Deaconess FoundationForward Through Ferguson and Missouri Foundation for Health have collaborated to establish the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing Fund to invest in healing community trauma and changing the conditions that reinforce systemic racism. With a matching grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a growing pool of participating organizations, $1.4 million has already been committed to the effort. 

Through a community-led grantmaking process, the fund will support efforts to develop capacity and infrastructure in the racial justice movement to envision, articulate and create a transformed St. Louis region through community organizing and healing arts.

The initial group of 10 diverse funders of the effort include: Deaconess, Incarnate Word Foundation, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Midwest Bank Centre, Missouri Foundation for Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, St. Louis Community Foundation, St. Louis University’s Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and YouthBridge Community Foundation.

“Nearly six years after the Ferguson Uprising, we have a renewed urgency in our nation to lean fully into the discomfort of racial healing required to build a just and equitable society for our children,” said Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation. “These partners realize the harmful, traumatic effects of systemic racism and are committed to supporting community organizers, activists and residents who are leading social change efforts.”

“Achieving racial equity is going to take all of us working together, respecting diverse voices, talents and ideas,” said Dr. Bob Hughes, president and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health. “The leaders of tomorrow – those vigorously fighting for racial justice – require the ongoing support and resources that will allow them to heal and carry the work forward.”

Through this participatory grantmaking process, a cohort of grassroots leaders, artists, creatives and residents of color will identify specific funding priorities and outcomes and distribute invested funds to a combination of mid-scale and grassroots organizations. These targeted investments aim to heal individual and community trauma, engage a broader range of residents in systems change work, prepare leaders of color to organize for healing justice, build local capacity to nurture support, and cultivate healing assets and align resources for long-term sustainability.

Their progress and goals are guided by the Ferguson Commission Playbook, https://tinyurl.com/Ferguson-playbook.

Forward Through Ferguson (FTF) will lead the community outreach and engagement efforts this summer to form a cohort of community leaders that will drive the development and execution of the grantmaking process. The cohort will include grassroots leaders, artists, creatives and residents of color. FTF will provide ongoing support to the cohort throughout the implementation of the grantmaking process. 

For more information on the participatory grantmaking process, contact David Dwight at davidd@forwardthroughferguson.org. Organizations and residents interested in getting involved in the design process should visit bit.ly/healingjusticestl.

For more information on becoming a Funding Partner, contact Kiesha Davis, director of partnership and capacity building for Deaconess Foundation at kieshad@deaconess.org.

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