Six prominent foundations have teamed up to establish a $5.7 million fund supporting Detroit nonprofits led by people of color.
The Detroit Residents First Fund aims to use its assets to “transform neighborhoods in Detroit with the least access to power and social capital,” according to a press release issued Wednesday.
Fund leadership has pointed to research that shows organizations led by people of color typically receive less monetary support than those run by white people as part of the reason for focusing on minority-led groups.
Community leaders and representatives of the foundations will collectively decide how grant funds are dispersed, creating a shared-power structure that is considered unique among Michigan nonprofits.
“Grass-roots organizations — many who have never received funding directly from a foundation — need access to funding for philanthropy to be truly equitable,” Daija Butler, assistant director of planning for the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency who oversees the DRFF, said in a statement.
“The guidance of community leaders on the DRFF Steering Committee has been invaluable to learning how we can remove barriers in the grantmaking process while simultaneously building the capacity of grassroot organizations to influence change so that the lives of Detroit residents are improved long-term.”
Having multiple stakeholders decide which groups are supported will help “advance equity in philanthropy,” organizers say.
“The Ford Foundation has long supported efforts that activate the voice and leadership of communities who have been traditionally kept away from the decision-making tables,” said Kevin Ryan, Detroit program officer for the Ford Foundation. “We are proud to support the Detroit Residents First Fund’s work to support and elevate the voices of committed, compassionate and engaged citizens who are working to transform the city we call home.”
In addition to the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and Skillman Foundation have all signed on to the initiative.
Fifteen organizations were selected for the fund’s pilot, receiving a total of $700,000 between them as part of a relationship that can last up to three years. These organizations become part of a cohort that also receives peer guidance and mentorship.
Avalon Village, People’s Water Board and We the People of Detroit are among the organizations participating in the pilot.
The fund hopes to increase its assets and expects to provide $10 million to organizations over the next five years.