California Black Freedom Fund launches $100 million initiative to support 'Black-led organizing'

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is among the fund's supporters.

February 5, 2021, 1:35 PM

The California Black Freedom Fund has set the goal of raising $100 million over the next five years from various sponsors to directly support "Black-led power-building organizations," it announced this week.

The initiative has received backing from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan's philanthropic organization, and has amassed an initial investment of some $34.2 million.

In this Feb. 25, 2016, file photo, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of the social media platform Facebook, and his wife Pricilla Chan pose for a photo before an event in Berlin.
Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images, FILE

The fund aims to provide Black-led community organizing efforts in the Golden State with the "sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism," according to a statement released Thursday.

"Building a better future for everyone starts with centering those who have been politically, socially, and economically marginalized," Chan, a co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said in a statement. "We support the California Black Freedom Fund and its work to ensure that Black-led organizations and movements have the power, resources, and recognition to continue their missions and make racial equity a reality in California."

The initiative comes after a year marked by protests over police brutality against Black Americans that sparked a nationwide reckoning over longstanding systemic racism.

In this June 2, 2020, file photo, protestors gather in front of a row of LAPD officers during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Hollywood, Calif.
Agustin Paullier/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

It also comes as the coronavirus pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on Black communities, further exposing racial inequities in the U.S.

"To make racial justice and equity real in California, philanthropy needs to elevate its investments in Black organizers that are focused on advocacy, organizing and holding our institutions accountable -- something that we call power-building," Lateefah Simon, a supporter of the initiative and the president of the Oakland-based racial justice organization the Akonadi Foundation, said in a statement.

"The vision of the California Black Freedom Fund is to bring justice to our communities by making sure Black-led organizations are sufficiently supported and strong, and their leaders are galvanized," Simon added.

Fellow supporter of the fund Cathy Cha, the CEO of the charitable grant foundation the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, added, "Over the past year, we've seen Black communities across the country step up boldly as the conscience of our nation to challenge the status quo."

She stated the new fund represents an "opportunity to build on that momentum and support Black-led organizations and a movement that can keep racial justice front and center and reimagine a better future for all of us."

The California Black Freedom Fund will begin by investing $6 million in three groups: the Black Census and Redistricting Hub (an organization that aims to maximize census participation in Black communities), the Black Equity Collective (a group that supports the long-term infrastructure of Black-led social justice organizations), and PICO California's Live Free/Bring the H.E.A.T. (a collective advocating for overhauls to the current policing system).

The freedom fund has already garnered a slew of private sector supporters, including JPMorgan Chase, and aims to reach its $100 million goal through further corporate and individual donations.