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New partners expand Kresge’s racial justice support in Detroit, Memphis and Fresno

American Cities, Detroit

Ten organizations have been recently added to the group of racial justice nonprofits that The Kresge Foundation announced support for in November 2020.

That announcement highlighted $30 million in grant commitments to 59 organizations to advance the foundation’s long-term commitment to equity and opportunity in cities across the United States. Through these racial justice commitments, including the 10 grants detailed today, Kresge seeks both to fortify national organizations working to advance racial justice and to strengthen the ability of community-led organizations in Detroit, New Orleans, Memphis and Fresno to confront racial inequities in-place.

“These are some of the most skilled organizers and racial justice experts that I have ever met,” said Trista Harris, president of FutureGood, a consulting firm that has engaged many of the grantees to date — in what is being called the Racial Justice United Network — to envision the futures they are working toward and paths to reach them.

“They are building an equitable future for our country every day, and we are excited to provide them with a place where they can show up authentically, build relationships with other movement leaders, and have moments of respite so they can amplify their impactful work.”

Added Harris: “Developing organizing strategies in a vacuum isn’t an effective way to make change, so they are eager to learn from others across the country and in their local communities to align strategy. … They want to strengthen their expertise in base-building, fundraising, communications, policy, advocacy, organizational development and healing justice. They want technical assistance from experts and from each other.”

The work with FutureGood, said Mark Crain, executive director of Dream of Detroit, “is giving us the space and resources to focus on base-building instead of chasing the next campaign.”

In the Fall of 2021, FutureGood began design sessions with the network to help members develop a vision for their collective impact and their ideal future for the network. The work with the network now is to help make that vision a reality through technical assistance and networking opportunities.

The new organizations and purposes of the grants — of $70,000 to $300,000 — are:


BlackSpace: This grant supports the Brooklyn-based organization to work in Detroit and 14 other cities to advance community-based strategies of urban planning centered on racial justice.

Detroit Action Education Fund: This general operating grant provides support to Detroit Action to expand its grassroots, member-led coalition of Black and Brown, low- and no-income, homeless and housing insecure Detroiters. Activities under the grant will include increasing leadership development opportunities for community members, providing year-round voter education and registration and supporting neighborhood- and youth-driven community organizing efforts.

Detroit Narrative Agency: This grant supplies operating support to the Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA) to bolster narrative change in Detroit through the storytelling of native Detroiters of color.  DNA uses a framework that centers racial justice, media-based organizing, and narrative power as it incubates documentary and narrative film projects about the city.

Detroit Urban League: This grant provides general operating support to the Detroit Urban League to increase its ability to operate as an institution anchoring racial justice in Detroit, including the launching of its equity advocates initiative to help community members access available services and use the opportunity to promote conversations about racial injustice.

Dream of Detroit: This grant provides general operating support to Dream of Detroit to increase its community organizing capacity. Grant support will, among other things, allow the group to expand community organizer trainings, integrate digital tactics into its work, and support neighborhood associations.

Raheem: This Oakland, California-based organization will receive general operating support for its work in Detroit and across the country to create an alternative rapid response dispatching system rooted in community care.


Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries: This grant provides general operating support for the direct delivery of services and community building for refugee populations in Fresno. That includes expansion of work to include programming for elderly refugee populations and advocacy for equitable access to economic opportunity and racial justice.


Black Lives Matter Memphis: This grant provides general operating support to the official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter for their organizing and mutual aid work which tackles issues that affect Black Memphians.

Center for Transforming Communities: This grant provides general operating support to increase the center’s capacity to establish neighborhood stewardship organizations across Memphis and elevate community priorities in emerging community development projects.

Stand for Children: This grant provides general operating support for their efforts to organize and build a power base of advocates working to improve policy and increase investments to benefit Memphis’ majority Black population.

“Even as our initial cohort of racial justice grantees have continued to use our operational support to engage and organize their communities around the cause of equity, we have seen the opportunity to support additional organizations doing this work,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program, of the expansion of the racial justice grantees beyond the group announced in 2020.

“We know that monumental tasks require extended support to build momentum for change,” said Chantel Rush, managing director of Kresge’s American Cities Program. “We are committed to supporting organizations advancing the movement for racial justice for the long haul.”