Foundation grants $105,000 to groups focused on racial equity

As the issue of racism and racial discrimination have become part of the national conversation, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) is giving $105,000 to local organizations and initiatives working to address racial equity and implicit bias. 

The funds are coming from the foundation’s Community Endowment, which is set up so funds can be directed to needs and opportunities as they arise, explains CEO Mike Goorhouse.

“We don’t presume to have the answers to the difficult and complex problem of racism, but we believe it is of utmost importance to stand alongside our community in searching for those answers and to do our part to support this process with financial resources,” he says.  

Split among 5 organizations

The money will be split among five organizations to address issues of racial equity and implicit bias, and to support local community members of color. Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA), Ottawa County Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office, Women of Color Give, and the newly created I AM will receive $20,000 each. The Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) plans to commit $25,000 of its available 2020 funding to youth-focused racial equity efforts.

LEDA plans to use the funding to increase the capacity and frequency of existing programs — including Diversity Education Workshops, Calling All Colors, and Talking to Kids about Race — and transition to offering virtual formats. It will also be used to continue the series of Facebook Live Community Conversations and, afterward, convert them into podcasts to be available as a permanent educational tool. Engaging with LEDA’s programming is a constructive way for people to grow their understanding of racism and implicit bias and how they can be allies to build a more just community. 

The DEI Office leads the development of an equity plan for Ottawa County by identifying implicit bias in internal policies, procedures, and practices, and in external service delivery. This funding will be used to continue expanding the work of developing the necessary tools and delivery methods that help reduce or remove implicit bias in county programs. Funds will also help develop multisector plans to better integrate immigrants and refugees into the local community, as these populations often experience implicit and explicit racism.

Important, complex issues

Women of Color Give is a local philanthropy circle that provides a space for women of color to connect and leverage resources while supporting each other and causes that matter to them. Women of color are underrepresented in major philanthropic circles, yet their lived experiences with racism and unique insights into diverse aspects of the community position them to have an acute knowledge of what programs and initiatives could make the biggest difference. Funds will be used to increase Women of Color Give’s grant distribution to organizations that support the advancement, development, and promotion of people of color on the Lakeshore.

I AM is the creation of Henry Cherry, minister at Christ Memorial Church, and Lindsay Cherry, a teacher at West Ottawa Schools. The organization seeks to empower the Black community to achieve their full potential through education and career possibilities. The two prominent Black leaders have already engaged with local schools and developed a strategic plan for their programming. This nonprofit organization will elevate the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of Black community members to help shape the community’s future.

The Youth Advisory Council plans to commit its funding to youth-focused efforts in response to this moment of opportunity for progress. Specific projects/programs will be identified over the summer and early fall through school and community partners.

Addressing the most complex and important issues facing our community is exactly what the Community Foundation and the Community’s Endowment exist to do, explains Elizabeth Kidd, Vice President of Community Impact. 

“For nearly 70 years, we have played a pivotal role in connecting resources with opportunities for positive change in our community,” she says. “We’re proud to work alongside so many other community partners, rise to the moment, and do our best to ensure a more equitable future for all who call Holland/Zeeland home.”
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.