SouthCoast Community Foundation Announces Leadership Equity Fund to Support BIPOC Organizations and Future BIPOC Leaders During 26TH Annual Meeting

Jun 9, 2021

NAACP of New Bedford and YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts first two grant recipients


NEW BEDFORD, MA – The SouthCoast Community Foundation announced yesterday during its 26th Annual Meeting the creation of the Leadership Equity Fund to address racial disparities and work towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society. Grants from the Fund will support and serve two purposes; nonprofit organizations working to end racism and run by leaders who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and the professional development and advancement of employees of nonprofit organizations who identify as BIPOC. The Community Foundation has raised an initial $150,000 for the Fund. It is inviting its fund advisors, donors, and other institutional funders to co-invest with a goal of raising an initial $250,000 this summer.

This Fund is one of several steps the Community Foundation plans to take to tackle racism and is a direct result of the Community Foundation Racial Equity Working Group. “Restoring the frayed social fabric in the United States is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It’s not a new problem. However, if we do not address the fundamental issues that prevent us from achieving equitable growth and inclusion, the economic and social disagreements that led to the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 will only worsen,” explained Board and Working Group member Maria A. Rosario. “The SouthCoast Community Foundation has an opportunity to make a forceful case for racial equity by explaining the challenges, highlighting the areas of opportunity, and taking bold action to embed racial equity into our organization, our work, into our community’s fabric, and more importantly, into our personal growth. Only by actively renewing the social contract, starting with a race-conscious approach at the Foundation, can we begin to address the impact of rising inequality and damaging social disparities and help our communities heal.”

“The Community Foundation believes that for significant and sustainable racial equity to occur in our community, we must ensure that people of color are given the opportunity and support to lead and influence our community from positions of power and authority,” stated President John Vasconcellos. “In fulfillment of this intention and through our mission to elevate local philanthropy and strengthen local nonprofits, we wanted to create a fund that allows us to quickly raise and grant funds to BIPOC organizations that historically have been under-resourced. We believe this new fund and the work of our nonprofit partners will go a long way to address racial disparities and create a pipeline of BIPOC talent in the nonprofit sector.”

The first two grant recipients are the New Bedford Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts, who will each receive $30,000. Both organizations focus on the first aspect of the grant, actively addressing racism through educational programming and led by a person of color. The YWCA has a three-year plan to strengthen and extend equitable practices amongst Boards across the South Coast so that Board participants will become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. The NAACP also has a three-year plan to train NAACP members and community members, including developing workshops, hiring a communications specialist, and building infrastructure to support ongoing outreach.

“The NAACP New Bedford Branch is extremely grateful to receive such a generous gift from the SouthCoast Community Foundation. The Leadership Equity Fund gift will further enhance our advocacy work on behalf of communities of color while advancing our footprint and platform and underserved communities,” commented Dr. LaSella Hall, President New Bedford Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Funds such as this are necessary in order for social justice organizations to address racism, discrimination, and prejudice wherever present. We’re proud to call the Community Foundation a true ally and are excited to be given this award.”

The Community Foundation is eager to hear from nonprofits in the region that would benefit from grants that serve the second focus area, leadership advancement. The fund is currently open for applications through the end of August, for both focus areas. Grants will be considered on a quarterly basis. You can apply for the grant here.

The 26th Annual Meeting was held on Tuesday, June 8th, and provided an update on Board governance and 2020 accomplishments. It also discussed plans for the year ahead, including initiatives that counter vaccine hesitancy and inequity, address early childhood education, and further the Community Foundation mission as it seeks to embrace its role as an anti-racist organization. The meeting concluded with the Chair of the SouthCoast Community Foundation’s Racial Equity Working Group and the incoming Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, Gail Fortes announcing the creation of the new Leadership Equity Fund.

The SouthCoast Community Foundation is a nonprofit serving the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts through philanthropy. The Community Foundation mission is to mobilize philanthropy by matching donors and resources with community needs for the benefit of our region. Since 1995, the organization has distributed over $50 million from more than 200 funds to humanitarian, educational, and cultural organizations in the region. Click here to donate to the Leadership Equity Fund.

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