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Denver Foundation launches Black Resilience in Colorado fund

The Denver Foundation launched the Black Resilience in Colorado fund, which will direct resources to address systemic racism and its impact on the Black community.

DENVER — The Denver Foundation has announced the Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) Fund, which will direct resources to address systemic racism and its impact on Black communities across the seven-county metro Denver region.

“The Denver Foundation has been working to advance racial equity for more than 25 years,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the foundation. “With the launch of the Black Resilience in Colorado Fund, we deepen our commitment and live up to one of our core responsibilities, which is to invest in organizations that the community knows and trusts.”

The goal is to distribute $1 million in its first year through a community-led process.

The focus will be on racial inequities that have been intensified by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and the recent call to address racism in the country.

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In a release the foundation wrote:

“The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately harms Black people in metro Denver. Many face higher risk of exposure, especially among low-wage service workers; loss of income and jobs due to shelter-in-place orders; limited to no access to services to meet health and other basic needs; and small business loss and instability.

In times of crisis and critical need, individuals, families, and businesses turn to the organizations they trust most. In many cases, local people create these organizations in response to the unmet needs of their communities. Yet these organizations are historically and chronically under-resourced. The pandemic has laid plain the inequitable access to resources among grassroots community organizations, particularly those that are led by and serve Black people and/or African immigrants and refugees.”

The fund is also intended to help break down a barrier for minority philanthropy leaders to enter the philanthropy world and secure funding. 

“When you don’t have access to wealth you are overlooked,” said Cathy Phelps, the executive director for the Center for Trauma and Resilience. “It is absolutely not what you know but who you know.”

The center helps people who are survivors of trauma. Phelps said she's seen larger groups restructure their funding strategies, leaving smaller groups out of funding opportunities. 

“It left out smaller agencies that were led by people of color,” she said. 

Soto weighed in too, saying minority-led non-profits are often disconnected from traditional philanthropy and other sources of revenue.

He said that disconnect continues into technical assistance and connecting with more established funding opportunities that can help non-profits grow.

The new fund will support non-profit organizations that are led by and serve Black communities.

Soto acknowledged it's just one part of a much larger conversation. 

“Our resources at the Denver Foundation are finite,” he said. “It’s not sufficient to solve these deep systemic problems in our society but they can be a catalytic. They can call attention to the real issues.”

“It’s not all that we need,” Phelps said. “But it will make a difference."

The Denver Foundation made an initial contribution of $50,000.

The Colorado Health Foundation invested $500,000 and is hoping for more donations from the community. 

"The work has been going on 25 years including funding," Soto said. "What is new today is a fund that is open for others to contribute to at the Denver Foundation."

The Denver Foundation is hoping to raise a million dollars in a year and will be providing grants on a rolling basis. 

Applications will open in mid-July.

Grant awards are expected to range from $5,000 to $25,000

For more details, click here.

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