The Bush Foundation’s purpose is to make our region better for everyone. Today, we are excited to announce a new effort that builds on two long-standing commitments of the Foundation: advancing racial equity and investing in people.
The Bush Foundation is committing $100 million to seed two community trust funds that will address wealth disparities caused by historic racial injustice. These trust funds will directly invest in Black and Native American communities across our region through grants to individuals. The goal of these grants is to build stability and generational wealth by improving access to opportunities such as education, homeownership and entrepreneurship.
Being co-leaders of this initiative is exciting to us for many reasons. These community trust funds are about investing in people’s dreams. As Native and Black women, we come from communities that know plenty about the power of dreams and prayers for future generations. Our people have had to hold onto cultural beliefs and believe in dreams during the bleakest of times — while surviving through broken treaties and slavery, while persevering through Indian boarding schools, Jim Crow policy, and shouting that Black Lives Matter. Our ancestors never stopped dreaming and praying for us, and it is humbling to be in a position to help others in our communities walk towards their dreams and create stronger future generations.
As we pursue this work, we keep in mind that for our communities, wealth is defined by more than just money. Our people have long been rich in our cultural ways, stories, knowledge, connections to land, and strength to persevere through long-lasting oppression. We have always known our worth, even when it has not been in ways that show up on a bank account statement.
We also know that in our society, money matters. It is easier to build wealth when your family already has wealth. Our communities have had many unjust hurdles to clear in order to access the things that can build stability and generational wealth, like home ownership and starting businesses. The purpose of these community trust funds is to remove some of those obstacles.
Addressing racial wealth gaps isn’t just about helping individuals and families build opportunity. We know that none of us will feel truly economically liberated until systems that perpetuate racial disparities are disrupted in ways that will allow all people to thrive in our economy. That is why, in addition to the community trust funds, the Foundation is committing $50 million through its regular grantmaking programs to address systemic issues that perpetuate racial wealth gaps.
Finally, this is exciting because we — a Native American woman and a Black woman — are leading this work together, and the Foundation is seeking to make this program happen in ways that are truly different than typical philanthropy. The Foundation has established the lightest of frameworks for this initiative, and we are looking for one or two steward organizations to hold the $100 million community trust funds and design and manage all the details of the grant programs, on behalf of the community. This is a real act of power sharing. We are actively leaning into the brilliance and expertise of organizations that are closest to the Black and Native communities that we intend to serve.
We know this is just one effort in the movement to eradicate racial disparities and build a more equitable future, but we hope it will be transformational for the individuals and families reaching for their dreams.