Eight Organizations Receive Centering Black Voices Grants

February 16, 2022

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The REACH Foundation this month announced $20,000 awards to eight nonprofit organizations through the foundation’s Centering Black Voices leadership and capacity development pilot. Five organizations were awarded a second year $20,000 grant; three organizations are new to the pilot in 2022.

The REACH Foundation introduced Centering Black Voices (CBV) in January 2021 to help improve access to philanthropic resources for Black nonprofit leaders and inform the foundation’s own learning in this area.

The selected nonprofit organizations receive an unrestricted grant of $20,000 and access to technical assistance and professional development to further their missions. A Kansas City-based consulting group, Rooted Strategy LLC, works with the cohort of leaders to identify areas for additional development.

Introduced in 2021, the Centering Black Voices pilot aims to elevate the work of Black leaders whose programs address health, social service supports and advocacy for critical issues in the Black community.

Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs at REACH, said philanthropy has long overlooked the talents and potential impact of organizations founded and led by Black leaders who bring lived experience with the health and racial justice issues affecting their communities.

“The CBV investments have infused new energy into the foundation’s Close the Health Equity Gap outcome investment area and propelled internal conversations about how the foundation’s grantmaking processes can expand, instead of contract, philanthropic investments in Black-led organizations,” said Gibson.

Gibson said the initial 2021 CBV grants helped organizations grow their staffs, improve technology usage, strengthen communications, and leverage other grants and contributions.

Plans for 2022 include introduction of a community practice framework that will provide a learning network and exchange, and opportunities for additional professional development. To help other Black leaders expand their knowledge base and form new connections and partnerships with their peers, Gibson said the intention is to invite other leaders in the community to participate in the learning network and exchange.

The following organizations have been awarded CBV grants for 2022:

New Grant Recipients 

Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, originally started in 1977, provides support to individuals, families and communities that have been affected by violence. Program supports include social services and victims services, mental health and prevention initiatives, help navigating law enforcement and criminal justice systems, community empowerment and related needs.

Lyrik’s Institution is a cognitive-based program that works to reduce crime and violence by helping youth understand destructive mental and behavioral approaches to community stress and trauma, and obtain the tools to adopt healthy behaviors. Lyrik’s provides school- and community-based programs that promote student engagement and academic success by engaging youth in creative arts and leadership development based in cognitive science.

The Transition Academy was founded by a parent who identified a need for resources and assistance for students with disabilities to explore college and employment options after high school. The Transition Academy works with students and families to help them develop post-high school plans and advocate for their students’ education and work needs, provides professional development for teachers, and supports young adults seeking life skills and independent living.

Second Year Grant Recipients

BlaqOut, A Grassroots Movement to End HIV/AIDS, works to eliminate discrimination and mistrust of the medical community among Black LGBTQ community members. BlaqOut advises on community research, provides free HIV testing and support groups, supports leadership development and conducts trainings for health providers on effective communications and support for individuals with HIV/AIDS.

KC Mothers in Charge got its start in 2013 in response to the original founder’s experience of losing a child to gun violence. The organization’s mission is to reduce violent crime through prevention, education and intervention and to guide and support the families of victims. KC Mothers in Charge provides trauma-informed crisis care for families, home visiting and monthly support groups and other check-ins for families of homicide victims, and offers group and individual counseling for survivors of non-fatal shootings.

Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet is a nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to amplifying the voices and power of Black women through education and advocacy so that they can effectively elevate issues and influence policy that can benefit Black women and other people. The organization serves as a convener, promotes participation in democratic processes, and creates systems for positioning and placing Black women in public- and private-sector leadership roles to broaden channels for elevating the voices of Black women.

Uzazi Village supports education, empowerment and programming for Black and Brown women aimed at eliminating health disparities in maternal and infant health in Black communities. Uzazi Village has established a Sister Doula program to train Black and Brown women as doulas; provides pre-natal home visiting, supports breastfeeding and offers an Afro-centric prenatal care model and medical education curricula specific to the needs of Black women.

Village Initiative Inc. helps formerly incarcerated individuals obtain mentoring, job training and other resources to reintegrate into society. Based in Wyandotte County, KS, the nonprofit also provides employment and drug and alcohol addiction counseling, parenting education, food assistance and other wrap-around services for returning citizens.

The Centering Black Voices pilot was developed in 2020 with the active engagement and counsel of three REACH Board members – Black leaders in health professions with extensive experience in addressing inequities in access to health care, and educational and leadership advancement. Board members Danielle Jones, Ph.D., Lynette Sparkman-Barnes, Psy.D., and Jerrihlyn McGee, D.N.P., R.N., C.N.E., continue to serve as advisors to the pilot.



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