Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund Announces New Grantees

Three Projects Selected to Spark Radical Hope For A Racially Just Oakland 

OAKLAND, Calif. –  The East Bay Community Foundation, Akonadi Foundation, and City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division announced today its third round of awards for Belonging In Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund. For the fund’s first time, three projects were awarded three-year grants of $100,000 per year for collaborations across Oakland-based cultural and social change organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

“All three grantees are collaborative projects deeply rooted in Oakland communities,” said Brandi Howard, President and CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation. “We believe in investing in the creative and radical visions of community members who want to reimagine our future and spark the hope that will liberate unrealized potential towards creating an Oakland where we all belong.”

The Fund is a unique public, private, and community partnership that centers Oakland’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color artists and culture workers in the intersectional work of racial justice, while bringing together the power building commitment of East Bay Community Foundation, racial justice mission of Akonadi Foundation, and cultural equity vision of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division. The transformative power of the arts as a catalyst for racial justice is at the heart of this initiative. 

In its third round of funding, Belonging in Oakland is resourcing and bringing to life radical ideas that reimagine how we operate and move as a society — ideas that will be developed, tested, and documented by and with the community over a three-year period. From narrative shifts to policy prototypes to new community power-building structures, the fund seeks to expand the realm of what is possible to achieve racial justice

“For answers to thought-provoking questions, we turn to community-rooted Black, Indigenous and People of color visionaries, artists, activists, cultural workers and resilient culture keepers to recover old wisdoms and illuminate future paths,” said Raymond Colmenar, President of Akonadi Foundation. “We’re confident our grantees will create barrier-breaking narrative frames, policy ideas, and practices to liberate our imaginations and realize untapped potential.”

“The Just City Fund supports the ways our community imagines our lives together as Oaklanders,” said Roberto Bedoya, Oakland Cultural Affairs Manager. “These awardees illuminate how the work of creating beauty and manifesting justice shapes democracy, culture and belonging, which is central to our civic well-being.”

Projects selected for funding are:

Belonging and Justice 

  • A collaboration between Asian Prisoner Support Committee and Asian Refugees United, this project will address “crimmigration” systems that drive over-incarceration, deportation, and the dismantling of Oakland’s immigrant families. Integrating body knowledge and creativity, the project will work with currently and formerly incarcerated community members lift their stories and use their narrative to shift public opinion and policy toward freedom and inclusion.

Ecosystems for Economic and Racial Justice 

  • This project, a collaboration between Oakland Bloom and Sticky Rice Club, will implement cultural and economic equity-based programming alongside cooperative real estate and business development models for merchants and residents of Oakland’s Chinatown. It will also activate public and private spaces through inclusive neighborhood events, safety through improved infrastructure and community-based initiatives, and policy advocacy that supports workers, residents, and merchants of Chinatown.


  • R3 envisions an Oakland where cooperatively-owned Black Cultural Hubs — land, affordable and workforce housing, market halls, and cultural centers — represent at least one quarter of the commercial landscape. R3 will create a national model for a just city with a robust and vibrant renaissance in legacy Black communities; vibrant, thriving Black arts, cultural, and commercial areas in a flourishing economy; an ecosystem anchored by Black arts, culture, and commerce; and collective power that assures our inalienable human right to love, health, wellness, belonging, power, safety, and self-determination. This is a collaboration between Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation, Alena Museum, Black Terminus, and East Side Arts Alliance. 

The third round of Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund awards will also include a $12,000 annual stipend for the “life sustaining expenses” of the artists and cultural practitioners, and a $25,000 allocation for documenting the collaboration. The Fund was launched in spring 2020 to support artists and cultural practitioners reframe the crisis of COVID-19 as an opportunity to imagine how Oakland might be transformed into a more equitable and just city. In fall 2021, the second funding round gave cultural groups two years to implement projects to challenge the mechanisms of systemic racism and lift the voices and perspectives of communities most impacted by social injustices.  

Funding for Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund is provided by major contributions from the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures program, alongside additional support from Akonadi Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation. The Surdna Foundation’s program, Radical Imagination for Racial Justice, is a national regranting initiative aimed at enabling BIPOC artists in partnership with communities to reimagine policies and practices to advance justice for those most impacted by systemic racism. 


Akonadi Foundation supports powerful social change movements, primarily in Oakland, that work to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. Akonadi Foundation seeks to stop the criminalization of young people of color and promote responses to harm that nurture wellness and well-being. Since its founding in 2000, the Foundation has given over 1,800 grants totaling $43 million to nonprofit organizations, primarily in the Bay Area, as well as across the country. For more information, visit:  


The Cultural Affairs Division is housed in the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Department. The division includes the City’s cultural funding program, which provides approximately $1 million in grants to support the arts in Oakland; and the public art program, which has more than $1 million in funds currently dedicated for public art installations across Oakland. The division also facilitates professional development opportunities for artists and arts organizations: policy research and advocacy; philanthropic partnerships and special events. 


Founded in 1928, and supported by over 400 local donors, East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) connects donors with community-led movements to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and create an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay. Recognized as 2019’s “Boldest Community Foundation” by Inside Philanthropy, EBCF is committed to ensuring that all members of our community are treated fairly, with equitable opportunity and outcomes.  Visit for more information. 


PHOTO CREDIT: Brooke Anderson