News & Event
When we, the Governing Board of Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), embraced racial equity as the core of our mission, we did so understanding that the road would be long. We have centuries of deeply entrenched systemic racism to address. Today we are called to accelerated action by the people of our community and nation who have been traumatized enough.
As a board and staff, we have been learning about the power and potential of racial equity over the past few years. Our staff and board have also become more representative of our community, we’ve diversified vendor and partner relationships and we are Queen City Certified in equitable employment practices.
GCF has had a longstanding commitment to racial equity, with investments in the Cincinnati Community Action Now (CAN) Initiative (2001), Better Together Cincinnati (2003), Minority Business Accelerator (2003), the development of the Collaborative Agreement (2002) and Community Problem-Oriented Policing (2003) and other important commitments throughout the years.
In the last few years, we have centered our focus on making our region a more equitable one for all. Recent investments to advance prosperity for people of color in our community have included the formation of All-In Cincinnati (2017), the Racial Equity Matters series (2018), partnering on the development of an affordable housing strategy for our region (2018-19) and the Giving Black: Cincinnati report (2018).
Yet we know there is more to do, with an even greater sense of urgency, especially in changing the systems, policies and practices that are preventing the progress of people of color.
Today we announce the expansion of our focus to advance justice and fairness in our community through our newly formed Fund for Racial Justice. We are making an initial commitment of $5 million over five years from existing resources and reserves. The GCF team will co-design the work of the fund with community partners and individuals directly impacted.
We are committed to creating a more equitable region for all and are doubling down on our efforts, because now is surely the time.
The Governing Board of Greater Cincinnati Foundation
CINCINNATI (September 24, 2020) — Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) has awarded $1 million to six area non-profits from its new Racial Justice Fund.
Established June 2020 with a commitment of $5 million over five years, the goal of the Racial Justice Fund is to advance matters of fairness and justice with a critical focus on the systems that affect the Black community, specifically criminal, economic and social justice. More broadly, the fund seeks to address the root causes of systemic racism in our community through policy change.
GCF supplemented its own research and data compilation by speaking directly with social justice organizations and community members about the region’s greatest needs and the work underway that could be accelerated with additional support.
“We are inspired by these passionate organizations that are on the ground, rallying against injustices and moving our community forward,” said Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO of GCF. “Through the Racial Justice Fund, we are excited to amplify their work.”
The current Racial Justice Fund grant recipients are:
Ohio Justice and Policy Center
Leading criminal justice reform entity in our state working to protect the rights and dignity of incarcerated people; the Racial Justice Fund will support operations and capacity building.
Ohio Transformation Fund
A funder’s collaborative committed to equity in Ohio and working on policy to reduce the number of Ohioans incarcerated; the Racial Justice Fund will support traditional and rapid response grants.
National Development Council (Technical Assistance)
Ensures black-owned businesses recover from COVID-19; the Racial Justice Fund and co-investment funds will support women-owned businesses & solopreneurs.
Coaches economically marginalized individuals to launch, maintain and grow enterprises; the Racial Justice Fund will support small business grants to Mortar’s network of alumni entrepreneurs facing closure and income loss due to COVID-19.
The Heights Movement
Resident-led organization serving the first predominately Black self-governing community north of the Mason-Dixon line (est. 1947); the Racial Justice Fund will support operations, advocacy efforts and help move the shooting range out of Lincoln Heights.
Queen’s Village of Cradle Cincinnati
A supportive network of Black women and an initiative of Cradle Cincinnati, this community empowers the voice of Black women around decision making and racial healing. The Racial Justice Fund will support operations and growth in the network’s social capital.
“Our initial grants signal the beginning of what is a multi-year commitment by the GCF Governing Board to address the root cause of inequity within our community,” said Delores Hargrove-Young, GCF Governing Board Chair. “We hope to inspire other funders and donors to join us in this effort.”
Through the Racial Justice Fund, GCF empowers non-profit partners to rely on their expertise to apply multi-year investments to programs or initiatives that will provide the greatest impact to our community.
In addition to making its initial investments, GCF is committed to including the voice of the community and those most impacted in this work. GCF has identified Black-led research and consulting firm Praxis Matters as its lead partner. Between now and the end of the year, Praxis Matters will host community conversations with grassroots organizations and residents to better understand the challenges surrounding racial justice work. Based on these insights, Praxis Matters will work with GCF to identify focus areas, needs and investment priorities to maximize the impact of the Racial Justice Fund moving forward.
Individuals interested in contributing to the Racial Justice Fund can go to gcfdn.org/racialjusticefund.
About Greater Cincinnati Foundation
As the region’s leading community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) connects people with purpose in an eight-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. GCF is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone — now, and for generations to come.
We must act now. Achieving racial equity is long overdue. We cannot allow inequities to continue and expect to thrive – as people or as a region. GCF has long embraced racial equity as the core of our mission; it has always been paramount. Now, the call to address centuries of systemic racism has been further amplified by the disparities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial divide across our nation. Now is the time.
It’s clear: to attain racial equity, we must focus on racial justice.
In June, GCF’s Governing Board boldly responded to the call for immediate action by establishing the Racial Justice Fund. With an initial commitment of $5 million over five years, the fund is intended to advance justice and fairness in our community. Utilizing a concept from our Racial Equity Matters training, we are committed to “groundwater” solutions – those which get to the root causes of racial inequities created and sustained by structural racism.
The results of our studies All-In Cincinnati: Equity Is the Path to Inclusive Prosperity and Giving Black: Cincinnati - A Legacy of Black Resistance & Stewardship provided the roadmap – the steps we must satisfy on our region’s equity journey. We’ve covered lots of ground on that journey already, but we still have a long way to go. Over the past few months, we have talked to grassroot organizations already doing this work, listened to those most directly affected and identified our lead partner, Praxis Matters, a black-led research and consulting firm. Their most recent work has focused on the disproportionate effects the criminal legal system has on the Black community. Praxis Matters will engage in community conversations to identify key themes and develop recommendations for the fund and its focus. We realize we do not have all the answers, but we are committed to investing more resources to build the capacity of organizations working for social and criminal justice.
To amplify our impact and drive systems change, join us by visiting www.gcfdn.org/racialjusticefund.
Equity training sessions will explore causes of racism, ways to pursue constructive dialogue
CINCINNATI (April 11, 2019) – Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is committed to bringing people in our community together to learn about racial equity through conversations that foster understanding and move us forward in impactful ways.
To advance that transformational goal, GCF is joining with community partners to host Racial Equity Matters, beginning with 10 learning opportunities throughout 2019. Racial Equity Institute (REI) will conduct the two-fold racial equity training: Groundwater, the half-day, recommended introductory content on racial equity that uses stories and data to illustrate the structural and cross-sector nature of racism; and Phase 1, a two-day session that provides talking points, historical factors and an organizational definition of racism.
“Because we believe the pursuit of racial equity is the work of our generation, GCF is investing in research, strategies and programs that show promise in reducing disparities,” said Ellen M. Katz, GCF President/CEO. “A key component in addressing these issues is understanding and getting comfortable talking about the impact of systemic racism. Racial Equity Matters will advance our collective understanding. The quality and depth of the content is truly impressive.”
Research — including the recent All-In Cincinnati report, produced in partnership with PolicyLink, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Interact for Health and community leaders — demonstrates that racial inequality hinders growth and economic mobility. As the region’s community foundation, GCF seeks to help build a stronger region where everyone can thrive, which is critical to Greater Cincinnati’s economic future.
Racial Equity Matters sessions will present thought-provoking material meant to open hearts and minds to new perspectives on race. The conversations sparked by that information, while at times demanding, can also lead to breakthrough, inspiring insights. GCF encourages organizations to sign up and attend in cohorts for the shared experience.
Past participants speak to the transformative power of the presentations:
“I participated in the Phase I training in the fall of 2018 and it was an immersive, eye-opening and deeply moving experience about what equity truly means,” affirmed Clare C. O’Brien, Treasurer of Impact 100 and Vice Chair of the May We Help Board. “One precious benefit of the training is that I’ve been connected with a group of passionate, diverse people and we are moving forward together in a shared journey of learning, support and empowerment.”
“Be prepared for an extraordinary educational experience that will fundamentally transform the way you approach and think about your work, personal relationships and community,” added Marla Morse, Program Coordinator, HealthPath Foundation of Ohio.
There is no charge to participate in Racial Equity Matters sessions. As a gift to the community, GCF and its generous partners and donors are underwriting first-year trainings costs to build community awareness about the program’s value to advance impactful communication.
Groundwater sessions — recommended to be taken prior to Phase 1 — will be conducted 1 to 4:30 p.m. on April 22, June 10, Sept. 25 and Nov. 20. Phase 1 sessions will be conducted 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 23-24, June 11-12, Aug. 22-23, Sept. 16-17, Oct. 21-22 and Nov. 21-22.
The April and June trainings will be held at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Registration for all sessions is open now. For more information and registration, visit www.GCFDN.org/REM.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation believes progress in reducing racial disparities is critical to the community's future and that philanthropy can have a unique and important role to play. Since April 2001 when Cincinnati erupted in civic unrest, GCF has played an increasing leadership role advancing racial equity with a number of partner organizations that share our values. As we reach our 50th Anniversary, it is appropriate to look back at this important work.
In 1992, GCF provided start-up operating support to the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati’s African American Leadership Development Program (AALDP). A second grant in 2008 helped AALDP expand to support a fulltime director. The Foundation also provided funding in 2006-2008 to help launch the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati's Rising Star Board Leadership Program which emphasizes racial awareness and justice.
In 2008, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the former Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network, was convened by GCF to help fill jobs that are in demand and help adults get the training they need to do these jobs. GCF has awarded grants of more than $600,000 to help close the employment gap in our region.
Soon after the 2001 civil unrest, Cincinnati's mayor announced plans to create the Cincinnati CAN commission to work on the underlying causes of racial disparities. GCF provided financial support and office space for CAN's operations, and committed $250,000 to help launch high-priority initiatives arising from CAN's community work.
In 2003, Better Together Cincinnati (BTC) was formed to help implement CAN's recommendations. With
GCF's leadership and a commitment of $500,000, a group of local funders provided more than $7 million in grants over a period of eight years to key initiatives in police/community relations, education and jobs to achieve greater equity in our community. The collaboration and lessons learned through BTC continue through the work of the Community Police Partnering Center, Partners for a Competitive
Workforce, The Strive Partnership, Place Matters and United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Success by 6®.
The Community Police Partnering Center (CPPC) grew out of the work of Cincinnati CAN. Through Better Together Cincinnati, GCF provided start-up and multi-year operating support for CPPC, and was part of the community team that tapped the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati as the permanent home for CPPC. In total, $2.25 million was invested by the BTC funders over more than a decade to improve police and community relations.
Since 2004, the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) has helped more than 35 businesses more than double the size of their workforce. An initiative of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the MBA helps minority-owned businesses grow strategically and access supply chain opportunities. A start-up grant from Better Together Cincinnati got the MBA up and running for its first three years of operations. In 2012, GCF provided additional grants and a loan to help launch The L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund which will provide "patient" capital to grow MBA portfolio businesses and jobs.
"The leadership role played by GCF in the 2001 civil unrest helped to calm the community and to bring about positive change embracing and celebrating our differences as well as our shared dreams for this great place we all call home."
GCF's former President/CEO
Published in The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's 2012 Annual Report
Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s (GCF) commitment to shared, meaningful conversations about racial equity has driven our Racial Equity Matters trainings this year. Partnerships with our generous donors have enabled us to schedule four Groundwater sessions (a three-hour introductory overview) and six two-day Phase 1 trainings that take a deeper dive into the historic manifestations and current consequences of racial inequities.
The sessions, conducted by the Racial Equity Institute (REI), have been booked to capacity, and we are grateful for that resounding response. So far this year, those numbers have included 351 participants representing 145 organizations.
As we host our third Phase 1 sessions of 2019 this week, we’re eager to share insights from previous attendees:
As a gift to the community, GCF and our generous partners and donors underwrote the cost of these first-year trainings to build community awareness about the program’s value. Even though this year’s Racial Equity Matters sessions are being offered at no charge, participants have donated $3,500 to support the cost of future trainings.
Currently, all of the Phase 1 training slots are filled through this year, but we are still accepting registrations for our Sept. 25 and Nov. 20 Groundwater sessions. Register here: https://www.gcfdn.org/REM
GCF will offer additional Racial Equity Matters trainings in 2020; stayed tuned for future dates. Because we believe in its transformative power, we invite you to join us in this demanding, rewarding work. For information about supporting Racial Equity Matters, please contact Michael A. Coffey, GCF Program Officer, at 513-768-6109 or Michael.Coffey@GCFdn.org.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is committed to conversations about racial equity that build connections and move us forward with enhanced insights and shared purpose. To help advance that imperative goal, GCF will offer a series of community-wide equity education events, conducted by the Racial Equity Institute (REI), to focus on understanding and addressing the root causes of racism.
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