Foundation Insights

An update about our Racial Equity journey

By Vivian Oden, Vice President for Special Projects

Year 2020 proved just how important it is to focus on racial equity.

As a Black woman from Virginia, I care about People of Color, and I am concerned about the disparate ways the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our communities. Social unrest – heightened this summer in the aftermath of the tragic death of George Floyd – further points to the importance of justice, understanding, and togetherness.

I lead our work in diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, and I am proud to say that our organization remains committed to the cause and the focus of racial equity.

In 2020, the community foundation:

  • Launched a new grant program with Virginia Humanities called Beneath the Surface, focused on race and the history of race in South Hampton Roads.
  • Awarded more than $1.25 million in COVID-19 response grants, focusing on organizations addressing the greatest needs, including those in Communities of Color.
  • Hosted the annual Black Philanthropy Month celebration, highlighting the impact of giving in the Black community.
  • Participated in numerous training sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In 2021, we will make even more strides. For example, the community foundation will ask nonprofits seeking our grants to share their organization's racial and ethnic data. This information provides a more comprehensive picture of our community, who we help, and opportunities for support.

On competitive grant applications in 2021, organizations are asked to share with us the percentage of People of Color in:

  • Executive leadership
  • Staff leadership
  • Board of Directors
  • Population served

The term People of Color refers to individuals who identify as non-White, including individuals who identify as Native American, Indigenous, Black, African American, Hispanic, Latinx, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Pacific Islander. Find our grant information here.

We will continue engaging the community in critical dialogue, including a virtual event in February with Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law, which examines racial discrimination in housing laws. This event was postponed earlier this year due to the pandemic. Stay tuned for more information.

I am thankful that we are on this racial equity journey together as a community. To learn more, check out the resources listed here.


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