Photo of the Black Power Epicenter in South Seattle. Photo credit: Michael B. Maine for Seattle Foundation.

In Conversation, In Community: The Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund

In this instance of our In Conversation, In Community series, we engaged with three community leaders who have received one of the first rounds of grants from the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund.

By Jonathan Cunningham, Senior Program Officer

Seattle Foundation hosts a quarterly In Conversation, In Community event designed to provide a space where nonprofit organizations and philanthropists can be in conversation together. Recently, we brought funders and grantees together to discuss the vision and impact of the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund in the year since its launch.

With the guidance and partnership of our Black-led Organizations Cohort, affectionately called The BLOC, Seattle Foundation created the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund. What does it mean to have a fund solely dedicated to the joy and rest of Black community organizers? Beneficiaries of the fund provided their insights.

“Black and brown people won’t have to be poster children for the word resilience,” said Melba Mitchell Ayco, Founder and Artistic Director of Northwest Tap Connection. “Resilience is always about how we endured slavery, how we endured Jim Crow… I like resilience—I think I have a lot of it—but occasionally I like a little bit of relaxation.”

In its first year, the Fund distributed $540,000 to 29 Black-led and -serving organizations in King County. Our grantees used the funds to meet the needs of volunteers and staff inside of their organizations. For example, Nurturing Roots and Northwest Tap Connection gave their contractors bonuses and Brothers United In Leadership Development (BUILD) held a powerful men’s rejuvenation treat. Watch our latest In Conversation, In Community event to learn more about what our grantees accomplished with the support of the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund.

Seattle Foundation is proud to be offering the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund once again this year. But we need your help to ensure that Black leaders on the frontlines of crises can receive this support, so they don’t burn out while working on behalf of their community.

“We have a lot of resources within our community. What we don’t have is a lot of time, especially when we’re combating systems like capitalism. We don’t have a lot of time to slow down, be with each other, and build relationships,” explained Andre Franklin, Co-Founder of BUILD. “So, I am excited to see the Seattle Foundation, through conversations with Black-led organizations, create a fund where funders step back and trust us to do what’s right with the resources.”

August is Black Philanthropy Month, an excellent opportunity to support and amplify the time and talent of Black leaders who have labored to meet the needs of their community. Seattle Foundation believes in the leadership of Black-led Organizations and has contributed $250,000 to the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund. We need generous donors to help us match and exceed the initial investment through the end of September.

The leadership of Black community organizers is essential in the fight for social justice. Investing in the rest and renewal of Black community leaders is a lasting investment in justice. Support the Black-led Joy and Wellness Fund today!