Third Wave Fund Launches Effort to Boost Nonprofit Staff Diversity

Third Wave Fund Launches Effort to Boost Nonprofit Staff Diversity

The Third Wave Fund, an activist fund led by and for women of color and intersex, queer, and trans people under 35 years of age, has announced the creation of the Our Own Power Fund.

According to the organization, the new fund will make one- and two-year capacity-building grants of up to $25,000 to grassroots gender and reproductive justice organizations working to support vulnerable communities, develop sustainable revenue models and fundraising strategies, and harness the power of self-representation through community-led research, storytelling, and communications. Projects eligible for support include executive leadership transitions that intentionally shift leadership to a member or members of the LGBTQ/trans community; coaching, skills-building, or training for new leaders; mergers and the development of sustainable business models; participatory research; or the building out of an organization’s strategic communications capacity. The fund, which plans to announce its first grants in the fall, will not provide funding for general operating support, legislative advocacy, start-up expenses, or capital campaigns.

According to Third Wave, 18 percent of nonprofit staff and 22 percent of foundation staff are people of color, and only 13 percent of those people of color hold leadership positions. And while women make up three-quarters of the nonprofit workforce, they fill only 21 percent of the available leadership positions.

"The Own Our Power Fund answers the call from our grantee partners to trust young women of color and queer and trans youth to lead the work that impacts them," said Rye Young, executive director of the fund and a trans-activist, in an email interview. "The fund also will work to address the key barriers our grantees have identified that make it challenging to lead their nonprofits. [Although] many professionals in philanthropy have a stated value of centering the leadership of those impacted by oppression, it is a common experience that when that happens, many funders back away from the organization and do not support new leaders that come from the community."

"Our Own Power Fund." Third Wave Fund webpage 08/08/2017.