Quantifying Hope: Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys, 2017

by Grace Sato

Nov 1, 2017

Five years ago, in 2012, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and Foundation Center published the first report in this series, Where Do We Go From Here?, taking an in-depth look at philanthropic support for Black men and boys. Since then, the landscape of the field has evolved in remarkable and groundbreaking ways. As organizations and philanthropic initiatives have shifted from start-up mode to increasingly mature entities with greater human and financial capacity, the opportunity for sustained impact has never been greater.

In the first section of this report, we revisit funding by U.S. foundations in support of Black men and boys, with a focus on giving in 2013 and 2014, the most recent years for which comprehensive data are available.

Current efforts to advance Black male achievement have coalesced along some shared approaches and values. Foundations, governments, and nonprofits in the field are:

- Changing the narrative to lift up Black men and boys as valuable assets to society;

- Investing in local communities to catalyze sustainable impact at the grassroots level;

- Engaging Black men and boys and their communities in authentic ways to ensure programs and initiatives resonate with their lived experiences;

- Impacting policies and systems to address the adverse effects of structural racism on life outcomes for Black men and boys; and

- Recognizing the intersectional nature of this work to learn from the shared struggles of other marginalized populations and achieve broader social justice goals.

These priorities are not mutually exclusive, and the degree to which they occur collectively will help push the work forward.

With a critical mass of organizations currently working to improve life outcomes for Black men and boys and promising signs of forward progress, this report highlights what it will take to build on recent work to catalyze deeper investments, stronger coordination, and, ultimately, greater impact.

  • Foundation funding to benefit Black men and boys totaled $45.6 million in 2013 and $61.4 million in 2014. This was a decrease from 2012, when funding topped more than $64 million. These fluctuations can be attributed, in part, to very large grants for targeted initiatives in 2012 and 2014.
  • Funding for boys and men of color as a broader population category continued steady growth—$50.9 million in 2013 and $62.7 million in 2014. While these grants cannot be considered as explicitly benefiting Black males, many of the grants undoubtedly had an implicit benefit for Black men and boys.
  • Education continued to be the top priority of grants explicitly designated to support Black males, followed by human services and public safety.
  • Most foundation dollars explicitly designated for Black men and boys provided program support (59 percent). Forty-one percent supported policy, advocacy, and systems reform.
  • Recipient organizations located in the South received the largest share (45 percent) of foundation dollars explicitly intended to benefit Black males. These grants supported local, regional, and national projects.
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