Democracy and Power | November 23, 2020

Grassroots groups are mobilizing communities to take racial justice from protest to progress

David Bank
ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank

With $30 million in grants to 60 local and national racial justice organizations, Kresge Foundation is seeking to harness the power of this year’s protests for legal, policy and economic change.

“It’s not for us to invent, but to encourage greater coherence and integration so it adds up to more than a year of protest in the streets,” Kresge’s Rip Rapson told ImpactAlpha.

Rapson ticked off the need for training, leadership development, communications savvy, research, policy and organizing. “All of the traditions of community mobilizing are moving into a  different phase. The superstructure of public policy has to take account of these energies.” 

Local organizing

The foundation, based in Troy, Mich., 20 miles from Detroit, allocated $23 million to local organizations, primarily in Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans and Fresno, Calif. In Detroit, the New Economy Initiative is expanding its work to micro-businesses. In New Orleans, Good Work Network will strengthen minority-owned firms and connect them with anchor institutions to drive revenues. In Fresno,  the Council on American Islamic Relations, Jakara Movement and Hmong Innovating Politics will help the area’s diverse populations advocate for housing policy and policing reform. 

National networks

Kresge granted another $7 million is going to national organizations, including Movement for Black Lives and the Black-Led Movement Fund, which provide financing and support to local racial justice organizations. The latter organization led Kresge to fund the Black Trans Fund, which the foundation called “the first such grant Kresge has made in its nearly 100-year history.”

Health, education and human rights

Separately, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation made $15 million in grants to racial justice nonprofits, including Common Future (read about Agent of Impact Rodney Foxworth), Data 4 Black Lives and Souls Grown Deep (see, “Souls Grown Deep Foundation to invest $1 million in artists’ hometowns in the US south”).