While more conscientious efforts to fund women continue to grow, the statistics are still staggering, especially for black women. Additionally, looking at the micro-level of funding for women, black girls, women and broad gender youth receive even lower monetary support. In 2020, Ms. Foundation for Women published a historical report share statistics on philanthropic giving for women and girls of color. Black women and girls receive just 0.5% of the $66.9 billion from foundations, totaling just $5.48 per woman and girl of color in the United States. As more donors and organizations become aware of the lack of resources available to underserved recipients, more programs, initiatives and grants are being created to address misappropriated funds.
Dr. Monique Morris, President and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) and co-founder of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign, and her team created the Black Girl Freedom Fund (BGFF), a initiative of G4GC which invests in black girls. The Fund just announced its second round of grants totaling more than $4 million to 68 organizations across the United States whose work promotes and expands the leadership and organizing power of Black girls, women, and youth. broad genus. They were chosen by six black girls and gender-wide youth from the BGFF Grantmaking Council, aged 14-22. Some of the organizations areas of expertise include STEAM education, career opportunities, sports, and financial and economic literacy.
The Fund is part of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign, which aims to invest $1 billion in black girls by 2030. It uplifts these underrepresented communities by mobilizing investments in their innovation, health, safety, education , their artistic visions, their research and their joy.
“One billion [dollars] was inspired by data from the Ms. Foundation report,” says Morris. “We started thinking about what girls of color in general, and black girls in particular, are giving to conversations about fairness and justice in this country; it wasn’t just woeful underinvestment, it was insulting disregard. So we wanted to challenge ourselves to do better. We wanted to challenge philanthropy to do better. We wanted to state that we know it is possible to generate $1 billion specifically focused on the well-being of black girls and women over ten years. …to think about how we cultivate the ways that black girls and women already show up in their communities…because they deserve to be invested in themselves.
From the time Morris was in high school, she was involved in educational justice and advocacy programs. She then focused her efforts on the research component of social justice campaigns and practices. Interested in the intersection of race, gender and justice, she noticed gaps in the research, which prompted her to ask more questions. Her curiosity led her to research juvenile justice systems, which brought her into contact with many young people of all genders who have been detained and incarcerated for their reaction to the conditions in their lives. Morris wanted to identify the goal of finding a cure for these conditions.
Through her experience, Morris has written five books and co-written and produced a documentary, PUSHOUT: The criminalization of black girls in schools, based on two of his books. Additionally, she founded the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, a nonprofit organization that engages in research, training, and technical assistance to combat the criminalization of Black women and girls across the country.
During this time, the NoVo Foundation launched G4GC and successfully convened 100 donors from the United States. Immersed in the philanthropic community, the Foundation invited Morris to address the first call of G4GC as the organizing body. In 2020, Morris became its first executive director. A year later, his title changed to President and CEO. Two years ago, G4GC became its own institution separating itself from the NoVo Foundation.
“It’s important to center the voices of those affected by the investigation,” says Morris. “We have started building our funds. As I started to get into philanthropy, I had a deep question about how philanthropy mobilized resources. How resources have been defined and how we could be broader in our definitions to ensure we reach those who have historically been marginalized by conversations about investing and equity.
Over $500,000 has been disbursed to six organizations in the Fund’s first round of disbursements. Additionally, over $20 million was raised in investments in the first year of the campaign. The campaign is a mobilization effort within philanthropy, not only through G4GC and BGFF, but in partnership with other organizations and foundations. As the Fund grows, it also builds an infrastructure to help Black girls have a better relationship with money and understand how to use it in business allocation.
As Morris and her team continue to develop and expand the Campaign and Fund, they are focused on how investing in gender-expanded Black girls, women and youth will transform society:
- By investing in black girls and women, you deepen the rigor associated with society’s understanding of critical issues. It sharpens our ability to develop more holistic approaches that support societal well-being.
- This will force us to explore how investment in social issues should include their work, participation and engagement. Then they can articulate what a cure looks like for those conditions.
- Black girls will continue to uplift those around them without neglecting their needs; they will empower their communities.
Cidra M. Sebastien, head of the BGFF, adds: “It’s not about what black girls should do. It’s about what we have to do to show that we believe in it. There needs to be funding behind it. There must be a policy behind it. There has to be an intentional action that comes from a place of honoring black girls and gender broad youth. … When we invest in black girls and gender broad youth, we are in fact investing in our collective future.