12 Funders & Resilia Launch a National Initiative to Help Strengthen BIPOC-Led/Serving Nonprofits Across the Country

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 11:00 AM EST

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Resilia announced the launch of ELEVATE, a national program comprising 12 Funders aimed at strengthening marginalized communities through actionable programs and equity-centric data sharing.

12 Funders & Resilia Launch a National Initiative to Help Strengthen BIPOC-Led/Serving Nonprofits Across the Country

One of the first nationwide initiatives of its kind, ELEVATE aims to leverage the power of the collective (Foundations, Government offices, Corporations) and data to help elevate the capacity and voices of BIPOC-led/serving grassroots organizations, especially those serving historically marginalized communities.

"ELEVATE provides an opportunity for our Foundations to connect with other funders to learn what they are doing to engage more deeply with BIPOC-led organizations, share best practices, challenges and trends. It is our hope to listen and learn and contribute to changes in grantmaking and capacity building that will make us and other funders more accessible and ensure that we are focused on raising BIPOC-led organizations within our communities," said Jackie Downing, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Support at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Aimed at driving systemic change, ELEVATE consists of four core components:

  • Trust-based capacity building support for nonprofits
  • Collective data sharing for funders to drive equity-centric goals
  • Professional development and mentorship for funder staff
  • Peer-to-peer learning opportunities and resource sharing

Trust-based capacity building support for BIPOC-led/serving grassroots nonprofits

As members of ELEVATE, funders will be able to deploy Trust-based capacity building solutions for local nonprofits through a combination of technology, 1:1 nonprofit coaching, and peer-to-peer learning. Acknowledging the specific needs of BIPOC-led/serving grassroots organizations, the infrastructure enables funders to be responsive in order to meet changemakers where they are.

"BIPOC-led organizations face a multitude of challenges – recruiting and training staff and board, having equitable access to social and professional networks, communicating the full scope and impact of their work, and receiving unrestricted multi-year funding. Despite all the challenges they face they continue to do transformational work in their communities. Supporting them through capacity building affirms and supports their work and it helps to build and strengthen the skills they need for sustainability and increased impact," said Aerial Ozuzu, Director of Grants & Initiatives at The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

"Supporting grassroots nonprofits is critical. These organizations include people who are directly affected by the problems in their communities. They use collective action and bottom-up decision making, which allows them to nimbly address challenges. We need to allot resources for these grassroots organizations and help them increase capacity to do what they do well – serving with people, and not at them," said Virginia Holmes, Executive Director of Michigan Community Service Commission, an arm of the Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity for the State of Michigan.

Collective data sharing to help funders actionize equity-centric goals

Grounded in real-time data sourced from Resilia's programs, funders will be able to access quantitative insights into the capacity and advocacy needs of BIPOC-led/serving grassroots organizations throughout the country. This in turn could help funders uncover blind spots while informing their strategic plans and investments as it pertains to grassroots and equity-related initiatives in their respective communities.

"While we can capture representation of nonprofit partner leadership across identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability and more (to begin to understand who has access and who doesn't and to ultimately address gaps) there is an opportunity to go beyond that level of understanding. Nonprofits themselves are addressing various elements of equity within their own organizations, from approaches to fundraising, board structure, staff development, program delivery etc., so if funders have a better grasp on what those shifts are, we can then provide higher quality and more responsive capacity building and technical assistance support," said Leigh Handschuh, Senior Manager, Programs Learning and Engagement at The Boston Foundation.

Based on Trust-based philanthropy principles, the data collection methodologies would eliminate the traditional approach of nonprofits filling up surveys and reports as a way to communicate their needs. Instead Resilia's technology will automatically capture, anonymize and aggregate nonprofit capacity needs every single time a nonprofit utilizes Resilia's online platform or seeks help with Resilia's nonprofit coaches on their capacity and advocacy needs.

Peer-to-peer learning, professional development and mentorship for funder staff engaged in Equity related initiatives

Beyond the data, participating funders will benefit from peer-to-peer learning based on the mentor-mentee model wherein funder staff considering innovative capacity building and equity programs will be able to seek guidance from other funders who may have previously charted the path.

"This sharing is critical! Funders need to understand the unique challenges of small grassroots organizations and translate that understanding into real support and investment. We are invested in our growth and understanding so that we can be better partners to organizations leading equity/anti-racist work," said Lutonya Russell-Humes, Senior Director, Fund for Women and Girls at Fairfield County's Community Foundation.

Additionally, participants will have professional development opportunities led by experts in the field to help navigate the fundamentals of equitable grantmaking, bridging the "intention vs. action" divide in philanthropy, equitable evaluation practices and operationalizing equity related strategic plans.

"The prospective shared learning from other foundations working in this space made us commit to ELEVATE. Health Forward is embarking on a new journey in the way we achieve our mission and looking forward to sharing and hearing lessons learned from others across the country while potentially identifying some collaborators along the way," said Jason Williams, Program Officer at Health Forward Foundation.

National representation aimed at driving change in urban, suburban and rural communities

Members of ELEVATE's launch cohort includes The Boston Foundation (MA), Silicon Valley Community Foundation (CA), Hawaii Community Foundation (HI), Michigan Community Service Commission (MI), Metro United Way (KY), The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation (OH), Community Foundation of Greater Memphis (TN), Health Forward Foundation (MO), The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (CT), Valley Community Foundation (CT), Fairfield County's Community Foundation (CT) and Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (NY)

In order to ensure ELEVATE prioritizes action and execution over conversations, participation criteria for funders includes, (1) stated focus on empowering BIPOC-led/serving nonprofits, grassroots organizations, and/or changemakers serving marginalized communities, (2) same launch cycle with the Resilia Funder Program to align data collection with phases of program maturity.

"Participating in ELEVATE was really a no-brainer. Being able to connect and collaborate with other funders who have prioritized leaders, organizations, and communities that are typically overlooked will help inform and strengthen our work. We're looking forward to learning what work our peers are doing to increase grantee voice and power and move to be more inclusive and equitable in their communities," said Aerial Ozuzu, Director of Grants & Initiatives at The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Resilia plans to onboard new cohorts of funders through 2022 to bring in more expertise and collective might with the ultimate objective of helping foster equitable communities throughout the country.

The next ELEVATE cohort comes onboard on March 31, 2022.

To learn more about ELEVATE or express interest in participation as a peer funder, email elevate@resilia.com.

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