What We're Reading: 3 Years After George Floyd, Foundations Say They've Changed. Many Racial-Justice Nonprofits Disagree.

"Until 2020 — the year when George Floyd was murdered, setting off a summer of protests demanding racial justice — civil-rights lawyer Ryan Haygood, CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, had never raised a dime from two of the state’s biggest grant makers, the Geraldine R. Dodge and Robert Wood Johnson foundations." said Alex Daniels, Marc Gunther, and Sono Motoyama for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. "Nor had the Rev. Charles Boyer, who leads Salvation and Social Justice, a faith-based nonprofit in Trenton, N.J., that organizes Black churches to advocate on issues of criminal justice, health care, and the wealth and income disparities Black Americans face."

"For example, on the same day in August 2020, the Packard Foundation and the Lilly Endowment each announced $100 million efforts. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation raised $125 million through a social bond, with the goal that more than half the money would fund nonprofits led by people of color. The money has been distributed, and the share ended up being more than 80 percent."

"Among the nonprofits that benefited from the bond offering was the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, a Los Angeles organization that makes grants, trains organizers, and promotes wellness to people often marginalized by the health-care system, which received $500,000. Data for Black Lives also received a $500,000 award. The Cambridge, Mass., organization supports a network of grassroots racial-justice groups that challenge discriminatory uses of data and algorithms."

"New announcements continue. Last month, the Ballmer Group introduced a five-year, $42.5 million effort to support Black-led nonprofits that aim to improve economic mobility, and the Raikes Foundation created a new grant-making program to support organizations that seek to build a robust multiracial democracy in the United States as part of its plan to distribute its entire endowment by 2038."

"Foundations rose to the occasion during the first two years of the decade, Hewitt says, but now they’re reverting to their normal practice of parceling out smaller grants and protecting their endowments. Grant declines are simply the back end of the wave that rolled through the nonprofit sector in 2020 and 2021, Hewitt says."

"Grants run out but when people understand racism better, they become committed to solving the problem — and that is sustainable change, says Charmaine Mercer, a former program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation who became the fund’s first chief of equity and culture."

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