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Black-Led Social and Racial Justice Fund Launched with $1M Investment

The Greater Richmond region and communities across the nation are confronting two crises during 2020: the COVID-19 global pandemic that continues to disproportionately impact people of color; and an awakening of systemic racism that has afflicted our country since its founding. This moment in our history has caused the local philanthropic sector to act with greater urgency to find collaborative and innovative ways to solve complex issues related to racial equity and social justice. There is a desire to drive charitable investments to core issues and root causes, as well as to connect historically disjointed services.

This summer, leaders from two of the region’s Black Giving Circles - SisterFund and Ujima Legacy Fund - came together with the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond to launch the Amandla Fund for Social and Racial Justice. Pronounced “ah-MOND-la,” the fund derives its name from the word for "power and strength” and was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against apartheid in South Africa. The Amandla Fund is the first collaborative, Black-led endowment in Greater Richmond on target to mobilize long-term investments to strengthen the Black community and work towards racial justice on a local scale.

“Community foundations are at the center of charitably-minded individuals, nonprofit partners, policymakers and business leaders,” shares Dr. Pamela Royal, the Community Foundation’s first African American board chair. “We have a responsibility to use this position to build, connect and leverage diverse sectors, voices, and organizations to harness collective influence that can create long-term, sustainable change.”

“During 2021, we will focus on donor outreach and engagement to meet our overall funding goals, building the new fund’s organizational infrastructure and finalizing strategic investment priorities,” said Evette Roots, who serves on the leadership committee of the Amandla Fund. “As new donors join this network, we are eager to use our extraordinary combination of financial and human capital to evolve the landscape of philanthropy. With intention and persistence, we will invest in ways that will empower the Black community while creating more equitable systems that will result in greater access to opportunities across the region."

As part of Altria’s initial $5-million commitment in 2020 to address systemic racism faced by Black Americans and advance social and economic equity, the company contributed $500,000 to the Fund. “This is a new investment area for us. We will listen and learn from local organizations and leaders to support meaningful solutions,” said Jennifer Hunter, Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Altria Client Services. “The Amandla Fund brings more and different community voices to the decisions driving community change, and this is an important shift in building a stronger, more inclusive Richmond.”

The Community Foundation and Dominion Energy also contributed $200,000 each, and other corporate groups and individual donors gave $100,000 to reach an initial investment goal of $1 million. “This initiative will help promote community reconciliation and rebuilding and make a real difference in the communities we serve,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. “We recognize how much more work there is to do and are committed to being part of the change taking place.” Right now, the Fund’s leaders aspire to raise $10 million. Companies and individuals are also invited to contribute to the Amandla Fund to help create more equitable possibilities for everyone in our community.

“This is Richmond’s opportunity to demonstrate how to make sustainable investments that address systemic inequities. As the former Capital of the Confederacy, it seems appropriate that we show the way forward,” said Derrick Johnson, also an Amandla Fund committee leader. “We hope all Richmonders will feel compelled to contribute to this Fund as we strive to remove existing barriers and lift up new opportunities so everyone in our community can thrive.”

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