Catalyst Members Launch $100 Million California Black Freedom Fund

Since its announcement late last week, The California Black Freedom Fund  has made the rounds of statewide and national news for the first-of-its-kind comprehensive approach to providing sustained funding for Black power-building in California.

The five-year, $100 million initiative is the first state-based fund of its kind, and prioritizes investments in the courageous and visionary grassroots advocates and community leaders who are transforming our cities, our state, and our world.

By creating and accelerating a new statewide ecosystem of Black-led organizations confronting racism and anti-Blackness, this fund aims to affect the culture, policy, and systems changes necessary to realize equity and justice in California.

The fund was co-designed with Black-led community based organizations and includes contributions from Catalyst members Blue Shield of California FoundationSierra Health FoundationThe California EndowmentThe California Wellness Foundation, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

According to the fund’s concept paper, grantmaking for the first five years will focus on the following priorities:

  1. Begin by Supporting Three Established Black Networks: Strengthen the ecosystem of diverse Black-led organizations through the three largest and established, statewide networks that have already “hit the ground running” and work at local, regional and state levels
  2. Support Additional Black-Led Power-Building Groups that share common — but localized — agendas to combat systemic anti-Black racism and build power among Black-led organizations that have seen historic disinvestment.
  3. Support Local Black-Led Policy Campaigns: CBFF will provide additional support to Black-led policy campaigns at the local and county levels throughout the state.
  4. Capacity and Organizational Development: CBFF will provide a wide range of support to Black-based organizations and coalitions. The imperative here is to ensure that organizations at the front lines of the current movement are replenished and bolstered just as these organizations begin to feel burnout and drain on their capacity and efficacy as a result of their leadership in the protest movement.
  5. Policy Technical Assistance: CBFF will prioritize supporting local and regional formations and campaigns with top-notch consultants for policy and strategic support.
  6. Communications, Narrative Change, and Polling: The recent protests have demonstrated the remarkable influence of people power to shift the narrative and inspire reforms. Through support of Black-led organizations and networks, CBFF will sustain this momentum by mobilizing Black communities to greater civic action and continuing to lift their voices to reshape the narrative.
  7. Convening and Other Shared Learning Space Support: To bolster and expand cross-organizational and cross-regional innovations in the realms of leadership development, policy and legal analysis, research, and advocacy — as well as strategic communications and scaling up Learning Management Systems — CBFF will support quarterly convenings among the Black-led organizations supported by the fund.
  8. Political Activity/501(c)(4): Shore up the capacity of Black-led 501(c)(4) entities so they can best engage on ballot measures and propositions and legislation that better serve their communities.
  9. Research, Data, and Learning: Issues for investigation and lines of research will be identified in 2020 and continue to evolve. Early data-gathering and analyses may, for example, focus on further mapping and documenting prospective partner organizations in California.

In its first year, the fund will invest over $6 million in three established Black-led networks:

  • Black Census and Redistricting Hub – A network of over 30 Black-led and Black-serving organizations maximizing participation in the census and redistricting process among hard to count Black communities. Black Hub Coalition members of San Diego include Catalyst grantees Pillars of the Community, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), and Alliance San Diego.
  • Black Equity Collective – A partnership strengthening the long-term capacity and infrastructure of Black-led and Black-empowering social justice organizations in Los Angeles County and Inland Empire.
  • PICO California: Live Free/ Bring the HEAT – Organizing intervention to protect the basic health, safety, and well-being of all people by demanding a series of immediate and sweeping changes to the current policing system in the United States. The San Diego Organizing Project is our local PICO federation partner.

To learn more, please visit the fund’s website at

The fund is seeking further partners to secure the $100 million. If you’re a funder seeking to join the California Black Freedom Fund, visit here.