“Community-Powered Philanthropy”

“Community-Powered Philanthropy”: Local Committees of Black Canadians Select Over 100 Projects for Funding through the Foundation for Black Communities’ Inaugural Black Ideas Grant

Gratitude and Recognition

We wish to express our deepest gratitude to all the dedicated and passionate Black community members from across Canada who helped shape and design the Foundation for Black Communities’ (FFBC) inaugural Black Ideas Grant (B.I.G.): Bridge and Build 2023. We witnessed hundreds of community members across every province step up to join local Community Selection Circles. We commend their commitment, meticulous diligence, and exemplary leadership in adjudicating and selecting projects that are sure to have a significant impact not only across Canada but also within their very own communities.

We also want to acknowledge and extend our appreciation to every applicant for your effort and engagement. We received over 2,000 applications, showcasing a diverse range of innovative ideas and the vibrant dedication present within Black-led nonprofits and charities across Canada. Each application was a testament to the passion and commitment that drive your missions. We are profoundly moved and inspired by the diversity and quality of your proposals, showcasing the incredible breadth of impactful work being undertaken by you – alongside and for our communities.  

Facing Our Challenges

For our inaugural Black Ideas Grant, the request for funding drastically exceeded the resources available, with proposals exceeding $203 million in funding requests against the $9 million available for distribution. This overwhelming demand has highlighted a stark reality: just under 2,000 critical programs will remain unfunded for this call for proposals. This stark reality underscores the findings of our 2020 research report, “Unfunded,”  which revealed substantial underinvestment and under resourcing of Black-led, Black-focused, and Black-serving non-profits and charitable groups in Canada.

Our Ongoing Efforts to Further Support Community

FFBC remains firmly committed to supporting you and all the incredible organizations that are stepping up and delivering unwavering support and programming to meet our most pressing challenges.  Our learnings from this round of funding have shaped our ongoing commitments. Actions stemming from the 2023 Black Ideas Grant include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Actively connecting grant applicants with other funders to help uncover new funding opportunities;
  • Collaborating with funders to create new funding partnerships; and
  • Recommending non-funded projects to be assessed by foundations and funders for upcoming call for proposals.  

A Call to Action

There is still much to be done and collective action is needed. FFBC extends a broadened call to action to our fellow philanthropic organizations, the private sector, and federal, provincial, and municipal governments. We urge increased support for Black-led initiatives through:

  • Creating specific and targeted funding opportunities for Black communities;
  • Focusing on hiring more Black employees across all levels of organizations;
  • Shifting the power of funding decisions directly to the communities affected, ensuring those who are most impacted have a voice in shaping solutions; and 
  • Recruiting Black community members onto Boards to provide governance that is truly representative and informed by those we aim to support.

Together, We Make a Difference

By joining forces across multiple sectors, we can address these funding disparities and ensure Black-led nonprofits and charities have the necessary resources to thrive and meet the diverse needs of our communities. FFBC remains ready to collaborate with all stakeholders committed to this mission and stands ready to work with you to forge a more inclusive future.

Looking Ahead

We look forward to announcing the over 100 projects selected by the local Community Selection Circles. These incredible projects span from coast to coast and offer brilliant and critical solutions to a variety of issue areas, including housing, food security, health and wellbeing, economic empowerment, arts, culture, and so much more. We are thrilled and proud to partner with these organizations and look forward to the impact they will have on our communities.

Acknowledgments

Finally, we want to thank the hundreds of Black community members from across the country who have provided their expertise and voices to help design the Black Ideas Grant and serve as local Community Selection Circle members.  Community Selection Circle members dedicated significant time and effort in reviewing, adjudicating, and selecting the final recipients for funding within their own respective communities. Their participation is a testament to our shared belief in the ability of Black communities to understand the needs and solutions required in their own communities, to know what is best for them, and to hold the power to invest in themselves. This is the heart of trust-based philanthropy and will remain the driving force of FFBC today and into the future.

Thank You

Once again, thank you to every applicant and community member for your understanding and continued trust in our mission. We are committed to your success and to the broader vision of a future where Black communities have the resources to self-determine their own solutions-making and thrive.

Black@TED: FFBC’s Milestone Partnership with TED

Black@TED: FFBC’s partnership with TED – a significant milestone in our shared commitment to fostering diversity, empowerment, and positive change for Black Communities worldwide.

Black@TED

FFBC is thrilled to announce our partnership with TED, Black@TED, marking a significant milestone in our shared commitment to fostering diversity, empowerment, and positive change for Black Communities worldwide.

Rebecca Darwant, FFBC Co-Founder and Board Member

At the heart of FFBC lies a commitment to invest in Black communities and to be a catalyst for systemic change — and to ensure this commitment is shared broadly by all. Our journey is one of innovation, advocacy, and unyielding dedication to rectify underinvestment in Black communities — a testament to the power of proactive engagement and action. 

“At the core of our partnership lies a shared vision to amplify Black voices and ideas. Together, we are embarking on an extraordinary journey to enhance the TED experience for Black attendees. At TED2024, Black@TED provides a platform for Black TED attendees to forge meaningful connections, strengthen allyship, and engage in thought-provoking discussions inspired by the conference and beyond.”

Leah Sanford, Director of Communications, on behalf of FFBC

Partnerships with TED are not merely transactions; they are transformative experiences. Leveraging TED’s global platform and its progressive approach to education and learning through storytelling, this collaboration has the power to reshape narratives, shift cultures, and inspire a community of Black TED attendees, allies, and local community members to collectively create societal and systemic change. 

“TED is excited to partner with the Foundation for Black Communities for the upcomingTED2024 Conference! This collaboration isn’t just about amplifying Black voices and ideas – it’s about creating vibrant spaces where the Black@TED community can thrive and grow. Together we’re not just building networks, but igniting conversations, forging connections, and championing change makers who are redefining what’s possible and are helping to pave the way for a future where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.  FFBC brings a vision that truly resonates with us – an idea changes everything – and we are thrilled to join forces and make it a reality through our work together.”

Monique Ruff Bell, TED Chief Program & Strategy Officer

Farewell Lunch at TEDWomen 2023: Two Steps Forward. October 11-13, 2023, Atlanta, GA. Photo: Erin Lubin / TED

Join us in celebrating this momentous partnership! 

If you are attending TED2024, please join us for the following Black@TED events: 

Black@TED welcome meetup
Monday, April 15, 3:00PM – 4:30PM PDT

Black@TED reception dinner
Wednesday, April 17, 7:00PM – 10:00PM PDT

Black@TED closing meetup
Thursday, April 18, 3:30PM – 4:30PM PDT

FFBC extends our heartfelt gratitude to TED – together, we are building a global community that thrives on dialogue, connection, and collective impact for years to come. 

Modeling Good Governance

The Diets of Society

Amidst the ongoing social and political turmoil surrounding housing, those in positions of power overlook conversations about ending the housing crisis that seeps into every aspect of our communities. It is the people – organizations such as Aspire for Higher (A4H), who are on the front lines attempting to be a part of a design reformation for Black and racialized communities. How can we leverage resources to address a neglected community’s housing and service needs?

Access emerges as a primary concern in serving Black, and racialized communities, encompassing areas such as healthcare, affordable housing, and community resources. Recognizing the interconnectedness of these crucial aspects, Eldon Holder, Vice-President of Social Impact & Stakeholder Engagement for Aspire for Higher (A4H), has been inspired to unite and address these pressing needs. 

“The activities we undertook for the project involved a multi-phased approach to design, analyze, structure, market, and implement a community bond product for our A4H social purpose real estate project.”

It is a wonder how at times, a sense of calling can demand more from people, propelling them to become activists and catalysts for change in systems that have let them down. While the overcrowding of limitations in healthcare, housing, resources, food insecurity, job insecurity, and more remains a significant concern for the general public, it seems to have become less of a priority for those in positions of power to address and make these factors accessible to all. These issues are the diets of society, often amplified by caste systems where varying economic statuses determine who benefits most.  

To Bridge and to Build

To guarantee better understanding, is to bridge culture gaps. Gaps reveal the misunderstandings of community needs, community spaces, and the cause and effect of neglect. Aspire for Higher aims to create a social impact by setting an example and demonstrating compassion towards those who contribute to society through their livelihoods. They establish a precedent for community perception. Emboldening good governance. 

Through support, Aspire for Higher set out to conduct a community engagement design strategy to identify the community’s needs and outline the breadth of the affordable housing and wellness facility project. 

“Our holistic approach successfully created a sustainable and inclusive model for social purpose real estate development.” 

For systems to deny the requests of people leaves sentimental moods of disappointment and frustration, fostering a sense of detachment from the community. People may feel marginalized and excluded, as if they’ve been pushed to the outskirts. It suggests a growing concern that a society that neglects certain types of communities, seeks to gentrify not only places but also people, eroding diversity and individuality in the process. 

The housing crisis disproportionately impacts Black communities in Canada. They are typically those who are most under-housed outside of core housing needs and have the greatest barriers. In some cases, to access housing. We’re on a mission to solve that challenge through building and acquiring and retrofitting homes to accommodate the needs of Black and other marginalized groups. Increased funding will help us do that and advance that cause. 

A community-oriented strategy allows residents to not only feel appreciated, but to preserve the identity of the physical fabric of neighborhoods. The outer appearances of spaces are imprints of the heart and soul of people. 

By involving residents in the design process, we were able to learn together. The project now fosters a sense of ownership and pride among our network of families and community members. This empowerment, we hope will lead to increased community engagement and a stronger commitment to the success of the project.

“Our future plans for the organization are three-fold: We have a mission to build a wellness facility for Black communities and for Black families to be able to have holistic access to healthcare services. We’ve built the Black healthcare professional network over the last three years and launched the Black healthcare directory, so individuals can find where these healthcare professionals are, who identify with their professional background. The next step in the future is to build a facility that houses these individuals.”  

Materialized Seeds 

Aspire for Higher’s mission is meant to be generational. It’s the epitome of dreams realized. Community members aim to seek comfort and solace in the places they frequent and the houses they call homes. Striving for greater and more meaningful impact within Black communities, Aspire for Higher embodies the value of good governance and its role in shaping our collective efforts in community activism. We can all add to the seeds that they’ve sowed.  

I’ve been part of the work to get the foundation in place, I’ve done a lot of community work to have something like this. This is an opportunity to see the seeds you planted five ten fifteen years ago have materialized into something that is very real and very tangible, and that will hopefully be of value to the community for generations to come. Personally, it feels like a win in a very long game. 

Accessing a way through a compromised food system

The Importance of Recognition  

It’s a rigorous fight when tackling food insecurity, since the global food ecosystem is riddled in prejudice. Black food entrepreneurs face demeaning trials as they seek access for support and funding. They, in fact, grapple with a system that impedes their progress. The data reveals that the Black representation in the food industry only accounts for 4.9%, further highlighting the stark reality of their marginalization. Painting Black communities as second-class citizens. It is a stirring reminder of the systemic biases that undermine the recognition of the historical significance of Black entrepreneurs. Perpetuating their disenfranchisement within the industry.     

Janice Bartley, founder of Foodpreneur Lab, punctuates the critical issue of access to land. She outlines the barriers faced by Black food entrepreneurs. These calculated obstacles, that often red tape Black farmers, hinder their ability to secure funding; creating more lags in the system. The Foodprenur Lab, is a digital platform that aims to connect Black Foodpreneurs & Suppliers, to consumer-packaged goods producers. Janice envisions Foodpreneur as the premier hub for food knowledge. A place that garners valuable information, abundant resources, and a network of supportive community members.  

Seeing that there is a national demand to reform a complex food system, Janice has found herself in a position to help mitigate a simpler path for Black food entrepreneurs.

We’re trying to minimize the risk for them. Really teach them what the food ecosystem looks like and where opportunities lie for them to scale.  

With three decades of entrepreneurship experience, running accelerators and incubators, Janice is well-equipped to offer knowledge, support individuals in vulnerable situations, and help them access the right resources. 

A Bootstrap Narrative 

When the data shows you that you represent only a fraction of a larger sample, it can be easy to internalize this as a reflection of your worth; that this somehow represents who you are and how much you contribute. Thereby constraining your sense of possibility and potential. 

Historical teachings often pin the story of a Black entrepreneur as synonymous with the bootstrap narrative, perpetuating the notion that success can only be achieved through individual effort. This narrative overlooks the systemic structures that perpetuate inequality, ensuring that for someone to rise to the top, someone else must inevitably occupy the bottom rung of the ladder. 

So, how can we shift the bootstrap narrative into one where Black farmers are integrated into a broader context where the playing field is leveled, ensuring equitable practices? Where access to land is readily accessible with adequate support and mentorship. When will Black farmers be recognized as essential partners in securing quality food and addressing the deficiencies of a faltering food system? 

Foodpreneur Lab, has supported 154 Black farmers across Canada, creating bonds and community while sharing similar experiences when navigating the food industry. To gain a greater perspective of what Black entrepreneurs bear witness to, they’ve conducted the Africulture Study. The study features their overlooked contributions to the agricultural landscape. The approach included a literature review, food security survey, and focus group discussions.   

Hearing the perspectives of 1000 Black Canadians on food security brought a rich tapestry of experiences to light, underscoring the diverse challenges faced. Yet, perhaps most impactful, was the crafting of recommendations born from these interactions, meticulously tailored to the specific desires and needs of Black farmers. It’s more than just data; it’s the essence of understanding, empathy, and a commitment to creating positive change. In essence, our achievements go beyond statistics – they embody a genuine connection, a shared narrative, and a roadmap for a more inclusive and supportive future for Black farmers in Canada. 

The Power of Persistence
In Janice’s view, “food is the new currency.” Food insecurity also represents a significant aspect of economic hardship, particularly when access to affordable, nutritious options is restricted in certain communities. Black farmers are cultivating food to alleviate the burden of food insecurity. However, it takes a lot to voice this denigrating dilemma. It takes the voices of a community to expose and express their lived experiences in this plight.

Nobody is listening. At some point, the more you talk, the more people start to pay attention. Because you’re not going away.

Accessing a way through a compromised food system forces individuals to overcome and bootstrap unnecessary obstacles. Access to quality, affordable food is a fundamental human right. Moreover, it is essential for Black farmers to access opportunities to grow food that resonates with their cultural heritage and nourish their communities. As Janice put it, “to humanize, and legitimize.” 

Foundation for Black Communities Launches Historic Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Foundation for Black Communities Launches Historic Grant 

Flagship ‘”Black Ideas Grant: Bridge and Build 2023” to Support Black Communities in Canada  

Canada – December 18, 2023 – The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) has launched a historic grant, aiming to provide critically-needed funds to Black-led, serving, and focused (B3) organizations in Canada. B.I.G. The Black Ideas Grant: Bridge and Build 2023 provides one-year flexible funding to increase the capacity and program-related supports of B3 charitable and non-profits as they combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes for Black communities.

B3 non-profit and charity organizations stand as pillars of strength and support to Black communities across Canada. FFBC celebrates and will continue to invest in their crucial role in cultivating Black communities that are healthy, vibrant, and thriving. 

“The Black Ideas Grant is an example of how FFBC is investing in Black communities and connecting Black organizations and changemakers on the ground with new and sustainable resources that can ensure their services and supports continue to meet the needs of our community. This investment will advance our mission to remove barriers and improve the socio-economic outcomes for Black communities.”

Liban Abokor, Foundation for Black Communities Board Co-Chair

By March 31st, 2024, FFBC aims to allocate $9 million in grants through its Black Ideas Grant which focuses on the diverse needs, self-determination, and aspirations of Black communities. The grant is split into three streams: the Core Stream, Catapult Stream, and Community Capital Stream, offering up to $40,000, $100,000, and $250,000 respectively to qualifying organizations. 

FFBC was founded on the goal of supporting community organizations working to overcome the systemic barriers faced by Black communities. The Black Ideas Grant is an important new tool in FFBC’s strategy to ensure Black community organizations have the sustainable funding and resources they need to meet the needs of Black Canadian communities. 

“When we include people, Canada wins. Through the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, we’re creating a sustainable source of funding for Black-led not-for-profit organizations, ensuring they have the means to address their priorities. This initiative aims to improve the social and economic outcomes of Black communities across the country and supports the engagements we have undertaken during the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.”

Kamal Khera, federal Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities

FFBC is holding online virtual information sessions to further explain the aims and objectives of the Black Ideas Grant as well as to provide greater details on the application process, eligibility, and the selection assessment. FFBC’s website will also offer translated version of the Application Guides, Eligibility Criteria, Processes, and FAQs in English, French, Somali, Yoruba, Amharic, Tigrigna, and Spanish.  

Important Dates: 

Applications open  Informational  Webinars  Applications close  Successful applicants announced 
December 18th, 2023  December 19, 21 2023 and January 16, 18, 2024 February 1st, 2024  March 2024

Applications open on December 18, 2023 and must be submitted by February 1, 2024, at 11:59 PM PT. Qualifying organizations are encouraged to visit the FFBC’s web page to learn more about the Black Ideas Grant and apply. 

 

About the Foundation for Black Communities:
The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) was established to ensure every Black person can thrive and all Black communities have agency in defining their own future. Founded in 2020, FFBC is Canada’s first-ever philanthropic foundation dedicated to ensuring that Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-focused organizations have the sustained resources needed to make a meaningful impact. 

Media Contact:
Leah Sanford
Director of Communications
info@forblackcommunities.org 

Applicant Contact:
For more information, prospective applicants may email fund@forblackcommunities.org  or schedule a call with an FFBC Grant Specialist by clicking here.

A strong foundation for Canadian philanthropy to shift capital to Black communities

A strong foundation for Canadian philanthropy to shift capital to Black communities.

Less than 0.1% of philanthropic funding in Canada is going to Black-led organizations. 

The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) came to fruition from perseverance and leadership of Black philanthropic leaders. This organization was created for, and driven by, Black communities in Canada; it exists to ensure their flourishing and self-determination. At Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside FFBC. 

In 2021, the groundbreaking Unfunded Report  from the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University drew stark attention to the systemic underfunding of Black-led and Black-serving organizations by foundations in Canada. The report found that between 2017 and 2018, grants to Black-serving organizations represented only 0.7 percent of total grants and grants to Black-led organizations were only 0.07 percent of total grants made in the same period. 

In response to the data and recommendation in the Unfunded Report , FFBC was established as the first of its kind, Black-led, Black-serving community grant-maker, convener, and —  for a growing network of philanthropic organizations like CFC — a partner in addressing this systemic inequity. They are working to ensure that Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-focused non-profit, charitable, and grassroots organizations have the sustained resources and infrastructures they need to make a meaningful impact. In recognition of their critical role in shifting capital to Black-led and Black-serving organizations the Government of Canada selected FFBC to administer the $200 million Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund. Their work has also been supported by many community foundations including Vancouver Foundation as an Allied Foundation Partner. 

Since its establishment, FFBC has worked in close collaboration with CFC to respond to systemic racism and advance Black-led solutions to pressing community challenges. In collaboration, we have: developed and modeled new grantmaking systems and processes that centre equity and address critical gaps identified in the Unfunded Report, partnered to support the implementation of the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program (IRP), a $50 million fund designed to support social purpose organizations, supported the development of strong regional partnerships between FFBC and local community foundations, and partnered to support educational programming for foundations, including through CFC’s 2021 ALL IN Summit and RECONNECT 2023 Conference. 

“Community foundations not only anchor local communities but also bridge connections between them. Being a part of this movement is both profound and transformative, allowing us to become part of a network of individuals who share our values regarding local, community-centered decision-making. This network sheds light on solutions to combat inequities such as Anti-Black racism, spanning from coast to coast.”

  • Liban Abokor, Board Chair , Foundation for Black Communities 

FFBC is Canada’s first-ever philanthropic foundation that exists to ensure that every Black community in Canada can thrive and have agency in defining their own future. At CFC, we see the work they are doing and want to be part of the solution. The opportunity to work in partnership with FFBC has strengthened CFC’s efforts as well as those of Canada’s community foundations, and provided a strong foundation for Canadian philanthropy to shift capital to Black communities. Following the leadership of the FFBC, we have a unique opportunity to ensure Black communities have the resources and organizations necessary to shape their own solution-making and self-determination. 

Philanthropy exists to support and serve communities— communities that are defined by geography, language, race, culture, gender identity and more. We are thrilled to welcome FFBC as a member of CFC. They join an incredible and growing network that works across all intersections of community. In recent years, we have been fortunate to welcome and work collaboratively with foundations such as La Fondation franco-albertaine and The Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation who are serving communities at the intersection of identity and geography.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming FFBC to the network of community foundations working coast to coast to coast. Our work together supports us  to shift how we do and think about philanthropy. FFBC demonstrates how community can be defined by where you live, who you are and how you are connected to the people around you.  We look forward to how FFBC will inspire us and the network of community foundations in how we work and better serve Black communities.’

  • Andrea Dicks, President, Community Foundations of Canada

The strength of our network of community foundations is our diversity as we continue to pursue a future where everyone belongs. Working with community foundations throughout the network, we look forward to supporting and working alongside FFBC in their mandate to serve Black people in Canada. We are excited for the perspectives they will bring, and how they will inspire all of us to look at our processes, granting and how it impacts Black communities across the country. In partnership with FFBC’s leadership, we can increase funding the Black-serving and Black-led organizations from coast to coast to coast. 

Foundation for Black Communities Increases Grassroots Recreation Opportunities For Ontario’s Black Youth

For Immediate Release 

Foundation for Black Communities Increases Grassroots Recreation Opportunities For Ontario’s Black Youth 

The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) is pleased to announce 20 additional recipients from the original pool of applicants of the Ontario Youth Wellness Grant, Explore stream.

Funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport of up to $500,000 will support active recreation youth wellness projects or Black-focused, Black-led youth initiatives.

“The investment in 20 projects by the Ontario Government will help us to continue to enhance support to Black-led and Black-focused community organizations as well as learn more about the needs of Black youth through these innovative projects,” said Gladys Ahovi, President & CEO, Foundation for Black Communities.

The Ontario Youth Wellness Grant’s objectives are to:

  • Increase the quantity and improve the quality of wellness programs for Black youth (ages 6-29) in Ontario.
  • Increase the capacity of Ontario’s Black organizations and leaders.
  • Provide opportunities for organizational growth.
  • Support planning and piloting of new ideas that channel sports and recreation to positively impact Ontario’s Black youth.

“The Foundation for Black Communities plays a vital role in supporting safe and inclusive sport and recreation programming for Black children and youth across the province,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “The Ontario government is proud to provide this funding to expand opportunities for Black youth in Ontario to experience all the benefits that stem from participating in sport.”

The full list of recipients can be found here: 

Recipients

About the Foundation for Black Communities

The Foundation for Black Communities invests in change-making, working alongside the Canadian community, philanthropic, political, and business organizations to ensure that Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-focused non-profit, charitable, and grassroots organizations have the sustained resources and infrastructure they need to make a meaningful impact.

Media contact:
Winy Bernard
Communications
1-833-442-5225, ext. 709
winy@forblackcommunities.org

The Foundation for Black Communities funds 31 Black-led, Black-serving and Black-focused projects as part of the Investment Readiness Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Foundation for Black Communities funds 31 Black-led, Black-serving and Black-focused projects as part of the Investment Readiness Program

In partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, Foundation for Black Communities’ Investment Readiness Program is funding Black-focused social purpose organizations across Canada.

Today, the Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC), in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), is pleased to announce $1,506,205 in funding to support 31 projects through the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program (IRP). This measure is supporting Black communities’ thriving in entrepreneurship and innovation, thereby reinforcing Black people’s well-being and economic prosperity throughout Canada. The Government of Canada’s $50 million renewed investment supports social purpose organizations (SPOs), such as social enterprises, non-profits, charities and co-operatives, as they strengthen Canada’s social finance market while helping their communities. 

The IRP supports social purpose organizations as they move towards investment readiness, creating sustainable long-term goals to join, or continue in Canada’s social finance market. Through the IRP, organizations are strengthening their operational and organizational capacity by building strategic plans, increasing marketing services, developing financial and tax services, or receiving legal and risk management services. Through these opportunities, social purpose organizations are preparing for the Government of Canada’s Social Finance Fund.

The FFBC received more than 400 applications, and through a participatory selection process, were able to identify 31 successful applications for funding. These 31 recipient organizations were selected based on the highest-ranking scores awarded by a Community Grant Review Panel, comprised of members of the Black community who brought the community lens into the grantee selection process. 

This funding is going to social purpose organizations working on remarkable projects, including:

  • $75,000 to fund TechSpark Canada of Ontario to scale the SparkPlug LearningDNA initiative, a tool created to empower educators and students to maximize their learning potential. 
  • $22,100 to fund Messengers of Change, Manitoba’s After-Hours Respite Childcare Feasibility Study to ensure that everyone involved in childcare services has the support they need.
  • $25,000 to fund Ubuntu Community Farm of Ontario to develop the Ubuntu Community Farm Sustainable Food System. Their mission is to support small urban farmers while building stronger communities and a better food system.
  • $74,940 to fund Ethos Lab of British Columbia to scale the Ethos Lab project. Ethos Lab aims to increase representation in Innovation by creating an inclusive space to amplify young, diverse voices.

“Our Government recognizes the integral role that social purpose organizations have in tackling social issues in Canada and the significant impact they have when given support and access to new funding opportunities. The organizations being funded by Foundation for Black Communities will help drive local solutions to improve the economic well-being of Black communities. The Investment Readiness Program supports our goal to increase inclusion and opportunities for participation of Canadians in their communities and is a foundational element toward building the economy Canadians want,” said Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

FFBC’s grant making follows the principles of the Ubuntu Model of Participatory Grant making (UMPG). It is based on the premise that we are all interconnected and that we can improve conditions for ourselves by improving conditions for those around us. The organizations listed above are but a sampling of the grantees that embody the philosophy of Ubuntu Participatory Grant making, as espoused by FFBC. 

“The Foundation for Black Communities is pleased to partner with the Community Foundations of Canada and the Government of Canada to deliver the Investment Readiness Program. It is profoundly important to acknowledge and invest in the entrepreneurial innovation of Black communities. By partnering on this initiative, we’ve been able to ensure that Black-led, focused and serving organizations are increasingly able to access funding opportunities to advance the well-being and economic prosperity of Black people throughout Canada,” shares Gladys Ahovi, President & CEO, Foundation for Black Communities.

The Investment Readiness Program has propelled social purpose organizations along the readiness continuum. As funded projects take root, the FFBC and CFC look forward to showcasing their impact in the community. To view the projects funded, explore the Investment Readiness Program results map and more, visit https://communityfoundations.ca/funding-results-investment-readiness-program/

To view the full list of recipients, visit:
https://www.forblackcommunities.org/grants/irp/ 

-30-

Winy Bernard
Communications
1-833-442-5225, ext. 709
winy@forblackcommunities.org

OYWG Grantee, Somali Together featured in the Toronto Star

They were tired of gun violence in their community. So they took matters into their own hands

Support from all over Toronto from Black organizations to the Raptors president helped bring these friends’ idea to life.

Last September, Mohamed Hassan, received 50 tickets to take youth from his non-profit organization to a Toronto Maple Leafs pre-season game.

For many of them, it was a first. One of the kids turned to him and asked how much the tickets usually cost.

Hassan, a marketing manager at Tennis Canada, didn’t know, so they searched up the prices and saw tickets were a couple of hundred dollars on StubHub.

“Leafs games are that expensive?” said Hassan. “I didn’t know it was that much of a barrier for Somali kids to go to a Leafs game.”

That was one moment that reinforced why Hassan and longtime friend Ahmed Shiddo created an organization dedicated to Somali youth.

Since last fall, Somali Together has hosted about 40 kids from across the city biweekly in North York to partake in workshops, mentorship and hands-on learning experiences.

The organization’s mission is to enhance, on a consistent basis, the lives of Somali youth through education, community, culture and sport.

The idea came to Hassan and Shiddo following a tragedy in 2019. A friend of a friend, 18-year-old Aseel Yehya, died suddenly as a result of gun violence. The two friends reflected on this ongoing violence over the phone, ahead of Yehya’s funeral prayer.

“This … wasn’t the first time we faced (this) in our community,” Hassan said. “Sometimes you don’t even know how to react anymore. You become numb to the gun violence in Toronto, and you become numb to all the other issues our community faces.”

So, Shiddo and Hassan made phone calls and gathered about 50 community members at Etobicoke’s Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque to speak about what was going on in their neighbourhood.

By the end of 2019, gun violence in Toronto reached record levels and Shiddo was tired. He was tired of seeing friends mainly at funeral prayers. The 27-year-old didn’t want to become desensitized to losing friends and wanted to be around his people more, in life.

More importantly, Shiddo felt like it was time for his generation to do something, rather than leaving it up to the elders in the Somali community.

“All of our parents come from a war-torn country and they left everything they knew behind. We can’t even imagine what’s that like,” said Shiddo. “A new world, new language, new country — this is all for us. We have to capitalize on that or it was all for nothing.”

Hassan and Shiddo saw a need for attention and services dedicated to Somali youth. In 2014, 25 per cent dropped out of the TDSB, compared with 14 per cent of students overall. Among Somali boys, the dropout rate was a staggering 33 per cent.

On top of that, fewer Somali students applied to college or university, and 50 per cent were more likely to be suspended, placed in special education classes and have lower EQAO scores.

Eventually, Shiddo and Hassan got an opportunity to make that first gathering more concrete.

Raptors president and vice-chairman Masai Ujiri travelled to Somalia the summer of 2019 with the basketball youth organization he co-founded, Giants of Africa. Ujiri returned to the city wanting to know what he could do for the Somali community in Toronto.

Ilwad Elman, who helped co-ordinate the Somalia trip and basketball clinic for Somali girls, heard about the Etobicoke mosque meeting and reached out to Hassan.

And that’s how Somali Together was born. What started off as getting folks to gather at the mosque, turned into a sit-down proposal with Ujiri in December 2021, which gave the co-founders momentum.

During 2022, they put together a board of directors and sought funding to grow. The Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC) was an early supporter and provided a $25,000 sports and recreation grant.

Omar Omar, a director of community investment for FFBC, thought Somali Together was a perfect fit.

“They were doing the work in a way that resonated with them, and we were interested in supporting and learning from that. We see them as teachers in many ways,” Omar said.