Long Island Community Foundation Grants $400,000 to Long Island Nonprofits to Address Racial Wealth Inequities

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Long Island Community Foundation Grants $400,000 to Long Island Nonprofits to Address Racial Wealth Inequities

The Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative at the Long Island Community Foundation has approved grants totaling $400,000 to provide continued support to organizations working to advance racial equity by increasing access to living-wage jobs and improving financial wellness.

The ongoing social and economic exclusion of Black Long Islanders has led to significant economic inequities as evidenced by wealth, housing, health, and educational attainment. A 2017 Policy Link research study identified Nassau and Suffolk counties combined annual economy of $120 billion but noted it would have been $24 billion stronger if racial gaps in income were eliminated. In 2019, an Urban Institute research study concluded that Black Long Islanders are 27 percent less likely than white Long Islanders to have liquid assets to cover sudden costs such as a job loss, medical emergency, or any other crisis leading to a loss of stable income. A report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, highlighted two major challenges—lack of access to credit and financial exclusion for Black Long Islanders. Making matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a glaring disparity in death rates – where Blacks on Long Island accounted for 19 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in Nassau County, despite comprising only 12 percent of the population.

“As communities of color recover from the disproportionate and devastating impact of COVID-19, Black-serving nonprofits will be critical to the economic recovery of the communities across the Island. We are committed to empowering, equipping, and resourcing organizations striving to address the challenges faced by low-wealth communities and we will continue to work to leverage greater public and private investments to provide opportunities for Black Long Islanders,” said the Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative.

Specifically, the Collaborative’s Racial Equity Initiative is currently focused on working with the community to gain financial access; inspire innovative, suburban-oriented solutions through local collaborations that address inequities; and foster partnership and shared learning opportunities with national donors. In September 2020, the Collaborative awarded seven (7) planning grants totaling $175,000 to support nonprofit organizations advancing racial equity by increasing access to living-wage jobs and improving financial wellness.

“As the country reflects on the symbolism of Juneteenth, we stay committed to addressing the long-standing and systemic barriers that have limited the upward mobility of Black Long Islanders, by uplifting, and amplifying community-based organizations most proximal to the challenges and solutions,” said the Long Island Community Foundation.

We will provide continued support to the following organizations working to advance racial equity by increasing access to living-wage jobs and improving financial wellness.

• Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center will continue to further its Teach Me How to Fish (TMHTF) program. TMHTF is a High Skills Workforce Training Strategy that is designed to help put our Black community members on a path to financial security through the accumulation of specialized skills that will help to open doors of opportunity leading to a career path and upward economic mobility. TMHTF is focused on providing high skills training opportunities in the STEAM and real estate sectors to Black Long Islanders in the target population leading to the closing of the Wealth Equity Gap focusing in the East End communities and towns from Riverhead to Montauk.

“This opportunity is so very important. The data showed what many Black people already knew – which is that there is a big gap in economic equity compared to others right here in our region. Finally, with this substantial financial support from the grant award, all four organizations will be able to make a significant impact on this long-standing issue and will most importantly change lives for the better for many Black people.”
– Bonnie Michelle Cannon, Executive Director

• Choice for All will establish financial empowerment centers in Roosevelt and in Wyandanch to improve the credit health of Black Long Islanders. The centers will improve the credit health of Black Long Islanders that will help increase banking access, provide financial management, debt reduction, and access to affordable credit in Black communities impacted by economic insecurity. The three-stage model includes building a task force to assess feasibility, conducting an economic justice landscape study, and developing an evidence-based financial empowerment center model for implementation.

“The grant will enable our organization to build a community-led and driven financial empowerment center with financial advocates dedicated to advancing economic inclusion for Black Long Islanders by directly addressing debt, credit, savings and asset building – all side by side with workforce development. Through direct financial services and education, we will work hard towards our goal of every Black Long Islander able to achieve and sustain financial security, regardless of zip code.”
– Jacob Dixon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer

• Leadership Training Institute will create a workforce and career development program that includes a financial education component for Black Long Islanders. The program will move the needle on economic disparity by working with the low-income Black population facing perhaps the greatest number of systemic and institutionalized barriers to employment and economic security.

“This grant will allow our organization to implement our pilot program and leverage resources that specifically addresses financial stability for Blacks on Long Island. In addition, this initiative will help increase the understanding of the contributing factors associated with the racial wealth gap in our community. We are grateful to the Long Island Racial Equity Donor Collaborative for the privilege of continuing the important work of providing support to families seeking critical workforce development skills and financial education services in community.”
– Aster Mehreteab, Chief Executive Officer

• WDN Resource Center aka Women’s Diversity Network will further develop its WDN Career Mentorship Program and focus on pairing identified candidates with a sponsor in the industry that can assist participants with obtaining increased-wages employment, a promotion in their field, or support in entering a new career of their choosing. In addition to the support of a sponsor, participants will gain exposure to other industries and professional development to launch their career to the next phase.

“WDN is honored to receive this grant as it creates the opportunity for us to offer our first direct service program. Through exposure and sponsorship in industries that are hiring and paying more equitable wages, this fellowship will address the wage gap inequality that Black women and Black gender expansive people face.”
– Shanequa Levin, CEO & Founder


“Building the capacity of Black-serving organizations, supporting their professional leadership and organizational management is vital for the economic recovery of our communities. These leaders are closest to the problems, and best positioned to develop the racial economic justice solutions,” said Lillian Singh, Vice President of Program and Racial Wealth Equity at Prosperity Now.