Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is
We know that institutional racism will make the recovery from coronavirus far harder for our most vulnerable and underserved neighborhoods. Of course, those same conditions of systemic and institutional racism mean that Black people, and other people of color, disproportionately make up those vulnerable and underserved communities. As Jesse mentioned in his recent client update, we are leaning hard into rethinking how Graffito’s work can be part of a more equitable path forward. Part of our commitment to working harder and doing more to displace racism in our community and bringing greater racial equity to our work is putting our money where our mouth is. Literally. There are a number of ways we are thinking about doing that over the long run, in the form of our work with our clients to our work with retail operators. In the immediate term, in an effort to stand firm against racism and injustice, we have allocated $500 for each Graffito team member to donate to an organization working directly on social and racial justice efforts today.
Below is the full list of organizations that we’ve each chosen. We also wanted to tell you briefly of why we selected them for our contributions. These are some amazing organizations at the local and national level leading. We’re proud to support them right now but, of course, know that our work is a long-term project. We look forward to sharing more about that project soon.
The Boston Black Hospitality Coalition aims to preserve the few gathering spaces for the city’s many black residents – our neighborhood bars & restaurants. Our businesses play a critical role in community and economic development. They seek to ensure a prolonged future for our black-owned institutions.
I chose to support the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition (the “BBHC”) with this contribution because I wanted to have an immediate and local impact on the BLM movement. In addition to their ongoing battle with systematic racism and inequality in Boston, the black and communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Hospitality is about warmth, generosity and bringing people together in a meaningful way. It is extraordinarily important the BBHC members reopen and continue to be the cornerstones of their neighborhoods.
Gustavo – CommonWealth Kitchen
CommonWealth Kitchen is working to build a new food economy grounded in racial, social and economic justice by strengthening the capacity, connections, and collective power of diverse entrepreneurs to start and grow successful food businesses.
CommonWealth Kitchen’s provides the critical resources, support, and infrastructure that small business owners need in order to grow, creating pathways to prosperity for hundreds of entrepreneurs in Boston. Given the disadvantage that entrepreneurs of color often face in trying to access capital and opportunities, CWK’s work has helped build wealth and jobs in communities of color and spurred a more diverse and culturally rich food business ecosystem in Boston.
Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) is committed to anti-racism and plans to initiate this fund immediately as a part of many measures that the school will take to acknowledge that design pedagogy has a responsibility to engage and enable peoples and cultures that have been made invisible through racial injustices.
We need to ensure that the next generation of design professionals are unequivocally committed to anti-racist policies and principles through their work and actions. As a member of the executive committee of the GSD Alumni Council, I have been advocating with my fellow alums for the creation and continued stewardship of this fund which aims to actively institutionalize anti-racism. It’s actions will be further informed by the African American Student Union (AASU) and AfricaGSD list of demands spelled out in their Notes on Credibility.
Angela – Fenway Health
Fenway Health is the largest nonprofit LGBTQ healthcare, research, and advocacy facility in the world. It provides full-service healthcare ranging from primary care, to dental, to fertility treatments, to mental health services, etc. Their core mission is the belief that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
I’ve been involved with Fenway Health for over a decade serving in multiple roles from the Young Leaders Council, to the Co-Chair of the Women’s Dinner Party Fundraiser event, to their Board of Visitors. It’s been an institution near and dear to me and my family, providing both exceptional care for it’s patients, but also for being a leader in advocacy across Greater Boston for minority groups. Fenway has provided both an outlet and sanctuary for minority groups of all kinds, as well as led the charge on issues of social justice and equality through their advocacy work. They have done this all while also providing top of the line healthcare to everyone and subsidizing healthcare costs for those who need it.
Drew – Compass Working Capital
Compass Working Capital is a nonprofit financial services organization that supports families with low incomes to build assets and financial capabilities as a pathway to greater economic opportunity, and out of poverty.
Eight years ago I was introduced to Compass Working Capital’s amazing leader, Sherry Riva. Her rapidly growing organization was in desperate need of a new website that clearly communicated Compass’s story and mission, and I was hired to make the site a reality. Since the launch I have been closely following their accomplishments and the opportunities they have created for low-income families in our city and beyond. I’ve heard, first-hand, success stories that have literally brought me to tears at their annual fundraising breakfasts (which was sadly canceled this year). They have made a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals in a system that was designed to penalize their financial success. Now through donations, I’m happy to help Compass Working Capital play a critical role in helping families navigate very complicated housing and public welfare systems when the odds are inherently against them.
Brooke – Teen Empowerment
The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc. helps low-income, urban youth hone their understanding of the social problems they face and use their talents and skills to create change in their own lives and in their communities. Working in Boston and Somerville, MA and Rochester, NY, TE employs youth ages 14 to 21 as the leaders of social change initiatives that positively influence the values and behaviors of their peers with the goal of lowering crime, violence, and self-destructive behaviors.
As someone who grew up in an affluent, non-diverse suburb in Connecticut, I was privileged in spending my teenage years focused on my education and extra-curricular activities, and I was always supported by a network of positive mentors and adults in my life. Many teens and young adults don’t have this same privilege though. For POC and black youth in urban areas especially, their young lives are often disrupted by violence, crime, and poor access to resources in their communities. I really feel that giving back to programs, especially local ones like TE, that focus on helping young adults gain skills to be advocates and leaders in their communities is a great opportunity to empower our younger generations to enact real social change. More than ever, young voices are so important in the efforts to shape better public policies around issues of diversity and equity. The youth are our future, after all!
Johanna – D.R.E.A.M.
D.R.E.A.M. (Developing Responsible Economically Advanced Model-Citizens) is a cutting edge, financial education and advocacy 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to empowering underrepresented, urban youth by equipping them with the essential knowledge for life’s challenging financial decisions. D.R.E.A.M. is training the next generation of citizens who will foster change within America’s urban communities, which will result in a radical shift in the financial practices of America’s low-income, urban citizens.
Money and personal finance have always been of great interest to me. There are so many things that I wish I could have known before entering adulthood and that was even with the guidance of parents who I consider to be financially savvy. D.R.E.A.M provides young urban populations with financial literacy training to give them the footholds to provide a stable future for themselves. Feeling financially secure helps people to make better decisions in general and enriches the community.
NUSL is devoted to the pursuit of social justice and widely regarded as one of the nation’s top public interest law schools. Of the 208 students in the Class of 2022, 69% are women and 32% are students of color.
To fix the vast inequalities and racism in our political, economic and socials systems we need committed, diverse, just and excellent young attorneys. NUSL is training said lawyers right now; and has done so for decades. It does this wildly important work with compassion and diligence, guided by a diverse group of faculty that is lead by an African American man, Dean James Hackney. It was at NUSL that I was first exposed to complex and important issues ranging from transgender rights to immigrant justice. And it was at Northeastern that I was first forced to confront my own white privilege in a meaningful, intense, continual and urgent way.
- Boston Black Hospitality Coalition
- Commonwealth Kitchen
- Compass Working Capital
- Diversity Equity Inclusion
- Fenway Health
- GSD Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund
- Northeastern University Law School Fund for the Public Interest
- Social Justice
- Team Empowerment