Major New York-based funders focus anew on promoting racial justice

George Soros at event.
George Soros at event.
Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock
Numerous funders have announced new efforts to address racism, including George Soros’s foundation.

Major New York-based funders focus anew on promoting racial justice

The Open Society Foundations is the latest foundation announcing a new initiative tackling racism.
July 14, 2020

The Open Society Foundations, founded by billionaire investor George Soros, announced a $220 million commitment to racial justice initiatives on Monday, a large portion of which will be dedicated to Black-led organizations. 

But Open Society is hardly the only New York-based foundation that has created new philanthropic efforts to tackle systemic racism and police violence.

The Robin Hood Foundation’s new Power Fund will exclusively support nonprofits run by people of color, with a goal of also expanding its portfolio to smaller organizations it may have overlooked. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced the creation of a new $10 million racial justice program to be included in its increased grantmaking budget. Darren Walker, who leads the Ford Foundation – which recently announced plans to increase its grantmaking by $1 billion, in part address racial justice – has also been encouraging philanthropists to take a more critical look at their work.

“The old playbook –  giving back through philanthropy as a way of ameliorating the effects of inequality –  cannot heal what ails our nation,” he wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed. “It cannot address the root causes of this inequality – what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.’”

Efforts particularly centered on funding nonprofits led by people of color also address a funding disparity that has persisted in philanthropy. Black and Latinx nonprofit leaders often struggle to get adequate funding, according to a report from Echoing Green and the Bridgespan Group released in May. Among organizations with similar focus on helping Black boys, Black nonprofit leaders had nearly half the revenue and unrestricted assets that were 91 percent lower than organizations with white leaders, the report states.

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.