Robin Hood foundation launches fund to help groups run by people of color

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A foundation led by Army combat veteran and best-selling author Wes Moore is launching a new fund dedicated to financing nonprofit organizations that are solely run by people of color. 

The new Robin Hood initiative, titled the “Power Fund,” is looking to back these groups in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests after George Floyd was killed by police last month.

Moore, the CEO of the foundation, told CNBC in an interview that Robin Hood is already dedicating $10 million in seed capital to the fund and is seeing support from at least two financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. Moore said the data, which he says shows only 10% of philanthropic contributions go to groups led by people of color, pushed him and the foundation he leads to create the new fund. 

The move to establish this fund, comes with the hope that businesses and philanthropic leaders will start to shift their focus toward, not just backing the more traditional organizations that are already in their portfolios but also smaller groups that are combating poverty and racial injustice. 

“We are going to put a real focus as to both the identification of organizations that could be in our portfolio, they just haven’t been on our radar screen,” Moore explained on Tuesday. “How do we expand our horizon? How do we expand our thinking when it comes to what makes an organization ready to be part of our portfolio?” 

The Robin Hood foundation funds over 200 poverty fighting programs in New York City.

“When they work, we find ways to bring their successes to scale. When they stumble, we try to identify the problem and help correct it,” the website says. 

Since it was founded in the 1980’s, Robin Hood has always had a business-like approach to deciding who it assists. 

That appears to be holding true with the “Power Fund,” with their corporate partners, investors and board members already giving big to the effort.

“We have private both board members and also private investors who have already committed to the fund,” Moore explained. “We are in conversation now with at least a dozen other corporate partners that we’re hoping to have lock ins within days,” he said. 

Their board consists of top business leaders, including many on Wall Street. Their chairman is longtime investor John Griffin, with Goldman Sachs’ Dina Powell McCormick as the vice chair. Goldman’s CEO, David Solomon, is also on the board.

Goldman recently created a fund of its own titled the “Fund for Racial Equity,” which, according to its website, was made to “support the vital work of leading organizations addressing racial injustice, structural inequity and economic disparity.” The bank says it launched initially with $10 million. 

All of these new ventures by corporate leaders and foundations such as Robin Hood, is in response to, Moore says, the inequalities that have been evident during the coronavirus pandemic and since Floyd’s death. 

Robin Hood established a Covid-19 relief fund as New York struggled to overcome the virus and the group’s founder believes both the pandemic, and the reaction to Floyd’s death, represents large-scale racial inequality. 

“The truth is that when you actually peel them back, they are exposing the same thing,” Moore said when discussing both the coronavirus and the protests sparked by Floyd’s death. 

“While Covid-19 impacted everybody, it didn’t impact everybody equally. If you look at people of color, people of color contracted Covid at twice the rate and died at twice the rate,” Moore explained when discussing the pandemic. “Policing reform is necessary in all communities” but added “when they saw George Floyd being murdered on camera, you just got another illustration of the fact that, while every community needs policing reform, the way that you look at Black and brown communities and how they are policed, it’s not policed the same.” 

“It’s one of these things that we hope that the ‘Power Fund’ can actually hope to address” Moore concluded. 

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