California Community Foundation Announces Inaugural Black Empowerment Fund Grantees

The grants which were made possible by a $1M gift from Facebook, will fund long-term infrastructure of Black-led and Black-empowering organizations throughout Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, CA — The California Community Foundation (CCF) announced today the inaugural cohort of 20 community-based organizations that will receive $1 million in grants through the Black Empowerment Fund. The grants, which were made possible by Facebook, will support organizations that work to strengthen the leadership pipeline, build wealth, change the media narrative, advance system reform, develop a conduit for research and intellectual advancement, and empower Black voices within the Black community.

CCF launched the Black Empowerment Fund in February 2021 to invest in the long-term infrastructure of Black-led and Black-empowering organizations throughout Los Angeles County. The 20 organizations that have been selected, in collaboration with the Black Equity Collective, represent dynamic leaders that develop transformational, community-centered solutions for the Black community, and create conditions for the Black community to achieve their full potential for self-actualization and social and economic prosperity.

“Facebook is supporting the Black Empowerment Fund to help counter the social and economic challenges faced by the Black community by dismantling systemic barriers to opportunity and expanding access to resources through online trainings and technical and financial support,” said Alex Bashian, Strategic Partnerships Manager for Facebook Los Angeles. “We hope these grants will increase access to jobs, workforce development, and career coaching to support economic growth in the local community.”

Among the recipients of the Black Empowerment Fund grants is Project Joy Inc., which works to empower, educate, and encourage the most vulnerable youth and families. This grant will directly impact youth, who will be able to participate in programs like Youth AI (artificial intelligence) Career Learning Program, which increases confidence, mental wellness, job readiness and career awareness. The funding and training will also enable them to grow their social enterprise, Project Joy Media, and offer digital marketing services to the hardest hit business owners in the community enabling them to tell their unique stories by providing critical media support.

“We are elated at the support and exposure that is offered by this grant,” said Kim Watson, Founder and Executive Director of Project Joy Inc. “The funding, training and increased visibility is a springboard; allowing us to create jobs, sustain life changing programs, increase joy and deepen our career services to the youth and families in our community.”

CCF has an established record of investing in the Black community to build greater community resiliency through programs like BLOOM, LASIF-YMOC, PAT, and Ready to Rise. This Fund is the next step in CCF’s evolution from resiliency support to long-term infrastructure investments, with the focus being on improving the social and economic outcomes to empower Black communities throughout Los Angeles County.

The Black Cooperative Investment Fund (BCIF), also among the Fund’s recipients, plans on using the grant to positively impact the Black community, by deploying low to no interest loans to Black-owned businesses. BCIF’s role in the ecosystem is to create jobs, build assets, improve chances for economic mobility in the community, and address the racial wealth gap.

“BCIF is laser focused on pooling dollars and raising awareness about the importance of economic empowerment, equity, and wealth building in the Black community,” said Robert Lewis, President and Board Chair of the Black Cooperative Investment Fund. “BCIF believes the Black community can get the change it seeks when it impacts the bottom line of corporations, politicians, and systems that take advantage of our ‘blind loyalty.’ As such, being an action-oriented partner within the ecosystem of efforts to close the racial wealth gap is paramount for BCIF.”

It is by resourcing and empowering our communities to address the root causes of systemic issues and persistent barriers, which will create lasting changes in our communities.

“CCF is committed to working with our leaders and community to invest and empower individuals and organizations that are developing responsive solutions to address the root causes of racism and disinvestment, which have disproportionately impacted Black communities,” said Antonia Hernández, President and CEO of the California Community Foundation. “We know that inequalities in education, health, civil rights and housing require investment in the capacity of people and communities in order to bring about real change, which is why we are thrilled to have partnered with Facebook and the Black Equity Collective to provide needed resources to our grantees.”

Queen, the Founder of the EarthLodge Center for Transformation, a Black-led spiritual sanctuary centering LGBTQI, women, youth, their families, and allies, stated: “This grant will allow us to expand our healing justice and trauma transformation work at a vital time as the world works to recover from the global pandemics of COVID and anti-Black violence. The rates of depression, isolation, violence and emotional distress, especially in the LGBTQI community, reached all-time highs since last March and the support of these funds will help us to continue to provide tools for healing, balance, wellness, community safe space and sanctuary to our marginalized communities…so that we can all experience a just recovery and healthier new world.”

The full list of grantees can be found here.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Paula Valle Castañon at pvalle [@] calfund [.] org or 213.452.6233

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The California Community Foundation (CCF) has served as a public, charitable organization for Los Angeles County since 1915. Its mission is to lead positive systemic change that strengthens Los Angeles communities. CCF stewards $2.4 billion in assets and manages 1,700 charitable foundations, funds and legacies. For more information, please visit calfund.org.

For more information about the Black Empowerment Fund, please visit https://www.calfund.org/black-empowerment-fund/.

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