The nonprofit accelerator is a component of ASCEND:BLO, the Foundation’s initiative to strengthen and preserve Black-led nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area. 

 Oakland, CA – Today, the East Bay Community Foundation announced the selection of five (5) Black-led nonprofit organizations (BLOs) as part of the inaugural cohort to join the ASCEND:BLO Accelerator. The accelerator is a unique opportunity for Black-led nonprofits in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, or San Mateo Counties to learn and build together in a six-month program designed to bolster the growth and sustainability of emerging, innovative community anchors. The program focuses on providing support in key areas including strategy, feasibility, fundraising, and sustainability – as well as access to coaching and technical support.

The organizations selected have demonstrated a vision for growth, promising ideas, and a willingness to work in new ways to catalyze personal, organizational, and community change. Participants will initially receive a $25,000 stipend in honor of the time required to participate and in support of maintaining smooth operations during the six-month program and will have the opportunity to develop and pitch a bold idea that will receive an investment of up to $300,000 over three (3) years.

“We are thrilled to welcome the first members of ASCEND:BLO’s accelerator,” said Byron Johnson, Capacity Building Officer at the East Bay Community Foundation. “These organizations have vibrant leadership, innovative ideas, and are positioned for incredible impact in community. We are looking forward to the next six months and the progress we will make as a community to strengthen the Bay.”

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.”

The Bay Area’s Black-led organizations primarily serve majority Black, Latino, low and moderate income and underserved communities. These communities have enormous need yet the local organizations tasked with fulfilling those needs often have limited staff, small budgets, and limited or no reserve funding or endowments. As commercial rents skyrocket, many are seeing their rents nearly double, unable to keep pace with the rapidly shifting economy in the Bay Area. To create a more just region means increasing local organizations’ capacity to serve the needs of our fellow citizens; creating the conditions for all people to reach their full potential.

About ASCEND:BLO

In an effort to strengthen Black-led nonprofit organizations (BLOs) that serve as anchor institutions providing vital services in communities of color and low-income communities, the ASCEND:BLO initiative is a capacity building program designed to support the growth, sustainability, and impact of BLOs in four (4) core Bay Area Counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo. The first of its kind in the Bay Area, ASCEND:BLO has three (3) key components for effective nonprofit development – 1) A six-month accelerator to bolster emerging, innovative BLOs; 2) a three-year stabilizer designed to support mature BLOs and; 3)a peer learning community featuring peer networking and learning with access to relevant workshops and speakers. ASCEND:BLO is a collaborative effort that is supported by leaders from the East Bay Community Foundation, as well as the Akonadi Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, the County of Alameda, Kapor Center for Social Impact, The San Francisco Foundation, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and the Y & H Soda Foundation. Click here for more information about ASCEND:BLO.

About East Bay Community Foundation

Founded in 1928, 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. EBCF is supported by 600 local donors and has charitable assets under management of over $764 million.