Equity in Funding Sign-On letter:
For over 40 years, Black communities have been targeted and over-policed around drug sales and possession. In numerous cases, the sentencing for possession or dealing was more severe than that given for more egregious crimes like 2nd or 1st degree murder. Drug enforcement and sentencing have systematically had a negative impact on individuals, families, and the community. I was encouraged when the Governor’s Office announced the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) funding opportunity, which was intended to begin to right the wrongs done to communities, due to enforcement of cannabis drug policies. That sense of hope was shattered when I saw the results; I did not see the names of small, Black-led organizations that are embedded in and serving Black communities among the R3 funded organizations.
I have watched as major funding opportunities have time and again been awarded to larger, primarily white led and operated agencies, which then parcel out small subcontracts and supervise the direct services providers the R3 funding does not appear to break from this tendency. The subcontracts are insufficient to fully support the direct and indirect costs incurred by the subcontracted agency: rental, electricity, telephone service, and office support. Further, it means inconsistent and unreliable funds for staffing continuity. The current model is systematically causing the demise of Black-led and operated organizations throughout Chicagoland and the state of Illinois. Governor Pritzker is “proud to see this key equity goal in cannabis legalization move forward” and Lt. Governor Stratton frames the R3 as a “grant process with community inclusion and promotes a standard for equity and success that other states will hopefully take note of and emulate”. However, If the state and funding bodies have a genuine desire and commitment to support and build the infrastructures of Black-led and operated agencies, it is essential that the current process be reevaluated to ensure Black leaders are included in the conversation and decision making. Plans for Black-led organizations directly serving the Black community can no longer be developed and implemented without input from Black individuals that includes their lived experiences. While ICJIA assured the public in their press release that “equity and restorative justice frameworks were centered in every decision throughout the review process” we see a dearth of small grassroots, longstanding Black lead grantees.
It is now more imperative than ever that I, as a Black woman, rise to say, “enough is enough.” I implore you, our community, to stand with us as we deliver these demands to our elected. These demands will be sent to the Black Congressional Caucus, and the Governor’s Office. It is time that we hold individuals, entities, and institutions responsible for the health and well-being of Black organizations, Black communities, and Black lives accountable. How can we truly serve the needs of Black communities that have often received fewer resources when our Black Led and operated agencies are receiving scraps that barely keep the doors of the agency open? I hope you will sign onto the following demands.
We believe that creating funding competition between large agencies and small Black community-based organizations is a setup for failure, as the smaller organizations are not positioned to compete.
We, the undersigned, as leaders of Black organizations serving Black communities, and allies demand the following:
1. We demand a meeting with the Black Caucus, and the Governor’s Office to discuss the current system of fund allocations in Chicagoland and Illinois.
2. We seek to create a system that nurtures Black-led organizations: providing resources, including fiscal tools, to ensure a strong underlying foundation for organizational financial health and stability. A system that addresses the historic and systematic racism that has created structures and disempower and minimizes Black culturally competent and appropriate agencies.
3. We demand that a black lead community advisory board with meaningful responsibilities, be included in the development and review of the grant application process.
Rev. Doris J. Green
Chief Executive Officer TRS/MWIPM
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