Reconciliation Framework: More Money for Nonprofits
By Dianne Anderson
Nothing could be better to help local Black nonprofits make a direct positive impact in their communities than making sure that the CARES Act dollars flowing down to the city of Long Beach get into the right hands.
Recently, the city announced that new funding is coming soon, and they are eager to guide and assist the Black community to tap some of the $40 million.
African American nonprofits are watching and waiting. Usually, they have to scrape and struggle for even small funding.
Long Beach Deputy City Manager Teresa Chandler said the city is focused on building capacity as an equities team, and now brainstorming the best ways to support Black organizations to gain their 501c3 status so they can apply for funding that will come through.
The CARES Act Funding must be spent by December 31, she said.
“It’s an opportunity where we can start the conversation even faster because of CARES Act funding that’s coming in, and earmarking funds specifically for Black health and Black organizations,” Chandler said.
Simplifying the current RFP (Request for Proposal) is a goal because the process can be complicated. With the CARES funding, she is exploring a procurement process to streamline applications.
Chandler, who ran the homeless services program through the city for the past five years, said that she envisions hotlines, resources, and guidance from the city available to applicants, which is important to organizations seeking funding for the first time.
“It’s still in progress and creation of what that’s going to look like because it’s very different than what the city has operated in the past, but we’ve never been in times like this,” said Chandler, MPH, who has also served as Human Services Bureau Manager in the Health and Human Services Department.
The city has held a series of virtual town hall and audio listening meetings as part of a reconciliation framework toward acknowledging, listening, convening stakeholders and catalyzing action around what’s best for the Black community.
But currently, there is no way to determine what percentage of those weighing in on the conversations are coming from Black participants.
“That’s the hard part with the audio platforms, it makes it challenging,” Chandler said, adding that they are requesting that people fill out surveys, and considering getting phone numbers to call back and beg the question of race identification directly.
She said a lot of the same callers calling in, but many voices are still missing from the conversation.
“I have an equity team expanded throughout the city, trying to assign folks to different areas that they can offer support. That’s one of the areas that we’re trying to rectify,” she said.
Chandler noted that much of the CARES Act funding will go to the health department, and likely come down from the health department.
“The CARES Act funding is just hitting now, but we’re building a plan as we go,” she said.
Jerlene Tatum, a local community advocate, is concerned that if the demographic is not properly captured, it won’t provide a valid view into what’s needed in the community.
She has participated in most recent town halls and listening sessions on task to “center and amplify Black voices,” but she said the problem is that they don’t know if the voices are actually Black.
“How can you amplify Black voices when you don’t know who’s present, and the amount of Black people compared to non-Black people is small in the call?” she said.
Another concern is whether policy can be effective without admitting that the national policing problem is also local problem. She said the killing of George Floyd and the defund the police movement is a big part of what has brought the city to this point.
“The resolution that the city put out acknowledges what happened to George, but it does not acknowledge police brutality in Long Beach.”
Personally, Tatum said she has tried to reach out to let the community know about the current city meetings, but she said there must be more effort by the city to increase participation. If that doesn’t happen, she is concerned about the next phase selection of the stakeholders.
“They are supposed to bring this before city council in mid-August, it’s mid-July right now,” she said. “The listening sessions are finished and Stage 3 is convening. We’re trying to figure out who are they going to be convening?”
Over the decades, several studies have shown that only a small fraction of the billions of annual philanthropic dollars ever make it down to Black-led nonprofits and organizations.
“Funding leaders of color is a significant piece of this puzzle, because these leaders often bring strategies that intimately understand the racialized experiences of communities of color and the issues these communities face. Unfortunately by and large that is not happening today,” according to a recent study by the nonprofit Bridgespan and Echoing Green consultancy.
For more information on reconciliation, or contact the city to learn more about the future of CARES Act funding, see http://longbeach.gov/health/healthy-living/office-of-equity/reconciliation