Spurred by the global resurgence of the movement to demand bolder action against structural racism, the Bush Foundation designed an innovative approach to redistribute wealth to Black and Native American communities. Called community trust funds, the model disburses $100 million dollars through two steward organizations from these communities. Those steward organizations will use the trust funds to support educational attainment, home ownership, and entrepreneurial opportunities for individuals. The full report describes the Bush Foundation’s Community Trust Fund approach in five steps:

  • Issue a social impact bond to dramatically increase funding capacity.

By relying on debt financing to fund new grants, the foundation was able to urgently increase its support to the Native American and Black communities while still investing in other projects using their endowed assets.

  • Engage directly with community members to design a funding strategy.

The Bush Foundation structured a deep engagement process with 28 community members including leaders, elders, and experts on reparations and philanthropy. Their guidance helped the organization arrive at a community trust fund model for investing the $100M bond proceeds in Native American and Black individuals.

  • Invite expressions of interest from potential steward organizations.

The Bush Foundation cast a wide and inclusive net to invite interest from potential steward organizations. Their request for proposals focused on organizations’ capacity to credibly steward the funds and their demonstrated ability to engage deeply with community members in informing their work.

  • Select two steward organizations with guidance from community members.

The Bush Foundation recruited a representative community panel with understanding of the lived experiences and needs of the Black and Native American community to advise their selection process by interviewing finalist organizations. They helped identify NDN Collective and Nexus Community Partners as the two steward organizations for $50M community trust funds.

  • Provide initial funding and guidelines to steward organizations for their program design phase.

The Bush Foundation provided an up front $500,000 to each steward organization to support their work designing a grantmaking program for each community trust fund, as well as support around grant management, evaluation, and legal issues. The design phase funding is in addition to the $50M each steward organization will receive to seed their community trust fund.

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