ASCEND:BLO
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

ACCELERATOR

The ASCEND:BLO Accelerator is a six-month intensive 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 support. Participants will receive a three-year investment with ongoing technical support and training.

The members of the inaugural cohort of the ASCEND:BLO Accelerator are:

  • African American Art and Culture Complex: Serving San Francisco’s Western Addition and Filmore communities, the African American Art and Culture Complex “seeks to nurture and facilitate the empowerment of the African-American community through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression, mediums, education, and programming.”
  • Black Organizing Project:  Working in Oakland, the Black Organizing Project is a “Black member-led community organization working for racial, social, and economic justice through grassroots organizing and community-building in Oakland, California.”
  • Community Housing Development Corporation: Serving North Richmond and the greater East Bay, the Community Housing Development Corporation “was founded in 1990 to eliminate blight, improve housing opportunities for current and future residents, and create better economic conditions.”
  • The Hidden Genius Project: Serving Oakland, the greater East Bay, and San Francisco, the Hidden Genius Project “trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.”
  • Roots Community Health Center: Working in Oakland and the greater East Bay, the Roots Community Health Center is “dedicated to improving the status of health of East Bay residents.” The center was founded in 2008 to “address the growing need for accessible, culturally appropriate, community-responsive, comprehensive health care in Oakland, California.”

 

STABILIZER

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.

 

ASCEND:BLO NETWORK
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. Stay tuned for more information about the latest with the network!

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 ascendblo@eastbaycf.org.

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