“The popular thing among us progressives is to say that things aren’t much better,” says Lori Villarosa, executive director of PRE. “While the numbers overall are still abysmal, there has been some improvement.”
When PRE was founded in 2003, it invited fewer than 60 foundations to its meeting on racial equity. Now, most mainstream philanthropic gatherings include an “equity track,” and as many as 800 grant makers attend national conferences focused on the issue.
Since 2005, markedly more foundations are using what PRE calls “racial-justice language” in their grant making, according to research it conducted using data gathered by the Foundation Center/Candid. From 2006 to 2016, funding for grassroots racial-justice organizations increased more than fourfold, to a total of $37 million.
“We’ve gone from literally a handful of foundations that were concerned with racism in their practices and grants to a strong number of folks who, as they consider what and who to fund, want to tackle aspects of structural racism,” Villarosa says. “It’s encouraging that the racial-justice field has grown enormously.”