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I joined the REACH Healthcare Foundation back in January 2022 as a Communications Intern. With my internship nearing the end of its term, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs, to learn more about Centering Black Voices (CBV). In our interview, we discussed what CBV is, the goals of the program for 2022 and 2023, and how CBV has shaped the lives of grantees.
Brenda Robinson, Communications Intern
The REACH Foundation introduced the Centering Black Voices pilot in January 2021 to improve access to philanthropic resources for Black nonprofit leaders. Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs, said philanthropy in the Kansas City region and across the country has undervalued the potential impact of organizations founded and led by Black leaders who have lived experience with health and racial justice concerns.
Gibson said the aim of CBV is to break down the barriers Black nonprofit leaders face in philanthropy by increasing access to philanthropic resources. Each selected nonprofit organization receives an unrestricted grant of $20,000 along with access to technical assistance and professional development to further their missions. Additionally, REACH draws on local consultants and creates learning experiences to help these nonprofit leaders expand their knowledge base and form new partnerships with their peers.
Now in its second year, Gibson said she is working In partnership with the selected nonprofit organizations to continually develop the pilot to ensure participants have a meaningful experience. REACH increased the number of partner organizations for 2022, introducing three new organizations to the cohort and adding additional programming to aid all eight partners.
The impacts of CBV have varied for each organization due to the uniqueness and flexibility of the program offerings. “The beauty in what we do is that it is individualized, and every organization is on their own journey,” said Gibson. “I think it has been life-changing for all but at different degrees, which is the point of what we are doing.”
Restoring the issues created by underinvestment and underserving the Black community is also significant for REACH. “It has been impactful for us as a foundation because we are learning from them. Through our partnerships with Black community leaders, we are repairing some of the barriers that the foundation may have contributed to in the past.”
Even during the height of COVID-19 in 2021, REACH still strived to remove funding barriers for minority communities through emergency response and recovery funding. With additional support from REACH, CBV partner organizations pivoted quickly to serve their clients amid the pandemic, resulting in innovative solutions to address community needs such as telehealth services and food delivery. Further, many new partnerships formed between organizations from the growing demand for assistance in the community. “The nonprofit community stepped up and said, ‘Whatever they need, we will do it,'” said Gibson.
In 2023, Gibson aims to add new CBV partners and find ways to integrate learning from the program into the foundation’s grantmaking. “We hope to diversify our core operating pool in 2023, so it only makes sense to look at our CBV partner organizations and move some of these organizations into that pool,” said Gibson. In the future, Gibson hopes to see other funding organizations replicate the work CBV has undertaken thus far. Gibson said REACH will continue to partner and invest in the Black community but wants other funders to be a part of breaking the barriers, too.