WARREN — COVID-19 and race equity topped the agenda at The Raymond John Wean Foundation’s third-quarter board of directors meeting Sept. 1.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism persist, an ongoing, equitable response from the Wean Foundation is required,” Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president, said in a news release. “With board support, we are refining our three-phase — Respond. Stabilize. Redesign. — strategy to partner with residents and organizations to ensure equitable access to resources, knowledge and opportunity in this time of crisis — and beyond.”
A recent report published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy said organizations led by people of color win less grant money and are trusted less than their white-led counterparts to make decisions about how to spend those funds. To bridge this gap, the Wean Foundation is making strategic investments in Black and other people of color-led organizations, as well as organizations committed to uplifting communities of color, the release said.
“To address systemic racism over the long-term, the Wean Foundation is redoubling our community-building efforts to ensure the Mahoning Valley can emerge from this crisis as a stronger, more equitable community,” Roller said, noting this approach "requires fresh thinking, honest conversations and innovative strategies.
“We need to do more than advocate for change. We have to rethink the dynamics of decision-making in the Valley. We have to ask each other who has the power to determine access to resources, knowledge and opportunity — and why.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began impacting the Mahoning Valley, the Wean Foundation has worked to provide resources to grantees and organizations serving residents most impacted by the crisis.
With the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and the Youngstown Foundation, the Wean Foundation formed the Mahoning Valley COVID-19 Crisis Relief Application, which was expanded in June to include stabilization efforts. Using a single, shared application process, grant seekers can apply for support from all three foundations at once.
Eighty-two grants totaling $1,122,910 have been given to community-based organizations. The Wean Foundation has given $305,300 through 28 grants.