The Joe and Clara Wu Tsai Foundation have announced the first recipients of grants from its Social Justice Fund.
Established earlier this year by the Tsais, owners of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, the WNBA's New York Liberty, and the Barclays Center arena, the fund committed $50 million over ten years in August to drive economic empowerment and address systemic imbalances that produce racial gaps in education, health, and wealth.
Funding was awarded to Brooklyn-based Black leaders tackling the root causes of racial disparities in health care, climate policy, education, journalism, and the criminal justice system and include Uché Blackstock, an emergency room doctor who will direct the funding to the Brooklyn Movement Center and Ancient Song Doula Services; Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and conservationist who founded Urban Ocean Lab, which is focused on reimagining the future of coastal cities; Natasha S. Alford, a journalist who will use the award to start a scholarship for student journalists of color in Syracuse, Rochester, and Brooklyn; Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, a leader in the charter school movement and founder of the #BlackLedSchoolsMatter initiative; and Michael "Zaki" Smith, an activist and policy expert who works to dismantle the barriers in employment, education, and housing that prevent formerly incarcerated Americans like himself from fully reintegrating into society.
"When it comes to dismantling systemic racism and economic inequality in our communities, we want to lead by example. That's why it is so important to us to invest in the Black leaders combating racial injustice from every angle right here in Brooklyn," said Clara Wu Tsai. "They are on the ground day in and day out — working to eliminate racial disparities in our healthcare system, advocating for environmental justice, amplifying the untold stories of Black Americans, mentoring young people of color, and fighting on the front lines of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. We are honored to support their anti-racist work and to invest in creating a more just and inclusive Brooklyn through scalable, proven initiatives."
(Photo credit: Gettyimages NBAE)