Fostering Inclusive Economic Models

REAL People’s Fund

Group of people raising their fists, standing in front of a mural

Building Community Wealth and Power for A Just East Bay

EBCF is committed to creating an inclusive East Bay economy, which includes supporting entrepreneurship and other wealth-building strategies in communities of color through the REAL People’s Fund. The REAL People’s Fund is a core part of EBCF’s work in building an inclusive economy and our expanding impact investing efforts, particularly place-based investing that aligns with our social justice grant-making.

The REAL People’s Fund is a $10M community-controlled and democratically governed loan fund invests in East Bay entrepreneurs of color with a strong social mission—an effort that has taken on increased relevance during these times. Small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color are critical drivers of job and wealth creation in communities of color, and they have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic recession.

REAL People’s Fund is:

  • Governed by a Board of community organizers, putting the power to direct resources in the hands of those most impacted by economic injustices. These groups include Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Oakland Rising, Restaurant Opportunities Center, Restore Oakland, and more to come.
  • Professionally managed by lenders RUNWAY and Community Vision, together with business developer Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative—three financial organizations with a deep commitment to and demonstrated track record working in communities of color.
  • Supported by East Bay Community Foundation, a local philanthropic anchor, who builds the local ecosystem and partners with regional and national funders and investors to provide grant capital to the community organizations leading this effort.
  • Part of a larger movement-building strategy, led by the grassroots partners, to shift the conditions that create racial economic inequities. The community capital and movement-building strategies work in tandem to direct resources towards disinvested communities, protect against future harms, and level the playing field.

Together, this unique collaboration promotes community ownership, works to close the racial wealth gap, and creates a new model for community-powered decision-making over how resources are invested.