MacKenzie Scott, who just announced
the third round of multi-billion
dollar donations from her Amazon
fortune, is using her impressive platform
to give voice to an evolution in philanthropy,
one where gifts come with
no strings attached and funding flows
to organizations focused on equity and
systemic change. We need more of this
kind of commitment from foundations,
corporations, and wealthy individuals–
not only because it’s the right thing
to do, but because it is necessary if we
want to end racism’s grip on our country
once and for all.
Over the past year we have seen
the pandemic expose and exacerbate
intense disparities in our communities–
in health, employment, housing,
and much more–drawn along racial
lines. We know the future is full of uncertainty
and instability, and if things
don’t change, Black and brown communities
in our city will continue to be on
the frontlines of crisis, while people of
wealth and privilege are buffered from
the most severe impacts.
American foundations and corporations
distributed over $100 billion in
2019, which did little to offset the impacts
of COVID-19. The philanthropic sector
must overhaul how we give, who makes
the decisions about giving, where the
money goes, and for what. Giving alone
is not good enough anymore.
Take for example the effort being
made to address vaccine hesitancy.
Here in New York City, hesitancy is
high in Black communities, owing to a
perverse history of medical experimentation
that hurt and even killed African
Americans, and compounded by generations
of criminalizing and degrading
interactions with government entities.
Now, the government and its corporate
partners are funding incentives like lotteries
and amusement parks and airline
tickets to encourage people to get vaccinated,
which are unlikely to work. Just
ask Colette Pean, who runs the community
based nonprofit East New York Restoration:
“Incentives make people with
questions wonder why this money is
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, J 12 UNE 25-JULY 1, 2021 BTR
suddenly available to incentivize vaccination
but not for other needs.”
In April, recognizing the complexities
around vaccine outreach and the
general mismanagement of information
and care throughout the pandemic
in Black and brown communities, we
distributed $250,000 from our Brooklyn
COVID-19 Response Fund to 25 hyper local
nonprofits led by community members.
But even with this, we know we
need to do more.
Today, we are announcing that we
will guarantee that, at minimum, 30
percent of all of our grantmaking will
explicitly benefit Black communities,
matching their share of Brooklyn’s
population. Moreover, because of how
pervasive anti-Black racism is, we also
recognize the need for a far greater allocation
of resources than this, and we
will continue to prioritize and encourage
giving to Black-led organizations
and groups engaged in organizing, advocacy,
and movement-building for
To commemorate the Juneteenth
holiday, we call on foundation heavyweights,
philanthropists, and government
officials to move the power and
financial resources they have to Black
communities and other communities of
color: listen, invest, and give them the
resources and authority to create the
fair and just future we all need.
Cecilia Clarke is the President of
Brooklyn Community Foundation
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