Borealis Philanthropy Launches New Fund to Strengthen Racial Equity in Nonprofits

June 5, 2019

Borealis Philanthropy announced today the launch of the REACH (Racial Equity to Accelerate Change) Fund to support practitioners who are helping nonprofit organizations integrate racial equity in their institutions.

The Fund awarded $1.2 million to eight inaugural grantees: organizations and practitioners providing racial equity learning and strategy consultative services to nonprofits.

“We are investing in practitioners who have a body of work around racial equity so they can develop and scale promising tools and strategies to nonprofit organizations committed to transforming their institutions,” said Marissa Tirona, Program Officer for Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) at the Ford Foundation. “Long-term support for practitioners like these and this field is one of the best ways to advance racial equity in the nonprofit sector, and more resources are needed to facilitate practice development and collective learning.”

Nonprofit organizations have a key role to play in addressing the root causes of racial disparities in our society. Now more than ever it is crucial that nonprofits be powerful agents for social change and the sector’s effective practice of racial equity—both internally and externally—is necessary for it to be successful in supporting thriving and powerful communities.

REACH Fund grantees will help nonprofits learn how to apply a racial equity lens towards dismantling institutional racism, building race-conscious organizations and leadership, and designing internal and external strategy, policy, and cultural change. The Fund is also investing additional resources of $150,000 to support a few emerging racial equity practitioners and will support cross-sharing among all practitioners supported through the fund.

“Learning and co-operation is a critical need in the racial equity field and a priority of this fund,” said Lucy Mayo, Senior Vice President of Organizational Development at Demos, who serves on the REACH Fund’s Advisory Committee. “Practitioners will have opportunities to be exposed to diverse methodologies, to skill-build with each other, and to engage in deeper inquiry as a group about how to be bold, innovative, and more sustainable in their work.”

To encourage organizations to continue to strengthen their practice of racial equity, REACH Fund program staff shared detailed feedback with all applicants including those who did not receive funding in this round of grantmaking. Declined organizations also received a $2,500 stipend to honor time spent on the application process.

The REACH Fund is rooted in a vision of racial equity where race does not predict life outcomes for individuals and communities of color. By centering race, we know institutional changes in policies and practices, big and small, will help close the gaps for the groups facing the greatest disparities and simultaneously benefit all people and communities.

Read more about the work of the inaugural cohort of REACH Fund grantees in their own words:

Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance (AORTA): We base our work on an intersectional approach to liberation because we believe that true change requires uprooting all systems of oppression.

Bari Katz Inc. & Authentic Seeds: Our collective approach as a team is to create targeted programming that incrementally increases awareness of white supremacy and encourages structural shifts within individuals, teams and entire organizations. We work with organizations to develop accountability to racially oppressed communities, and increase their commitment to dismantle racism.

Center for Urban and Racial Equity, LLC: We hope to share with the community of practice insights that we’re learning and strategies that we are using for best sequencing the racial equity transformation process, facilitating discussions about power, privilege and marginalization in diverse workplaces and predominately white spaces, and tracking/measuring improvement. In turn, we hope to receive similar lessons learned from our colleagues.

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services: We believe that nonprofits are powerful vehicles for positive social change and that creating a world free of oppression means practicing liberation inside and out.

Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training: Crossroads will bring to the learning cohort over thirty years of experience working alongside institutions to build a shared power analysis of systemic racism and then to collaborate creatively towards antiracist institutional identity change.

Change Elemental: Practitioners will be better poised to make progress and have impact in the sector by virtue of having a shared analysis: who is doing what, what kind of work is needed, who does that work in terms of referrals, and understanding the shared direction we’re all rowing in.

OpenSource Leadership Strategies: The current structure of providing consulting and technical assistance around racial equity is set-up to pit us against each other as competitors instead of collaborators toward our shared goal, and to judge our different approaches as right or wrong rather than complementary or contextually suited. Greater knowledge about each other could enable a new mode of operation in which we see ourselves as autonomous yet aligned contributors to a common vision for transformational change.

Western States Center: The current moment presents as an opportunity to assess and share the evolution of our racial equity work and tools, and to identify replicable models that can be more responsive to the reality of the country’s changing demographics, especially within organizations of color.

The REACH Fund is a donor collaborative fund housed at Borealis Philanthropy. The Fund currently includes support from the Barr Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Grove Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, the NoVo Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Learn more about REACH and REACH 2.