By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
In 2020 the Board of Trustees of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation approved plans for an Equity & Access Initiative to address the concerns of those Toledo area communities that are adversely affected to such a large extent by inequity and lack of access to resources available to the general community.
Over the last year, the Foundation has awarded $262,480 in grants through two rounds of funding to nine area nonprofit organizations.
In March of this year the Board voted to commit an additional $300,000 over the next three years to local nonprofits that are typically minority-led and that are committed to the work of lifting up individuals and groups in communities that are underserved.
“We want to remove barriers, particularly for nonprofits that serve such communities,” said Artisha Lawson, program officer at the Foundation and the lead staff person on this initiative fund. “We are scaling up to reach nonprofits that have never applied before or have not considered applying.”
As Lawson explained the reasoning behind the board’s decision, the Foundation has long been in the practice of focusing on areas or communities in which a lack of equity exists. However, so many smaller, minority-led groups which service those communities have not reached out to explore the opportunities offered by the Foundation.
“We have over 40 competitive grants,” she said. “And the majority already align with our diversity and equity goals. However, there are groups that work on these matters who may not think they are eligible and therefore have not applied.”
The impetus for the Equity & Access Initiative Fund said Board Member Pariss Coleman was the turmoil in the nation in the wake of the George Floyd murder.
“It was 2020, George Floyd had been killed and there were a lot of corporate statements from CEOs around the world. At the Foundation Board, we were having discussions about the state of civil rights and about police violence against Black men,” recalled Coleman.
“Keith Burwell [CEO of the Foundation] said: ‘rather than make a statement, we need to do something.’”
What evolved from that discussion, said Coleman, was a plan to reach out to those small, mainly minority-led nonprofits that exist to serve their communities and an effort “to do what we can to educate the minority community about the Foundation.”
Those smaller nonprofits, said Coleman, introduced to the Foundation through the Equity & Access Initiative Fund, would develop the opportunity and the capacity to become eligible for ongoing grants in the future
More information about GTCF’s Equity & Access Initiative Fund can be found at www.toledocf.org/equity-access-initiative/. The grant opportunity will opened for applications on
May 2, 2022 and will close on July 2, 2022. The GTCF Board will have the final determination of funding, with those decisions announced in early October, 2022.