IE's Black Equity Initiative Launches First Regional Black Equity Fund

By S. E. Williams, Black Voice News |

The Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Empire has launched the Black Equity Fund (BEF)—a regional, pooled fund with a preliminary goal of raising five million dollars over two years.

The quest for Black Equity is about more than the historic push for equality, it is about leveling the playing field in all aspects of Black life—from employment to healthcare, from education to criminal justice, from affordable housing to homeownership as a foundation for building inter-generational wealth, and beyond.

Equity is about fair and equal access to all the tools necessary to enable true self-determination for members of the African American community. It is not about a hand out, but a hand up–something the Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Region has focused on since its formation in 2014.

The Center for Social Innovation led by Professor Karthick Ramakrishnan at UC Riverside is a strategic data partner to both the Black Equity Initiative and the Black Equity Fund. It will provide research support to help motivate, inform, and learn from philanthropic investments in Black-led organizations in the Inland Empire.

Ramakrishnan sees the Inland Empire as a place where a lot of innovative things are happening and stressed, “[W]e can thank our Black-led organizations for leading the way on many important changes. For example, the coordinated advocacy of community partners helped push San Bernardino County to declare racism a public health crisis, and to ensure that these words will be followed up by meaningful action. Now, many other jurisdictions are doing the same.”

He continued, “ The Black Equity Fund is another major step in innovation, because it is designed in a way that gives significant power to the community, not the funders, in deciding how the program will be designed and how the dollars will be invested.”

Ramakrishnan went further in describing the Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Empire’s launching of the Black Equity Fund as, “[A] bold move for philanthropy, period.”

He stressed how the reality of it happening in the Inland Empire is a credit to the savvy of local Black-led organizations, as well as the thoughtful partnership of funders like The California Endowment, the Inland Empire Community Foundation, and the IE Funders Alliance.

“The Inland Empire is a center of innovation when it comes to advancing racial equity,” Ramakrishnan noted. “Our communities have come together in even more powerful ways after COVID-19 than they did previously.  We are grateful,” he stressed, “that our Center for Social Innovation can play a supportive role in all of this, especially in making sure that our data and research on racial disparities, as well as data we hope to gather on changes in philanthropic investments, will help ensure that funding for Black-led organizations remains strong.”

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