In late August, the Raikes Foundation announced our new Black Leadership & Power Fund. It was a major accomplishment for our team at a time when many of us were feeling overwhelmed and, frankly, a bit lost amidst the constant turmoil that has engulfed our country. But despite the pain we were feeling during a summer under quarantine and protest, shadowed by ongoing police violence, we knew that we had to do something different after George Floyd’s murder.

Like many other organizations, we issued a statement when protests began to engulf the nation, but we knew our words would ring hollow if they weren’t followed by action. We knew we couldn’t “stay in our lane” and sit out this moment in our history. This was particularly true for our Black staff members.

As we got to work, we had three areas we wanted to support: 1) grassroots power-building for policy change 2) fair and equitable elections, and 3) Black leadership more broadly. In order to ensure that we were responding to the urgency of the moment, we felt it was critical that we create an equitable and streamlined process for deciding on grantees and supporting Black-led organizations doing the hard work to build power in communities.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, our Black staff, regardless of title or previous grantmaking experience, worked together to build new relationships, engage in an expedited due-diligence processes, and solidify our funding recommendations. We landed on a set of grantees that the Raikes Foundation wouldn’t have previously considered, if not for the ability to make grants outside of our strategy areas, as well as upping an investment in an existing partner doing critical work to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Read the full article about the Raikes Foundation's Black leadership fund by Lindsay Hill at Funders Together to End Homelessness.