Borealis Philanthropy Awards $1.36 Million to Practitioners Helping Nonprofits Integrate Racial Equity in their Work

May 7, 2020

The Racial Equity to Accelerate Change (REACH) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy is excited to announce it has awarded $1.36 million in grants to 14 practitioners providing racial equity consultative services to nonprofit organizations.

The long-term goal of the REACH Fund, launched in June 2019, is to help practitioners develop and scale tools and strategies that will build the capacity of the nonprofit sector to dismantle institutional racism, build race-conscious organizations and leadership, and design internal and external strategy, policy, and cultural change that centers racial equity.

“The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities is highlighting the systemic racial inequities and disparities we have long known existed in our society,” said Linda Wood, Senior Director at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. “Nonprofit organizations are working hard to support communities of color and address the root causes of racism in this moment, so they must be equipped with tools and strategies that are effective. Philanthropy has a key role to play by investing in the practitioners who are supporting nonprofits to fully integrate racial equity into their work.”

The REACH Fund invests in practitioners who have a body of work around racial equity and are innovating and developing promising practices.

Grantees who received support from the REACH Fund in its first round of grantmaking were able to further develop their curricula and program designs, strengthen their internal processes related to onboarding and offboarding clients and conducting racial equity assessments, have more time for team retreats and staff development, do more work with people of color-led organizations, increase their capacity for data analysis, and more.

“One of the essential needs for practitioners working on racial equity issues is to have the ability to take space and time for learning and reflection with peers in this field,” said kiran nigam, a member of the REACH Fund advisory committee and Left movement facilitator. “By prioritizing a community of practice, the REACH fund is making it possible for grantees to freely exchange lessons, learnings, and cultivate peer relationships that can support everyone to level up, increase their effectiveness, and refine their approaches.”

In its second round of grantmaking, the Fund prioritized inviting additional applications from practitioners operating in, or working with, rural and Native/Indigenous communities, as well as communities located in the Midwest/Central part of the country. During this grant cycle, the Fund will also support the curation of racial equity tools and is making plans to host a convening space for racial equity practitioners in 2021.

To honor the time organizations spent on the application process, declined applicants received stipends of $2,500, in addition to detailed feedback on their proposal from REACH Fund program staff.

The REACH Fund currently includes support from the Barr Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Fidelity Charitable, the Grove Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, the NoVo Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

If you are interested in receiving updates about the Fund, please sign up on Borealis’ email list. To learn more about the fund and how to support its work, please contact Program Officer Ain Bailey: abailey@borealisphilanthropy.org

REACH Fund round two grantees are listed below. Learn more about the new REACH Fund grantees in their own words:

Ana Perez, Movement Strategy Center: “Our vision for Decolonize Race is that we reach a tipping point of people who have healed intergenerational racial trauma and catalyze healing in others and human beings no longer carry the cycle of racialized trauma of previous generations. We see nonprofit cultures and structures transformed from places where unconsciously people continue to recycle oppression, to environments where equity and liberation is an on-going practice that informs everything from organizational structures and systems, to behavioral expectations of staff and community.” 

Center for Diversity and the Environment: “Our Environment 2042 leadership program builds a cadre of change-agents who are working to combat the persistent homogeneity and acculturation that has been stifling the environmental movement’s political, financial & cultural potential. Our collective work invites participants to come together to reimagine & redefine environmentalism as the mainstream environmental movement has known it.” 

Humboldt Area Foundation: “With inspiration from many diverse community partner organizations and leaders, we have spent four years learning, testing, adapting and developing a powerful approach to racial equity (RE) vision and impact — and are motivated to share whatever is useful to others. This work has followed a decade and a half of working with Native communities and incubating a grassroots organizing network driven by communities of color. ” 

Interaction Institute for Social Change: “IISC plays a special role in the racial practitioner field, bringing a combination of process and organizational development skills to work for racial equity. We are both designers of processes with strong skills in facilitation and network building, and deep knowledge-holders of racial equity concepts, practices, and skills.”

Shriver Center for Racial Justice: “Our work supports the civil legal aid advocacy sector of nonprofits as they struggle with patterns of racial inequity and disproportionate rates of impact for the communities of color they serve. We will support these advocates and organizations by providing them with the skills and tools needed to acknowledge and address the roles that race and racism plays in the institutions and systems they challenge through their respective advocacy.” 

YWCA Boston: Generally YWCA Boston conducts a wide variety of workshops to raise awareness and learn and grow their networks. The majority of the work is self-directed by the non-profit organizations, who embark on YWCA led 5 weeks of 2 hour long sessions unpacking historical systems and structures. YWCA then works with the organizations to create an action plan and supports them in implementing the action plan.”

Read more about the grantees receiving ongoing support: