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Organizations Leading Youth Mentorship, Trades Development, Healing through Art Programming, and More Awarded Funding by the 2024 Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund

 

“We take pride in our commitment to diversity, as we are a black-owned, woman-owned, and woman-led non-profit organization." -BeRezilient, Healing Through the Arts

“We define partnership as an intentional effort to forge mutually beneficial relationships pursuant to the goal of creating opportunities for youth to have the freedom to create visions for their future and helping them secure access to the human and social capital to manifest those visions.” – KB Foundation, Inc. 

“We are effective in bringing Black Voices to institutional partners because we are continuously refreshing our understanding of the needs and concerns of the community.” – Community Hero Action Group 

The statements above are excerpts from the impactful project grant applications awarded during this year's Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund, a grantmaking Fund operated by HealthSpark Foundation. Nine Black-led nonprofit organizations were selected by the eleven-member Community Action Team, the Fund’s community grantmaking team that positions Black leaders across diverse professional fields and county regions as the grant funding decision-makers for the Black Justice Fund. The Black Justice Fund awarded $122,000 in grants for the 2024 year.

Making an Impact on Health, Wellness, and Economic Opportunity

The awarded organizations align with the Black Justice Fund’s goals in leading initiatives in power-building, leadership development, and positive storytelling across Black communities in Montgomery County.  They also support the nuance, diversity, and breadth of Black experiences, and actively involve the Black community to guide their efforts.

The projects awarded include promoting financial empowerment through trade skill development that targets young people in low income and under-resourced neighborhoods in Pottstown, championing mental wellness through expressive art, closing gaps in health and wealth disparities, and mentoring youth through school-supported connections with mentors with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, among others.

“This was an educational and eye-opening experience to be a part of the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund Community Action Team. I got the chance to see what is going on in the Black community from the helping perspective. I gained a sense of pride and empowerment at what passionate people were able to create from our community, for our community,” said Akilah Williams.

The following organizations comprise the 2024 awarded slate:

A Community-Centered Grantmaking Process

“Racial inequity and social justice issues continue to hound Americans. Yet foundations have not kept pace with collaborating with Black-led nonprofit organizations through grant-making practices in order to facilitate racial equity, social justice and dismantle racism. They have not been particularly successful at targeting their resources to the underserved and marginalized communities that need them most. But HealthSpark Foundation is one grantmaking organization that stands out through its deep understanding of the local context in which it invests and seeking out grassroots nonprofit organizations whose mission and goals align with the foundation's values and mission,” said Community Action Team member and founder of the Lansdale-based Coalition for Racial and Social Justice Dr. Bernadine Ahonkhai. 

The Community Action Team members during this round included Dr. Bernadine Ahonkhai, Carla Clanagan, Ella Griggs, Mark Jones, Lindsay Kijewski, Quan King, Shaykh Anwar Muhammad, Mydera Taliah Robinson, Brandon Stiff, Reverend Michael Stitt, and Akilah Williams. The Community Action Team is responsible for designing grant priorities, such as how this year’s team made a change to prioritize organizations whose annual budget is equal to or less than $750,000.

During the grant process period, the Community Action Team facilitated outreach and engagement, evaluated grant applications, and made the decisions regarding grant awards. HealthSpark staff supported the process and logistics but did not make final decisions on the grant awards.

Philanthropy’s Responsibility Towards Racial Equity

HealthSpark Foundation launched the Fund in 2021. In honor of its namesake Dr. Frank E. Boston, a Black medical doctor and social entrepreneur who created a hospital and ambulance corps in Lansdale nearly a century ago, the Fund was created to address the historical exclusion of Black leaders and Black community-serving organizations from tackling the challenges and opportunities facing Montgomery County residents. Since its inception, the Fund has now provided a total of $373,100 in grant funds to 22 organizations.

“At HealthSpark, we recognize that as a philanthropic foundation we have a necessary role to play in moving towards a just and liberatory society. First, we must increase resources directly to Black-led organizations who are doing critical work in our county. Second, and equally important, is changing our own practices so that we are dismantling traditional power hierarchies and positioning communities directly at the center of our grantmaking practices. The Black Justice Fund has started us on that process, and we’re encouraged to continue to grow and expand this work in the future,” shared Emma Hertz, President, CEO.