Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a Steering Committee for the Boston Racial Equity Fund on Monday, Sept 28, 2020. The Steering Committee is made up of sixteen leaders in different facets of the community, and is led by chair of the Committee and President of Emerson College, Lee Pelton.
According to the press release from Mayor Walsh’s office, members of the Steering Committee are leaders in education, health, business, and civic life in Boston.
The Steering Committee’s goals include “working to reduce and eliminate the dramatic wealth and opportunity gaps between white families and families of color in the City of Boston,” according to the press release.
"The Racial Equity Fund will complement the work that the City of Boston is doing to embed equity into all of City work and to dismantle racism by putting an intentional focus on supporting communities of color and marginalized groups across all departments,” said Mayor Walsh in the release. “I thank all the members of the Steering Committee for leading this work as we continue to make progress on our work to better the lives of our residents now and for generations to come."
The Boston Racial Equity Fund was founded in June of 2020.
“The Fund's goal is to increase the safety, wellbeing, equity, and prosperity of the Black and Brown community,” according to the Boston Racial Equity Fund website. “We want to advance racial equity. At the same time, we want to dismantle systemic racism in Boston and its enduring effects.”
The website states that the Fund will exist initially as a program within the Boston Charitable Trust.
According to the website, the Fund’s initial goal is to raise $10 million, and eventually $50 million towards this goal.
However, according to the Boston Globe, fundraising efforts for the Fund have not yet begun.
Karilyn Crockett, Boston’s Chief of Equity, leads the newly-established Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, which staffs and coordinates the Fund.
According to the Globe, Crockett has been developing a strategic approach to fundraising for an issue as complicated as racial inequality.
“We will be making investments in organizations and initiatives that line up with this bigger vision we have, [for] how you think about generational equity and wealth building,” Crockett said to the Globe.
The Globe reports that city officials have stated that they expect to begin fundraising in the upcoming weeks.
The Boston Racial Equity Fund is similar to the Boston Resiliency Fund, which was Mayor Walsh’s COVID-19 assistance program. According to the Boston Globe, the Resiliency Fund has raised more than $30 million, and most of the money has already been distributed. The Globe states that similarly to the Resiliency Fund, the money raised by the Equity Fund is likely to be “doled out through nonprofits that can help the community directly.”
Michelle Wu, a Boston City Councilor At-Large who recently announced her candidacy for Mayor in the 2021 and will likely oppose Mayor Walsh in that race, expressed her criticism regarding the Boston Racial Equity Fund in June.
According to boston.com, Wu was happy to see that Boston leaders were addressing the issue, but had concerns about a private fund.
“Philanthropy in moments of crisis is not a substitute for building resiliency and investing in equity,” said Wu, according to boston.com.
The site also states that Andrea Campbell, another City Councilor who just announced her candidacy for Mayor, also criticized the Boston Racial Equity Fund in June.
“Philanthropy plays an important role in advancing equity and I am excited about investments the Racial Equity Fund will make, but true systems change should start with the City’s own multi-billion dollar budget and legislative action” wrote Campbell in a tweet on June 25th.
For more information regarding the Boston Racial Equity Fund and its Steering Committee, visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/treasury/boston-racial-equity-fund.