Fighting For the Future of our Black Girls and Black Gender-Expansive Youth
The Black Girl Freedom Fund (BGFF) is a 10-year philanthropic initiative designed to invest in the brain trust, innovation, health, safety, education, artistic visions, research, and joy of Black girls and their families. The fund’s goal is to help support the empowerment of Black girls and Black gender-expansive youth and to continue to advocate for social change.
What Is BGFF?
The fund was created by the CEO and President of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, Dr. Monique Couvson. She collaborated with other black leaders in September 2020 and started BGFF and also the #1Billion4BlackGirls Campaign, which has called for a $1 billion investment towards Black girls, fighting to reach its goal by the year 2030. When thinking of the contributions black women and the Black gender-expansive youth have made towards social justice, while navigating through it and defending themselves from it, it makes you wonder why a program like this wasn’t created sooner.
Black women who doubled as civil rights leaders, like Rosa Parks for example, who made deeply impactful contributions to the movement and helped ensure a better future for her society, still battled with their struggles within poverty. Luckily, in Parks’ particular time of need, when the community she lived in became unsafe, a quiet contributor, the CEO of Little Caesars Pizza, paid Parks’ rent when she was moved to a safer community.
This is not the first, last, or only story of a Black woman standing at the forefront of social justice, encountering struggles with the constructs of society that stand in her way. The quiet contribution made to Rosa Parks isn’t a situation that happens too often for Black girls. There is and has been limited contribution towards the effort of bettering society for the current and next Black girl, but thankfully this is where the Black Girl Freedom Fund lends a hand and contributes to changing that narrative.
Shifting the Narrative
Black Girl Freedom Fund and Black Girl Freedom Week, which is an annual week-long celebration of Black girls and gender-expansive youth, as well as a way to call to attention the need for a stronger investment into the youth of our future, to enable this change. In a recent NBC interview with Dr. Monique Couvson and Joanne Smith, founding president and CEO of Girls for Gender Equity, Smith explains that Black Girl Freedom’s initiatives are a way of shifting the narrative.
Shifting the narrative is especially important, as Smith explains when we think about the injustices and prejudices that young intelligent Black girls face in our community. The story of Bobbi Wilson comes to mind; she is the 9-year-old who was racially profiled in October 2022 when a white neighbor contacted local police reporting “a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees.” Bobbi was using homemade insect repellant to collect spotted lanternflies that were destroying neighborhood trees. The BGFF seeks to counter this kind of racial stigmatization of our young black girls.
The program’s funds will be funneled directly to Black women, girls, femmes, or gender-expansive Black people-led organizations. A few of the organization’s previous fund recipients were: 3D Girls, which focuses on empowering young women and helping them to overcome disparities they may face in their communities; F.I.N.D. Design, which fights to provide gender-based programs; and Get Smart B4U Get Sexy, which is sex prevention and intervention resource program for youth.
Things to Keep in Mind
And lastly, some important statics to keep in mind when considering donating to the Black Girl Freedom Fund, is that 15 million, about 4.2% of all philanthropic funding to women and girls of color overall, was specified as benefitting Black women and girls in 2017 and Black women and girls received $17,000 less in grant supported compared to a median of $35,000 for all foundation grants. So, if you think that pushing for a $1 billion fund for contributing to Black women, girls, and gender-expansive youth is a bit of a reach, think again.
As you can see, and as many of you have experienced, it takes a lot to uplift a community that has been fighting for centuries for its rightful place in America. But there is room and possibility for change. Whether your way of giving back is to dig in your pockets and give, or to take a few hours of your time per month to support a local Black-led organization, please do so. We need it. We deserve it. And we will change the narrative and overcome it.