Sep 15, 2021
We’re Celebrating a year of Black Girl Freedom!
Black girls deserve to be safe, and free, to grow up healthy and thriving, and to have joy. That’s why, a year ago today, we launched the Black Girl Freedom Fund and the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign. Our goal is to ensure a future that abundantly uplifts Black girls, gender-expansive youth, and their families by mobilizing investments in their innovation, health, safety, education, artistic visions, research, and joy.
In our first year we focused on building capacity and structure for this audacious, yet attainable, initiative to mobilize $1 billion in investment for Black girls, femmes, and Black gender-expansive youth over the next 10 years, and we have much to celebrate. But let’s be clear— we are just getting started. Now is the time to robustly invest in one of our most essential, valuable assets: Black girls.
How did it all begin?
Black girls, femmes, and Black gender-expansive youth have been and continue to be on the frontlines of fighting for racial and gender equity, but their stories and lives are often overlooked or erased. Recognizing this, a phenomenal group of Black women and femme activists, artists, educators, organizers, and philanthropists came together to call attention to the fact that Black girls in the United States are in crisis.
On September 15, 2020, this group of Black women leaders united to launch the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign, a call for the philanthropic investment of $1 billion in Black girls over the next decade. The co-founders of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign are:
- Dr. Monique W. Morris, Grantmakers for Girls of Color
- LaTosha Brown, Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium
- Tarana Burke, Founder, ‘me too.’ Movement
- Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
- Joanne Smith, Founding President and CEO, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE)
- Dr. Salamishah Tillet, Co-Founder, A Long Walk Home
- Scheherazade Tillet, Co-Founder, A Long Walk Home
- Teresa Younger, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women
The Black Girl Freedom Fund (BGFF) is Grantmakers for Girls of Color’s largest initiative, and engages Black cisgender and transgender girls and gender-expansive youth as decision makers in the fund’s priorities and vetting process for granting resources.
Highlights from our first year
We are deeply grateful to everyone who has participated in our events, joined the necessary conversations, shared insights and wisdom, spread the word, and contributed to the #1Billion4Blackgirls campaign. Some of the highlights from our first year include:
Growing support for the #1Billion4BlackGirls call to invest
When we say “$1 billion for Black girls,” we recognize that these funds need to be directly guided towards Black girls and organizations that are led by, support and uplift them, and we are mobilizing these funds. We are also showing how Black girls can be decision-makers in how these resources are invested. Notable supporters of the #1Billion4BlackGirls initiative include: Beverly Bond, Camille A. Brown, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Marley Dias, Kamilah Forbes, Melissa Harris-Perry, Valerie Jarrett, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, Rashida Jones, Nakisha Lewis, Tynesha McHarris, Gabrielle Union, Ada Williams-Prince, and Ciara, and every single donor who went to our website and generously donated as much as they could.
In our first year, the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign has already mobilized $20 million from the co-investments of over 15 institutional funders and more than 1,000 individual donors. Ciara was the first person to give directly to the fund, and she donated proceeds from her song “Rooted” to #1Billion4BlackGirls. This $20 million already surpasses what philanthropy collectively invests: In 2017, one of the latest years for which comprehensive data is available, less than $15 million of the $67 billion that foundations contributed was specified as benefiting Black women and girls, according to a report from the Ms. Foundation for Women and the consulting group Strength in Numbers.
On the screen: Shondaland
In December 2020, Black Girl Freedom Fund partnered with ABC and Shondaland’s “Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy” for a special 2-hour winter finale series crossover. These powerful episodes, written by Felicia Pride, focused on how human trafficking disproportionately impacts Black girls. We are grateful to creative teams like those at Shondaland and ABC for raising visibility about the ways that we fail to protect Black girls, while also uplifting their power and resilience. Special thanks goes to Kelly McCreary, Felicia Pride, and the actors and teams at ABC and Shondaland for utilizing their social media platforms to give more information about these issues and uplift #1Billion4BlackGirls and the Black Girl Freedom Fund.
Black Girl Freedom Week
In February 2021, we kicked off our inaugural Black Girl Freedom Week, a week-long celebration of Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth. Some of our special guests included: Rashida Jones, Kelly McCreary, Eva Reign, Naomi Wadler, Dr. Aimee Cox, DJ Quiana, OnRaé LaTeal, Dara Baldwin, and Black girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth from A Long Walk Home, Girls for Gender Equity, S.O.U.L. Sisters Leadership Collective, Black Swan Academy, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and The Brotherhood Sister Sol. This recap of Black Girl Freedom Week gives an awesome overview of the week, and showcases Black girls and gender-expansive youth giving us clear direction about how they would invest $1 billion.
First Round of Black Girl Freedom Fund Grants
This spring, our first cohort of BGFF Youth Grantmaking Council members came together to make decisions on our inaugural round of grants, which focused on Black girls’ wellness and safety. These young people spent time defining what wellness and safety means to them, and co-creating our vetting process for grantmaking decisions. Most importantly, these insightful youth served as the final decision-makers for this inaugural round. They selected six grant recipients that they believed clearly centered the wellness and safety of Black girls and gender-expansive youth. Our inaugural BGFF grantee partners are:
- The F.I.N.D. Design (Nashville, TN)
- Get Smart B4 U Get Sexy (California)
- Healing the Black Body (National)
- The Hive Community Circle (South Carolina)
- Pretty Brown Girl (National)
- 3D Girls Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
In The News
Black Girl Freedom Fund and the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign have made an impact across media and platforms. Our call to invest abundantly in Black girls resonated in various ways, and has been featured in various publications including Essence, Inside Philanthropy, and Associated Press. Visit our BGFF News page to see more.
What’s next for us?
Join Us for Our TweetChat Today!
Today at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, Black Girl Freedom Fund will host a tweetchat to mark the anniversary of the fund’s launch and bring together the co-founders, supporters, donors and grantee organizations to discuss how we can accomplish the goals of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign. The tweetchat will be hosted by the @BlkGrlFreedom account and we will use the hashtag #1Billion4BlackGirls. Join us!
Open Call for Applications
In honor of the inaugural year of #1Billion4BlackGirls, we are thrilled to announce our open call for applications to the Black Girl Freedom Fund. This round is open to organizations that center the leadership of Black girls and gender-expansive youth. We are especially excited to invite Black women and femme-led organizations to apply for this round of funding. Applications will be open starting today, September 15, through October 30, 2021. Learn more about the application process for the second round of grant making by visiting our website.
Mapping & tracking resources
There is currently a dearth of data on how much money is being invested in Black girls and femmes. As part of our commitment to mobilize $1 billion, we are developing a robust strategy to map the resources that are intentionally moving to Black girls, femmes, and Black gender-expansive youth. This is a critical effort to support our ability to mobilize financial resources in support of movements and organizations centering Black girls and femmes. We will share this tracking process with you in the new year, and will be able to provide more information about where there are opportunities for deeper investment.
Black Girl Freedom Week 2022
Mark your calendars for Black Girl Freedom Week 2022, scheduled for February 14-20, 2022! We’re thrilled to be planning out a week full of inspirational leaders, panels and conversations by Black girls and gender-expansive youth. If you have suggestions for workshops or speakers, reach out to us.
Thank you for your continued support as we celebrate and center Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth. And thank you for continuing to show up for Black girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth in your communities and around the country. If you don’t already follow us on our platforms, please take a moment to do that so you don’t miss important announcements: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn. We appreciate your support in continuing to amplify and invest in #1Billion4BlackGirls.
With deep gratitude,
Monique W. Morris, Ed.D.
BGFF Fund Manager