Jr.

August 03, 2022

Youth_mental_health_FatCamera_GettyImages-1317882681All people deserve equitable access to quality and comprehensive mental health care. But unfortunately, some of the populations most in need of such care have historically been, and continue to be, the most underserved.

According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress such as sadness, hopelessness, and feeling like everything is an effort. And according to one survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latinx adults reported significantly higher rates of depression during the pandemic compared with other populations. Yet in 2020, only one in three Black adults with mental health conditions received treatment. And only 10 percent of Latinx people with a psychological disorder contacted a mental health specialist.

We at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have been reflecting on these disparities during July in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, named after a pioneering mother who strove to end stigma associated with mental illness, particularly in communities of color. But we must also commit beyond raising awareness—to taking action....

Read the full commentary by Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

(Photo credit: Getty Images/FatCamera)

Learning environments that prioritize trust building: A commentary by Cierra Kaler-Jones and Jaime T. Koppel

August 01, 2022

Female_teacher_middleschool_class_GettyImagesIn the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office moved more than $1 billion in grants for school policing, hardening, and militarization. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed quickly in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, is another effort that advances the illusion of “school safety” by increasing funding for police in schools, threat assessments, and school hardening—despite significant evidence that surveillance technologies and police presence undermine students’ trust. According to the U.S. Department of Education, millions of students attend schools where there are police officers but no counselors, nurses, psychologists, or social workers. Further, Black and brown students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities face the brunt of the harms of policing. Since investments in school policing have ballooned in recent years, many students and staff have never been in a school without police and policing infrastructure. This reinforces the myth that safety comes from police. Why keep investing in a strategy that’s never worked?

Philanthropy is too often complicit in these efforts. As a sector, we overwhelmingly invest in tidy policy wins that seem attainable within a grant cycle or two. We privilege groups with larger budgets, typically because we believe they have the greatest likelihood of “winning”....

Read the full commentary by Jaime T. Koppel and Cierra Kaler-Jones, co-director and director of storytelling at Communities for Just Schools Fund.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians: A commentary by Emily Jones

July 29, 2022

Black_womens_lives_matter_max-bender_unsplashAs the executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith, I think regularly about how to inspire our hundreds of thousands of members to make the world a more just and equitable place. United Women in Faith is committed to putting faith, hope, and love into action to improve the lives of women, children, and youth. There is no shortage of work for our members to do. There is no shortage of issues competing for our time and attention. But we have decided to focus on pushing back against the criminalization of communities of color—especially children of color. Every year, we work hard to inspire our members to do their part to disrupt the “school-to-prison pipeline.” We do this by aligning with and supporting the campaigns of groups such as Dignity in Schools and others who have been doing this work far longer than us. We also support our members to engage in advocacy work at the local, state, and federal levels.

We believe that advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians. It is not enough to be engaged in our churches if we are not also working to dismantle systems of oppression in our communities. United Women in Faith’s board of directors recently voted to grant $500,000 in funding to mission-aligned groups led by Indigenous and Black women: $250,000 to Brittany K. Barnett’s Girls Embracing Mothers and $250,000 to Tia Oros Peters’ Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. Girls Embracing Mothers helps girls with incarcerated mothers to fulfill their unique calling and break the cycle of incarceration. The Seventh Generation Fund is the oldest organization of its kind and is dedicated to Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and Native nations’ sovereignty....

Read the full commentary by Emily Jones, executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith.

(Photo credit: max bender via unsplash)

Review: 'Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State'

July 27, 2022

Book_cover_Nonprofit NeighborhoodsIn 2014, when Massachusetts launched its “pay for success” social impact bond program—in which private investors would front the funding for nonprofit efforts to address a social issue—it was hailed as an innovative, data-driven public-private partnership that would deliver demonstrated results and cost savings. Yet, as Claire Dunning illustrates in Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State, it was just the latest chapter in a long history of public-private initiatives that so far have not fulfilled their promise.

An assistant professor of public policy and history at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dunning defines “nonprofit neighborhoods” as “places where neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations controlled access to the levers of political, economic, and social power and mediated the local manifestations of the state and market.” While that definition might suggest the nonprofits have power, Nonprofit Neighborhoods illuminates how, through government and public-private grantmaking, nonprofits in Boston’s low-income and minority neighborhoods came to provide the services that government should have provided and, even more disturbingly, how that funding mechanism was used to appease, manage, and control grassroots movements for policy reform and inclusion....

Read the full book review by Kyoko Uchida, features editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

An open ecosystem for scientific research: A commentary by Greg Tananbaum

July 25, 2022

Census_gettyimagesPhilanthropies aspire to lofty goals—solving seemingly intractable problems, creating a more just society, curing diseases, and deepening our understanding of our place in the universe. But the success of these missions depends not only on what we fund but on how we pursue solutions. Will our resources and efforts essentially serve to reinforce the status quo? The scale of our ambitions—indeed, the magnitude of the challenges we face as a society and a species–demands that we identify better ways to include a diversity of voices and approaches in our work.

Our organization, the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG), is a collaborative of 25 philanthropies representing annual giving of $12 billion that is committed to the open sharing of research outputs. Our members aim to increase the impact of the work we support by creating an open ecosystem for scientific research—where data, analytics, methods, materials, and publications are openly available to all to access, test, and build upon. This approach closes information-sharing gaps, encourages innovation, and increases trust in the scientific process.  

In the wake of a tumultuous 2020—the inequity laid bare by the George Floyd killing and the rampant disinformation surrounding COVID-19—ORFG members realized that we needed to think even more expansively about our entire grantmaking processes and whether they reflect our values. To truly support open research, inclusivity, and equity, we understood we needed to rethink how we make decisions about where our money goes, from the way we build and socialize funding programs, to how we develop diverse applicant pools, all the way through how we support grantees and alumni....

Read the full commentary by Greg Tananbaum, director of the Open Research Funders Group

Racial justice at the forefront of impact investing: A commentary by Ian Fuller

July 15, 2022

Young woman_megaphone_protest_social_justice_GettyImages_LeoPatriziFollowing the racial reckoning of 2020, billions in corporate and individual donations to Black-serving and Black-led organizations changed the landscape of investment advising. If investment advisory firms are to keep up with this trend, they must adopt a community-centered, racial justice approach to business.

In response to calls for racial justice in the wake of the murders of countless Black Americans following brutal interactions with law enforcement, $50 billion in corporate and individual donations poured into Black-led or Black-serving nonprofits, civil rights groups, and historically Black colleges and universities. This disbursement of billions is creating one of the largest windfall events for beneficiaries directly impacting and serving Black communities in our country’s history. Many of these institutions have never received donations of this size, or scale, at one time.

Since 2020, Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm I co-founded, has seen eight times as many nonprofit clients experience windfall events from wealthy donors. We saw this with billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott publicly donating more than $12 billion as of March 2022. In working with these organizations to manage their expanded financial portfolios, we’ve learned that for investment advisory firms to have an impact in this new landscape, it is essential to adopt a community-centered approach—concentrating on community economic development, revitalization, growth, and sustainability—with racial justice at the forefront of impact investing. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity....

Read the full commentary by Ian Fuller, a co-founder and partner of Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Leo Patrizi)

Effective violence reduction strategies: A Q&A with Jocelyn Fontaine and Anita Ravishankar

July 01, 2022

Jocelyn_Fontaine_Anita_Ravishankar_Arnold_Ventures_credit_Todd SpothOn June 2, Arnold Ventures issued a research agenda and an RFP focused on violence reduction, including gun violence, citing an increase in violent crimes and incidents over the past two years across U.S. cities “regardless of their size, geographic location, or political leanings.”

Jocelyn Fontaine is Arnold Ventures’ vice president of criminal justice research; she previously served a senior researcher in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she directed projects focused on corrections and reentry issues, gun violence, violence reduction programs, and police-community trust-building efforts. Anita Ravishankar is director of criminal justice research; she was a founding member of The Lab @ DC and the research and innovation team within the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Philanthropy News Digest asked Fontaine and Ravishankar about the rise in gun violence, the priorities of the new research agenda and RFP, how violence reduction intersects with racial justice, and the role of philanthropy in driving solutions.

Philanthropy News Digest: Presumably the development of this research agenda and RFP on solutions for reducing violence was under way well before the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. What do you see as the main causes of the surge in violent crimes and incidents nationwide—many of which have targeted specific populations for their race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other marginalized identities?

Anita Ravishankar: Gun violence has long been at unacceptably high levels in the United States. The nearly 30 percent nationwide increase in homicides in 2020, on the heels of massive social disruptions due to the pandemic, brought that reality into sharp relief. As we noted in our materials, the increase in violence was widespread, affecting communities regardless of their size, location, political leadership, or policy environment....

But we do not have precise explanations, which is unsatisfying and hinders policy makers’ ability to address violence. So through this research agenda we are prioritizing studies that can help us understand both the immediate causes of violence—e.g., how do we understand what the particular problem of violence is in a given jurisdiction and respond in the near term—as well as the underlying or root causes of violence that require longer-term and more holistic strategies or solutions to address. Our work focuses on the people and places most at risk of involvement in violence, as perpetrators of violence and victims of violence, which has not changed much over time, and understanding what works to support police solutions.

PND: The research agenda comprises three pillars: address immediate crises of violence, identify and address the underlying causes of violence, and promote effective police investigations to solve violent crime. Did the most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde shift or sharpen your priorities for the research agenda in any way?

AR: Arnold Ventures has been making substantial investments to understand the efficacy of different gun policies and different violence reduction strategies for several years. The notable increase in community violence over the past few years made clear the need to increase our research efforts to match the urgency of the moment in needing answers on effective solutions, spurring our research agenda and RFP. The events in Buffalo and Uvalde are absolutely heart-wrenching, leading so many of us to want our elected leaders to “do something, anything” to prevent these tragedies from happening. Those leaders will need to understand what policies and practices are effective, however, and building the evidence is a critical contribution to ensuring that decision makers do have high-quality information to navigate these challenges. Identifying evidence-based policy solutions has been and continues to be a key driver of our research investments, across all of our areas of work.

PND: The announcement notes that “[t]he distribution of these violent incidents remains predominantly concentrated in communities that have been subject to chronic underinvestment”—which would suggest that violence reduction is a racial and social justice issue. How do you see the intersectionality of those issues?

Jocelyn Fontaine: Homicide remains the #1 cause of death for young Black men, and the second leading cause of death for young Hispanic men. These statistics are sobering and unacceptable. We must develop effective tools and responses—including policies, interventions, and resources–to address the problem of high levels of violence effectively to save lives and reduce victimization and harm. Yes, violence reduction is an issue of racial equity. Several studies have found that the majority of crimes often occur in a small number of specific streets or blocks and those trends are largely stable over time. Further, Black and Brown people are significantly more likely than white people to be victims of serious violence and homicide. As violent crime is concentrated in economically disadvantaged Black and Brown neighborhoods, which have been historically underserved and marginalized and where residents have a relationship with the police and the justice system that has been defined through a history of marginalization, oppression, surveillance, coercion, and control, effective violence reduction strategies is absolutely consistent with efforts to advance racial equity....

Read the full Q&A with Jocelyn Fontaine and Anita Ravishankar, Vice President and Director of Criminal Justice Research, Arnold Ventures.

(Photo credit: Todd Spoth)

It's time for philanthropy to invest in Black women: A commentary by Maria S. Johnson

June 19, 2022

African_American_woman_protest_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicMany of us are feeling disillusioned by the current state of affairs in the United States. This includes the rollback of reproductive rights, white supremacist mass shootings, rising costs for basic needs, and shortages of essential items like baby formula—which are occurring as we are still enduring a pandemic that has taken more than a million lives.

Reporting indicates that Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by these events. Black mothers have limited access to quality prenatal care and access to abortions. Black grandmothers who were community and charitable pillars were targeted and murdered at a supermarket, and low-income Black women are facing insurmountable rising costs and housing instability. All of this can feel overwhelming, insurmountable even. I get it. And yet, there is something we can do: fund Black women and girl leaders.

As a Black woman from the South, I have lived, worked, and been educated in racially hostile spaces, subjected to racist and sexist slurs, and doubted and thwarted throughout my life. I have also witnessed the power of Black women and girls to create beloved communities and alter the trajectories of their and others’ lives when offered resources and opportunities. Coming from that reality, I learned early on that we all need support to thrive. For as long as we have lived in this country, Black women and girls have been on the ground addressing many of society’s most pressing ills. Moreover, Black women and girls have bravely looked beyond societal problems to imagine and create new futures in which not only Black women and girls but everyone can live safe, happy, liberated lives.

This resourcefulness and visionary approach are hallmarks of Black women and girls, but philanthropy fails them....

Read the full commentary by Maria S. Johnson, founder and chair of the Black Women and Girls Fund in Baltimore.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

What support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world: A commentary by Kevin Beckford

June 16, 2022

Teacher_elementary_school_classroom_masks_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicWhile Teacher Appreciation Week lasts just five school days in early May, teachers give their all day in, day out, to ensure that the next generation of learners succeed. Unfortunately, the journey of a teacher is not an easy one. I am not the first person—and certainly won’t be the last—to point out the sobering realities of what many teachers experience in America. Teaching requires a lot from teachers—long work hours, certification and credentialing, continuous professional development, and the navigation of typically under-resourced and overstrained environments—and all of this for a barely livable wage. And as we consider how to improve conditions for teachers, we must acknowledge that we now live in a different world, a post-COVID world where existing challenges have been exacerbated and new practices and programs must be implemented to address the gross inequities illuminated by the pandemic.

As both a former educator and nonprofit leader, I encourage others in the philanthropic and nonprofit community to reevaluate what support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world. Now, more than ever, we must invest in teachers. We must take this unique opportunity to implement innovative programs and support structures that enable great teachers to stay in the classroom and thrive....

Read the full commentary by Kevin Beckford, senior director of partnerships, strategy and programs, at Honored.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

The path forward in the face of COVID-19 and anti-Asian hate: commentary by Jiny Kim

June 10, 2022

Asian_Americans_Advancing_Justice_AAJCIn bringing another Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to a close, I am reminded that this is the third one we have celebrated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twenty-nine months ago, when the first reports of a new highly transmissible virus were emerging from China, the Asian American community held our breaths, fearing not only the virus itself but also the racialized scapegoating it could bring.

Twenty-eight months ago, we started seeing the first reports of COVID-related harassment of Asian Americans, and soon thereafter, Asian American businesses began shuttering, victims of racialized fearmongering, a full month prior to the declaration of a pandemic and mandated shut downs. 

And twenty-seven months ago, alongside nationwide shutdowns came reports of hate-fueled violence targeting our communities. Concurrently, resource-strapped local organizations serving the Asian American community faced capacity constraints to meet growing needs in the face of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-Asian hate....

Read the full commentary by Jiny Kim, Vice President, Policy and Programs, at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.

(Photo credit: Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC)

Fighting hate and racism, uplifiting our stories: A commentary by Anisha Singh

June 03, 2022

Sikh_family_GettyImages_kadmy-155656880As our nation continues to grieve for the victims of the May 14 terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York, we once again find ourselves painfully reminded of the ever-present threat that white supremacy poses to marginalized communities in the United States.

Our first responsibility is to center the pain the Black community is experiencing in this moment. At the same time, we must also recognize that the horrific ideology that underpinned this violence stems from a more expansive racism and anti-Semitism—the same toxic hate behind numerous deadly assaults in recent years, from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville and Oak Creek to El Paso. And as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws to a close, the recognition of this far-reaching threat comes with a challenge to all communities of color: How do we balance the urgent need to fight against the hate that plagues our communities and the need to take the time and space to uplift and celebrate our unique stories, identities, and contributions to our country?

This question is at the forefront of my mind as I join the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, as its new executive director. The Sikh Coalition was founded in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when Sikhs and other religious minorities found themselves facing unprecedented levels of hate violence in the wake of that national tragedy. Many Sikhs—members of the fifth largest organized faith tradition in the world—keep visible articles of faith, including turbans and unshorn beards, which some Americans began conflating with images of the Taliban. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, the Sikh Coalition emerged as a network of attorneys, advocates, and experts who stepped up to provide free aid to community members who had been subjected to hate crimes or workplace discrimination....

Read the full commentary by Anisha Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition

(Photo credit: Getty Images/kadmy)

An interview with Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director, AAPI Equity Alliance

May 31, 2022

Headshot_Manjusha Kulkarni_AAPI_Equity_Alliance_by Myleen HolleroManjusha P. Kulkarni has served since 2017 as executive director of the Los Angeles-based AAPI Equity Alliance (formerly the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, A3PCON), a coalition of more than 40 community-based organizations working to improve the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County. In March 2020, Kulkarni, together with Chinese for Affirmative Action co-executive director Cynthia Choi and San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Department professor Russell Jeung, co-founded Stop AAPI Hate, which aggregates COVID-19-related hate incidents against AAPIs. Stop AAPI Hate was awarded the 2021 Webby Social Movement of the Year, and the co-founders were included among TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential Individuals of 2021.

Prior to joining the AAPI Equity Alliance, Kulkarni led the South Asian Network, which provides culturally and linguistically specific services to and advocates on behalf of South Asians in the areas of healthcare access, gender-based violence, and civil rights and civic engagement. She previously worked as an attorney at the National Health Law Program, which advocates, educates, and litigates at the federal and state levels to advance health and civil rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families.

PND asked Kulkarni about her organization’s priorities, the launch of Stop AAPI Hate to track hate incidents, the challenges the AAPI community has faced not only since the pandemic began but long term, her outlook on narrative change, and the role philanthropy can play in addressing racism and advancing racial equity for all communities of color.

Philanthropy News Digest: The AAPI Equity Alliance’s mission is focused on civic engagement, capacity building, and policy advocacy. Have your priorities shifted over the last two years?

Manjusha P. Kulkarni: I do think that there’s been a bit of a shift in terms of civic engagement. We’ve been focused for many years, if not decades, on ensuring a robust AAPI vote and representation. You can’t solve what you don’t measure, so with the census, we wanted to ensure a robust count—to know where our communities are, who they are—and with that data, to help ensure that they have a voice in our political system. And that is important now more than ever, given the rise in anti-Asian hate, as well as COVID-19 related impacts around poverty, health, and lack of access to health care. So this continues to be a very significant priority for us, and we’re working with our member organizations to see how we can ensure that representation. We’ve found too often that political parties don’t spend much time or effort in seeking AAPI voters, but now, it’s clear across the country—New Jersey and Virginia in 2017, Georgia in 2020, all sorts of races in California—that AAPIs can make up that margin of victory and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Policy advocacy and capacity building, too, have always been important. In fact, that’s been our role since we were founded in 1975 as the Asian Pacific Planning Council, a group of executive directors who met to discuss their communities’ challenges. At that time there was a burgeoning Asian-American movement coming out of the civil rights movement and the Chicano movement, and the executive directors were seeing trends and patterns in terms of the challenges their clients and community members faced. So A3PCON was there as a policy advocacy organization to advocate for systemic change and as a capacity-building coalition to help strengthen the capacity of member organizations to do the work they needed to do. And during the pandemic, we’ve seen how important our member organizations are in ensuring vaccine distribution, the disbursement of COVID-19-related funds, and state and local moratoria on rent....

Read the full interview with Manjusha P. Kulkarni, executive director of AAPI Equity Alliance.

(Photo credit: Myleen Hollero)

Investing in BIPOC-led firms and nonprofits with more than a check: A commentary by James Wahls

May 28, 2022

Black_woman_entrepreneur_rawpixel_McKinseyWith Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led businesses and nonprofits attracting increased public attention and large capital investments in recent years, do we still need additional initiatives? The short answer is yes. Society places the burden of success on entrepreneurs of color while often ignoring the systems that continue to cause them to fail disproportionately. We should be talking more about ways to reduce start-up risks and help businesses become sustainable over the long term.

I come to this work with 15 years impact investing, legal, and entrepreneurial experience. Having previously worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, I have managed or co-managed more than $240 million in impact investing allocations in grants, equity, debt, and direct investments. This includes leading or co-leading investments to fund entrepreneurs of color across the United States, along with investments in affordable housing, financial inclusion, job creation, and community development. I have always been passionate about catalyzing investments to people of color-led businesses and nonprofits. It is critical that we not just write the check but position entrepreneurs to continue securing investments and, we should hope, larger ones than what we have provided.

It is no secret that many BIPOC-led firms do not always have the support they need to start or grow their businesses. What most people do not appreciate, however, is the critical role of infrastructure development in enabling a business to grow. It is not just money that would-be entrepreneurs lack. Many need trusted partners who can support them in expanding their networks, conducting market research, solidifying business plans, applying for the requisite licenses and business insurance policies, researching funding streams, setting up payroll systems, etc. As many have shared with me, if you’ve never launched a business or nonprofit before, and no one in your family has done so, you may not know the ins and outs of getting it off the ground....

Read the full commentary by James C.D. Wahls, founder and managing director of Revolve Fund, senior vice president at Mission Investors Exchange.

(Photo credit: McKinsey via rawpixel)

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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