Skip to content

The Barr, Kresge and William Penn Foundations introduce $13M funding collaborative

Arts & Culture

To broaden and deepen the understanding of how art and culture can help address systemic and intersectional societal challenges, The Barr Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The William Penn Foundation have joined together to create a $13 million funding collaborative.

The Culture and Community Power Fund is a lab for investing in, connecting and amplifying efforts to help build community power through art and culture.

In 2021, the Barr, Kresge, and William Penn foundations joined together to better understand the needs of organizations utilizing art and culture to address societal challenges. The inquiry resulted in the formation of The Culture and Community Power Fund with project co-Directors Aviva Kapust and Erik Takeshita, and research partner Helicon Collaborative.

To date, the collaborative has invested more than $5.8 million in grantmaking and research. Six organizations in five cities have received unrestricted, multi-year awards based on their long-term commitment to supporting communities impacted by structural oppression.

  • Ashé Cultural Arts Center uses art and culture to support human, community and economic development of people of the African diaspora in New Orleans.
  • Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia advances racial equity and understanding by activating artists, youth and their communities through creative practice and dialogue grounded in the diverse experiences of Asians in America.
  • The Boston Ujima Project is a Black-led, democratic, member-run organization building a cooperative business, arts and investment ecosystem in Boston, with a mission to return wealth to working-class communities of color.
  • Center for Transforming Communities provides cultural programming and community organizing to build the health, wealth and leadership pipelines of Black and Brown neighborhoods across Memphis.
  • Northend Christian CDC preserves and improves Detroit’s North End Historic Community by providing opportunities for residents to learn and practice urban agriculture, access green jobs, build cooperative businesses and beautify their environment.
  • The Village of Arts and Humanities supports artists and Black community residents in the Fairhill-Hartranft neighborhood of Philadelphia to imagine, design, and build a more just and equitable society.

“When intentionally paired with community organizing and leadership development, art and culture can be powerful catalysts for community power building,” says the Culture and Community Power Fund’s Co-Director Aviva Kapust. “This project will support the integration of art and culture into efforts by and within each community to define and set priorities, advocate for their needs, secure resources and claim decision-making authority.”

Two people in masks stand in front of a freezer against an orange wall that says Fridge holding an object.
Photo courtesy of the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia.

Over the next two years, the Fund will partner with the aforementioned six organizations to invest at least another $3.6 million in their communities. Awards will be made to other organizations, individuals and groups to launch new experiments or build on existing work.

Grant making processes will be unique to each community and will be shared publicly through The Culture and Community Power Fund’s website.

“The Fund’s work builds upon and draws inspiration from the efforts of many others working to advance racial equity and the self-determination of communities most impacted by structural oppression,” says The Fund’s Co-Director Erik Takeshita. “By sharing broadly what we are learning with and from those closest to the ground, we hope to add to this existing body of
knowledge, mobilize more investors and inspire additional practitioners to leverage the power of art and culture to help build community power.”

The Fund will also invest over $1.5 million to provide opportunities for learning and sharing among practitioners, investors and civic leaders, commission national research and learn from and amplify the work of our grantee-partners and others. The Fund welcomes inquiries through its website from potential thought partners with experience and ideas to inform our path ahead, as well as funders and government agencies in these geographies or beyond interested in learning more and aligning efforts.

Let's stay in touch Sign up for our newsletters SubscribeKresge’s Arts & Culture Program promotes culture and creativity as drivers of more just communities. With an explicit focus on equitable Creative Placemaking practices, Kresge funds artists, cultural strategists and community-based partners as cultural anchors and change agents.

“The Fund extends our grantmaking in places where we have a history of supporting grantees and working with peer foundations,” said Regina Smith, managing director of Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program. “Through the Fund, we can invest in their local efforts to creatively strengthen the conditions for enduring change, such as resident agency, social cohesion and narrative control. These pre-conditions are necessary for collective action, self-determination and justice.”

To learn more about the Culture and Community Power Fund, visit cultureandcommunitypowerfund.org.