National voting rights organization to award nearly $150K in grants to local grassroots groups  under the Black Reparations Fund initiative

GEORGIA — Today, in an effort to help close the racial wealth gap, Black Voters Matter (BVM) announced the Black Reparations Fund, a new initiative under the We Won’t Black Down campaign that will support local grassroots groups’ efforts to hold locally appointed reparations taskforce committees accountable. These groups are responsible for advancing the development of reparations plans and driving support of local policy initiatives to help close the racial wealth gap. Direct capacity building grants totaling $150K will be awarded to grantees starting in Asheville, North Carolina, and Boston, Massachusetts. Each grantee will also receive $50K in additional in-kind services, such as technical assistance, for a total of $200K in support.

The official launch of this grant initiative will take place at BVM’s upcoming virtual Policy Corner on June 28 at 6 p.m. ET, where grantee organizations will share insights on the history and current status of the local reparations movement. Their work reflects the power of community and the importance of engaging local leaders and communities in federal programs that may explore reparations for Black people.  

Since its founding, Black Voters Matter Fund, as a capacity building institute, has supported more than 600 organizations, contributing more than $30 million in grants toward building power in Black communities.

Reparations acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression and discrimination that Black people have faced in America for four hundred years. From slavery to Jim Crow laws to redlining and mass incarceration, Black people have endured systemic racism and the devastating effects that it causes for generations. Reparations can help to address this harm and provide opportunities for historical redress and healing.

Paying homage to David Walker, Harriett Tubman, and Queen Mother Moore, the Black Reparations Fund is the first of its kind to be offered by Black Voters Matter in an effort to advance economic freedom and equality for Black people. The issues that BVM addresses in its programmatic work, like systemic racism, housing discrimination, police brutality, access to healthcare, and education are all rooted in an economic reality produced by slavery. 

To date, Congress has stalled two bills, H.R. 40, introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) in 2021 to form a commission to study reparations for African Americans, and a similar bill, H.R. 414, introduced by Representative Cori Bush (D-MO). With the lack of federal action, it’s important that local and statewide coalitions continue doing the hard but necessary work to advance the movement for reparations. 

“We have been fighting for reparations for years, often only with the sweat, determination, and will of our community. We are inspired by the tireless and dedicated work of our ancestors and elders and we are equally inspired by the work of local organizers who didn’t wait for the United States government to act but are petitioning local city governments to provide various forms of reparations for black people in America. We want to support their efforts to continue to push the issue of reparations to the forefront in every level of government,” said April England-Albright, National Legal Director of Black Voters Matter Fund 

“With the Black Reparations Fund, Black Voters Matter will expand its capacity building initiatives to support organizations that are actively seeking opportunities to help Black communities increase their wealth and capital for long-needed economic stability and equality,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund. “We applaud these grassroots groups’ efforts to advance this work on a local level to benefit the communities who need it and are still deeply affected by the lasting legacy of slavery and systemic racism today.”  

“The time is now to explore the possibilities of what reparations could be for Black people,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter Fund. “The call for action is urgent as white supremacy grows and diverse voices are pushed out of public classrooms, Black homeownership rates decline, and student loan forgiveness and affirmative action are at risk. Underinvestment in Black communities must be addressed with urgency. BVM supports the ideas that advance the closing of the racial wealth gap in Black communities. Ideas that put us in a position to thrive, not just survive. Waiting for a federal response is no longer an option.

LEARN MORE: Please use this link to join the BVM Policy Corner on June 28 at 6:00 p.m. ET.