African-American foundation leaders call for action on racism

African-American foundation leaders call for action on racism

Sixty-four African-American foundation leaders have issued a joint statement calling on philanthropy to take action against anti-Black racism. 

Organized by ABFE (formerly the Association of Black Foundation Executives), the statement calls for the dismantling of "the structures (institutional policies and practices) that disadvantage and marginalize Black people as well as the false narratives about Black communities that allow for continued inhumane treatment." With the long-term goal of "[freeing] Black people from disparate treatment that results in the racial disparities we see in COVID-19, police brutality, and on almost every indicator of well-being," the statement outlines "a set of imperatives for ensuring the well-being of Black communities to guide the philanthropic community's response to the COVID-19 crisis" and police reform efforts. 

The group calls on foundations to increase their investments in Black-led organizations with the aim of connecting individuals and families to resources and building their capacity to lead substantive change; consider policy and system reforms beyond federal and philanthropic emergency and response efforts; target their investments so as to improve conditions in Black communities over both the short and long term; use their endowments and increase payout rates to provide capital to the hardest-hit communities; center Black experience by engaging African-American leaders and communities in the development of solutions; engage trustees in racial equity assessments of investments in Black communities; engage Black businesses in investment management, banking, and other professional services; take into account gender-, gender identity-, and sexual orientation-based differences in the impact of COVID-19; reach out to Black communities beyond U.S. borders that have been impacted by anti-Black racism; and address disparities in U.S. prisons, where people of color are disproportionately incarcerated and at risk of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Signatories to the letter include Tonya Allen (Skillman Foundation), Judy Belk (California Wellness Foundation), Fred Blackwell (San Francisco Foundation), Patrick Gaspard (Open Society Foundation), John Jackson (Schott Foundation for Public Education), Candice Jones (Public Welfare Foundation), Wes Moore (Robin Hood Foundation), Robert K. Ross (California Endowment), Lateefah Simon (Akonadi Foundation), La June Montgomery Tabron (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), Nicole Taylor (Silicon Valley Community Foundation), and Darren Walker (Ford Foundation).

ABFE president Susan Taylor Batten told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that the executives planned to meet every two weeks to discuss how to promote the practices and measure progress. "Our work now is to help the sector understand that the disparate impact of COVID is directly related to the disparate impact of police brutality," said Taylor Batten. "It's all related and intertwined."

(Photo credit: ABFE)