United Way Changemaker Fund Targets BIPOC Nonprofits for Collaborative Funding



George Floyd’s murder shook the nation and opened the eyes of many to the deeply rooted issues facing communities of color in this country.

The truth of the day swept through the Capital Region, causing some in the nonprofit sector in particular to notice that significant resources were not being extended to some underserved partners.

Peter Gannon, president and CEO of United Way of the Greater Capital Region, said a number of peers subsequently contacted to seek to launch funds specifically for black-led groups, Indigenous, people of color, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. .

They were seeking to reach historically disproportionately funded groups working close to some of the “deep-rooted issues” that BIPOC communities face, Gannon explained.

The Healthy Alliance IPA was one of those groups. United Way has partnered with the alliance to launch the Changemakers Fund – a grant program providing money to 13 BIPOC organizations to support their missions on the front lines of the pandemic. Their missions range from tackling food apartheid to tackling health care disparities and more.

“It’s part of a complete overhaul of our business model at United Way, where we’re looking to partner with organizations that traditionally didn’t feel like they belonged here because they were. too small and too new, ”Gannon said. .

Centraide saw a 43 percent increase in applications from BIPOC and women-led organizations, and the number of applications from entry-level fundraisers quadrupled with this approach. Gannon said the partnership also made the tedious application process easier.

Traditionally, the need to submit multiple applications in an attempt to seize grant opportunities has weighed on organizations. By joining forces, Centraide simplified the process and became accessible to more non-profit organizations.

And what Gannon found out was that some of the 13 had already collaborated with each other. Their missions might be completely different, but the pitfalls they faced were similar. The crosses have allowed many to team up and fetch bigger pots of money for their growing efforts.

Two recipients, CEK RN Consulting Inc. and Mom Starts Here, worked together on files and found future grant openings.

Mom Starts Here works to connect pregnant women and new parents in financial need with community resources such as mentoring, parent education, and baby items. CEK RN, on the other hand, accompanies people from populations with low literacy levels to doctor’s appointments and health care visits to help them understand what is required of them.

Coretta Killikelly, director of CEK RN, said that crossing over with other nonprofits has helped her staff learn more about the various issues facing black and brown communities, including food insecurity, human rights and LGBTQ and healthcare, while giving them additional exposure to educate others.

Her organization is partnering with Mom Starts Here to examine the disparities in childbirth deaths among black and brown mothers. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that black, Native American and Native Alaskan women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

The two groups are studying why this disparity exists when everyone ostensibly receives the same care, Killikelly said. She said it’s an issue CEK RN Consulting might not have been able to understand so well had it not been presented to Mom Starts Here through the fund.

Kyla Schmidt, executive director of Mom Starts Here, said the organization’s customer base quadrupled in 2020. This year alone, she served 150 new customers. Schmidt believes the collaboration would strengthen the impact they could have as more and more people sought them out.

“Collaborative efforts between nonprofits tend to deepen the impact for the community, provide more comprehensive supports and a more holistic view of an individual’s needs,” she said.

Schmidt and Killikelly said it’s important for Centraide and others to take a focused look at BIPOC organizations that are typically overlooked for funding.

“Taking this approach… is truly an example of what funders can do to get their communities to invest in local organizations and prioritize very deep community impact by recognizing that representative leadership of the community. can be very effective, ”Schmidt said. .

Changemaker Greater Capital Region Centraide Fund

1 Steuben Place, Albany

518-456-2200 and unitedwaygcr.org/changemakers

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