Giving Compass’ Take:
• Sheela Nimishakavi explains how the Baltimore Youth Fund – funded by taxes to fight racism and inequality – could teach philanthropists and nonprofits to better serve vulnerable communities.
• How can philanthropists take these lessons to heart? What changes can organizations make to begin shifting their strategy towards equity?
• Learn about supporting equity from birth.
It is possible that a fund established from public money in Baltimore might teach organized philanthropy a thing or two in terms of responsiveness and inclusion. The Baltimore Children and Youth Fund (BCYF) is funded by $12 million set aside each year from property tax revenue specifically to support youth programs in the Baltimore area. Over two decades in the making, the legislation that led to the creation of this fund received 80-percent voter support in a November 2016 election held in the aftermath of the police killing of Freddie Gray in 2015, along with several other cases showing a pattern of discrimination against the Black community. According to the US Census Bureau, 63 percent of Baltimore City residents are Black.
In homage to Freddie Gray, it was important that these funds be used wisely to give youth the tools to elevate their economic status. Moreover, because Freddie Gray was a victim of systemic racism, it seems it was equally important to use this opportunity to combat the nonprofit-industrial complex (NPIC) that plays its own part in proliferating the exclusionary thinking that led to Freddie Gray’s untimely death.
NPQ’s article “Nonprofit Unicorns: Realities that Make Executive Directors of Color Mythical” details what the NPIC is and how it perpetuates racism. In this article, Candi Cdebaca indicates that not only are the “majority of foundations governed by white individuals” but also “the majority of benefactors…are white individuals.” Furthermore, “the more access to financial capital an organization has, the greater influence it can have on public policy.”
Read the full article about the Baltimore Youth Fund by Sheela Nimishakavi at Nonprofit Quarterly.
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