What does it look like to invest in Black and brown communities? When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Economic Mobility and Opportunity team reached out to Frontline Solutions in 2020 with this question, we were excited to partner with them to create the Elevate Initiative which supports organizations doing on-the-ground work to remove structural barriers and accelerate economic mobility for communities of color.
What has made the Elevate Initiative a standout among our work is the intention with which the initiative was designed and the brilliance of the people who make up the collective. In our initial call out for proposals for the Elevate Initiative two years ago, Frontline received over 500 applications from across the country. As we and a community advisory team poured over each application, it was clear that the breadth of work and the need for support of efforts to address economic mobility in communities of color required multiple strategies. Not only were 13 original Elevate Initiative grantees selected, we went back and selected 15 additional smaller and emerging organizations who are doing great work but because of their emerging work, organizational size and budget, may not make it on the radar of many large funders. The power of the Elevate Initiative is its grantees who have also been an important part of building out what this initiative is from the beginning.
In addition to the funding, technical supports, and the communities of practice grantees take part in, both Elevate Initiative cohorts convened in Tulsa, Oklahoma during Juneteenth in 2022 to connect and learn from each other and explored the history of Black Wall Street and participated in the local celebrations surrounding the holiday. The convening created an opportunity from grantees from across the country, to share their work with one another, build relationships, and strategize for future work together.
Investing in Black and brown communities means looking for longer term partnerships to allow community organizations to lead and do the work in their communities in ways that they deem necessary. This effort has grown from a one-time grant, to continued supports and technical assistance, and to connecting many grantees with other funding opportunities.In the next few months we’re excited to share some the lessons we are learning since our initial launch of Elevate Initiative and in the meantime want to lift up those additional 15 organization who now make up our Elevate Initiative, cohort 2:
- 501Media Hope Foundation
- African American Farmers Association
- Any x Means
- Black Farmers Hub
- Black Land Ownership Council (BLOC)
- Black Market LLC
- Black Soil: Our Better Nature
- Camden Dream Technology Center
- I Be Black Girl
- New Beginnings Reentry
- North Carolina Employee Ownership Center
- On Location: Memphis
- Reuben V. Anderson Center for Justice
- We Are Better Together
Frontline Solutions is committed to learning in public, and the Elevate Initiative is no exception. We are excited to share lessons, in an ongoing way, about what it takes to dismantle structural barriers to economic security and the challenges that community organizations and leaders face toward these efforts.