Changing the Landscape for Black Communities

Written by
Bjorn Wagenpfeil
March 24, 2021

Great things are happening in the Canadian philanthropic landscape!  

Last week, MLSE Foundation announced its multi-year investment of $1 million to the Foundation For Black Communities (FFBC). It joins a growing list of foundations and private donors committed to supporting the organization. Earlier this month, Laidlaw Foundation and Inspirit Foundation committed a combined $3.85 million, and they hope to encourage more funding bodies and private donors to support FFBC’s cause. 

FFBC is a working-group of Black professionals from various sectors. Established in 2020, they strive to change the Canadian philanthropic landscape and provide sustained funding for Black-led and Black-serving organizations. FFBC is currently seeking support to establish its endowment fund. 

With these recent financial commitments, the foundations response to a call to action following last year's release of the report Unfunded: Black Communities Overlooked by Canadian Philanthropy. Prepared by the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University's Philanthropy and Non-profit Leadership program, the report analyzes the roadblocks Black-led and Black-serving community groups and organizations face when trying to access grants and community development funds. 

The report paints a grim picture of the Canadian philanthropic landscape. Not only are Black communities—and the organizations that serve them— alarmingly underfunded, they also face systemic barriers that perpetuate a lack of representation in the Canadian philanthropic sector. 

Several Black community leaders interviewed for the report stated that a limited understanding of Black communities’ needs worsened this problem. An analysis of how 40 public, private, and community foundations in Canada allocated their funds in 2017/2018 illustrates this problem. During this time, the top 10 Canadian foundations gave only 1.3% of their disbursed funds to Black-serving organizations. Even fewer funds went to Black-led organizations. Under these conditions, Black community organizations cannot obtain the resources required to build capacity and address their communities' needs.

The Canadian philanthropic sector needs structures that respect and understand the unique challenges of Black community organizations to solve this problem. As a Black community-led foundation, FFBC is trying to address these issues head-on and hopes to "ensure every Black person in Canada can thrive, and all Black communities have agency in defining their own future."

The Trustee Hub has worked with numerous Black-led community groups and supported their work through mentorship as well as trusteeship services. We know that enabling Black community groups and grassroots organizations to build capacity and access funding will generate creative and effective solutions to overcome barriers and foster healthy communities. That is why we welcome the support of our partners at Laidlaw Foundation, Inspirit Foundation, and MLSE Foundation. We hope many more funding bodies will follow their leadership and address the issue of underfunded Black communities.

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