The Community Foundation has announced a $100,000 gift into the Equity and Inclusion Fund to bolster efforts at advancing philanthropy in communities of color throughout the region.
“The Equity and Inclusion Committee has been actively addressing some of the challenges we face since they launched just over a year ago,” said Randa Jundi-Samman, Board Chair of the Community Foundation. “This gift into their fund will leverage and expand their efforts, and we are so excited to see philanthropy growing through our overall combined efforts at enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The Community Foundation has worked on equity and inclusion for several years in different ways and at different levels of the organization. In late 2019, one more effort was formalized through the formation of the Equity and Inclusion (E&I) Committee which brought on Jazmyn Thomas as the first chair, along with 14 other community members. The E & I Committee is comprised of members with different backgrounds that bring new ideas and perspectives to engage in bold philanthropy in our community. The committee is one of 23 various committees and boards under the broad umbrella of the Community Foundation
Shawn Shackelford, principal at Central Middle School in Port Huron, is the current committee chair. “The Equity and Inclusion effort is the result of dedication and hard work of many in this community,” Shackelford said. “This gift from the Foundation is validation of that work. It will allow the Equity and Inclusion Committee to continue to support minority-related issues and opportunities.”
The committee currently has priority focus areas of women and minority owned small businesses, education, and helping folks of different backgrounds tell their stories.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the E&I Committee helped hire Kanchan Wankhede as a consultant to support women and minority-owned small businesses. She helped struggling business owners connect to resources in our community as well as build trusting relationships with the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County (EDA) and Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce. Through this effort, many local businesses were able to apply and qualify for resources they otherwise may not have been able to access. Later the Community Foundation added $25,000 in small business grant funding for women and minority owned small businesses through the EDA. The E&I Committee used some of its available funds to pay for memberships at the Blue Water Chamber for local minority-owned small businesses.
More recently, the committee provided $4,800 to the SONS organization to support college readiness. As a result, Port Huron High School was one of the top 10 schools in the state of Michigan recognized for the increase in FASFA completion. They also granted $5,000 to support the dedication of the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial. The memorial will honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen whose plane went down in Lake Huron near the Blue Water Bridge. The E&I Committee also partnered with Blue Water Indigenous Alliance to build a wigwam for the community in our local area.
“Although this is our newest grantmaking committee, they have been quick to build relationships and make an impact,” said Kevin Totty, who provides lead staff support from the Community Foundation. “The Community Foundation manages over 300 different endowment funds of all sizes, but this surprise gift of $100,000 into the E&I Fund is really going to provide a spark and boost the committee’s motivation.”