Fund’s First Year of Grantmaking Supports Organizations Investing in Black Communities Worldwide and Prioritizes Selecting Black Business Leaders to Advance Its Mission
The Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund (WMG/BFF SJF) today announced Ashé Cultural Arts Center, Overtown Youth Center and The Africa Center, as its next grant recipients. These investments further the Fund’s mission of supporting organizations that build more equitable communities and create real change in the lives of historically underserved and marginalized populations – with heightened attention to Black communities.
“Over the past year, we’ve been developing a targeted grantmaking strategy focused on three key pillars – education, criminal justice reform, and arts and culture – in order to optimize our impact and reach,” said Paul Henderson, WMG/BFF SJF Board member and Executive Director at the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability. “This next set of grants is all about the intersection of community, culture, and commerce, and we’re very proud to support organizations at the forefront of addressing racial disparities with robust programming tied to the arts and education.”
In addition to monetary investments, WMG is developing ways for its artists and employees to support these organizations through their time and creative ingenuity. For example, WMG is creating a first of its kind mentorship program with Howard University, one of the WMG/BFF Social Justice Fund’s initial grant recipients. The program will thoughtfully pair WMG executives with Howard University School of Business students each year, beginning with the fall 2021 semester. WMG will also partner with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), another of the Fund’s first recipients, to sponsor a series of activation booths at local concerts, festivals, and events, to prompt voter registration among attendees, help remove barriers to voting through the FRRC Fines and Fees Program, and raise the visibility of the organization within the community.
“We’re committed to making an impact beyond just giving money, by using our creativity, influence, and global reach to support our grantees through meaningful partnerships,” said Temi Adeniji, WMG/BFF SJF Board member and Warner Music South Africa Managing Director and SVP of Strategy, Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our DEI and philanthropy teams at WMG are actively engaged with our grantee partners. We’re trying to be as thoughtful as possible in our approach, including in how we work with partner organizations and who we select as third-party experts to support our efforts.”
As part of its intentional structure, the Fund has selected Richburg Enterprises – a Black woman-owned financial and tax services firm in the U.S. – for accounting and tax compliance. It is also currently in the final stage of hiring an Executive Director to help lead and hone the Fund’s strategy. This executive will manage the vetting process of potential grantees through the lens of the Fund’s three key pillars and make recommendations to the Board.
- Overtown Youth Center (OYC) (Education): The OYC is a community development agency currently serving more than 1,700 youth and their families, using a holistic, culturally relevant program model comprised of five components: in-school support services, after-school programming, summer camp, college and career services through age 25 and family support services. OYC functions as a civic influencer and catalyst for equity and change by investing in strengthening communities, one child and one family at a time, by dismantling systemic barriers that plague our communities. The Fund’s investment will directly support the organization’s efforts to scale its daily mission of enhancing the lives of children and families by bridging educational, social, emotional, health, economic and opportunity gaps.
- The Africa Center (Arts and Culture/Education): The Center provides a gateway for engagement with contemporary Africa and transforms the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora, and the role of people of African descent globally, advancing thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on our collective and shared futures. The Fund’s investment will help to plan and produce a multidisciplinary cultural exhibition, “Movements in the Modern Diaspora.” This multi-year project, unprecedented in scope, will promote equality, opportunity, diversity, and inclusion by exploring the myriad contributions that African immigrants have made across the fields of arts and music, sciences and technology, the political sphere, and beyond.
- Ashé Cultural Arts Center (Arts and Culture): With 5,000 square feet of gallery space, the Center develops innovative programming designed to use culture and the arts to foster human development and civic engagement. It also focuses on creating and preserving opportunities for the curation, exhibition and commission of folk art and fine art of the African Diaspora. The Fund’s investment will support activities that further the core mission of the Center to use art and culture to support human, community and economic development.
For more information about the Fund, please visit https://www.wmg.com/fund.