The St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund

The St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund has announced its Community Governance Board. From left (front) Michelle Barbeau, Samantha Minor, Angel McCain, Ashley Winters, Erika Essiem, and Rorke Chhouk. From left (back) Shonda Ambers-Phillips, Darian Wigfall, Perez Maxwell, and Tyrean Lewis. Not pictured: Diamond Spencer, Dawne Turner, and Mia Malcolm.

The only thing standing between creation of many community-based projects is funding. The Community Governance Board [CGB] takes on the challenge of selecting which projects will receive resources on behalf of the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund.

The 14-member CGB for the 2022-2023 grant period is comprised of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County community members and advocates “who are directly impacted by racialized oppression,” The Fund states in a release.

Its responsibilities include ensuring community-based priorities are met, reviewing, and selecting applications to receive funding.

“My hope for serving on the [CGB] is to continue pushing the needle forward in the St. Louis region for all Black, brown and people of color to live in an area that demonstrates core rights in housing, education, health, job/career options, policing, and more,” said Ashley Winters.

“I want to see our wildest imaginations come to manifestation where this type of work is no longer needed. I look forward to being a part of history and I’m eager to get my boots on the ground.”

 The third grant cycle opens in mid-summer and the previous two grant cycles saw more than $500,000 invested in 34 Black- and brown-led organizations in the St. Louis region.

 “To me, this Fund means liberation. It means that Black and queer people of all ages and intersections can get a spark for a project they’re starting, completing, or continuing. This Fund is, as we say, everything,” said Darian Wigfall.

“Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] led organizations often face systemic barriers in securing institutional funding, including limited staff capacity and racial biases in application review.

The Fund addresses these issues by providing technical support sessions to applicants, and by involving residents, community organizers, and healing practitioners in the review process; and specifically targeting BIPOC-led organizations for investments, according to Bethany Johnson-Javois, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation.

 “The Racial Healing + Justice Fund is seeding generational healing and transformation that requires commitment well beyond this current grant cycle,” she said.

“Healing community trauma and changing conditions that reinforce systemic racism requires multi-generational funding and an endowed St. Louis Regional Healing + Justice Fund.” 

 Deaconess Foundation will continue its role as grant administrator.

Forward Through Ferguson [FTF] serves as The Fund’s project manager and provides support to the board throughout the grantmaking process. 

The Deaconess Foundation, Forward Through Ferguson, and Missouri Foundation for Health established the Racial Healing + Justice Fund  to invest in racial healing as a core component of achieving racial equity. A goal is making space for affected Black and brown residents and give them direct power over distribution of resources for healing, justice, and transformation, according to a release.

The Fund aligns local and national philanthropy, community-set priorities, and community-led grantmaking that put racial equity and healing justice at the center.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the launch of the Fund with a matching grant, and local and national foundations have joined the pool of participating organizations.

 Founded in 2016, FTF was created as an independent entity to follow the action plan outlined by the Ferguson Commission Report, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. FTF centers impacted communities and activates community advocacy to advance racially equitable systems and policies “that ensure all people in the region can thrive.”

Deaconess Foundation, a ministry of the United Church of Christ, has invested more than $85 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998. Its advocacy work reaches St. Louis and St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair, and Monroe Counties in Illinois. 

Missouri Foundation for Health works in partnership with communities and nonprofits. Its goal is to eliminate inequities in all aspects of health, while addressing the social and economic factors that shape health outcomes. 

For more information on the grantmaking process, please contact Forward Through Ferguson’s Lead Racial Equity Capacity Catalyst, Faybra Hemphill, at faybra@forwardthroughferguson.org

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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