Black Legacy Fund, a fund of Grand Rapids Community Foundation, recently completed its largest-ever grantmaking activity. The fund is led by the Black Legacy Fund Advisory Committee, a group of volunteers who are building on the legacy of giving in Black communities in greater Grand Rapids. The committee approved more than $625,000 to 18 grassroots community groups, nonprofit organizations and businesses uplifting Black brilliance and Black quality of life in Grand Rapids. Resources were awarded from Black Legacy Fund and other Field of Interest funds held at the Community Foundation dedicated to similar causes.
The Advisory Committee sets criteria and makes decisions about grants awarded from the Black Legacy Fund. They received requests totaling more than nine million dollars—a response far beyond its expectations. Half of the organizations applying for funds had not received previous funding from Black Legacy Fund or Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
“We received 87 applications, which confirms our mandate to show up and continue to support projects uplifting Black joy and brilliance in Grand Rapids. The Black Legacy Fund Advisory Committee will keep pushing to invest in this beautiful work,” said Zahna Woodson, Black Legacy Fund co-chair.
To be eligible for funding, applicants needed to be Black-led (defined as having a Black majority in two or more of the following four categories: founder, executive director/project lead, internal leadership team, staff) and Black-serving. Areas of focus in received applications included health, services and support for youth, leadership development, mental health services, community organizing and more.
“This year, the focus was uplifting great work that was going on in the community but historically wasn't being supported; providing resources for innovative ideas; and create connections and strengthen community. We heard a lot of feedback during community listening and information sessions in summer 2022 about the Community Foundation's fragmented relationship with grassroots Black non-profit organizations so this was one of the ways that the committee wanted to show up to say ‘we see you and bring you to the table where the conversation is being had’ to engage both in bridging the gap,” said Keyuana Rosemond, Black Legacy Fund outgoing chair.
“We’re very excited for the ways this grant round is shifting the philanthropic culture in West Michigan. We know that Black communities have always been philanthropists and taken care of community. In this grant round we worked to eliminate barriers by taking video applications, accepting applications from non 501c3 organizations with a fiscal sponsor, and trusting applicants to define what success looks like for them,” said Danah Montgomery, Community Giving Officer at the Community Foundation.
Black Legacy Fund committee members involved in grantmaking decisions include Keyuana Rosemond (chair, term ended January 2023) Wardell Frazier, Kenneth James, Kyle Kimble, Denavvia Mojét, Aleka C. Thrash, Zahna Woodson.
Grant partners were celebrated at a recent gala. More information about the process and a full list of the grants awarded can be found at GRFoundation.org/BlackLegacyFund.