Securing the Roots was developed against the backdrop of powerful conversations and actions taking place locally and nationally. With over 75% of nonprofits in the U.S. carrying out their change-making work on less than a million dollars, and the vast majority of organizations working in and on behalf of poor and working class communities of color, we know that it is necessary to equip the leadership of these organizations with tools to sustain their work through new and creative means. Historically, wealth and land, and therefore power, have not been accessible to everyone. People of color have been systematically denied access to resources and capital. In the U.S., nonprofit organizations that are led by people of color receive only 10% of grant awards (Applied Research Center, 2004).
A 2016 report from the Philadelphia African American Leadership Forum found that, “organizations led by African Americans were smaller, as defined by the number of staff and volunteers, and more dependent on government funding than white-led organizations. Moreover, they typically had lower cash reserves, leaving them more vulnerable to recession and changes in local government. The report also found that organizations led by African Americans were more likely to have African American board members and senior staff. However, predominantly African American boards struggled in terms of gaining access to key social networks, something that can negatively affect an organization’s access to funding” (Philanthropy News Digest, 2016).
In Philadelphia, the poorest major U.S. city with a majority population of Black/African American, Latinx, and Asian people, we know we need to do better by providing access and information to organizations led by and for the grassroots, especially people of color, to strengthen their capacity to move their work forward together.