As 2021 approaches, it’s hard not to wish away this past year. But even if our newsfeeds threaten to “go back to normal”, we can never unsee what we saw in 2020. We saw 100,000 students unable to attend school due to insufficient internet access. We saw more than half of our community face threats of hunger and instability. And we saw glaring evidence of persistent, systemic racial injustice.

We can not look away. We must not release from this moment, because what we learned has pushed us to invest more seriously in solutions.

When we launched our Racial Equity Fund in June, we quickly mobilized to secure $100,000 to inject resources into the hands of organizations and leaders fighting racism, who had seen increased momentum and need. We hoped the community would stand with us to grow this fund, and in short order we saw the fund multiply in size, enabling us to invest in not just one, but two rounds of support. As we saw the potential impact of the Fund, we began to build a deeper strategy for what comes next.

As this fund continues to grow, we want our community to think deeply about the impacts of racism even within our own field of philanthropy. From the roots of our wealth, to the way power flows, we have not escaped the inherent biases and inequities of our society at large. A 2016 New York Times piece cited that only 0.6% of national foundation dollars were being directed toward organizations led by Black women. That statistic is haunting. We must understand that those who have experienced an issue firsthand are the experts of their own lived experience, and that if we’re fighting against racism, we can not take a “colorblind” approach to grantmaking.

While growing this Fund is incredibly important to us, it is equally critical not to center the discussion on us in a moment when Black-led organizations and grassroots leaders truly need to hold the microphone. Our focus has been on quietly building a meaningful pool of resources that would otherwise not be available to our local racial justice and equity leaders, and on bringing organizations together to amplify their impact.

We are blown away by what is growing from that approach. Last week, we announced that Facebook will invest $1 million into our community’s efforts to fight system level racism through the Fund. In addition to financial resources, Facebook has offered marketing support to elevate the work of our future grantees. We are especially excited about what our local organizations will be able to do with these resources, and thankful that we could leverage our platform to make this possible for Miami-Dade.

Our approach in the coming months will be about wielding the power of togetherness and this February we look forward to giving updates on our progress at our 6th annual State of Black Philanthropy.

2020 offered no rest for the weary. But if ever there were to be a silver lining, it is the good that we will do now because of the lessons of this year.

Pictured: Power U Center for Social Change, a grantee of The Racial Equity Fund, promoting civic engagement for youth.

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