Robin Hood, NYC’s largest poverty-fighting organization, announced our co-founders, Jessica Santana and Evin Robinson, to its Power Fund’s inaugural cohort of Power Fund Leaders who share Robin Hood’s mission of increasing mobility from poverty. Launched in July, the Power Fund, addresses a critical funding disparity while funding leaders who bring perspective, proximity, and expertise to the fight against poverty
Over the past two decades, only 10 percent of philanthropic dollars have gone to organizations led by people of color despite giving increasing nearly 400 percent. Investment in the inaugural cohort also responds to a disparity within a disparity. While leaders of color receive fewer philanthropic dollars, organizations led by women of color receive even less support. Power Fund investments will catalyze a shift in long-term grantmaking priorities at Robin Hood and across the field of philanthropy.
“As a poverty-fighting organization in a city where 80 percent of those in poverty are people of color, we know that poverty and race are inextricably linked. Leaders of color are often some of the most effective and innovative leaders because their solution-based approaches reflect lived, racialized experiences,” said Wes Moore, Chief Executive Officer at Robin Hood. “I am honored and humbled to welcome these remarkable nonprofit leaders into the Robin Hood family.”
“We know firsthand what it’s like to have limitations placed on us before we even had the chance to understand the opportunities the world had to offer us. In that sense, we are not so different from the students and young adults we empower through technology and entrepreneurship,” said Evin Robinson and Jessica Santana, Co-Founders of America on Tech. “As leaders of color, we have an inherent understanding of the obstacles our students face and how to best open doors of opportunities for the communities we serve. We were once the students we now serve."
The Power Fund benefits from the guidance of its esteemed Advisory, including Cecilia A. Conrad of Lever for Change, Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green, Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, Jennifer Ching of North Star Fund, Khalil Muhammad of Harvard Kennedy School, Kriste Dragon of Pahara Institute, Marc Morial of the National Urban League, Shawn Lytle of the Macquarie Group, Sheena Wright of United Way of New York City, Soledad O’Brien of Soledad O’Brien Productions, and Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.
“Racial bias is woven into every aspect of our society. It’s driven poverty and it’s starved leaders of color of the funding and opportunity to make real, systemic change within their communities,” said Soledad O’Brien, Founder of Soledad O’Brien Productions. “It has been an honor to join the Power Fund Advisory to support Robin Hood in shaping an initiative that takes racial biases into account, and vows to chart a new path forward for philanthropic investment for leaders of color.”
Power Fund organizations will each receive catalytic investment and will benefit from the access of Robin Hood’s management assistance and network support to build their capacity, including assistance with board member recruitment, fundraising, and strategic planning, in addition to intentional access to philanthropic, government, and community partner networks. The leaders will also receive self-directed funding for leadership elevation support.
The Power Fund was seeded with an initial investment of $10 million by Robin Hood, with additional investments from partners, including the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, BlackRock, Capital One, and the Macquarie Group in addition to employee match program support from Bridgewater Associates and Goldman Sachs. Robin Hood will continue to announce Power Fund leaders on a quarterly basis.
“The Power Fund is forging durable change that will help shift the paradigm within philanthropy to recognize and invest in leaders of color who have long gone underfunded,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). “The experienced leaders in this first cohort provide the committed vision needed to address pervasive socioeconomic inequities. We are proud to act as an anchor funder to support each of these five organizations through Robin Hood’s Power Fund.”
Creation of the Power Fund is informed by Robin Hood’s work at the frontlines of the poverty fight in New York City for over three decades. The Power Fund is Robin’s second major initiative this year, following the reactivation of the Robin Hood Relief Fund, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which raised $60 million and the organization’s record-breaking benefit Rise Up New York! Telecast.
About Robin Hood:
Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. Robin Hood invests nearly $120 million annually to provide legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs, and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics, and since Robin Hood’s Board of Directors covers all overhead, 100 percent of every donation goes directly to the poverty fight. Learn more at robinhood.org.
About America On Tech:
America On Tech (AOT) is an award-winning nonprofit organization that runs tuition-free technology skills development programs for 16-24 year old’s focused on building their expertise in areas such as web development, mobile development, UX design, cyber security and digital marketing. To learn more, visit americaontech.org.