In 2018, a group of Black philanthropic leaders came together over dinner to discuss how they could work together to build a network for Black philanthropy in Arkansas. As they sat around the table imagining a better future for the state, they decided to meet regularly to establish a plan on how to organize Black people and Black philanthropic dollars.
Fast forward to 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was having a disproportionate effect on Black Americans, and the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor led to increasingly urgent calls for racial justice across the nation and around the world. As a result, corporations began redirecting dollars to Black-led organizations and Black communities to combat systemic racism.
Arkansas was a beneficiary of these efforts. In December 2020, Facebook announced that the Arkansas Community Foundation would be among 20 community foundations across the U.S. to receive a $1 million grant to distribute to local nonprofits serving Black people and communities, with a preference for Black-led organizations. Around that same time, the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative was formalized through the Derek Lewis Foundation with seed funding provided by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Arkansas Community Foundation engaged the ABPC to spearhead what would become the Building Black Communities Fund. The ABPC got to work, and more than 40 Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits in central Arkansas received funds up to $25,000 in the summer of 2021.
From the initial brainstorming meeting over dinner to the partnerships that formed between three Arkansas-based foundations, the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative has been larger than one person or one organization from the start. It is the result of people coming together to solve some of our state’s biggest challenges.
We don’t have the solutions today. This will take time. But what we do have is a coalition of dedicated, Black philanthropic professionals willing to roll up their sleeves and work together to create positive change and equitable outcomes for Black communities across the state. We invite you to join us on this learning journey and pull up a seat at our table.