Cleveland Black Futures Fund Provides Hope for Tomorrow

By Briana Oldham

There is no time like the present.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that nothing is more important than living in the here and now. Focusing on today while planning for tomorrow can prove challenging, but since 2020 is doling out lessons left and right, it’s also taught us this: we can face our fears and overcome any obstacle if we do it together.

During a time of so much uncertainty, we are compelled to create joy and find hope where we can.

The Cleveland Black Futures Fund is the perfect example of doing just that. It embodies being intentional about supporting the efforts to dismantle racism. It was created with the goal in mind to invest in and strengthen Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations.

The fund intends to do this by providing resources that allow organizations in the Black community to move forward with equity at the center.

Recently, the Cleveland Black Futures Fund announced an advisory committee to help with the application and grantmaking process:

  • Courtenay A. Barton, Program Director for Arts & Culture and Racial Equity Initiatives, Cleveland Foundation
  • Carrie Carpenter, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • The Rev. Dr. Robin Hedgeman, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • Constance Hill-Johnson, Board Member, Cleveland Foundation
  • Treye Johnson, Regional Outreach Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Shanelle Smith Whigham, Vice President, Sustainability & Social Impact, KeyBank
  • Timothy L. Tramble Sr., President & CEO, Saint Luke’s Foundation

I was fortunate to be on the call with this group of community leaders and foundation representatives the first day they met to discuss an outline for the Cleveland Black Futures Fund. Being with people who were poised with intention was truly an inspiration and got me excited about how the Cleveland Black Futures Fund plans to transform lives.

The tone was genuine and hopeful energy bounced from person to person. They held each other accountable when considering all facets of the fund and asked the hard questions. That afternoon, I was a witness to the thoughtful collaboration that is needed at the beginning of philanthropic initiatives.

With all that is going on around us, from adjusting to a new normal as a result of the  global pandemic, to the resurgence of the civil rights movement, it is beyond important for Black people to feel seen and heard. It is equally imperative that Black people are not made to feel bad for wanting better, and for wanting more. The idea that the future could change for so many Black people is one that I believe will come to fruition. What I’ve gathered so far is that the Cleveland Black Futures Fund will create realistic opportunities for the communities that need them the most, and empower people in the process to make sure they have the tools they need from start to finish. This will revitalize the region and help create a brighter future.

The careful craftsmanship of the Cleveland Black Futures Fund signifies how a moment can turn into a movement.

For more details and to learn what’s next, visit ClevelandFoundation.org/Black-Futures-Fund.