OAKLAND, October 19, 2021 — The East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) announced that it has received a grant for $500,000 from The James Irvine Foundation to support its work fostering inclusive economies. The funds will be used to launch the REAL People’s Fund, a democratically governed and community controlled integrated capital fund investing in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs with a strong social mission in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
“Creating opportunities for BIPOC entrepreneurs to gain fair access to capital is one of the major tenets of our effort to advance an inclusive, fair and just East Bay,” said James Head, president & CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation. “EBCF is focused on supporting community-led solutions to create a truly inclusive economy.”
“This grant comes at a critical time as we prepare to launch the REAL People’s Fund,” said Sabrina Wu, senior program officer at EBCF. “The fund’s mission has taken on additional urgency in light of the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic recession in communities of color, and the failure of many small business support programs to reach Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other POC business owners. Putting investment decision-making power in the hands of the community ensures that resources flow where they are needed most.”
The REAL People’s Fund is a $10 million community loan fund led and governed by a consortium of local community organizing groups serving BIPOC entrepreneurs in the East Bay. In addition to capital in the form of loans and grants, the REAL People’s Fund provides business advisory services and peer and community support to entrepreneurs. REAL People’s fund partners are also working to shift systemic conditions underlying economic inequities through community organizing and policy and systems change.
“One of our biggest goals is to shift the power dynamics of traditional finance by questioning the underlying assumptions about who gets to make decisions, who should bear risk, and what community wealth and power building can look like,” said Laurika Harris-Kaye, REAL People’s Fund and RUNWAY Portfolio Director. “It’s wonderful to be in such deep, collaborative partnership with folks who not only want to support local entrepreneurs, but change the paradigm around how this work is done.”
“The pandemic laid bare the pernicious and unethical inequalities in our economy. Instead of returning to the status quo, we must reimagine a more just and inclusive economy,” said Don Howard, president and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation. “The East Bay Community Foundation and REAL People’s Fund are important steps toward a more equitable economy — where mission-driven, BIPOC entrepreneurs have fair access to flexible capital. The James Irvine Foundation is proud to support this work.”
About East Bay Community Foundation
Founded in 1928, and supported by over 400 local donors, the 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 has charitable assets under management of over $800 million.
About REAL People’s Fund
The REAL People’s Fund is a community capital fund and aligned movement-building strategy to advance a bottom-up vision for an inclusive East Bay economy. Responding to the income and wealth inequality that has led to gentrification and displacement of the East Bay’s historic communities of color, six community organizing nonprofits (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Oakland Rising, Restaurant Opportunities Center, Restore Oakland) came together to create a community-controlled loan fund to invest in small businesses that anchor economic opportunity in their neighborhoods. Click here to learn more.
About The James Irvbine Foundation
The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. The Foundation’s current focus is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided more than $2.09 billion in grants to organizations throughout California. The Foundation ended 2020 with more than $3 billion in assets and provided $109 million in grants. For more, please visit www.irvine.org.