Jen Ford Reedy

Note from Jen: What reparative action means to us

December 14, 2021

Social and economic inequities are complicated. Every family and every person has their own story and unique experience. Yet, we know there are historical injustices that have had enormous, lasting impact on groups of people. In our country, there is widening realization of how much sins of the past are manifest in the challenges of today.

Addressing the accumulated impact of race-based policies requires intentional counter-intervention. It requires restoration. It requires repair.

At the Bush Foundation, we were inspired by the call for philanthropic foundations to give 10% of their assets to provide direct support to Native and Black people for wealth building activities such as education, business creation, and homeownership.

This call resonated with us.

It resonated with our institutional purpose making our region better for everyone.

It resonated with our understanding of the critical importance of wealth gaps in perpetuating virtually all other social and economic inequities.

It resonated with our desire to do more at a time of both great need and opportunity for change.

And the approach of investing in peoples’ dreams sounded like Archie Bush’s kind of philanthropy.

In summer 2020, we answered that call by issuing social bonds equal to 10% of our assets. We then consulted with community leaders to help us design an open and thoughtful process to find organizations to receive and steward these funds on behalf of the Black and Native communities in our region.

Seeding these community trust funds is not regular grantmaking for us. It is different and deeper. To us it is reparative action.

Addressing challenges that have been centuries in the making will require different and deeper action from many people, in many ways. We hope more people and institutions with wealth will consider reparative action to address racial wealth gaps. We are happy to share what we have learned with anyone who is interested. And we hope these new trust funds will be a means for us and others to create new cycles of prosperity and wellbeing.


P.S. Today’s announcement is really big for us. This is reparative and restorative action that is significant for us spiritually. AND… this is also big in the literal sense of a lot of money. I thought you might be interested to know that these will be the two biggest grants we have ever made. (A grant to the Native Governance Center will be #3.) And, after making the grants, Nexus Community Partners and NDN Collective will be the top two grant recipients in terms of cumulative grantmaking of all time — through the entire history of the Bush Foundation. (University of Minnesota will be #3.)


For background data and history on wealth gaps, check out our research on racial wealth gaps.