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BBCF joins fundraising effort to empower Black girls, women

The Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium (SBGWC) this week kicked off a 10-year fundraising initiative to raise $100 million to financially empower Black girls and women across the South through the Black Girls Dream Fund.

Spearheaded by four groups across the South led by Black women – TruthSpeaks Consulting, the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF) and the Fund for Southern Communities (FSC) – the new effort seeks to change the pattern exposed in a recent report showing that Black women and girls receive less than one percent of the $8.4 billion in philanthropic investments in the South.

According to BBCF Executive Director Felecia Lucky, the effort was spearheaded by Black Voters Matter Founder and TruthSpeaks Consulting Director LaTosha Brown.

Lucky said the group came together and began holding listening sessions across the 12 states they designated as the “Deep South.”

“Based off of what we heard, we created the Black Girls Dream Fund,” Lucky said. “Because of the way Black girls have been adultified, their ability to dream has really been snuffed out. So, launching the Black Girls Dream Fund…is the four of us coming together to make a commitment to raise $100 million over 10 years to support Black girls and women, along with organizations and spaces that support Black girls and women.”

Samantha Ledbetter, BBCF’s Program Coordinator for the initiative, noted that some of the concerns expressed during the listening sessions included better education, exposure to travel opportunities and the ability to better provide for their families.

“At that young age, I didn’t have those types of worries,” Lucky said. “If you have an opportunity to dream of a world that really supports you and builds you, what does that look like? What are your dreams? So many of them could not articulate that – they didn’t realize that what they weren’t able to do was an issue, but to us it was.”

The effort is being bolstered by a $10 million contribution from the NoVo Foundation, as well as contributions from the Women Donors Network and others.

“This year has presented a moment of social reckoning, but Black girls and women are still fighting for the rights, resources and recognition they deserve,” Lucky said in a press release announcing the partnership. “Through the Black Girls Dream Fund, we aim to fill this vital funding gap and improve the quality of life for generations of Black girls and women.”

SBGWC is already leading a range of activities for both organizations and individuals, including providing capacity-building support to partner organizations across the 12-state region and has distributed more than $300,000 to organizations providing resources to Black girls and women experiencing financial hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During a time when the mainstream narrative of being Black and a woman in America can feel overwhelmingly negative, we’re proud to shift these racist and sexist ideals by investing in the goals and dreams of the millions of Black girls and women throughout the American South,” said ACF Executive Director Margo Miller. “By investing in them and providing resources they have long been denied, we will enable Black girls and women to bring more of their magic into the world and fundamentally change the way the world views them.”

“We cannot ignore the injustice that Black Women and girls face everyday,” said FSC Executive Director Alice Jenkins. “In the South, Black girls and women experience social, political and economic injustices at higher rates than their white counterparts, yet they continue to be left out of philanthropic investments. The needs are there, but the investments are not. We are committed to changing this dynamic.”

For more information, visit www.southernblackgirls.org.