As the demands for racial justice grow louder, many of The Trust’s donors have asked us how they can help philanthropically. Since race can affect many aspects of daily life, a donor can address equity in whatever issue area they are passionate about, from education, to health, to the environment.
Below are some of the questions our staff ask themselves as they evaluate the degree to which a potential grant is addressing racial equity. These questions can be a starting point as you consider which nonprofits to support.
While some nonprofits work across demographic lines, many specifically target communities of color. Grow Brooklyn, for example, helps families in low-income communities of color preserve intergenerational wealth, mainly through home ownership. The ability to pass along assets is a major determinant of long-term financial stability, which is why the organization has worked to protect financially strapped homeowners from predators who pressure them to sell at lower-than-market prices.
Look into the composition of a group’s administration and board. Nonprofits led by people of color are often well-suited to understand the needs of communities of color and how to align staff and residents. For example, WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a grassroots group started by three Harlem community activists that focuses its work in New York City as well as helping similar communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change and other environmental challenges.
While triage is often necessary to address a problem, some groups focus on long-term solutions. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities, illustrated the need to close racial health disparities. Mentoring in Medicine is using education, mentoring, and scholarships to get more Black students into medical school to, in part, improve health care and health literacy in diverse communities.
Once you’ve applied this equity checklist to a grant or two, consider your entire philanthropic portfolio.
Finally, nonprofits serving communities of color report a need for multi-year general operating support grants that provide stability for the future. Fortunately, donor-advised funds are well positioned to help.
The New York Community Trust is sad to report the passing of Cecil Corbin-Mark, an inspiring leader in the environmental justice movement, and we send our condolences to his friends and family.