Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation has announced a multi-million dollar commitment to addressing systemic racism and inequity in Central Indiana and beyond.
The foundation will invest $15 million over three years to address issues of inequity across sectors. About 25% of the funding will be earmarked for Indiana-based organizations, with the remainder going to organizations with similar missions elsewhere.
While communities across the country are still reeling from the May 25 death of George Floyd, this is an opportunity for philanthropic organizations like Lumina to step up and become an active part of the conversation regarding race and inequity in America, said Danette Howard, the foundation’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer.
“I think about this as taking advantage of this moment with which we are presented, leveraging the moment in which we find ourselves,” she said. “And we don’t want to be a community, we don’t want to be an Indianapolis where there is a huge divide between the haves and the have-nots. We don’t want that divide to be exacerbated on our watch.”
Lumina’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity was established in 2017 after the world watched violence erupt at the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The fund initially awarded $2.5 million to advance social justice initiatives, primarily focusing on race relations on college campuses. That funding supported a podcast series and documentary, 19 grants to colleges and universities and a $1 million donation to the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California.
The newest iteration of the fund will continue to support organizations locally and nationally, prioritizing projects led by those whose races and ethnicities reflect the areas they serve.
“If we as an organization and if more organizations across the nation are standing up and saying that we are committed to racial justice, we are committed to addressing and tearing down barriers that don’t allow individuals to realize their full promise and potential,” Howard said, “then I think we have to look inward and look at our own funding.”
While the details of the grant-making process are still to come, Howard said Lumina hopes to be both reactive to the needs of the community and proactive in reaching out to organizations that could use a boost.
“We are going to be better when more individuals from all backgrounds are able to lead thriving lives,” Howard said. “When there are opportunities available for educational success, and for wealth accumulation to individuals that have typically been on the margin.
The multi-million dollar investment is one of a handful that Indianapolis-area foundations have formed to address racial inequities in Marion County and beyond.
In June, Lumina joined with the Lilly Foundation to create the Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund, managed and partly funded by the Central Indiana Community Foundation, also tackling the issue of race relations in Indianapolis.
The $2.2 million investment will support organizations working to improve interactions between Indianapolis police and the Black community, the disproportionate number of Black youth in the criminal justice system, and health and economic well-being for communities of color. (The Lilly Foundation has also committed $25 million over five years to address inequities in the areas of health, education and economic growth.)
Last year, CICF announced its five-year strategic plan, “Inclusive City,” which includes initiatives in the areas of housing and development, health care and criminal justice reform with a larger goal of dismantling systemic racism in Marion County.
Call IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at 317-444-6156. Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.