Earlier this year, the Haas, Jr. Fund joined with 11 funding partners to launch a new collaborative fund aimed at ensuring that organizations and movements can find much-needed help with the important work of making racial equity a day-to-day priority. The REACH Fund, which stands for Racial Equity to Accelerate Change, is investing in racial equity consultants and capacity-building organizations to deepen their practice in collaboration with client partners. The Fund also is supporting grantees to learn from each other about what it takes to transform organizations to incorporate racial equity internally and externally.
This month, the REACH Fund announced $1.2 million in grants to eight inaugural grantees. It’s exciting to see how those who are providing leadership and organizational support to social change groups are responding to the opportunity to address racial equity.
A Clear Need
We hear all the time from leaders of organizations and movements about what kinds of support they need to be effective. In this moment, many organizations are telling us they need help addressing issues of racial equity.
Some want to hear the voices of a wider diversity of people and benefit from a richer set of ideas from communities at the heart of their work. Others want to build more diverse staff and board teams with the skills to work across different cultures and identities.
The need to lift up racial equity as a priority reflects a fresh understanding that the social sector has a unique role to play in addressing the root causes of inequities and injustices. The systemic and institutional racism faced by people of color right now is not new, and race remains a defining factor in everything from educational opportunities to health outcomes. At a time when the increased visibility of white supremacy provides a window of opportunity to take action, it is crucial that organizations with a social mission be powerful agents for change.
A Promising Start
As the REACH Fund has gotten under way, we are seeing a real eagerness to think in new ways about what it means to walk the talk on these issues. We’re also seeing people paying attention to priorities that weren’t necessarily on the radar of the funders when we started this work. For example, at least one of the grants made by the REACH Fund will enable consultants to explore racial equity solutions for nonprofits working in rural communities.
From the start, the funders made a commitment to learning from and with REACH Fund grantees and their client partners. To ensure that this unfolding work is guided by expert insights and perspectives, the REACH Fund has an advisory group of consultants, capacity builders, and social change leaders who, along with Borealis staff, make all decisions on grants. “Nothing is standard” has been the motto as the funders seek to unleash innovative and collaborative solutions for tackling this urgent issue.
We are inspired by the energy and the commitment we’re seeing across the sector when it comes to advancing racial equity. There is a growing awareness that institutional changes in policies and practices, big and small, will yield better outcomes for groups facing the greatest disparities, while simultaneously benefiting all people and communities.
There is still a big gap in the kinds of support available to help organizations do this important work. We are actively seeking additional funders to join in this innovative partnership. Interested? Please contact Maya Thornell Sandifor, Co-Director of Racial Equity Initiatives at Borealis Philanthropy or Linda Wood at Haas, Jr. Fund.
Together, we can make sure that visionary leaders across the sector have the support they need to build organizations that reflect their commitment to racial equity and inclusion.
The REACH Fund is administered by Borealis Philanthropy. Funders include Barr Foundation, Bush Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Ford Foundation, Grove Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, NoVo Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.