Jul 05, 2023

Advancing Racial Equity in the Poverty Fight: Robin Hood's Power Fund Leaders

Hear from some of the inaugural Power Fund leaders on how this investment from Robin Hood is impacting their role as non-profit leaders of color who are essential to the fight against poverty.

Three years after the launch of Power Fund, Robin Hood is eager to embed equity into our grantmaking process by incorporating learnings from the inaugural Power Fund cohort, hoping to encourage the philanthropic community and public sector to expand their investments in leaders of color and deepen their important work to advance social change at scale.

Throughout our 35-year history, Robin Hood has adapted our grantmaking to address the changing landscape of poverty in New York City. In the 1990s, we funded programs to reach New Yorkers affected by the AIDS epidemic and high rates of teen pregnancy. Since the dawn of the new millennium, our investments have equipped children and adults with the skills and tools to thrive in a digital economy.

In the summer of 2020, Robin Hood launched the Power Fund, an initiative to fund non-profit leaders of color who are essential to the fight against poverty, while examining the role that philanthropy can play in either perpetuating or reducing racial inequality. The idea came to life alongside the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 bearing out in communities of color across the city. At the same time, research was published that year showing that only 1 out of every 10 dollars went to nonprofits with leaders of color in the last two decades—despite a nearly 400 percent increase in overall philanthropic giving.

The Power Fund is a recent example of evolving our approaches to meet the challenges of the moment.

Over an 18 month-period, Robin Hood made nearly $11 million in new investments through the Power Fund to 23 leaders of color at 22 organizations and granted more than $750,000 in capacity- strengthening services from our Management Assistance team. Since our initial investments, we have renewed funding for over 80% of our Power Fund partners.

Importantly, we learned that the Power Fund is more than an investment in outstanding leaders of color – it has strengthened how we fight poverty as an organization. Through the Power Fund, we have expanded our reach into parts of the city like Red Hook, Coney Island and Jackson Heights, Queens where we previously had little to no footprint—helping us deepen our community relationships and reach new swaths of New Yorkers experiencing poverty such as African, South Asian and Indo-Caribbean immigrant communities, as well as workers in the gig economy.

Hear from some of the inaugural Power Fund leaders on how this investment from Robin Hood is impacting their role as non-profit leaders of color who are essential to the fight against poverty:

Bernell K. Grier, Executive Director, IMPACCT Brooklyn

Hear how the Power Fund has impacted Bernell’s leadership of IMPACCT Brooklyn and it’s mission to providing community development and housing services to the neighborhoods of central Brooklyn.

LaRay Brown, Executive Director & CEO, One Brooklyn Health System

Hear from inaugural Power Fund grantee LaRay Brown to learn how the Power Fund has impacted her role as Executive Director & CEO of One Brooklyn Health System.

Amaha Kassa, Founder & Executive Director, African Communities Together (ACT)

Hear how Power Fund grantee Amaha Kassa is connecting New York’s African immigrants to critical services, to develop as leaders, and to organize on the issues that effect them the most.

Jerelyn Rodriguez, Co-Founder & CEO, The Knowledge House

Hear how The Power Fund impacted Jerelyn Rodriguez at The Knowledge House, who is working to close the gaps in the education­-to-employment pipeline through digital skills training in the Bronx.

Marjorie Parker, Co-Founder & CEO, JobsFirstNYC

Hear how The Power Fund is supporting Marjorie Parker in creating and advancing workforce solutions that break down barriers for young adults in New York City.