Oct 13, 2020 Press Release

Robin Hood's Power Fund Announces Inaugural Cohort of Leaders

Robin Hood’s Power Fund addresses systemic racism by investing in top nonprofit leaders of color.

Robin Hood, NYC’s largest poverty-fighting organization, today announced the Power Fund’s inaugural cohort of Power Fund Leaders who share Robin Hood’s mission of increasing mobility from poverty. Launched in July, the Power Fund, addresses a critical funding disparity while funding leaders who bring perspective, proximity, and expertise to the fight against poverty.

Over the past two decades, only 10 percent of philanthropic dollars have gone to organizations led by people of color despite giving increasing nearly 400 percent. Investment in the inaugural cohort also responds to a disparity within a disparity. While leaders of color receive fewer philanthropic dollars, organizations led by women of color receive even less support. Power Fund investments will catalyze a shift in long-term grantmaking priorities at Robin Hood and across the field of philanthropy.

The inaugural assembly of Power Fund Leaders includes dynamic innovators collectively tackling inequities and driving solutions across New York City:

  • Barika X. Williams, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD), who works to strengthen the activist community development movement in NYC to build power for low and moderate-income people to challenge and change unjust systems of power.
  • LaRay Brown, President & CEO, One Brooklyn Health System, who is catalyzing the development and implementation of OBHS’s Maternal and Child Health Initiative, a system-wide transformation of maternal and child health services at OBHS’ three hospitals, which exist within communities that suffer disproportionately high rates of maternal and infant mortality.
  • Jessica Santana and Evin Robinson, Co-Founders, America on Tech, who create pathways for students into technology careers.
  • Jerelyn Rodriguez, Executive Director & CEO, The Knowledge House, who empowers and sustains a talent pipeline of technologists, entrepreneurs, and digital leaders who are working to uplift their communities out of poverty.
  • Bernell K. Grier, Executive Director, IMPACCT Brooklyn, who leads the charge on addressing issues of affordable housing, tenants’ rights, small businesses and home ownership.

“As a poverty-fighting organization in a city where 80 percent of those in poverty are people of color, we know that poverty and race are inextricably linked. Leaders of color are often some of the most effective and innovative leaders because their solution-based approaches reflect lived, racialized experiences,” said Wes Moore, Chief Executive Officer at Robin Hood. “I am honored and humbled to welcome these remarkable nonprofit leaders into the Robin Hood family.”

The Power Fund benefits from the guidance of its esteemed Advisory, including Cecilia A. Conrad of Lever for Change, Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green, Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, Jennifer Ching of North Star Fund, Khalil Muhammad of Harvard Kennedy School, Kriste Dragon of Pahara Institute, Marc Morial, of the National Urban League, Shawn Lytle of the Macquarie Group, Sheena Wright of United Way of New York City, Soledad O’Brien of Soledad O’Brien Productions, and Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.

“Racial bias is woven into every aspect of our society. It’s driven poverty and it’s starved leaders of color of the funding and opportunity to make real, systemic change within their communities,” said Soledad O’BrienFounder of Soledad O’Brien Productions. “It has been an honor to join the Power Fund Advisory to support Robin Hood in shaping an initiative that takes racial biases into account, and vows to chart a new path forward for philanthropic investment for leaders of color.”

Power Fund organizations will each receive catalytic investment and will benefit from the access of Robin Hood’s management assistance and network support to build their capacity, including assistance with board member recruitment, fundraising, and strategic planning, in addition to intentional access to philanthropic, government, and community partner networks. The leaders will also receive self-directed funding for leadership elevation support.

“Race has and continues to shape every part of our lived realities – from where we work to where we live. Any efforts to address the needs of New York City’s communities of color and marginalized communities must recognize the legacies of oppression that created our current conditions and their continued impact on place and neighborhoods,” said Barika X. Williams, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD). “We are building a movement to dismantle the historic roots of the systemic and structural policies that continue to perpetuate wide inequitable outcomes in neighborhoods and communities.”

The Power Fund was seeded with an initial investment of $10 million by Robin Hood, with additional investments from partners, including the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family FoundationBlackRockCapital One, and the Macquarie Group in addition to employee match program support from Bridgewater Associates and Goldman Sachs. Robin Hood will continue to announce Power Fund leaders on a quarterly basis.

“The Power Fund is forging durable change that will help shift the paradigm within philanthropy to recognize and invest in leaders of color who have long gone underfunded,” said Andreas DracopoulosCo-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). “The experienced leaders in this first cohort provide the committed vision needed to address pervasive socioeconomic inequities. We are proud to act as an anchor funder to support each of these five organizations through Robin Hood’s Power Fund.”

Creation of the Power Fund is informed by Robin Hood’s work at the frontlines of the poverty fight in New York City for over three decades. The Power Fund is Robin’s second major initiative this year, following the reactivation of the Robin Hood Relief Fund, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which raised $60 million and the organization’s record-breaking benefit Rise Up New York! Telecast.

About Robin Hood

Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. Robin Hood invests nearly $120 million annually to provide legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs, and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics, and since Robin Hood’s Board of Directors covers all overhead, 100 percent of every donation goes directly to the poverty fight. Learn more at robinhood.org.

About America On Tech

America On Tech (AOT) is an award-winning nonprofit organization that runs tuition-free technology skills development programs for 16-24 year old’s focused on building their expertise in areas such as web development, mobile development, UX design, cyber security and digital marketing. To learn more, visit americaontech.org.

About the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development

The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development Inc. (ANHD) is an umbrella organization representing 80+ non-profit community groups across New York City, dedicated to building community power to win affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. ANHD uses research, advocacy, and organizing, paired with capacity building and technical assistance, to support our members in their work. To learn more, visit anhd.org.

About IMPACCT Brooklyn

IMPACCT Brooklyn’s programs and services focus on supporting historically-underserved, low-and-moderate-income families in communities of color through the ownership, development and marketing of Affordable and Supportive Housing, operating as HUD housing counseling agency; Resident Engagement and Advocacy; Small Business Services; and Social Services. As one of Brooklyn’s premier, community development corporations, IMPACCT is a trusted provider of key services throughout its targeted communities which include Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Brownsville. To learn more, visit impacctbrooklyn.org.

About The Knowledge House

The Knowledge House (TKH) is committed to taking low-income youth and young adults from unemployment and dead-end jobs to financial independence and stability by providing them with free technical training and professional development services that put them on a direct path to employment in the tech sector. To learn more, visit theknowledgehouse.org.

About One Brooklyn Health System

One Brooklyn Health System provides high quality, comprehensive healthcare to the communities it serves through a network of acute hospitals, community-based practices, long-term care facilities and partnerships with local healthcare providers. To learn more, visit onebrooklynhealth.org.

Additional Power Fund Grantee Quotes

“We know firsthand what it’s like to have limitations placed on us before we even had the chance to understand the opportunities the world had to offer us. In that sense, we are not so different from the students and young adults we empower through technology and entrepreneurship,” said Evin Robinson and Jessica Santana, Co-Founders of America on Tech. “As leaders of color, we have an inherent understanding of the obstacles our students face and how to best open doors of opportunities for the communities we serve. We were once the students we now serve.”

“Organizations like ours need support to tell our own stories of our communities and what works for them. This is a critical part of our fight for racial justice,” said Bernell K. Grier, Executive Director of IMPACCT Brooklyn. “It is through this lived experience that we can help New Yorkers build and sustain flourishing communities.”

“Poverty, racism, and public health are inextricably linked. The fact that Black and Latinx neighborhoods in New York City lack a financially strong healthcare system is the utmost demonstration of racial injustice,” said LaRay Brown, President & CEO of One Brooklyn Health System. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to really move the needle on the maternal health of women of color in a diverse borough.”

“When I first sought out grant funding to introduce youth in the Bronx to careers in the tech ecosystem, funders said that coding would be too challenging for the population I was trying to serve. It was an uphill battle to prove the value in funding a deeply disinvested and disadvantaged community,” said Jerelyn Rodriguez, Co-Founder & CEO of The Knowledge House. “The impact shows that the challenges facing my community require holistic solutions, and what we’re doing is working.”