The Family & Friends Fund for Southeast Fort Wayne (“the Fund”) was founded as a field of interest/donor-advised fund hosted at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne in June 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd and the subsequent (and overdue) resurgence of the movement for racial justice both in Fort Wayne, IN and nationally.
The Fund began as a successful crowdfunding campaign – with thousands of donors donating hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a few months. This was one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in the history of Fort Wayne, demonstrating an enthusiasm and willingness of the residents of our city to invest in the Southeast Quadrant.
Funds were raised in incredibly creative ways including earring sales, small business specials, friendraiser events, telethons, and a city-wide bake sale (planned completely by kids!) raising over $25,000.
The Fund received such immediate and profound support for a few reasons: 1) the Fund is the only fund dedicated completely to investing in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) founders in the city, 2) the Fund is the only fund in Fort Wayne with 100% Black decision makers, and 3) the Fund distributes family and friends style risk-tolerant and no strings-attached funding to founders, empowering them to succeed without bogging them down with red-tape and hoops to jump through.
Since its founding in 2020, the fund has distributed $183,900 in direct cash support to BIPOC business and nonprofit founders and owners and has provided $50,000 in in-kind support including marketing, legal, fundraising, and volunteer support.
Of the 37 recipients of the $183,900 cash grants, only TWO of the recipients had received funding from any of the three largest foundations in Fort Wayne, IN prior to the grant from the Family & Friends Fund.
We believe (and have heard directly from others) that the innovation and success of this fund was the catalyst for profound additional investment in the Southeast side of Fort Wayne and in BIPOC founders including (at least in part) catalyzing racial justice and economic justice projects throughout the city.
We believe that our initial goal of having $1,000,000 deployed into the quadrant has been exceeded by the combination of all of these incredible initiatives.
While we have been thrilled to see much needed money deployed in this quadrant of the city, we remain the only initiative with 100% Black leadership/decision makers and 100% BIPOC beneficiaries. This matters deeply in a city where foundation leadership is still overwhelmingly white and where most nonprofits serving the BIPOC residents of our city are led by white leaders.
The Family and Friends Fund for Southeast Fort Wayne was selected in August of 2021 to participate in the prestigious Uncharted Economic Inequality Initiative
(less than 10% acceptance rate) where we have been learning from the global leaders on economic inequality how to improve and scale the Family & Friends Fund. We have been told on calls with advisors and global philanthropic leaders that our model is one of the most innovative in the world, and we’ve been investing in the support and vision building that we need to take the Fund to the next level.
Are you with us?