National and Local Donors are coming together in a first-of-its-kind collaborative charged with closing the racial wealth gap on Long Island | The Long Island Community Foundation
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February 27, 2020   |   By Marie Smith
National and Local Donors are coming together in a first-of-its-kind collaborative charged with closing the racial wealth gap on Long Island

Contact: Marie C. Smith, Director of Communications
(631) 991-8800, ext. 223, msmith@licf.org

Melville, NY (February 27, 2020) – At a press conference this morning, the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF), along with top financial and philanthropic institutions announced the release of the results of a landscape study conducted by the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, as well as the launch of an RFP (request for proposals) for Long Island nonprofits to apply for planning grants funded by the Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative.

In an effort to address deeply-rooted racial inequities on Long Island, LICF established the Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative in 2018 to pool resources and develop a grantmaking strategy to address the economic inequities experienced by Long Island’s black residents highlighted in Policy Link’s and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s studies. This research revealed a $24 billion gap in the Long Island economy as a result of the racial income gap.  Critical issues were found with respect to the financial inclusion, credit access, and financial stability of Black Long Island residents. This research was vital to establishing the need for a coordinated and long-term program of work aimed at addressing these systemic inequities.

In the spring of 2019, the Collaborative – currently consisting of 10 local and national financial and philanthropic institutions and one community foundation: Apple Bank, BankUnited, BNB Bank, Capital One, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Long Island Community Foundation, M&T Bank, Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union, Surdna Foundation, and William E. & Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust – engaged the Urban Institute to aid in the creation of a high-impact funding strategy. The Collaborative’s work with Urban Institute included a review of the literature on the drivers of the racial wealth gap and identification of evidence-based strategies that increase incomes and build wealth, and a community-informed landscape scan that identified key organizations working on economic justice and financial inclusion, and significant capacity gaps on Long Island and potential assets upon which to build.

Key findings include:

  • There is underdeveloped capacity in the non-profit sector, especially in areas related to employment. There is a need for greater synergy and improved access for Black Long Islanders to workforce development and training opportunities.
  • Perceptions of Long Island as a prosperous place of high opportunity poses a barrier to the development of much needed policy and programmatic change.
  • Geographic issues inhibit collaboration, and/or there is duplication across programs. These challenges are exacerbated by infrastructure constraints and a lack of connectivity to national and state-level partners who can help improve the quality of programming.
  • Several programs and initiatives exist on Long Island towards improving financial security on Long Island, however, there are significant capacity constraints, a lack of population focus, and in some cases a lack of integration of those programs.

The Collaborative will support programs and projects that improve the lives of Black Long Islanders. Based on Urban Institute’s research, which included interviews with Long Island stakeholders, the Collaborative’s initial priorities are to support projects/programs that endeavor to increase the number of quality jobs, by creating a pipeline to careers with growth potential; and improve credit access through community credit health programs, for Black residents on LI. Through a competitive RFP process, eight six-month planning grants will be awarded in the 2nd quarter of 2020, and from that group of eight organizations, several implementation grants will be awarded in the 1st quarter of 2021.

“The lack of economic mobility and the social plight of Black Long Islanders is an issue of critical importance,” said Donnie Charleston, Director State & Local Fiscal Engagement at Urban Institute. “Addressing this issue will require more than just resources, it will require the concerted efforts of leaders from every sector to address some fundamental inequities. The launch of this initiative and its focus on systems change and capacity building is a strong first step on the path towards creating a more inclusive Long Island where the promise of America is accessible by every citizen.”

“The racial income gap in Long Island prevents the advancement of the economy as a whole,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “I am proud to support the Collaborative’ s efforts to promote policies that create opportunities for financial security for Black Long Islanders. Recognizing and addressing structural racism must be the first step in seeking economic justice.”

“Deliberately and strategically aligning funding to develop, support and sustain economic opportunities for Black Long Islanders will not only give historically impacted residents pathways out of poverty but will also shift institutionally perpetuated paradigms leading to the creation of sustainable generational wealth.” – Charlene Thompson, Commissioner of the Village of Hempstead, Community Development Agency.

“This high impact funding strategy that will be supported by the Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative to address racial inequities in our region is paramount to supporting initiatives and policies that will ensure access, equity and support for individuals, communities, and businesses who have been historically underserved and under-resourced. The financial, philanthropic and advocacy community has stepped up to the plate to provide the research, statistical analysis and funding to address systemic change.  Government needs to do their part as well and that is why Suffolk County is in support of an equity agenda for our region so we can all realize our full economic potential.” – Vanessa B. Streeter, Assistant Deputy County Executive-Suffolk County

“If racial gaps in income and employment were closed, the Long Island economy would be greatly impacted. We all have made a commitment to pool our resources and work together – in a way our institutions have never before –  to support programs and projects that: create economic opportunities among Black residents enabling them to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities; strengthen the capacity of community-based efforts that improve leadership and engagement and create solutions for real, lasting change for all Black Long Islanders. Increasing opportunities for Black Long Islanders, in the end, will benefit all Long Islanders.”

 – The Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative

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In photo (left to right): David Okorn, LICF; Sol Marie Alfonso Jones, LICF; Colleen Gavin, Citi; Pat Edwards, Citi; Daniel Delehanty, BNB Bank; Jeanique Druses, JPMorgan Chase; Tonya Thomas, LICF; Natalie Abatemarco, Citi; Theresa Bedeau, Capital One; Matt Walegir, Surdna Foundation; Elaine Dovas, Apple Bank; Debra Servinskas, Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union; Jonathan Vazcones, M&T Bank

The 2020 Request for Proposals for the LIREDC Planning Grants has been released and the deadline is March 27, 2020, 5:00 pm EST. A Planning Grant Information Webinar is scheduled for Thursday, March 5th at 10 am. In addition, a Planning Grant Information Session is scheduled for Thursday, March 5th at 5 pm at the Long Island Community Foundation, 900 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY. For more information on the RFP and participating in these training sessions, please visit https://licf.org/information-for/for-nonprofits/request-for-proposals/.

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msmith@licf.org

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Media Contact Information

Need help or advice?

Marie C. Smith
Director of Donor Relations and Communications
(631) 991-8800, ext. 223
msmith@licf.org

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