Last year, Santa Clara County became the first county in our state to officially make Juneteenth a paid holiday. This week, the United States Congress followed suit, passing a bill that recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth gaining prominence and mainstream recognition gives me hope. As America’s national reckoning on race continues, amplifying Juneteenth helps us uphold the critical dialogues about the fact that Black history is America’s history and that it is directly connected to modern day issues – like police brutality and economic inequality – that still render Black liberation elusive.
This Juneteenth, I am taking a moment to reflect on SVCF’s work this past year and the movement we are collectively engaged in with other partners and leaders – a movement for true change and transformation in our communities. SVCF has had a long history of addressing inequities through our work, and at the beginning of 2020 we completed a strategic plan that emphasized equity as one of our key guiding principles. The challenges of last year fueled the community foundation to accelerate our work in achieving systemic change and pursuing equity.
Together with our donors and community partners, SVCF raised more than $65 million for Bay Area pandemic relief, focusing our efforts on those who faced the greatest challenges, such as communities of color, low-income families and our undocumented neighbors. More than 700,000 residents across the 10-county Bay Area region benefitted from these funds. We created a giving guide that connected our donors to Black-led and -serving organizations in our two local counties. To address the historic power imbalances between funders and organizations, we have created new community grantmaking programs that prioritize funding for organizations with smaller budgets that are led by and serve people of color. We launched the California Black Freedom Fund, LatinXCEL Fund, and our Power- and Movement-Building Fund – all these help build agency and advocacy within their respective communities. We have invested in and supported leaders and organizations in our AAPI communities as they continue to work to stop horrible acts of hatred. We convened a Community Advisory Council, a group of more than 20 local leaders of color, whose voices help ensure that our strategic direction, policies and advocacy are rooted in equity. We will continue advocating for laws and public policies that will help dismantle systemic racism.
I am so proud of the work that our team, our community partners and our donors are accomplishing, and of our collective efforts to help our communities build back a better normal as we emerge from the pandemic. I am also keenly aware that our work – all of our work – is just beginning.
As a Black mother to a young Black man in America, I know the fear that racism creates. As a leader in this Valley, I have seen our communities face deep pain in the last year and am acutely aware of the racial and social injustices that make life disproportionately harder for some more than others. And, as a Black woman who is leading a prominent philanthropic organization, I feel the weight of both my privilege and my responsibility to ensure all communities are seen, heard and valued. I hope that as you reflect on Juneteenth, you will join us in committing to be active in the movement to advance justice and equity for all.
SVCF's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in our work across multiple initiatives since our founding in 2007. For more information, visit our page with racial equity and social justice resources and information. At the bottom of the page, you will also find a section called “Honoring Juneteenth.”