AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Community Foundation, in partnership with leaders in Austin’s Black community and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, announced the launch of the Black Fund. It’s a new grant program, investing into Black-led and Black-serving organizations in Central Texas.
Terry P. Mitchell, campaign co-chair of The Black Fund, told KXAN that one of the big reasons this fund was started was to fight the disparities that Black communities face compared to white communities. Mitchell said Black nonprofits are funded at less than 25% in comparison to white ones.
“We knew that it was time to coalesce to collectively create strategy around filling these gaps,” Mitchell said, “And that is why our impact areas include education, health and wellness, power building, advocacy and wealth building.
She said the fund hopes to create a sustainable model to create equity in the City of Austin, then model change throughout the world.
Q&A with Mitchell:
You referenced those disparities in the Austin community, really dating back to the Master Plan of 1928, probably even before that. We know that a lot of Black-led organizations maybe haven’t had that infrastructure or just the resources they need in place. You talk about sustainability, will this fund really helped strengthen those organizations and ensure sustainability for the organizations themselves?
Mitchell: Absolutely. First and foremost, what we know needs to happen is getting capital out to these nonprofits, and so we are going to start “giving fish” so to speak, is what I’ve been calling it. Giving organizations that have never received, or very rarely receive, unrestricted funds, getting them the funding that they need now. But what we’re also doing is creating an ecosystem alongside our co-conspirators, allies and supporters, where we are helping to create capacity building for our nonprofits as well. So, it goes much further than just funding, you know, we are creating mechanisms for training, creating back office support, mentoring, so that there is a sustainability piece to it. And that’s the “teaching to fish” model that we’re also adding. So yes, it’s important to give fish, but teaching how to fish, and how to scale is just as important. We’re doing both of those in tandem with our supporters.
Terry, you know, we interviewed you back in 2020, about East Austin. In that piece, we did talk about some research from UT… It found that Austin is one of the few fastest-growing cities that’s seen its Black population dwindle. So will this fund really help with retention efforts in any way by helping these organizations?
Mitchell: Well, you know, that is our foremost metric for success, we want to ensure that we’re not only stabilizing the Black population decline, creating stability models for that, but also helping us to flourish and grow and continue to bring folks both back to the city as well as transplants and make it an attractive city to be in. And I think when we create models of reimagining philanthropy, and creating opportunities for co-conspirators and Black nonprofits, and small businesses and community leaders to meet and to be together, that is one piece of sustainability that we’re all looking for. It shows that we are all in this together, that it’s not just a Black problem, but a community problem, and so that is attractive to to the Black community. It’s something that we haven’t quite seen in the past. But not only that, we do know that when you are helping to create sustainability in Black organizations, they will then help to employ other Black employees, and that is how we grow that ecosystem and continue to repopulate that declining population here in the Black community.
If an organization wants to apply, how do they do that? Is there a timeline on giving out those funds? And how is the Black Fund getting funding?
Mitchell: First and foremost, thank you so much to all of our early supporters that have already poured into the fund. As of [Wednesday], like you mentioned, the pit $1 million and commitments, pledges and, and funding and so we’re really grateful to our early supporters.
If you’re looking to support the fund, we ask that you go and make a donation on Austin Community Foundation’s website, that’s AustinCF.org. There’s a drop down under “Community Impact” that says The Black Fund, you can learn a little bit more about the Black Fund, and then as well make your, donation your contribution there.
If you want to get involved, there are so many other ways, you know, yes, giving your money is important, opening your wallet and voting with your wallet is important, but your time and your network is also just as important. So there are ways to get in contact with us and that is also on the website. We are building this plane and flying at the same time. So we are looking for all different voices and those that may have different tools and opportunities to bring to the table and so getting in contact with us is really helpful as well.