Leverage the Trust – California

Black Trustees in California Announce their Commitment to Address Anti-Black Racism

Given historical and contemporary structural barriers, racial disparities persist on almost every indicator of well-being for Black Californians. From homelessness to housing to education, Black communities consistently fare worse than any other racial group in the state. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on Black communities, coupled with the clarion call for justice, has presented California with a rare opportunity to be bold and strategic, mobilizing human and financial resources to make unprecedented systemic changes. 

Since 2019 as Black trustees from California’s largest private and community foundations, we have come together with purpose, a sense of urgency, and moving in solidarity to positively impact the health, wealth, and well-being of our community. We have organized collectively as Leverage The Trust – California and are supported by ABFE, a philanthropic organization that partners with foundations, nonprofits and philanthropists to advocate for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities.  As trustees we provide leadership on equity-centered foundation policy and grantmaking strategies. And we believe that by working collaboratively we can effectively leverage dollars for greater social impact in our community. Collectively we are committed to advancing four of ABFE’s ten imperatives from its Philanthropic Call to Action, as a primary focus in California: 

  • Build Agency: We believe there is an urgent need to increase investments in Black-led organizations that connect individuals and families to resources and build power in our communities to lead substantive change, including:
    • Organizing and civic engagement organizations (C3 and C4) that aim to build political power in Black communities. 
    • Community and economic development organizations that build economic power in Black communities that help us accumulate wealth, eradicate the long-standing racial wealth divide, and address the financial crisis brought on by the pandemic. 
    • Arts, cultural and media organizations to build social power in our communities. Black cultural, media institutions and journalists are trusted sources of information and truth-telling in our community. They are critical to shaping an accurate narrative about Black people, Black life and our contributions to society.
    • Direct service and mutual aid organizations that address the basic needs of individuals, children, youth, and families. Particular attention must be paid to organizations that support Black LGBTQI people, seniors, disabled and immigrants as these institutions are supporting some of the most marginalized in our community.
  • Push Structural Change: Given long-standing inequities on almost every indicator of well-being, Black communities recover at “slower rates” than other communities and philanthropy should invest in organizations pushing for structural change. We cannot focus on “quick fixes”; we must direct our energies towards systemic changes in politics, philanthropy, health, education, criminal justice, and the ways in which those systems intersect. We must also consider the impact of leadership and/or administration transitions in philanthropy and at the federal and state level.
  • Use Endowments: As we slowly come out of the pandemic, there is increased need to prioritize spending on the most impacted communities. We believe now is the time to utilize the full set of resources of philanthropy by increasing asset payout and employing various investment strategies to provide much needed capital to Black communities.  At a time of volatile markets, grantmakers must demonstrate their explicit commitments to equity and investment in Black communities. Grantmakers should make use of program-related investments, social impact bonds and other related tools to compliment grantmaking relief funds in support of Black communities. 
  • Engage Black Businesses: We encourage philanthropy to engage the Black business community. Foundations and the public sector should actively engage Black businesses in investment management, banking, and other professional services to address the pandemic’s negative impact on Black earnings and wealth. Black investment firms and other Black-owned businesses hire Black people at higher rates than white-owned businesses. Foundations and public systems can move beyond grant-supported relief efforts and tap their professional and procurement budgets to support Black businesses and financial institutions that generate wealth in our community. 

We are developing a common policy framework to structure our collective work, making a commitment to gathering the data we need, finding opportunities to collaborate for impact, and relying on ABFE to aid in its continued advancement.

We invite you to join us. To go far, we need all Black trustees of California to walk this path together. 

BE A SIGNATORY

We invite Black trustees in California to sign on to this call to action. 

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