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Denver grant program directs resources to address systemic racism

The Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) fund supports Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits in the greater Denver metro area.

DENVER — The Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) funding program focuses on making an impact on Black communities across the Denver metro area through grants to Black nonprofits led by and serving Black communities.

The group said its mission is to build long-term sustainability in communities of color.

“(We’re) helping them to support their programs, support their infrastructure and build their capacity to serve more Black community members throughout Colorado,” said LaDawn Sullivan, BRIC director. “Our Black populations go underserved and under-resourced historically and consistently. We know the importance of having something not just to mobilize dollars in our community but to actually to hold the decision-making power.”

Credit: Byron Reed
Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) director LaDawn Sullivan said, "Funded by us, led by us and supporting us is going to be critical for us to actually create equitable communities."

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The funding program grants awards ranging between $5,000 to $25,000 to nonprofits that meet the following criteria:

  • Be a viable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or have a fiscal sponsor.
  • Be Black-led and Black-serving. The Denver Foundation defines “Black” as encompassing people of African and Afro-Caribbean descent, including African immigrants and refugees.
  • Serve the seven-county Metro Denver area

“The fund was established in June of 2020 on Juneteenth,” Sullivan said. “We’ve raised over $3 million and provided grants and other supports at about $2 million over the last two years.”

According to BRIC, the nonprofits must also address needs like health, education, housing, and racial justice in communities of color.

“The important thing is to get resources in their hands so they can actually move from surviving to actually having paid staff, to be able to build their programs and to live out their vision that they have,” Sullivan said.

One of the local nonprofits that received funding through BRIC is the Heart and Hand Center for Youth and their Families. A group that provides free after-school and summer time programs to underserved elementary and middle school students.

Credit: Byron Reed
Heart and Hand Center for Youth and their Families summer youth program is located in the Whittier neighborhood.

“The majority of students that come through our program receive free and reduced lunch,” said Timiya Jackson, Heart and Hand Center director. “As an organization that deals primarily with young people, it’s extremely crucial that we have funding to be able to do the work that we do knowing that all of our programs are at no cost for the community.”

Credit: Byron Reed
Heart and Hand Learning Center for Youth and their Families

Jackson said having that additional layer of support is important for students who are underprivileged insuring that they have the tools and resources for their future.

Credit: Byron Reed
Heart and Hand Center director Timiya Jackson said, "It’s extremely important that we have the funding to be able to provide (free) resources."

“We all know it takes a village to raise a child so being able to have all the adults in that person’s life come and rally behind them is extremely crucial,” Jackson said.

“We recognize in our community that parents are working and when school is out,” Sullivan said. “[The kids] need a place not only to play but to learn.”

Credit: Byron Reed

Sullivan said BRIC is one of the first of its kind started in Colorado and now there are other Black funds being created across the country living by their motto: To build Black communities from the inside out – BRIC by BRIC.

“We’re addressing our issues ourselves with our own solutions and our own lived experience,” Sullivan said.

For more information about BRIC, click here.

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