Corporations committed $50 billion to Black communities: How it started, how it’s going

Kia-Croom-headshot-0321, Corporations committed $50 billion to Black communities: How it started, how it’s going, National News & Views
Kia Croom, an Oakland native now in Washington, D.C., works hard to ensure that corporate dollars get funneled into Black communities and organizations. Since the 2020 height of the Black Lives Matter movement, hundreds of multi-national corporations have verbally aligned themselves with Black lives – but is their money where their mouth is? Kia’s challenge to all companies is for permanent philanthropic giving to Black communities to address centuries of structural racism.

by Kia Croom

Last summer several American corporations made public statements condemning George Floyd’s murder, affirming that Black Lives Matter and pledging $50 billion in support of Black communities, according to a study from Creative Investment Research. However, since then, just $250 million has been committed or allocated, according to the firms’ analysis. 

Most of these funds were earmarked specifically for nonprofit organizations run by Black leaders and serving Black communities. Let’s take a look at some of the companies that made funding commitments and whether or not they fulfilled them. 

Apple was one of the largest pledged contributors with its $100 million commitment to racial equity and justice last June. In January 2021, the company provided an update on its progress, announcing several projects related to its $100 million commitment through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI).

Target announced a $10 million investment to support long-standing partners such as the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum. In April 2021, the company pledged to spend $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025, spreading its commitment over a five-year period. 

The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation made grants totaling $4 million for non-profits advocating for social justice and equality.

Airbnb pledged to donate $500,000 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Black Lives Matter Foundation. Over the last year, Airbnb said it’s donated $1 million to organizations, including its $500,000 commitment to the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter Foundation. 

Amazon initially pledged $10 million to organizations advancing social justice and serving Black communities. Beneficiaries included the NAACP, National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), among others.

While these corporate funding commitments for racial equity are a start, it is imperative that corporations continue to fund Black communities, but through a lens of racial justice – not racial equity.

In addition to its initial $10 million pledge, Amazon said it would donate $17 million to the 12 organizations and their local affiliates selected by their Black Employee Network (BEN). The company is also touting $8.5 million in employee donations and matching gifts.

Google initially pledged $12 million in funding for civil rights organizations working to fight racial inequity. There’s evidence the tech giant made two $1 million gifts to the Center for Policy Equality and the Equal Justice Initiative respectively. However, Google has not been responsive to requests for updates on several of its commitments but has laid out some of its progress in blog posts. 

The Verizon Foundation committed and awarded $10 million in grant funding to seven social justice organizations including the National Urban League, NAACP, National Action Network, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Cisco pledged $5 million to social justice agencies such as the Equal Justice Initiative, the Black Lives Matter Foundation and even created its own fund to fight racism and discrimination. 

To date, of the $5 million pledged, Cisco said it donated $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative and $76,000 to a group of nonprofits through its own Anti-Racism and Discrimination Fund. That leaves roughly $2 million remaining and undistributed, and Cisco said it’s working on identifying partners. 

Comcast announced a multi-year plan to allocate $100 million to advance social justice and equality, including $75 million in cash and $25 million in media to be distributed over three years. Comcast, in a 10-page report entitled “Update on our Commitment,” says it provided grants to organizations including the National Urban League, Equal Justice Initiative, National Action Network, NAACP and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Beyond its $100 million commitment, Comcast also committed $1 billion over 10 years to help close the digital divide between high- and low-income communities.

In May 2020, Box CEO Aaron Levie took to Twitter and pledged to donate $500,000 to groups fighting racial injustice.Since then, a Box spokesperson confirmed Levie and his wife, Paradigm CEO Joelle Emerson, donated more than $500,000 to 10 social justice agencies.

In addition, Box said it has donated $200,000 through its Box.org fund to several other agencies including the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Black Visions Collective and Gideon’s Army. Box is also leveraging its Black Excellence Network employee resource group to help select organizations to be funded. The company also said it raised $70,000 in employee donations to support racial justice initiatives.

By administering their philanthropy initiatives through a racial justice lens, corporations can begin to address centuries of structural racism, which lie at the root of the racial inequities laid bare over the last 12 months. 

Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg announced that the company was committing $200 million in investments to support Black-owned businesses and organizations. According to Sandberg, this $200 million commitment would come as part of a broader $1.1 billion investment in Black and diverse suppliers and communities. 

That broader billion-dollar investment strategy included a string of additional funding commitments including: $100 million for Black-owned small businesses, Black creators and nonprofits that serve the Black community in the U.S., including $25 million in support of Black content creators and $75 million in grants of cash and ad credits to support Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve the Black community.

Facebook provided an update in February 2021 and said as part of its $100 million commitment to Black-owned businesses, creators and nonprofits, the company has allocated just $40 million in grants and ad credits to over 10,000 such entities in the U.S, and distributed $20 million in grants to 20 community foundations that will disburse these funds to local nonprofits serving Black communities.

A company spokesperson said Facebook is making progress in meeting its goal of spending at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers this year, with $100 million earmarked for Black-owned suppliers. In addition, the company is on track to fulfill its $10 million commitment to the Black Gaming Creator Program over two years and to spend the $25 million it pledged to support Black content creators by the end of 2021.

In October 2020, JP Morgan Chase committed $30 billion over the five years to provide economic opportunity to Black and Latinx communities. Since the time of this announcement, the company has not disclosed any beneficiaries of these funds. 

However, in February 2021, in a statement, JP Morgan Chase announced $40 million in direct equity investments and commitments for Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and diverse-led Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). These new commitments come as part of the company’s initial $30 billion commitment to advancing racial equity. [Editor’s note: The Bay View was in talks with JP Morgan Chase around funding and when the newspaper declined to publish sponsored articles promoting the bank’s activities, conversations around advertising and other revenue streams lapsed.]

Several other corporations pledged millions to support Black-owned businesses, Black-led nonprofits and communities of color, including: 

  • PayPal, which pledged $530 million to support Black and minority-owned businesses; SoftBank Group Corp, which is launching a $100 million fund to benefit “companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color.” 
  • Walmart, which announced a $100 million donation over five years.
  • Pokémon Company International, pledging $5 million to nonprofit organizations benefiting children and youth with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Bank of America, with $1 billion over the next four years to promote economic inclusion and fight racial inequality.
  • P&G is establishing a fund called “Take On Race” with an initial contribution of $5 million to “fight for justice and advance economic opportunity.
  • Universal Music Group announced it will invest in a $25 million “Change Fund” to benefit Black communities.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP announced that it will grant $250,000 each to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Dream Corps, the ACLU and the Center for Policing Equity to fight racial inequality.

The corporate commitments to racial equity are so numerous we weren’t able to provide an exhaustive list. 

While these corporate funding commitments for racial equity are a start, it is imperative that corporations continue to fund Black communities, but through a lens of racial justice – not racial equity. By administering their philanthropy initiatives through a racial justice lens, corporations can begin to address centuries of structural racism, which lie at the root of the racial inequities laid bare over the last 12 months. 

Count on us to continue following these corporate commitments and challenging the corporate community to promulgate racial justice through their philanthropic giving – not just in the moment, but permanently. 

Kia Croom, born and raised in Oakland, Calif., is a professional fund development and fundraising expert, trainer and speaker who has raised $387 million for nonprofits over the course of her career. In 2021, Kia launched the Black Fundraisers Podcast to celebrate, inspire and equip Black fund development professionals to excel and positively impact Black communities.