Click Here to Give to the Cleveland Black Futures Fund

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund has amassed more than $4.3 million since inception on Sept. 1, 2020, to invest in and strengthen Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations.

 
updated nov. 22, 2021, 9 a.m. EST

About the Fund

In 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, we bore witness to what is believed to be the largest civil rights movement in the history of the United States. As more people across our community and our country engage in a long overdue reckoning with the ugly reality of structural racism in America, many of us are thinking about our experiences and roles in this reality – individually and collectively.

In the field of philanthropy, we must be honest about our historic shortcomings in addressing the devastating racial disparities that so directly impact our work. The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) has reported on the significant inequities that exist within the national philanthropic field at a time when outcomes and disparities for Black children, families and neighborhoods in many areas have widened.

While structural racism is a problem affecting our entire country, the movement for Black lives has resonated in Greater Cleveland for deeply local reasons. According to 2018 research from The Center for Community Solutions, Black residents in Cleveland are more likely to experience higher rates of infant mortality and childhood poverty, be overrepresented in the criminal justice system, be disproportionately represented in lower wage occupations and have shorter life expectancies – all of which cross socioeconomic boundaries.

The Cleveland Foundation and our donors have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve education, housing, job opportunities and access to healthcare in our community. And while these investments have improved the quality of life for individuals and families in Greater Cleveland, they have not yet eliminated the disparities that exist along racial lines. More than 50 years after the Fair Housing Act, our city remains one of the most racially segregated in the nation – both geographically and in terms of educational, economic and health outcomes – among other measures.

The launch of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund, seeded with $2.5 million to invest in and strengthen Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations, is just one step in what must be a long-term community-wide effort to dismantle racist systems that have made communities of color vulnerable for generations. As the Greater Cleveland community’s foundation, it is incumbent upon us to respond to the place where the need is greatest, and there is no doubt that the need is great in Cleveland’s Black community. With the understanding that those who are closest to the problem are often closest to the solution, the fund will elevate specific interventions to strengthen the ecosystem of Black leaders and Black-serving organizations in Greater Cleveland by providing intentional resources to help grow organizational infrastructure and capacity. Long-term, the foundation aims to deepen the field of leaders working to dismantle systemic racism and advance the community toward racial equity.

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund builds on the ongoing work of the African American Philanthropy Committee of the Cleveland Foundation (AAPC), which has promoted awareness and education about the benefits of wealth and community preservation through philanthropy since 1993. Established in 2010, the African American Philanthropy Committee Legacy Fund supports a variety of organizations within the African American community of Greater Cleveland. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund will complement the impact of the AAPC and its Legacy Fund, offering an additional pool of resources to support the Black community in Greater Cleveland.

The Cleveland Foundation recognizes that racial inequity is not a simple Black-white divide. However, the needs of various racial and ethnic communities are too vast for one fund to address. The effects of systemic racism on non-Black communities of color must be addressed through interventions that are designed and tailored to the specific needs of each community. As we launch the Black Futures Fund, we are laying the groundwork for future population-specific strategies to address the needs of other ethnic and racial communities in Greater Cleveland.

The launch of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund represents a new and more intentionally anti-racist approach in the Cleveland Foundation’s work, a direction that is necessary if we wish to move our entire community forward. We do not yet have all the answers, but we will continue to listen, learn and act. We hope you will join us.

Announcing the second round of grantmaking 

We are excited to announce the second round of grantmaking for the Cleveland Black Futures Fund. In the second round, monetary grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 will be available, in addition to a limited number of capacity-building fellowships. The deadline to apply is Jan. 18, 2022.

You can apply via the Cleveland Foundation Grants Gateway: https://www.iphiview.com/tcf/

You can watch a tutorial on the application process here.

You can download the RFP here and the applicant guide here.

Round 2 Launch Webinar



Slides from the Nov. 15 launch webinar are available here.


Round 1 Debrief


Announcing the inaugural cohort of Cleveland Black Futures Fund grantee partners

On June 29, 2021, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund awarded $1.89 million to 49 Black-led and Black-serving nonprofit organizations in its first round of grantmaking:

Check out our blog series to learn more about what these organizations are doing to support Black lives in Greater Cleveland.

 
 

Subscribe to the Cleveland Black Futures Fund E-Newsletter

Want to learn more about racial equity initiatives in Greater Cleveland? Check out our Racial Equity e-newsletter archive:


Latest News

June 29, 2021

Cleveland Black Futures Fund announces nearly $2 million in grants

jan. 21, 2021

Cleveland Black Futures Fund releases RFP, application portal opens Jan. 25

Dec. 11, 2020

Facebook awards $1 million to Cleveland Black Futures Fund

sept. 1, 2020

Cleveland Foundation announces creation of Cleveland Black Futures Fund

“The ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism in America cannot be separated from the COVID-19 crisis, which has disproportionally ravaged Black communities,” said Courtenay Barton, Cleveland Foundation program director for arts & culture and racial equity initiatives. “Similar to our community’s response to COVID-19, now is the time for philanthropy to show a sense of urgency to address systemic racism. Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations are the frontline workers in this effort, and we must invest in them just as we have invested in the workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”



Advisory Committee

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund advisory committee guides the application parameters and grantmaking process for the fund. The seven-person group is comprised of community leaders working alongside foundation representatives:

  • Courtenay A. Barton, Program Director for Arts & Culture and Racial Equity Initiatives, Cleveland Foundation
  • Carrie Carpenter, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • The Rev. Dr. Robin Hedgeman, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • Constance Hill-Johnson, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • Treye Johnson, Regional Outreach Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Shanelle Smith Whigham, Vice President, Sustainability & Social Impact, KeyBank
  • Timothy L. Tramble Sr., President & CEO, Saint Luke’s Foundation

Cleveland Black Futures Fund


 

Radio One town hall

The town hall broadcast live Feb. 11 on the Z107.9, 93.1 WZAK and Praise 94.5 Facebook pages and on YouTube and explored how the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will be supporting the capacity of Cleveland-based nonprofit organizations that are both Black-led and Black-serving.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Key Dates for Round 2
  • November 15, 2021: Round 2 Launch Webinar at 5 p.m.  (click here to watch)
  • Week of November 15, 2021: Online application portal opens (apply now)
  • November 22, 2021-January 18, 2022: Grant Writing Assistance (click here to register)
  • November 29, 2021-January 6, 2021: Technical Assistance Workshops (click here to register)
  • January 18, 2022: Application deadline
  • February, 2022: Notification to applicants who are not advancing to the second stage in the review process
  • March, 2022: Notification to applicants who are not advancing to the final stage in the review process
  • End of March: Notice of Final Funding Decisions
Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply?

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund will invest in Greater Cleveland-based nonprofit organizations that are BOTH Black-led and Black serving, with the goal of building organizational capacity. Organizations based in Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga counties may apply.

Applicant organizations may operate in a range of issue areas, but grants can only be made to organizations currently holding 501(c)3 tax-exempt status with an operating budget of less than $1 million. Organizations that do not currently have 501(c)3 tax-exempt status are eligible to apply in partnership with a tax-exempt organization serving as a fiscal sponsor.

What is 501(c)3 tax-exempt status and how can my organization obtain it?  

501(c)3 is a section of the Internal Revenue Code that describes the requirements for an organization to be considered tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Organizations must apply to the IRS to receive 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Your organization must also maintain its tax-exempt status over time by following certain rules. Learn more about applying for, and maintaining, tax-exempt status here.

The Cleveland Foundation can only make grants to organizations that are recognized as tax exempt by the IRS. If your organization does not yet have tax-exempt status, you may be able to apply for a grant using a fiscal sponsor.

What is a fiscal sponsor and how does that process work?

If you are doing mission-driven work, but your organization doesn’t have tax-exempt status, you may be able to apply for a grant through a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is willing and able to serve as your fiscal sponsor. If you decide to apply with a fiscal sponsor, the sponsor will submit the application on your behalf and must indicate the sponsorship arrangement in the application. However, the application narrative and responses should be written from the perspective of your organization. If the application is approved, the fiscal sponsor will receive the grant funds and distribute them to you. Check out these resources to learn more:

If you have specific questions about whether a fiscal sponsor is a good option for you to receive funding from the Cleveland Black Futures Fund, please sign up for a Technical Assistance session.

What do you mean by Black-led and Black serving?

For the purposes of this grant, we seek to support organizations that have Black chief executive leadership AND that serve the Black community. Unfortunately, national data show us that the race of an organization’s executive leadership has historically been correlated with its likelihood of obtaining grant funding. Therefore, this grant opportunity is designed to be intentional about providing grant funding to organizations with Black leaders. Organizations that serve Black communities but do not have Black executive leaders will not be eligible for this particular grant opportunity.

I applied in the first round. Can I apply again?

The Cleveland Foundation received an overwhelming response for the initial round of grantmaking– 223 unique applications representing nearly $20 million in funding requests. The amount of available funds was the determining factor in selecting our first cohort of grant recipients. Our volunteer committee had to decline many proposals in Round 1 simply because the requests far exceeded our resources. We will continue to grow this Fund and our capacity to support your work, and if you did not receive funding in Round 1 we do hope you will re-apply.

Organizations are limited to one grant from the Cleveland Black Futures Fund per year (e.g., an organization that received funding in Round 1 will not be eligible to receive another grant until Round 3). However, organizations that applied but did not receive funding in Round 1 may apply again in Round 2. You can sign up to receive email updates about the fund here.

Amount and Type of Grants

What are the funding priorities?

The overarching goal of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund is to strengthen the ecosystem of Black leaders and Black-serving organizations in Greater Cleveland by providing intentional resources to help grow organizational infrastructure and capacity. Long term, the fund aims to deepen the field of leaders working to dismantle systemic racism and advance the community towards racial equity. The Cleveland Foundation supports organizations that work to solve problems and innovate in the areas of education, environment, youth and health and human services, arts and culture, and economic development. 

Will applicants who applied during Round 1 but did not receive funding be prioritized in Round 2?

The Cleveland Foundation received an overwhelming response for the initial round of grantmaking– 223 unique applications representing nearly $20 million in funding requests. The amount of available funds was the determining factor in selecting our first cohort of grant recipients. Our volunteer committee had to decline many proposals in Round 1 simply because the requests far exceeded our resources. While we will continue to grow this Fund and our capacity to support the work of all Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits, we will designate 50-75% of the funds available for Round 2 to returning Round 1 applicants. 

What type of Grants are available in Round 2?

Applicants can apply for two types of grants: a monetary grant and a capacity building fellowship. Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both grant opportunities and are eligible to receive both.

Monetary Grant Award

Monetary grants range from $25,000 to $100,000. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund expects to award up to 35 grants in Round 2. See the answer to the question ‘How much should my organization apply for?’ for details on the different grant levels. 

Capacity Building Fellowship Grant

Capacity Building fellowships will be offered each round of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund. The cohort topics are determined by an analysis of the capacity building needs of previous applicants. For Rounds 2 and 3, four cohort-based fellowship programs will be offered to help participants build capacity in the areas of Leadership Development, Fund Development Strategy, Strategic Planning, and Marketing and Communications. Capacity building fellows will be provided a small stipend to offset the cost of participating in the fellowship. Up to 15 organizations will be selected to participate in each cohort, and cohorts are expected to launch late spring / early summer 2022. 

How much should my organization apply for?

Use the categories below to determine what amount your organization would be best positioned for. 

$100,000 Grant Award 

  • During each round, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will award up to five grants of $100,000 each. Organizations will be best positioned to receive a $100,000 grants if they:
    • have at least 1 paid FTE (full time equivalent) employee. Having more than 1 employee to accommodate the 1 FTE requirement is acceptable (i.e. two 0.5 employees or four 0.25 employees make 1 FTE).;
    • can clearly demonstrate how receiving the grant will build capacity to provide better services that are needed in the community; 
    • have funding from at least three additional sources; and
    • have a mission and programming that addresses more than one need. (ex. Housing insecurity for families with children).

$75,000 Grant Award

  • During each round, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will award up to five grants of $75,000 each. Organizations will be best positioned to receive grants of this amount if they: 
    • have at least 1 paid PTE (part time equivalent) employee. Having more than 1 employee to accommodate the 1 PTE requirement is acceptable (i.e. two employees working 10 hours per week is equal to 1 part-time employee);
    • can clearly demonstrate how receiving the grant will build capacity to provide better services that are needed in the community; and
    • have funding from at least one additional source. 

$50,000 Grant Award 

  • During each round, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will award up to 10 grants of $50,000 each. Organizations will be best positioned to receive grants of this amount if they: 
    • can clearly demonstrate how receiving the grant will build capacity to provide better services that are needed in the community; and
    • have funding from at least one additional source.

$25,000 Grant Award

  • During each round, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will award at least 10 grants of $25,000 each.  Organizations will be best positioned to receive grants of this amount if they: 
    • can clearly demonstrate how receiving the grant will build capacity to provide better services that are needed in the community. 

How many grants will the Cleveland Black Futures Fund be making in Round 2? 

During Round 2, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund is expecting to award a total of $1,500,000 in monetary grant awards, in the categories outlined above. We expect to award up to five grants of $100,000, up to 10 grants of $75,000, and at least 20 grants of $50,000 or $25,000. 

In addition, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will award 40-60 organizations a Capacity Building Fellowship that covers participation and a stipend. Up to 15 organizations can receive a Fellowship in one of the following categories: 

  • Leadership Development 
  • Fund Development Strategy
  • Long-term/strategic planning
  • Marketing and Communications

If I apply for $100,000 and don’t get it, will I be considered for another grant amount?

Yes, if an organization applies for $100,000 or $75,000, but does not receive that grant, they are still eligible to receive a grant award of a lesser amount.  

How will my application be evaluated? 

All applications will be evaluated by a review team comprised of community leaders, Cleveland Black Futures Fund Advisory Committee members, and Cleveland Foundation program officers and staff. A scoring rubric will be used to determine how well proposals describe the organization and programming.

About Capacity Building

Why organizational capacity?

Candid.org states: “Capacity building can help make an organization more focused, efficient, and productive,” and this, “makes it easier to attract the money, leadership and visibility that nonprofits need to thrive.”

What are some examples of organizational capacity activities and components?

The Free Management Library describes a host of capacity building activities, including:

  • Board development
  • Business planning
  • Evaluation
  • Facilities planning
  • Financial management
  • Fundraising
  • Information technology
  • Leadership development
  • Legal services
  • Management development
  • Marketing
  • Program design
  • Quality management
  • Staffing
  • Strategic planning

This is not an exhaustive list but is meant to provide some insight into the types of activities the Cleveland Black Futures Fund welcomes in proposals. Learn more about capacity building activities here.

Application Process

When is the deadline to apply?

Round 2 of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will open on Nov. 15, 2021. The deadline to apply is Jan. 18, 2022. 

What if my application is not funded in Round 2? 

A decline for now is not a permanent decline. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund plans on conducting two rounds of grantmaking per year for the next five years, one each winter and one each summer. If your first application does not get funded, we hope you will re-apply in a future round. You can sign up to receive email updates about the fund here.

Can I meet one-on-one with anyone to help me get my application ready?

We know that many organizations will have questions about how to best prepare your application during Round 2. While we would love to meet with each organization individually, we learned during Round 1 that we don’t have the capacity to do this well. We’ve designed a series of technical assistance workshops and one-on-one grant writing assistance opportunities to ensure that each organization can get its questions answered. We kindly ask that you attend the Round 2 Launch Webinar, a technical assistance workshop, and take advantage of the one-on-one grant writing assistance available to you before reaching out to Cleveland Foundation program team members individually. You can sign up for one of the technical assistance workshops here. You can watch a tutorial on the application process here. And you can register for grant writing assistance workshops here.

Will there be future grantmaking rounds? When?

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund hopes to continue its work through two grant cycles per year, one each winter and summer for the foreseeable future.

I have additional questions. How can I learn more?

Due to the volume of applicants, the Cleveland Foundation is unable to meet with every applicant one-on-one. If you are seeking guidance on your application, we kindly ask that you attend the Round 2 Launch Webinar, a technical assistance workshop, and take advantage of the one-on-one grant writing assistance available to you before reaching out to Cleveland Foundation program team members individually. You can sign up for one of the technical assistance workshops here. Register for grant writing assistance workshops here. For programmatic questions or information, contact: ClevelandBlackFuturesFund@clevefdn.org. For application or technical questions, contact: grantsmgmt@clevefdn.org.

Other Questions About the Cleveland Black Futures Fund

Why a specific fund?

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund was established to acknowledge that Black residents of Cleveland face a higher likelihood of negative life outcomes solely because of the color of their skin. In the city of Cleveland’s historically redlined neighborhoods, where more than 90% of residents are Black, the life expectancy is nearly 24 years less than in suburbs a mere seven miles away, where more than 90% of residents are white.

According to 2018 research from The Center for Community Solutions, Black residents in Cleveland are more likely to experience higher rates of infant mortality and childhood poverty, be overrepresented in the criminal justice system, be disproportionately represented in lower wage occupations and have shorter life expectancies. Data indicates that these disparities in life outcomes cross all socioeconomic barriers.

The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) has also reported that significant inequities exist within the national philanthropic field at a time when outcomes and disparities for Black children, families and neighborhoods in many areas have widened.

We are guided by the principle that the people closest to the problem are often closest to the solution. We know that there are many dynamic, trusted organizations already working within the community to eradicate these disparities and more. This fund is an intentional opportunity to incubate and accelerate the visions of active Black community leaders, especially those who have not previously secured much institutional philanthropic support.

Where did the money come from for this fund, and will it affect the foundation’s traditional grantmaking?

Foundation staff identified a restricted fund as the source for the initial $2.5 million investment, allowing for our traditional grantmaking to proceed unaffected, which includes funding for Black-led and Black-serving organizations that apply as part of our standard monthly and quarterly grantmaking cycles. Thanks to the contributions of generous donors, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund has amassed more than $4.3 million since its inception. The Cleveland Black Futures Fund is currently working to raise additional dollars to support this work. 

Why the name “Cleveland Black Futures Fund”?

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund is part of a larger movement to address historic funding inequities and well-documented disparities in outcomes affecting Black people and Black-led organizations in our communities. When choosing a name for our fund, we felt it was important that the name be short, descriptive, and inspirational – and that it acknowledge the fund’s place-based and placekeeping focus. We sought a forward-looking name that stood for something rather than against something. The name Cleveland Black Futures Fund evokes the concept of Afrofuturism, defined by sociologist Alondra Nelson as describing, “visions of the future…through the experience and perspective of African diasporic communities.” We are aware of longstanding efforts and funds nationally and in other sectors with similar names or focus areas. The Black Arts Future Fund supports Black-led arts organizations nationwide. The name also draws inspiration from our peer community foundations that have launched similar funds, such as the Seattle Foundation’s Black Future Co-op Fund. We celebrate the work of these philanthropic advocates for the Black future.

How long will this fund exist?

Dismantling structural racism is not an overnight project. This fund is designed to launch a long-term strategy of building Black-led organizations to lead in this work. This work should be additive to, not in replacement of, what we are already funding to improve the lives of all Greater Clevelanders. We must be committed for the long haul.

Why were other people of color and marginalized populations not included in this funding list?

We believe in working with specificity and intention. Racial inequity is not a simple Black/white divide, and the strategies and tactics to address racial inequities must be specific and tailored to communities. Furthermore, the needs of all racial and ethnic communities are too vast for one fund to address; we felt it was critical to initially develop a strategy to address some of the funding inequities that have specifically affected the Black community.

At the same time, because solutions will not be one-size-fits-all, the Cleveland Foundation is working with partners to develop strategies that address the particular needs of other communities of color.

I want to help. Can I contribute to this fund?

The foundation encourages individual donors, philanthropic foundations and companies to contribute to the fund. Donations of any amount are welcomed, and all contributions are eligible for a charitable deduction. You can give here: ClevelandFoundation.org/FuturesFund.

If you are a Cleveland Foundation fund holder and would like to recommend a grant from your fund, please log in to the donor portal or contact your donor relations officer for instructions.


Looking to learn?

Visit our blog for a list of anti-racism resources.

Learn how the Cleveland Foundation is taking steps to promote racial equity through financial operations and structures here.

Learn how the Cleveland Foundation is leveraging its portfolio to build diverse representation in the investment industry here.