"The only way that these issues will stay in the public domain, the only way we'll advance equality and justice and liberation, is if philanthropy keeps the window open." - Kaci Patterson (AAIMM Steering Committee Member)
“Our issue is the sustainability and organizational resiliency of Black-led and Black-empowering organizations. We bring the worlds of philanthropy and community together to be in strategic relationship around the issue of Black equity for the long haul,” said Kaci Patterson, founder and chief architect of the Black Equity Collective (BEC), a grantee in our Leading for Power and Change portfolio.
Even though BEC officially launched in January 2021, the network has been operating for nearly four years under the name Black Equity Initiative. Since 2017, BEC has been supporting Black-led and Black-empowering organizations with grants, leadership development, capacity building and community building through convenings.
We spoke to Kaci Patterson on December 10, 2020, and were deeply inspired by BEC’s vision for Black equity and resiliency of Black-led community organizations. Among many things, we spoke about how philanthropy can support Black visionaries and leaders, what Black organizations really need to thrive and why stamina should be a requirement for philanthropy and deep rest a necessity for community leaders. Our conversation with Kaci Patterson has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kaci Patterson: The Collective was born out of the Black Equity Initiative, which was launched in 2017 with fifteen Black-led and Black-empowering organizations between Los Angeles and San Bernardino. We focused on three issue areas: education, workforce, and criminal justice. We did it as a cohort model, so in addition to the grants that the organizations received from our funder, the JIB Fund at JMC Philanthropy, I facilitated regular convenings over a four-year period.
The JIB Fund was focused on Black equity and was explicit and unapologetic about investing in Black people over time. But the organizations implored us to elevate this conversation in philanthropy overall. “It was wonderful that JIB gets it,” they told us, “but JIB can't be the only funder. How do we have a larger conversation about how Black people and Black issues get erased in larger community of color discussions? How do we ensure that we have specific, strategic and intentional investment in Black work?”
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