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Austin Community Foundation commits to investing $1M over three years in Black community

The goal of the new fund is to help bring about an "equitable, just society that nurtures the growth, economic security, and wellness of Black people."

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Community Foundation, a public charity focused on closing the opportunity gap, announced the launch of a fund dedicated to helping Black-led organizations in Central Texas.

Called The Black Fund, the new network was established in response to systemic inequities impacting Black people in Austin, according to a media release.

"It has been hard," said Pamela Benson Owens, Black Fund co-founder. "It has been hard to have a voice. It has been hard to raise money. It has been hard to get support." 

The goal of the fund is to help bring about an "equitable, just society that nurtures the growth, economic security and wellness of Black people." 

The Austin Community Foundation cites a study by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, which reported that, in 2018, only 6% of philanthropic dollars supported racial equity work and 1% supported racial justice work. 

"Unfortunately, historically, over time, Black-led organizations are usually 25% underfunded in terms of the dollars that they have in revenue over white-led organizations," said Benson Owens. 

The Black Fund is committed to investing more than $1 million in the Black community over the next three years, according to the release. The foundation has dedicated $200,000 of its discretionary funds to building the framework of the program. Companies like Google, Indeed and others have provided grants to help launch the fund. 

“The creation of the Black Fund is an opportunity for Austin to intentionally invest in equity, embrace the unique assets of the Black community and support longstanding impactful initiatives of Black-led and Black serving organizations,” said Colette Pierce Burnette, co-founder of The Black Fund and former president of Huston-Tillotson University.

"We don't want equity to be something that we are still talking about," said Benson Owens. "We want it to permeate and be part of the ethos of Austin, and then we want our kids to be able to live into that."

The new fund will distribute funding through grants to Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits. The first grant applications will open in September and funding will be awarded in February 2023 to organizations working in impact areas that include:

  • Education
  • Health and wellness 
  • Power building, organizing and advocacy 
  • Wealth building

“We recognize that economic security for Black residents is essential to our region’s collective success,” said Mike Nellis, chief executive officer, Austin Community Foundation. “By co-creating The Black Fund at Austin Community Foundation, we are taking a deliberate approach toward racial equity in the region so every Central Texan can thrive and prosper. We are thankful to the community leaders who have helped lead and guide this work, and now we’re asking for support from our entire community to ensure its success.”

Learn more about The Black Fund and how you can donate here.

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