St. Croix Foundation President Joins 60 Black Foundation Leaders in Push for Justice

By: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) djames@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2020

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands- On June 11, 2020, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development joined the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and 60 other Black Foundation Executives in a Statement requesting action by philanthropy on anti-Black racism, including imperatives for the philanthropic sector.

The statement reads in part: “While COVID-19 is novel as a virus, the pestilence of anti-Black racism that dictates its disproportionate impact on Black communities is centuries old… For several weeks ABFE worked with over 60 Black Philanthropic CEOs in the US, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, to craft a set of imperatives for ensuring the well-being of Black communities to guide the philanthropic community’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. As we set to release our statement, the country erupted in righteous rage at the brutal murder of George Floyd and the demand to defend Black lives from state-sanctioned violence. As the Black community struggles to manage these overlapping pandemics, we challenge philanthropy to be bold and be inspired by the courage of the protestors who are risking their well-being for the sake of defending Black lives.”

Imperatives for the philanthropic sector, outlined in the ABFE’s Statement are as follows:

  1. BUILD AGENCY. Increase public and private investments in Black-led organizations.
  2. PUSH STRUCTURAL CHANGE. Consider policy and system reform needed to improve conditions in Black communities.
  3. ENCOURAGE SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. Through the targeted investment of all philanthropies as well as public dollars to transform conditions in Black communities.
  4. USE ENDOWMENTS. Prioritize spending on the most vulnerable communities. In addition, now is the time to utilize the full set of resources of philanthropy by increasing asset payout and employing various investment strategies to provide much-needed capital to Black communities.
  5. CENTER BLACK EXPERIENCE. Black leaders and communities must be engaged in the development of short and long-term philanthropic and public policy solutions to ensure that well-intentioned “helping” efforts do not exacerbate existing disparities.
  6. TRUSTEE ACCOUNTABILITY. Foundation boards should take stock of the level of grantmaking to Black communities and engage in racial equity assessments of their investments.
  7. ENGAGE BLACK BUSINESSES. Foundations and the public sector should actively engage Black businesses in investment management, banking, and other professional services to address the pandemic’s negative impact on Black earnings and wealth.
  8. LIFT UP GENDER. The health and economic well-being of both Black people are under threat due to COVID-19. Response efforts must… ensure that all people of African descent are connected to economic opportunities, healthy and are safe.
  9. REACH TO THE DIASPORA. Black communities in the U.S. territories have been left out of many relief efforts. During crises, we must remain vigilant of how anti-Black racism impacts people of African descent around the world.
  10. ADDRESS DISPARITIES IN PRISONS. S. prisons are disproportionately filled with Black and Brown people. Current efforts must support the safety of those currently imprisoned, and advance sustained investments in alternatives that reduce reliance on incarceration over the long-term.

The Full Report can be found at https://abfe.egnyte.com/dl/NhwadCaj6s/

Standing in the heart of the Diaspora, St. Croix Foundation has committed to continue doing its part to push for equity and to support the advancement of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Foundation also shares ABFE’s long-term goal of challenging the field of Philanthropy to make intentional, sustained, and radical investments in Black Communities.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “ABFE’s CEO, Susan Taylor-Batten, her Board, and her Team have become real champions and advocates for the Territory over the past three years. Lifting up the importance of the U.S. Caribbean and tying the stories and conditions of Black Communities across the Diaspora together seamlessly, ABFE has served as a steady force in the field of Philanthropy and the advancement of Black lives.”

“Fortunately, none of these efforts are new to St. Croix Foundation,” James continued.  “Even without the support of National Philanthropy, which has a legacy of disinvestment in and neglect of the U.S. Caribbean and poor Black communities all across the nation, St. Croix Foundation has focused our own investments on most of the priorities laid out by ABFE from our inception.

Long before the 2017 hurricanes and COVID-19, St. Croix Foundation has been investing in our community in holistic and strategic ways for almost 30 years: 1) by supporting local nonprofits, as the Territory’s preeminent Fiscal Sponsor and nonprofit convener; 2) through 15 years of targeted educational programming, policy research, and system analysis; 3) by foregoing endowment building, instead serving as a conduit (rather than a container) of philanthropic funds; 4) by building regional alliances through participation in civic consortia like the Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance; and 5) by ensuring that our Board and our staff are both diverse and reflective of our Community.

St. Croix Foundation is deeply honored to be a signatory, endorsing this historic philanthropic call to action. According to James, “The ultimate goal of this work and crucial partnerships like this is to advance St. Croix Foundation’s core mission, which is to encourage greater philanthropic activity in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Foundation is hopeful that this movement will right the wrongs of National Philanthropy’s disproportional investment in Black Communities and historical disenfranchisement of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This pattern of neglect has ultimately had a significant impact on the operational stability and capacity of local nonprofits who are serving a community with deeply entrenched and growing needs. As a signatory of this unprecedented national philanthropic appeal at an unprecedented time in American History, St. Croix Foundation is adjoining its core mission with a broader strategy of advocating for racial equity.”

St. Croix Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to ABFE for their leadership, mentorship, and stewardship of this critically important work. The Foundation is also grateful and honored to stand beside the courageous Foundation Executives who are standing with them in making this call! For more information on how to support the Foundation’s community rebuilding and Nonprofit Development efforts, please email the Foundation at staff@stxfoundation.org, or visit their website at www.stxfoundation.org.

About St. Croix Foundation
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is a place-based operating foundation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Founded 30 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, SCF has been dedicated to the issue of equity and holistic, community-rooted development, and has directed laser focus and resources on highly strategic grant-making, direct services, and community building.  In the summer of 2016, in demonstration of the Foundation’s commitment to a more holistic approach to community development, SCF launched its Nonprofit Consortium. A dynamic collaboration comprising staff and board members of over 40 local nonprofits, the Consortium of civic partners is committed to working together to strengthen operations, build its collective capacity and amass peoplepower and advocacy around four distinct sectors:  Arts & Culture, Health & Human Services, Youth &Education, and Built and Natural Environs.

About the Association of Black Foundation Executives
Established in 1971, ABFE is a membership-based philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities. The all-volunteer organization was credited with many of philanthropy’s early gains in diversity. More information on ABFE can be found at www.abfe.org.