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Press Release: Momentum Fund Announces $8.5 Million in Grants

Publication date: 
September, 2020

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2020
Contact: Traci Slater-Rigaud
traci@unitedphilforum.org
(202) 457-8784

Momentum Fund Announces Capacity Support for Organizations Managing COVID-19 Relief Funds Serving Systematically Under-Resourced BIPOC Communities 

The recently-launched Momentum Fund is exemplifying a model of philanthropy that unapologetically centers racial equity and explicitly prioritizes the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities as part of our national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington, D.C. – The Momentum Fund announced today that it has awarded $8.5 million in grants to 129 501(c)(3) organizations around the country managing COVID-19 relief funds that provide grants and other forms of direct support to community-run organizations working with communities of color, historically marginalized populations, and other groups being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic that continues to ravage these communities. 

The Momentum Fund is guided by a five-member advisory board comprised of leaders from philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) who also advocate for many of the communities and populations hit hardest by the pandemic. The grants from the Momentum Fund, which draws from funding provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is managed by United Philanthropy Forum, will help the organizations strengthen their capacity to support COVID-19 relief efforts in communities most affected by the ongoing public health and economic crisis. The grants are also meant to help foster needed movement in the philanthropic sector towards greater racial equity and recognition of organizations whose staff and board leadership directly reflects the communities they serve. 

“This crisis, along with the needless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, underscores the extreme disparities and systemic injustices that remain so pervasive throughout our society,” said Amanda Misiko Andere, CEO of Funders Together to End Homelessness and Chair of the Momentum Fund Advisory Board. “We are proud to announce that much of the funding through the Momentum Fund is going to organizations that are led by majority Black, Latinx, Muslim, Indigenous, women and LGBTQ+ staff, and which are deeply representative of the communities that they serve. In this moment of extreme need, the philanthropic sector has a moral obligation to adopt a paradigm of giving that recognizes the disproportionate pain and suffering that is shouldered by many of our nation’s most vulnerable communities.”The Momentum Fund was launched in May 2020 with a vision of ushering in a new model of philanthropic giving that focuses more explicitly on race, class, and gender. The Fund received nearly 760 applications from organizations across the country, and grants were reviewed by a 20-member Grant Review Committee comprised of PSO leaders. While the Momentum Fund’s resources could not allow for grants to all applicants, hundreds of ultimately unsuccessful applications were strongly considered by the Fund’s advisory board. Those applicants have clearly shown a high level of need for more capacity to respond to the continuing, devastating impact of the pandemic on under-resourced and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

The Momentum Fund awarded grants to organizations working in 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The average amount awarded to each of the Momentum Fund’s 129 successful applicants is $65,900, with grant amounts ranging from $25,000 to $80,000. Of the 31 states that had successful grant applicants, California (19), New York (16), Washington (8), Washington, D.C. (8), Illinois (7), Georgia (7), Minnesota (6) and Massachusetts (6) had the highest total numbers of grantees, mirroring the ways that COVID-19 continues to harm vulnerable communities in many geographically diverse areas of the country. Grantees represent a diverse range of nonprofit organizations, including women’s foundations, community foundations, United Ways, philanthropy-serving organizations and community-led nonprofit organizations.

Momentum Fund grantees described a wide range of urgent needs to build their capacity to effectively manage their COVID-19 funds and help their communities—as they all responded quickly to the crisis without having time to find new resources. The three highest capacity needs identified by grantees were for fundraising support, additional temporary or permanent staffing, and digital engagement. A significant number of grantees also expressed a need for support to train staff reassigned to COVID-19 fund-related duties, translation/interpretation services and support to advance racial equity. 

The Momentum Fund was launched in May 2020 with a vision of ushering in a new model of philanthropic giving that focuses more explicitly on race, class, and gender. The Fund received nearly 760 applications from organizations across the country, and grants were reviewed by a 20-member Grant Review Committee comprised of PSO leaders representing geographies, issues and population groups impacted by the pandemic. While the Momentum Fund’s resources could not allow for grants to all applicants, hundreds of ultimately unsuccessful applications were strongly considered by the Fund’s advisory board. Those applicants have clearly shown a high level of need for more capacity to respond to the continuing, devastating impact of the pandemic on under-resourced and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. The Momentum Fund welcomes additional funders to help meet the many unmet needs highlighted through the application process.

The combination of such a significant number of compelling applications over such a short period of time, as well as the large number of high-quality applications that the Fund could not support, demonstrates the extraordinary level of need that continues to exist to respond to the pandemic and is currently going unaddressed in many vulnerable communities across the United States and its territories.

“It is essential that the philanthropic sector continues to dedicate itself to this work of addressing equity, which includes addressing the devastating and deadly human health, economic, and social impacts that are befalling millions of people of color and vulnerable families across the nation every day,” challenged Carly Hare, National Director of CHANGE Philanthropy and Momentum Fund Advisory Board member. “We know that there are a number of organizations providing COVID-19 response, but during this process the Momentum Fund prioritized organizations led by people of color and underinvested communities.“

Most Momentum Fund grantees will be featured on the new PowerOf platform, which is a collaborative effort from several social sector organizations led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The platform connects people who want to make a difference with organizations addressing the impacts of COVID-19. You can learn more at www.powerof.org. Grantees will also receive support through a grantee learning community, to help them maximize the effects and reach of their work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more and view a complete list of Momentum Fund grantees, visit www.momentumfund.org

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