The US Senate has passed a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to support the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The package allocates billions to funding improvements in transportation, expanding broadband internet access, and modernizing and expanding transit systems. This is not just the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century, this also presents a unique opportunity for philanthropy to address racial inequities by helping to direct these investments to under-resourced, lower- income, communities of color.
Philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs), particularly at the regional level, have a huge role to play in ensuring communities of color have access to these resources. PSO leaders, this is the moment to help connect people-of-color-led organizations (who touch the lives of our most vulnerable communities) with money. Here’s what we can do as PSO leaders:
- Convene funders to develop plans to leverage federal dollars with an eye towards racial equity. Foundations are in conversations with federal and state administration officials about these funds, however more collaboration between philanthropic institutions is needed to unleash the power of our sector to address the history of under-investment.
- Help bring attention to organizations led by people of color that have the infrastructure to manage federal money. After the murder of George Floyd, several PSOs flexed their muscles and leadership by amplifying the value and impact of Black-led organizations in their region. This country needs a robust infrastructure of nonprofits that work towards justice and equity. PSOs can gather and share information from their members so that foundation leaders understand the existing landscape of organizations that work at the grassroots level for stronger impact.
- Share the plans and strategies to direct federal and philanthropic investments through a racial equity lens with others in the network. The best way to create momentum within the PSO network in this rare opportunity moment is to share how this is playing out locally with colleagues.
Many of us in the PSO sector have spent the better part of last year (as well our entire lives!) preparing for an opportunity like this. Let’s make the most of it!