The St. Paul-based Bush Foundation has announced a $100 million commitment in support of wealth-building activities in Black and Native communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the twenty-three Native Nations that share the same geography.
Financed by $100 million in social impact bonds issued by the foundation last fall, the funds will seed two community trust funds aimed at addressing racial wealth gaps resulting from the legacy of land appropriation, slavery, and other race-based policies targeting Native and Black communities. To that end, the foundation will select one or two steward organizations to receive the funds and design and operate grant programs that improve Black and Native communities' access to education, homeownership, and other wealth-building opportunities.
In addition to the $100 million in new funding, the foundation will direct $50 million through its regular grantmaking programs over the next five years in support of community-driven approaches that address racial wealth gaps within and across groups. According to the foundation, median white household wealth was nearly eight times that of median Black household wealth in 2019 and nearly thirteen times that of median Native American household wealth as of 2000 (the last year for which data is available).
"Current racial wealth gaps are the result of generations of unjust policies targeting Native and Black communities," said Bush Foundation grantmaking director Eileen Briggs, who is co-leading the initiative with fellow grantmaking director Jackie Statum Allen. "There are direct through lines from broken treaties to unemployment rates, from Indian boarding schools to high school dropout rates, from slavery to incarceration rates, and from redlining to homeownership rates."
"Our purpose is to make our region better for everyone, and we believe that addressing racial wealth gaps is one of the most important things we can do for our region," said Allen. "We are committing these funds in a reparative and restorative spirit. This is not reparations — that is a much bigger concept — but we do think of it as reparative action. We are excited to see other institutions pledging to do more to address racial wealth gaps and are eager to complement those efforts and encourage more action."
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