“Why Philanthropy Has A Race Problem”

by | November 9, 2020

Samantha Tweedy is the Chief Partnership and Impact Officer at Robin Hood Foundation and a board member of Matterlab partners Change Summer and Coney Island Prep. Prior to Robin Hood, Samantha was the chief advancement officer of Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter school management organization educating almost 20,000 students (at the time of this post) in grades K-12 across 49 schools in Boston, Camden, Newark, New York City, Rochester and Troy. (A 2013 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that attending an Uncommon school “completely cancel[s] out the negative effect associated with being a student in poverty.”) Samantha went from Duke undergrad to Yale Law School to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP where she focused on impact litigation on behalf of a school finance reform coalition. Then she got even closer to the work – co-founding the all-girls Excellence Girls Charter School in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and later serving as the head of school of the all-boys Excellence Boys Charter School, also in Bed Stuy.

“While over the past two decades, philanthropic giving overall has skyrocketed by nearly 400% – only about 10% of those dollars have gone to organizations led by people of color.”

In this opinion piece, she pushes the philanthropic sector to address racial inequity not just through traditional grantmaking, but through innovative, scalable approaches to empowering leaders of color to build their own tables. To do just that, Robin Hood has launched the Power Fund to invest in leaders of color.

“Leaders of color have been overlooked and underfunded. While leaders of color receive fewer philanthropic dollars, organizations led by women of color receive even less support.”


The Power Fund

Seeded with an initial investment of $10 million by Robin Hood, the Power Fund “seeks to break down barriers that leaders of color consistently face, lift up effective solutions and invest in leaders with the racialized know-how to drive mobility from poverty — an objective of critical importance as we recover and rebuild from COVID.” To be eligible for Power Fund support, organizations must be 501(c)(3) organizations operating in New York City: (1) with leadership of color, prioritizing EDs/CEOs of color; (2) whose missions are aligned with Robin Hood’s mission to increase sustainable mobility from poverty; and (3) that are addressing the interplay of racial injustice and economic injustice in their work.

Inaugural members of the Power Fund include LaRay Brown, President and CEO of One Brooklyn Health System, who is leading the charge to address New York’s glaring maternal mortality gap, and Jerelyn Rodriguez, Executive Director of The Knowledge House which provides low-income youth and young adults free technical training and professional development services to break into the tech industry.

Learn more by reading Samantha Tweedy’s opinion piece here, reviewing the Power Fund FAQs, and joining this Robin Hood x Chronicle of Philanthropy event on Monday, November 16:

Connect your work to your why.

Share This