The recent tragedies and ensuing national conversation on race has brought to light a common truth – that anti-Black racism is still woven into the fabric of our country. We cannot put slavery behind us because its legacy surrounds us in 400 years’ worth of oppression – it structures our schools and workplaces, economic situations and the health and living conditions that disproportionately expose so many Black Americans to COVID-19. As a civic leader in the Central New York region, we must use our platform and resources to take action.
Therefore, to help increase the Black community’s ability to determine and sustain a more equitable future, the Central New York Community Foundation is committing to invest a minimum of $1 million over the next few years through a new Black Equity & Excellence funding priority. Our support will focus on building community dialogue, increasing the capacity of Black-led organizations that are supporting historically underserved communities, and supporting projects that counteract systemic racism.
We consider this to be an imperative, and long overdue, investment in our community. Our focus on racial equity will not end with this funding opportunity but rather will be weaved as a priority through everything we do.
The structural racism we see today did not happen on its own – it’s been shaped by economics, history and legislation at the federal, state and local level for centuries. The resulting inequities in education, housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities continue to create deep disparities and divides that threaten the vibrancy and health of our region. We believe that addressing racial disparities is the first essential step towards reaching our vision for Central New York: to be a vibrant community with opportunity for everyone.
This conviction already drives many of our funding decisions and strategic initiatives. Our efforts to improve early childhood education, literacy, educational and professional opportunity and to put an end to childhood lead poisoning were implemented through an equity lens. But we need to do more. We must harness today’s energy – and outrage – to focus on solutions.
In addition to our $1 million investment, we are also committed to the following actions as an organization:
- Working alongside others who are focused on racial equity. We cannot do this work alone. We will be partnering with residents, local foundations, civic leaders and nonprofits to change the narrative in our community.
- Entering a diversity, equity and inclusion journey with our staff. Over the past year, we have been providing our staff with information and tools to expand their knowledge of bias and systemic racism. We are now ready to bring this work to the next level. We will be engaging The Race Matters Institute and the Association of Black Foundation Executives to conduct an intensive training on this issue and drive race equity within our organizational culture.
- Engaging our board in equity discussions prior to crafting our upcoming strategic plan. Our commitment to improving racial equity will not end with our initial investment. We plan to integrate an equity lens throughout our infrastructure – from donor outreach and engagement to portfolio management, and nonprofit grantmaking.
- Continuing and expanding our commitment to utilize Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE). From event caterers to investment managers in our portfolio, we will continue to prioritize the support of MWBE.
We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, nor are we where we want to be as an organization, but we are committed to our racial equity journey now more than ever.
Silence is complicity. We promise to be a voice – and convener of voices for progress. We commit to asking questions, listening, creating a space for all voices to be heard, and being a part of the solution.
We stand with our Black colleagues and their families, residents, civic leaders, foundation and government partners, and supporters – eager to listen, to learn and to help create a community rich with opportunity.
We hope you will join us.
To learn more about or donate to the Black Equity & Excellence Fund, click here.