Jan 24, 2023 - News

Detroit's Skillman Foundation plans to change funding decisions

People sit at tables watching someone speak.

A Gen Z problem-solving session with the Skillman Foundation. Photo courtesy of the foundation

The Skillman Foundation advocates for a community of children who are primarily Black, but after turning its gaze inward, realized its own spending didn't measure up to the mission.

Driving the news: The youth-focused foundation recently analyzed its financial decisions from 2019-2021 in a Racial Equity Audit.

By the numbers: 59% of Skillman grants went to organizations with a BIPOC leader — as identified by its own assessment — and just 29% went to those who also had a BIPOC-majority board.

  • Just 2% of Skillman's endowment investments are with firms with a majority BIPOC ownership.
  • And 19% of vendors Skillman contracts with are BIPOC-owned.

What they're saying: "When you invest in young people directly in Detroit, and educators and youth champions … it's a different way of investing your money, which is more correlated to who lives in the city," CEO Angelique Power tells Axios.

  • "It's more of an internal awakening, as opposed to a head-counting by race."

What's next: The foundation says it's making large strategic changes based on this audit and a listening campaign with youth around the city.

  • For example, Skillman removed its $100,000 budget threshold for an organization to be considered for funding, allowing smaller operations funding opportunities.

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