Wealth Grants Surface for Descendants of Slavery in North Central States
Thursday, June 8, 2023
The upcoming Juneteenth holiday marks the kickoff of a new wealth building grant program for Black residents who are decedents of slavery in a few north-central states, including South Dakota.
The regional nonprofit Nexus Community Partners will begin accepting applications June 19 for the Open Road Fund, created through a $50 million donation from the Bush Foundation.
Money will be made available to Black residents living in South and North Dakota and Minnesota who are descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Danielle Mkali, senior director of community wealth building for Nexus Community Partners, said the idea is to help people, especially those who have dealt with institutional barriers, build prosperity.
"It might mean that you'll be able to put a down payment on a home, so that you don't have the stress of unstable housing any longer," Mkali outlined. "It might mean that you are able to invest in education, and you can finish that degree that maybe you've been putting off."
She explained they hope recipients establish a better sense of well-being. The group does not call the funds "reparations," noting the grants cannot correct all the harm done to Black people over the last 400 years. There are no income requirements, but applicants have to be at least 14 years old. In the next several years, $50,000 grants will go to at least 800 eligible applicants.
Those who apply will need to lay out their vision for building wealth and their proposal will be judged by a diverse panel of community leaders. Mkali emphasized the approach could be transformative for people who are awarded the grants, and even serve as a game-changer within the world of philanthropy.
"We're hoping that other funders also take a look at the work that's happening and realize that they have an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to consider doing something similar," Mkali said.
The program launch comes on the heels of the third anniversary of George Floyd's murder and the racial reckoning that followed.
Meanwhile, Mkali stressed it is important to take an equitable approach in awarding the grants based on population factors, looking at the states involved. She added they are doing extensive outreach in the Dakotas to ensure those who may be eligible are aware of the program.
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