Bolstering Black-Led Organizations

Defined as registered nonprofits with Black staff and/or Board leadership, Black-led organizations (BLOs) serve as the backbone for communities of color throughout the Bay Area. After a tumultuous economic recession in 2008 and seasons of economic shifts including extreme increases in rent and changes in funders’ priorities, many of these organizations have found it challenging to rebound and sustain their position as critical providers. The ASCEND:BLO initiative seeks to:

  • Enhance the growth, sustainability, impact and sense of community among Black-led anchor institutions in the Bay Area in order to ensure the long-term vitality of those organizations and the communities of color they serve.
  • Apply a fresh, dynamic and replicable approach to collaborative capacity building that further develops the nonprofit sector with a lens towards race and equity.

Key Components of the Initiative


Intensive six month program designed to bolster the growth and sustainability of emerging, innovative community anchors that have a vision for growth, promising ideas and a willingness to work in new ways to catalyze personal, organizational and community change. This program focuses on providing support in key areas including strategy, feasibility and sustainability, as well as access to coaching and technical supports. Participants will receive a three year investment with ongoing technical support and training.

Apply for the Accelerator

The ASCEND:BLO Accelerator Application was released on Friday, February 23, 2018 to BLOs in the core four-county service area (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties). A PDF version of the application can be viewed here. The deadline for applications was 5:00p.m. on Friday, March 30, 2018. A total of 51 completed applications were received by the deadline. Given the large demand and desire for thorough consideration of all applications, the timeline for the application review process has been extended. All applying organizations can now expect to receive an update on their status in the process by April 30, 2018.



Three year program for mature community anchors designed to minimize risk and guide organizations through transition by providing leadership development, board recruitment, advanced training and succession planning.


Peer networking and learning with access to relevant workshops and speakers available to BLOs in the core four-county service areas, as well as in Marin and Santa Clara Counties.

ASCEND:BLO Ambassadors

The following leaders and organizations lent their expertise to assess the current state and future needs of Black-led organizations in the Bay Area.

Noha Aboelata, MD
Chief Executive Officer
Roots Community Health Clinic

Donald Gilmore
Executive Director
Community Housing Development Corporation

Lena Miller
Executive Director of Development
Hunters Point Family

Brandon Nicolson, Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director
The Hidden Genius Project

Arthur Shanks
Executive Director
Cypress Mandela Training Center

Cheryl Vaughn
Executive Director
Solar Richmond

Funders’ Collaborative

Leaders from philanthropic organizations across the Bay Area have come together to  invest in solutions that are designed to bolster Black-led organizations, as well as support their impact. We thank the Funders’ Collaborative for their partnership in making a stronger Bay Area.

The Official ASCEND:BLO Launch Reception

We recently hosted a reception at Impact Hub Oakland to launch ASCEND:BLO! Representatives from 130+ Bay Area Black-led organizations, as well as leaders from local businesses and municipal communities joined us to network and celebrate the power of Black-led organizations. Check out a few images from the night below. Click here to read more about the kickoff reception.

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you! For more information about ASCEND:BLO, please click the button below or send us an email at