For our second round of investments from The Racial Equity Fund, we broke with our traditional way of funding. Individual leaders are also uniquely poised to advance change. But traditional grant processes often don’t allow for funding them or can create barriers to accessing support. The Foundation sought out nominees for individual awards through a committee of established nonprofits led by people of color rooted in communities of color. Awardees are doing tremendously important racial equity work, not necessarily through a nonprofit, and potentially off the radar of mainstream philanthropy.
The individual awardees, who range in age from 17 to 81, are organizing communities, building leaders, empowering, galvanizing and inspiring others in varied sectors and spaces. The awards, like the Fund, reflect a beginning – not an end – for cultivating vital inroads, insights and relationships needed to achieve the change we seek within the community and the Foundation.
Our next round of investments will focus on systems ripe for change. We are also developing a community-based advisory group to help guide our long-term investment strategy and inform our internal work to examine barriers to all our grant funding, improve transparency, broaden community engagement, and envision opportunities beyond our financial resources.
We welcome anyone to share suggestions for organizations and individuals who we should know as this work advances.
305 Black Youth – Founder
The founder of 305 Black Youth, Anyah is a 17-year old high school student who has been stepping up to educate and organize her peers around racial justice and equity for years. Even in elementary school, raising her voice for a student she saw crying in the library saved that little girl from an abusive home life and earned Anyah a “Do The Right Thing” school recognition. Through 305 Black Youth, she recently mobilized over 300 youth for a social justice rally at the Freedom Torch and is creating spaces to discuss racial justice issues, police accountability in schools, and advocating around issues like gun violence and sex education.
Project T.H.U.G – Cofounder and Manager
David is a local guy from Liberty City who came back after college to start his teaching craft at his alma mater high school. He is driven by a passion to alter societies and help cultivate young black males who will one day serve as pillars to our community. He co-founded and manages a life-skills development and mentorship program called Project T.H.U.G. – Transforming Hope and Unifying Generations – to engage adolescent black males in their final year of middle school and junior year of high school. The 8-month fellowship immerses them in racial consciousness, self-development, role-model connections, and service in community.
Therapist and Community Advocate
Douglene has committed to leveraging her experience being an occupational therapist, PhD in Early Childhood Special Education and entrepreneur to address systemic struggles children of Black and Latinx communities face in educational achievement. She is driven to advocate for systems that flag kids’ challenges early and intervene around the root sources, without which children can’t flourish, and inequities grow. Douglene channels what she sees through her consulting practice into systems change efforts like the Overtown Children & Youth Coalition that has built a community-driven model of collective impact and empowerment.
Konscious Kontractors – Founder
After Hurricane Irma, Francois founded Konscious Kontractors so residents in his Ti Ayiti (Little Haiti) community were not caught so unprepared. He began organizing contractors to provide pre-hurricane services to disadvantaged and working-class communities – boarding up homes and windows, taking residents to hurricane shelters, and distributing supplies. That work has evolved to uplift and organize Ti Ayiti residents to build community power to define its future, bring in resources, and protect Ayisyens culture and customs in a neighborhood that is among those facing the fastest climate-change gentrification.
Using his gift for the spoken word to be a voice and uplift voices, 17-year-old Leonce is poetically expressing himself and the experiences of his young generation to shed light on racial inequality. Through his growing YouTube collection, performing at churches, schools and community events, he narrates and elevates their unjust realities and aspirations for change. He began to understand the inspiring force of one’s voice when an older student shared that seeing him publicly perform his original poem “Destructive End” was the push she needed not just to write but perform her own. For Leonce, it confirmed the power of his path.
Teacher and Coconut Grove Ecumenical Network
Loretta’s education started in a one-room schoolhouse of nothing but hand-me-downs from a white school. Her life-long devotion to education led to bachelor’s and master’s degrees and 39 years teaching in Miami-Dade public schools. She was called by God to teach, she says. So at 81, she just finished another summer reading camp at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Coconut Grove, where her great uncle of one of 13 blacks to help incorporate City of Miami, continues her leadership in the Coconut Grove Ecumenical Network to educate about the Civil Rights Movement – and is working on her latest play, a hobby to keep history alive.
Filmmaker and Social Justice Advocate
Experiencing what it means not to be validated, heard, and understood fuels Marcus’ grassroots work to be a young social justice voice and leader focused on re-defining the narrative around communities of color. The 19-year-old has the lived experience of a high school maligned by outsiders, LGBTQ marginalization, a neighborhood facing gentrification, gun violence claiming peers. His urgency for change was behind an award-winning short film on police brutality and youth gun violence from a youth creative lens, and a college path to blend social sciences, urban planning, and law and society – to prepare him for greater future contributions.
Marisol is a grassroots organizer who has dedicated her life to bringing attention to injustices suffered by farmworker women. Along with her role as national campaign coordinator for Alianza Nacional De Campesinas, she created Grupo Amor with local farmworker women working to achieve justice and support for themselves and other women in South Dade. In the face of COVID-19, Grupo Amor is collecting testimonials from women and children infected, and organizing a coordinated response to advance testing, contact tracing, health concerns and basic needs for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities of farmworkers.
Change the prospects of Black entrepreneurs traditionally shut out of the technology space. That’s the conviction that grounds Ryan’s career as an entrepreneur in tech education and marketing. Systemic disparities in economic circumstances and access to resources hinder individuals who want to start a business but need earnings in real-time to provide for themselves and families. Using his for-profit experience, Ryan designs tech freelancer program models that enable youth and adults to gain tech skills they can rapidly monetize in the marketplace for services, and make money to sustain them now and build toward something greater.
Hungry Black Man – Founder
Stronger Black-owned businesses not only grow Greater Miami’s economy, but generate opportunity for owners, their employees and their families. Starex is on a mission through his Hungry Black Man media platform to use authentic story-telling to take on racial inequities in the food industry and highlight the Black food and drink ecosystem of South Florida, with emphasis on neighborhoods that are underrepresented and underserved and disproportionately communities of color. He’s using his form of advocacy to advance economic equity by helping black businesses become more visible, valued, and competitive.
Urban Construction Craft Academy – Founder
Bill doesn’t take for granted his successful career as a building contractor and the community mentors who steered him toward opportunity, having seen people from his same neighborhood swept up instead into the criminal justice system. As he retired from his company, the question of “what will you do about this” motivated him to found the Urban Construction Craft Academy. He has committed his “retirement” to building a new generation of Black contractors by investing in young men who may have criminal records, but have the dedication to develop the skills of the trade to build careers, businesses, communities – and their future.