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Leading for Power and Change

We have been inspired by and invested in the vision of communities of color and organizations led by people of color.  In addition, the events of 2020 have made all too clear that racism and structural inequities permeate every institution and system in our nation, resulting in disproportionate illness and death for people of color.

We are energized by the Black-led, multi-racial, multi-generational protests calling for racial and social justice at a scale we haven’t seen in a generation. Because dismantling racism and anti-Blackness requires coordinated and unified multi-racial coalitions for social justice and progressive change. And it requires powerful organizations that are led by people of color.

But leaders of color face many barriers to achieving their bold visions. Historically, philanthropy does a poor job of getting funds to these leaders and their organizations, which makes organizational financial stability very challenging. A Race to Lead report found that leaders of color have smaller organizational budgets than their White peers and have a difficult time accessing and raising funds from foundations, government and individual donors. Bridgespan and Echoing Green report that funders are subject to implicit bias that shows up as mistrust toward leaders of color – mistrust of their strategies and their vision. In addition, the nonprofit sector is overly represented by White leadership even though nonprofit organizations led by people of color are more likely to understand and strive to address systemic injustices through building power and making demands for policy and structural change. Yet only seven percent of nonprofit chief executives and 18 percent of nonprofit employees are people of color. And the percentage of people of color on nonprofit boards remains at just 15 percent, a number that has not changed in nearly two decades.

To advance systemic and progressive change while improving community outcomes and health, our Leading for Power and Change portfolio seeks to amplify the voices, leadership, and power of people of color, and other people who have historically been excluded from full participation in civic society.

This is what we’ll support:


Equity in the Nonprofit Sector

We’ll support leadership development and capacity building that will help people of color-led organizations, and organizations with a racial justice analysis, to be stronger and more resilient. We’ll support organizations to increase their assets, and recruit and retain talented staff of color. For example, we will fund leaders to take sabbaticals while their organizations strengthen the next level of leadership. For a taste of how sabbatical honorees refresh and reenergize during their sabbaticals, read Meaningful Voyaging: A Sabbatical Honorees’ Journey.

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What We Fund

  • Organized efforts and initiatives designed to increase the recruitment, development and retention of non-profit leaders of color in the social justice movement.
  • Organizations that partner with organizations led by and centered on communities of color to strengthen their organizational infrastructure and capacity to advance the movement for racial justice.
  • Initiatives and/or organized efforts to evolve philanthropy’s policies and practices that have historically excluded communities of color from sustainable philanthropic investments and leadership within philanthropic institutions.

What We Don't Fund

  • Core support to individual organizations working to strengthen their internal diversity, inclusion and equity practices.

Mobilizing Movements and Power Building

We want to make sure that organizations have the resources to mobilize, advance health and racial equity, and hold public and private sector leaders and policymakers accountable. We’ll support integrated civic engagement, along with opportunities for people to organize, advocate and speak out for policies that affect their lives. (We are not accepting Letters of Interest currently.)

More Information

What We Fund

  • Core support to strengthen an organization’s capacity to recruit and train communities most impacted by systemic racism to lead advocacy, community/ youth organizing and civic engagement efforts. 
  • Core support to strengthen coalitions/collaboratives working together to advance the movement for racial justice through organizing and community engagement efforts. 
  • Community-led efforts to amplify the voices and experiences of communities most impacted by systemic racism through diverse communication strategies.

What We Don't Fund

  • Lobbying.
  • Mentorship programs.
  • Legal services.
  • Academic enrichment programs for youth and adults.
  • Job training and career development programs for youth and adults.

Reimagining Social Justice

Initiatives and or/strategies to increase the inclusion of communities of color in fields that influence decision making in philanthropy and the sustainability and effectiveness of non-profit organizations including, finance, research and communications. (We are not accepting Letters of Interest currently.)


To advance systemic and progressive change while improving community outcomes and health, our Leading for Power and Change portfolio seeks to amplify the voices, leadership, and power of people of color, and other people who have historically been excluded from full participation in civic society. Watch the above video to learn more.
Cal Wellness Issues in the News

Each week, we collect news relating to each of our four portfolios. Read on to learn more.

Karren Lane
Program Director Karren Lane

Karren Lane is program director for the California Wellness Foundation, where she manages grantmaking for the Leading for Power and Change portfolio.

Marisol2_Small
Program Officer Marisol Inzunza

Marisol Inzunza is a program officer for the California Wellness Foundation, where she is program officer for the Leading for Power and Change portfolio.

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