United Way Racial Equity Fund Reaches $1 Million for BIPOC Organizations

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in the michiganchronicle.com.

The Michigan Chronicle

Local organizations will soon receive a financial boost after United Way for Southeastern Michigan recently announced the recipients of the second round of grant funding for Black-, Indigenous-, and people of color-led (BIPOC) groups.

Ranging between $10,000 and $75,000, the microgrants will help the organizations looking to focus on leadership, lifespan development, economics and reaching equity in emerging areas of the community, according to a press release.

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan Racial Equity Fund is designed to help all people experience authentic inclusion and have equitable access to resources and opportunities. Having already allocated $570,000 to the Racial Equity Fund, this additional funding puts the total support to date at nearly $1 million. The Fund was designed by a diverse and inclusive workgroup of community members during the summer and fall of 2021. The objective of the fund is to empower those most harmed by systemic oppression to thrive and reach their full potential.

“Our commitment to the communities we serve includes ensuring equitable access to training, support and tools that will set them up for success. Through all our grantmaking and work, we want to reflect the communities we serve,” said Tonya Adair, chief people, equity, and engagement officer, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We value all voices and want our entire community to be able to grow – together.”

The workgroup that developed The Racial Equity Fund was formed by the Centering Community Voice Blueprint, developed in collaboration with Detroit Future City. This blueprint proactively incorporates lived experience of the people they serve into United Way’s grantmaking process. Every aspect of their decision-making is prioritized by the lived experiences of the community. Funded organizations will provide programs and projects working toward eliminating racial disparities in pursuit of a more equitable and just community for everyone.

Members of the original workgroup were chosen by United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team. Local organizations and community leaders with close ties to the community made the nine-week commitment to the discussion and selection process.

A list of the newly funded organizations supporting their proposed projects/efforts include:

  • Black Leaders Detroit – Detroit
  • Black to the Land Coalition – Redford
  • Caught Up – Detroit
  • Chaldean Community Foundation – Sterling Heights
  • Clarence Phillips Ascend Organization – Pontiac
  • Commonwealth of Faith – Redford
  • FORGOT (Friends of Royal Oak Twp., Inc)– Royal Oak Twp.
  • HAVEN – Pontiac
  • JOURNi – Detroit

Andre Ebron, United Way’s senior director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, told the Michigan Chronicle in a statement that he leads the DEI Department which is responsible for the creation of the Racial Equity Fund.

The fund came to fruition after the initial response of 125 applicants that expressed interest in funding.

They decided to invest an additional $430,000 of the MacKenzie Scott gift to support their second cohort of 10 organizations, beyond their inaugural cohort of 13 organizations.

“The diversity of these organizations, geographically and programmatically, are directly aligned to the priorities of the fund developed by the Racial Equity Fund Workgroup,” according to the article. “The increase of funding will bolster our organizational efforts to close equity gaps, dismantle and deconstruct barriers to equity, to build equitable communities of stable households and thriving children, and to empower residents in Southeastern Michigan to reach their full potential.”

Ebron added that the “biggest takeaway” people should know about the funding increase is geared toward positively impacting the lives of more residents in Southeastern Michigan through “diverse and meaningful programming designed by organizations in their community to meet their needs.”

“Another takeaway from the increase in funding is the inclusion of a capacity program that provides, during the contracting period, unlimited one-on-one coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring and a digital platform chock full of resources to assist with the organization’s growth, development and sustainability,” he said. “[These] are core elements of any organization’s systems and structure. The two cohorts will have access to this resource for a year, and they will also have the support of our DEI Team.”

Richard Grundy, JOURNi CEO and co-founder, told the Michigan Chronicle that his organization (a nonprofit dedicated to decentralizing access to technology for Detroit’s residents) is receiving funding to help support operations.

“We’re going to use the funding to help support some of the staff as well as to help fill the gaps for our summer programming,” Grundy said, adding that they have five summer programs this year. “This funding really came right on time for us and we’re grateful for the support from the United Way of Southeastern Michigan.”

Grantees from the first round of the Racial Equity Fund announced in February of this year include:

  • APIA Vote
  • Black Executive Director Alliance of Detroit (BEDAD)
  • Birth Detroit
  • Chaldean American Ladies of Charity (doing business as) United Community Family Services
  • Class Act Detroit
  • Detroit Heals Detroit
  • Developing Kingdoms in Different Stages (KIDS)
  • E-Community Outreach Services
  • Family Assistance for Renaissance Men
  • Heritage Works
  • The Michigan Hispanic Collaborative
  • Turning Point
  • Pontiac Community Foundation

To learn more about United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Racial Equity Fund, visit https://unitedwaysem.org/about-us/equity-and-inclusion/.