Too often, philanthropic institutions respond to the call for equitable access to funding by saying, “We just can’t find any qualified organizations led by people of color.” In striking contrast, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation interrogated this assumption by seeking out Frontline to help them expand their connections to BIPOC-led organizations and communities. Together, we launched the Elevate Initiative, which focuses on addressing structural and systemic barriers to economic opportunity and ensuring equitable outcomes in the American workforce.
During the outreach phase of the engagement, we connected with nearly 1,000 organizations from around the country, of which over 500 submitted a proposal for funding. Up to 12 of these will receive grants, and will then co-design and participate in a 12-month Community of Practice where they will engage with sector leaders and develop best practices that can be shared with the Gates Foundation and broader field. Though this partnership is with just one of the Gates Foundation’s portfolios, it has far-reaching implications for expanding equitable grantmaking practices across the field of philanthropy.