This is not a time that any of us can stay silent – or stand still.

Gates Family Foundation joins Colorado’s teachers and students, conservationists and ranching communities, artists and journalists, community advocates and allies of every race and ethnicity in calling out the institutional racism and social injustice that persists in our nation, and the dehumanizing impact that police violence has on Black communities and Black lives.

We mourn the senseless murders of not only George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and Breonna Taylor, but also Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephen Clark, Botham Jean, and too many others.

And we applaud Colorado’s elected leaders for taking bipartisan action to pass sweeping reforms — signed into law on this historic day — to rebalance the power dynamic between police forces statewide and the communities they serve.

But while expressions of solidarity and support are essential, they are also insufficient.

At Gates Family Foundation, we recognize we are faced with a deeper, more personal question: What are we – as individuals and as an institution – committed to doing differently, to acknowledge our position of privilege and become stronger allies?

While much of our work seeks to address the symptoms of institutional racism – educational inequity, poverty, housing instability, and inequitable access to nature, healthy food, and recreation – we know we must double down on addressing root causes and systemic solutions. We also must take a critical look at our own institution, and examine the way we make decisions, which organizations we fund, who they serve, and who leads them.

Our staff and board have already started this work together, and we are committed to making equity more central in focusing our priorities and strengthening our internal accountability systems as we embark on strategic planning to set our funding and impact priorities for the next five years. Increasing our annual financial commitments to Black-led and Black-empowering organizations – as well as those that are led by and empower other communities of color and underrepresented Coloradans – in our core focus areas is just one way you will see us translate our support into real change.

We also stand with our current partners across Colorado who are actively working to overcome institutional barriers that hold back communities of color, and we invite you to join us in supporting them:

  • Moonshot edVentures surfaces and supports a diverse pipeline of leaders to design and launch the schools and education programs of tomorrow, with a mission to better serve students of color. Right now you can donate directly to their fellows’ ventures through their Shoot for the Moon Challenge.
  • Sistahbiz provides coaching, training and services to help Black women build scalable, sellable models and access the back office support, financial and social capital that they need to play big in business. Their Unstoppable Stimulus Emergency Fund is still accepting donations toward mini-grants for Black women entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19.
  • The Center for African American Health improves the health and well-being of African Americans in Metro Denver by offering community-based health programs, events, and services. Their BeHeard Mile High program amplifies community voices about social and health issues facing Black community members, with a goal of policy change to positively impact health and wellness.
  • Mile High Connects works to ensure that institutional investments in the Metro Denver regional transit system lead to equitable outcomes for low-income residents and communities of color. Access to affordable housing, jobs, education and health are all impacted by access to transit; you can get involved here.
  • RISE Colorado works to educate, engage, and empower families of color to be change agents for educational equity in our public school system. Every dollar donated to their RISE Together Emergency Relief Fund goes directly to RISE Family Leaders impacted by COVID-19.
  • Together We Count works to ensure a fair and accurate census for Colorado. Tracking racial disparities and progress depends on an accurate count, and brings important resources to communities of color. Colorado’s response rate to date is 63.4 percent; there’s still time to take the census or encourage others to respond.
  • The Colorado Education Organizing Funders Collaborative supports a strong and expanding field of nonprofits that are organizing grassroots communities around education issues in Denver and Aurora public schools. Each of these grantees is supporting youth and family leaders of color to voice their concerns and inform policy decisions in local districts.

As our communities celebrate Juneteenth today, we know there aren’t easy answers or quick solutions to the centuries-old scars that slavery has left in the heart of our nation. At Gates Family Foundation, we are dedicated to advancing equity, and there is still more we can do going forward to ensure that racial justice becomes more central to how we show up daily. As we look and step ahead to make real progress, we invite you to help hold us accountable for these commitments.

On behalf of our board and staff,

Tom Gougeon
President
Gates Family Foundation