New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund Grants Additional $3 Million to Over 50 Massachusetts-Based Organizations

MASSACHUSETTS – Today, the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund (NCF) —  a funding and support resource for Black, Latino and Indigenous entrepreneurs, innovators, and nonprofits — announced the allocation of an additional $3 million to 54 members in its inaugural cohort of non-profit partners.  

Amid the backdrop of systemic inequities disproportionately harming Black and Brown communities, NCF will provide critical resources to its non-profit partners that accelerate access to health care resources, advance justice reform campaigns, and bolster youth development and cultural enrichment.

For entrepreneurs and nonprofits alike, the tedious process of demonstrating a need for funding and ensuring a resiliency aligned with a foundation or philanthropic institution’s framework often strains the organization’s resources and operational capacity. 

NCF made a decision to reinvest with three distinct rounds in the same fiscal year. A revised grant making strategy will be shared late summer 2022.

“Many of the major corporations and philanthropic institutions are already in full retreat, just two years after pledging their commitment to support Black and Brown organizations. We are at an alarming juncture. Our communities can’t afford to wait for critical dollars, which is why NCF is continuing its grant-making during this fiscal year,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, co-founder of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund. “For far too long, the viability of Black and Brown business and non-profit leaders has been based on a prescriptive framework that prioritizes satisfying those who already hold power rather than creating more inclusive and equitable philanthropic practices.” 

Launched in 2020 by a coalition of Black and Brown executives from Massachusetts, amid the dueling crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and police brutality, and other racially charged incidents across the country. NCF aims to address the extreme disparities and systemic inequities that Black, Latino and Indigenous communities face in the commonwealth.

“Black and Brown-led organizations encounter disproportionate and unnecessary obstacles that hinder their trajectory of success,” said Dr. Makeeba McCreary, president of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund. “NCF’s disruptive model of eliminating exploitative gate-keeping practices will allow our non-profit partners to expedite justice reform initiatives, increase economic empowerment within their communities, deliver equitable healthcare, and enrich the lives of the next generation.

Prior to the latest reinvestments ranging from $10,000 – $150,000 to their non-profit partners, NCF had already committed close to $4 million to support its non-profit partners and other initiatives, including a COVID Relief Fund and a $2.5 million investment to support a five-year partnership with Mass General Brigham to advance maternal health equity, support practitioners, and advocate for critical changes to in-patient care and increasing safer outcomes for Massachusetts communities. 

The New Commonwealth Fund Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund grant recipients list is available here

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About The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund:

The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund (NCF) is a funding and support resource for Black, Latino, and Indigenous entrepreneurs, innovators, and non-profits. Together we are addressing systemic racism and racial inequality while fostering inclusion, representation, opportunity and prosperity for Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities in Massachusetts. Visit for more information. Follow the conversation on our website, LinkedIn page and on Twitter @NCFMass.

New Commonwealth Fund Announces $1 Million in Grants to Fight Systemic Racism

BOSTON The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, a ground-breaking fund created by a group of Black and Brown corporate executives in Massachusetts to eliminate systemic racism throughout the state, has announced a series of emergency grants totaling $1 million. The Fund has awarded these grants to 20 local and regional organizations throughout the Commonwealth that are providing essential services and addressing urgent needs in their respective communities stemming from issues of racism and social injustice.

The organizations, each receiving a $50,000 one-year Demonstration Grant, will use the funding for purposes such as helping to ensure that Black and Brown children receive vital access to education and development during the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering high-quality affordable healthcare and mental health services to the Black and Brown communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and serving as the nexus between their communities and political leadership to address criminal justice policies and practices that unfairly target and harm Black and Brown people.

The $1 million in Demonstration Grants comes just five months after the Fund was formed. The Fund expects to begin its official grant-making process in 2021, and will continue forward with two grant cycles per year.

“The communities being serviced by the organizations we are giving emergency grants to have been under siege,” said Damian Wilmot, Senior Vice President at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and a member of the New Commonwealth Fund Executive Committee. “These Demonstration Grants will help these organizations throughout the Commonwealth do their very important work. If we don’t do anything to help these organizations and these communities, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will widen.”

“Our Administration is committed to promoting equity and expanding opportunity for communities of color, and we are grateful for the work of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund to advance those shared priorities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Their support for these crucial community-based organizations will make a meaningful difference as we work together to combat inequality and build stronger communities.

“Supporting nonprofits that work every day in Black and Brown communities empowers individuals to lead the change in dismantling systemic racism in our city,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I commend and thank the New Commonwealth Fund for their efforts and look forward to continuing to work together towards a more just future.” 

Based on the numerous studies that have come out in the last year, showing that Black- and Brown-led charitable organizations garner only a tiny fraction of the funding that goes to other charitable organizations, The New Commonwealth Fund feels it is critical to focus on these organizations in its first round of grants. In Boston, for, example, only 2 cents of every philanthropic dollar supports nonprofits serving Black and Brown communities. The Demonstration Grants also focus on the four pillars of the New Commonwealth Fund: Policing and Criminal Justice Reform, Health Care Equity, Economic Empowerment, and Youth Education, Empowerment and Civic Engagement.

Groups receiving the initial $50,000 Demonstration Grants include:

  • African Community Education, Worcester
  • BECMA–The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Becoming A Man (BAM, a program of Youth Guidance), Boston
  • Boston Ujima Project (a project of the Center for Economic Democracy), Boston
  • Boston’s Higher Ground
  • Brockton Interfaith Community, Brockton
  • Chelsea Collaborative/La Colaborativa, Chelsea
  • Compass Working Capital, Boston
  • Data 4 Black Lives, Statewide
  • EdLaw Project (a project of the Youth Advocacy Foundation), Statewide
  • Elevated Thought, Lawrence
  • Family Health Center of Worcester
  • GCode House, Boston
  • Lawrence Community Works
  • Lawyers for Civil Rights, Statewide
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Springfield
  • NAACP Boston Branch
  • Pa’lante (fiscal sponsor is the Social Good Fund), Holyoke
  • Strive Boston, Justice Resource Initiative (JRI), Boston
  • Youth on Board (a project of YouthBuild USA), Boston

The New Commonwealth Fund was formed amid the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd by police and other recent, horrific racially charged incidents in this country. 

A group of leading Black and Brown corporate executives in Massachusetts came together to form the Fund and have raised over $20 million in pledges and seed money to address and eliminate systemic racism and racial inequity in the Commonwealth. The New Commonwealth Fund’s mission is to provide grants and other essential support to effect lasting change for Black and Brown communities in the Commonwealth.

The process of awarding the $1 million in Demonstration Grants was intense and engrossing for the New Commonwealth Fund’s 19 founding members. Over a period of weeks, the members pored over publicly available information and data to identify the state’s Black and Brown communities most in need of support within its Four Pillars. They consulted with the Governor’s Office of Community Affairs and the state Attorney General’s Office to gather information from the Black Advisory Commission and the Latino Advisory Commission’s Listening Sessions on and public hearings on racism and social justice issues. In addition, Fund members conferred with state offices that deal with racism and social justice. 

The members then proactively identified a number of organizations working in these identified communities and on issues relating to the Fund’s Four Pillars. After extensive research and interviews of these organizations to assess which needed emergency funds to continue to provide essential services and address emergent needs in the identified communities, the Fund selected 20 organizations—each working tirelessly on the front lines to combat racism and social injustice—to receive a Demonstration Grant.

To learn more about the New Commonwealth Fund or donate to support its mission, go to the New Commonwealth Fund website: https://www.tbf.org/donors/forms/new-commonwealth-fund

About the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund

The Fund was founded by a coalition of Massachusetts Black and Brown executives for the sole purpose of leveraging our individual and collective power to work together with community organizations to make transformative societal changes by addressing systemic racism and racial inequity in Massachusetts.

Black and Brown Business Leaders Want to Drive a Movement to End Racial Inequities.

In this moment of racial awakening and anguish, the question on many minds is: “What can I do?”

For 19 Black and brown business leaders in Boston, it was the question, too. They felt compelled to respond, and they’ve come up with a big idea: the creation of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund.

If this sounds familiar, think again. Sure, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched the city’s version of a racial equity fund last week as his staff scrambled to find people of color to serve on the steering committee.

But if members of our white power establishment were really woke, they probably would have had the sense to stand off to the side and let Black and brown leaders, you know, lead.

The one to watch is the New Commonwealth effort conceived by these Black and brown executives, who are using their own money and tapping networks they’ve assiduously cultivated over the years as they worked their way up the ranks of a predominantly white corporate Boston.

In doing so, these executives hope to not only spark a movement in Boston but to serve as a national model on how executives of color can lead on eliminating racial inequities.

In just three weeks, the group has seeded their fund with about $20 million in commitments, primarily from companies where these executives work. With this robust start, the group has set an ambitious goal of raising at least $100 million, and expects to begin issuing grants in a few months to organizations working on racial equity and social justice matters.

“So many people have asked: ‘What can I do? How can we make real change?‘ ” said Eastern Bank president Quincy Miller. “This is one of the ways we believe we can truly be revolutionary.”

Miller and the other executives say philanthropic and corporate giving, despite good intentions, has largely failed at fixing racial inequities and, importantly, has chronically underfunded Black- and brown-led nonprofits compared to white-led counterparts. These executives want to drive a sea change in how money is doled out and make the work less about charity and more about creating systemic change.

“If we can prove that by putting these resources in the hands of people who are closest to the problems, and we empower them … that’s the difference,” said Paul Francisco, chief diversity officer at State Street. “It’s the realization that attitudes need to change to say, ‘We are not the saviors, but are the partners.’ ”

The ability for this group to bring in so much money in so little time reflects the growing power and ranks of Black leaders across the Boston business community. While the overall number of Black and brown executives remains small, they are on the ascent.

Among those involved in the fund are: Rapid7 CEO Corey Thomas, General Electric global government affairs president Mo Cowan, Thermo Fisher Scientific life sciences and laboratory products president Fred Lowery, Fidelity Investments senior vice president Pamela Everhart, Bain Capital managing director Greg Shell, DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement CEO Myechia Minter-Jordan, Berkshire Bank regional president Malia Lazu, Boston Scientific general counsel Desiree Ralls Morrison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts chief legal officer Stephanie Lovell, Vertex Pharmaceuticals chief risk and compliance officer Damian Wilmot, and Suffolk construction vice president Linda Dorcena Forry.

“What is incredibly exciting about the effort being developed by Black executives in Massachusetts is that for the first time we are seeing the collective power both financially and operationally of Black dollars being invested into the racial justice movement,” said Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP.

Kirk Sykes, whose career as a developer and investment manager has spanned four decades in Boston, often as the only Black executive in the room, said this is a moment of real change in race relations, especially in Corporate America.

“What this group is doing is protesting with their wallets,” said Sykes, co-managing director of development firm Accordia Partners, and who is not part of the group. “There is an alignment between our national upheaval and uproar, and the empowerment of the local corporate community getting behind it.”

The group’s first Zoom call took place on June 7, two weeks after George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis who kept his knee pressed on the Black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. The death, captured on cellphone video, ignited protests across the country and a reckoning on race. For many of these executives, despite their success, they too continue to face discrimination because of the color of their skin.

Ten people were on that first call, including Cowan, Everhart, Francisco, Lowery, Miller, and Wilmot. Some knew each other well, others just by reputation. But there was a shared sense of responsibility and the recognition that they could leverage their power.

“When we stepped back and looked at the influence of this group, we really knew we had the answer,” said Miller of Eastern Bank. “Let’s unite together, not only in our own financial support, but the support of our companies.”

During that first call, the group quickly rallied around the idea of a fund driven by Black and brown corporate executives for Black and brown communities. They wanted their fund to help nonprofits across the state from Boston to Brockton to Springfield. The executives would press their respective companies to provide multi-year financial commitments.

The group has since grown to 19 core members, and they plan to bring in allies of all colors.

The fund will initially focus on investing in initiatives and nonprofit organizations that support communities of color on policing and criminal justice reform, health care equity, economic empowerment, and youth education and engagement.

The fund will also give priority to nonprofits led by Black and brown leaders, to counteract what is known as “philanthropic redlining.”

One recent study, coauthored by nonprofit consultant Bridgespan Group, indicated that on average the revenues of Black-led nonprofits are 24 percent smaller than those revenues of white-led counterparts, and the unrestricted net assets of the Black-led organizations are 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts.

Nurys Camargo, who founded Chica Project nine years ago, said her Boston nonprofit that mentors and coaches young women of color recently received its biggest grant of $50,000, which came from a Florida foundation.

Camargo said Black and brown-led nonprofits have trouble accessing capital because the predominantly white network of funders doesn’t want to take a risk on organizations led by people of color.

“People fund people,” said Camargo. “They have the folks they usually fund.”

That’s the cycle the Black executive group hopes to break. Instead of feeling an unease with Black and brown nonprofit leaders, these executives see their lived experiences as critical to finding the right solutions to reversing systemic racism.

“There is something about cultural competency, a shared story and narrative,” said Minter-Jordan, CEO of DentaQuest Partnership and its Catalyst Institute. “It allows people of color to represent the needs of people of color.”

Segun Idowu, executive director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, is eager to work with the New Commonwealth group, because, in his view, they get it. BECMA recently issued a challenge to the business community to commit up to $1 billion to a fund to address racial inequities over the next decade.

“We know the way to liberation,” said Idowu. “It’s time to reset how we’re investing in our communities.”

Two years after the historic uprising, where does philanthropy’s commitment to racial justice stand?

How the New Commonwealth Fund Plans to Tackle Systemic Racism

In the days after George Floyd was murdered — as people of color bore the brunt of the first pandemic wave, and protesters marched to demand an end to systemic racism — a group of Black and brown executives in Massachusetts joined forces to try to do just that in Boston, and beyond. They started The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, which has so far raised more than 30 million dollars and given away 3 million to organizations across the state. The group selected its first-ever president, Makeeba McCreary, who will leave her current post as the first chief of learning and community engagement at the Museum of Fine Arts in September to lead the fund.

“I see us all as being collaborative,” she said about how the Fund will work with other nonprofits in the city. “The New Commonwealth Fund is a startup, in essence. And, we’re building our strategy, we’re building our metrics. We are also going be able to really hone in on a very particular set of strategies that really do speak to ending up systemic racism and solving for social justice issues across the Commonwealth.”

Viewpoint: Looking to Denmark as a model for an equitable clean energy sector

This article is available in Spanish in partnership with El Planeta Media. Este informe estå disponible en español, traducido por El Planeta Media.

Last week, President Biden arrived in Somerset to tour the former Brayton Point power plant and bring attention to our state’s emerging wind energy sector.President Biden’s visit underscores the critical role Massachusetts will play in this industry for decades to come.

As our state ramps up to harness thehighest offshore wind capacity in the contiguous U.S., and takes advantage of the White House’s recently-announced Federal-State Offshore Wind Partnership, we must ensure that Massachusetts develops a diverse, equitable, and inclusive offshore wind industry.

As leaders of two organizations that fund and support Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other communities abandoned by our current economic system—New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund (NCF) and theBoston Impact Initiative Fund (BII) — we are uniquely aware of the necessity to implement structural changes and develop solutions that address systemic disparities that harm Black and Brown communities.

That is why, we applaud the State Legislature in their incorporation of inclusive language into its clean energy legislative package (H.4544 and S.2842).The bills passed include a clean energy equity workforce program that will provide educational and professional development, workforce diversity requirements, jobs for Black and Brown communities in the clean energy industry, start-up opportunities, and grants to certified minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses. 

There’s no denying the reality that clean energy opportunities – including those directly resulting from this legislation – can be a gamechanger for closing the racial wealth gap in Massachusetts. Workers and companies engaged in offshore wind in its early stages – including at theVineyard Wind project, America’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm – will be getting in at the ground floor of what could turn into a $100 billion industry andpower thousands of jobs. By 2050, offshore wind will become our state’sdominant source of clean energy.

It is imperative that as we develop offshore wind, Massachusetts designs policies and processes — from training programs to turbine supply chains — with racial justice in mind. 

 We recently joined a group of Massachusetts business leaders on a week-long trip to Denmark to gain insight into the nation’s green economy. We learned how the small Nordic country — with a population around the same size as that of Massachusetts — built a stable, climate-friendly energy economy. Today,40% of Danish energy comes from wind. The country has created more than75,000 green jobs and is on pace to meet its net zero climate goals before 2050. A remarkable 80% of Denmark’s wind turbines are owned by individuals or cooperatives as opposed to commercially.

Massachusetts can learn three lessons from Middlegrunden and Denmark’s communal ownership structures and workforce development programs. First, the equity of outcomes depends on the equity of the processes that generate them. When developers impose a vision for a project from the top down, they generate top-down gains. When community members are able to articulate their insights, have a say in the solutions, and share in the eventual profits, everyone benefits from the long-term wealth generated by renewable energy infrastructure. 

Second, communal ownership requires political support — it isn’t spontaneous. In Denmark, there aretax incentives to buy into cooperative wind farms to jolt individual investment. A2011 law requires new wind farms to have at least 20% community ownership, so that no project can proceed without public participation. As we develop our own offshore wind industry, Massachusetts should adopt similar incentives and requirements for community ownership and voice, with an intentional focus on ensuring the participation of Black, Brown and Indegeous communities.                                     

Third, our commitment to community benefits must also extend to workforce development. Massachusetts must also cultivate diverse, statewide, human infrastructure. Offshore wind development requires119 distinct occupations. Vineyard Wind alone willcreate 3,600 well-paying union jobs.

Thankfully, Massachusettshas an advanced vocational technical high school system. Our state universities are a leading pipeline of engineers and professionals into offshore wind. But we need to expand and increase investments in these programs, and prioritize the recruitment of people of color, women, and those in low-income communities throughout the Commonwealth for new jobs.

Danish public and private sector leaders also stressed to us the role of long-term policymaking built onpolitical consensus in facilitating their renewable energy revolution. While our climate and energy policies remain splintered along partisan lines, the Biden-Harris Administration is a potent partner for offshore wind development, and we should take full advantage of their commitments to forwarding the industry.

And no matter what happens federally, Massachusetts can continue to drive climate leadership from within by championing pro-climate policymakers and legislation, while also working with neighboring states.

As Massachusetts accelerates its offshore wind development, we must work collaboratively to use our resources, connections, and expertise to bring forward an equitably developed and distributed clean energy economy. This includes creating meaningful incentives and regulations to make community ownership accessible, participation and recruitment of diverse communities, support of minority owned start-ups and innovators, and accountability for developers to see these through.

Betty Francisco is CEO at Boston Impact Initiative. Makeeba McCreary is President of New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund.

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https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2022/07/28/viewpoint-denmark-makeeba-mccreary-betty-francisco.html