Next100 policy entrepreneur Zaki Smith was selected as one of the inaugural recipients of the new Black Voices for Black Justice Fund’s Amplifying Voices Award. See below for the full press release.
Black Voices for Black Justice Fund Launches to Support Activists Working to Create an Anti-Racist America
A group of Black leaders today announced the launch of a new $10 million fund to build an anti-racist America with 31 Black leaders across 15 states and Washington, DC receiving funding for their work on voting rights, COVID recovery, criminal justice reform, creating economic opportunity, environmental justice and education
Black Voices for Black Justice Fund (BVBJ) is unique in its approach – letting awardees use funding dollars in whatever way they believe will make the greatest impact toward racial justice
NEW YORK, NY — September 29, 2020 — As the U.S. continues an unprecedented racial reckoning following the deaths and continued pursuit of justice for countless Black Americans including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, an innovative new fund is supporting Black leaders on the front lines of shaping the urgent movement to build a fair, equitable, and anti-racist America. The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund launched today with an initial $2 million investment – with the goal of raising over $10 million – to support Black leaders as they seize this unparalleled opportunity to advance racial justice.
In announcing the fund, co-chair Kerry Washington said, “The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund recognizes incredible leaders who have been on the frontlines working to dismantle the deep-rooted, racist systems that have plagued our country for centuries. Amplifying their voices and providing resources to these inspiring advocates is critical as we strive towards equity and racial justice in this country.”
Thirty-one awardees – encompassing Black leaders across U.S. cities including Minneapolis, Tulsa, Brooklyn, Portland and Washington, DC – have been selected for the fund’s first set of investments, encompassing a range of Black community leaders and organizers across the country who are working to address systems of oppression, violence and inequality:
– Awardee Ryan Haygood, a civil rights lawyer who defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act before the US Supreme Court in Shelby County Alabama versus Holder, led a successful legal challenge to voter suppression in Texas, and is President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice said: “This means a great deal to me, particularly because I know that there are so many people doing amazing work.”
– Awardee Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Founder and Executive Director of the Terrence Crutcher Foundation in Tulsa, OK, said: “Coming off the four-year anniversary of my brother’s murder – as I continue to try to turn my pain into purpose – I am humbled to receive this award. The message from the fund is clear, unusual and very welcome: You trust us as Black leaders to know how to make a difference! Almost a century after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, our work is more urgent than ever and this infusion of support means more than I can say to me and to my entire community.”
– Awardee Nicole Lynn Lewis, who founded and runs Generation Hope, a nonprofit that helps teen parents forge a path to economic opportunity, said: “Receiving this award is a recognition of my voice and vision but, more importantly, it is a validation of young parents, single mothers and fathers, and parenting college students everywhere. Their stories—our stories—are intricately intertwined with the roots of racial oppression in this country, and this support will allow us to amplify their experiences and work alongside others to dismantle systemic barriers to their economic mobility.”
– Awardee Michael “Zaki” Smith of Next100 and the Fair Chance Project in Brooklyn, NY, said: “This recognition shows that there is a rising awareness of the perpetual punishment faced by the formerly incarcerated. It shows that more people are believing in me and believing in the work. Too often, policy debates happen in the hallways of Washington or Albany, with little input or understanding from impacted individuals. These resources will allow me to continue to reach, work with, and educate more people directly and indirectly impacted by perpetual punishment, and the criminal justice system as a whole. It will allow me to work hand in hand with communities and help empower them to drive change.”
– Awardee Pastor Howard-John Wesley, pastor of Alexandria, VA’s historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, said, “It is humbling and gratifying to be acknowledged for the work we do in trying to promote justice which to me is synonymous with the call to righteousness and this great vision to support Black Voices for Black Justice.”
“The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund recognizes and supports the incredible work that’s being done by everyday heroes at the grassroots level,” said Wes Moore, bestselling author, social entrepreneur and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation and a co-chair of the fund. “In order for our communities to exceed the level of greatness we all aspire to, these voices must be elevated, supported and heard.”
In addition to Ms. Washington and Mr. Moore, BVBJ is led by the following national Black leaders:
- Tenicka Boyd, National Organizing Director and Deputy Political Director of the ACLU
- Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders, a national nonprofit that works to ensure high academic achievement for children in poverty and students of color
- Shavar D. Jeffries, president of Education Reform Now
- John B. King, Jr., former Secretary of Education and president and CEO of The Education Trust
Initial funding was pooled by seven foundations: The Moriah Fund; The Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation (which supports the fund’s special area focus in Brooklyn, NY); Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Galaxy Gives; and CityBridge Foundation, Greater Washington Community Foundation and Bridge Alliance Education Fund (which collectively support the fund’s special area focus in Washington, DC).
For more information about the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, and to see the full list of awardees, visit www.blackvoices.org.
About Black Voices for Black Justice Fund
The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund is a new racial justice fund that is supporting Black leaders and Black-led organizations on the front lines in shaping the urgent movement to build a fair, equitable, and anti-racist America. It will amplify and elevate ongoing efforts to address our national crisis surrounding racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and racial inequality. By linking emerging community and local leaders with a cohort of established national leaders, the Fund will also seek to help develop the next generation of Black leaders.