California Black Freedom Fund

Racial Justice Real
in California

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Photo by Hamilton Families, courtesy of San Francisco Foundation.

About the Fund

The California Black Freedom Fund is a five-year, $100 million initiative to ensure that Black power-building and movement-based organizations have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism. 

The first state-based fund of its kind, the California Black Freedom Fund prioritizes investments in the courageous and visionary grassroots advocates and community leaders who are transforming our cities, our state -- and our world.

By creating and accelerating a new statewide ecosystem of Black-led organizations confronting racism and anti-Blackness, this fund aims to effect the culture, policy and systems changes necessary to realize equity and justice in California.

Learn more by downloading the California Black Freedom Fund concept paper.

Download PaperMedia Toolkit


Marc Philpart, Executive Director

Marc was named executive director of the California Black Freedom Fund in April 2022, bringing more than a decade of leadership in advocacy working with grassroots organizations to build power for racial justice.

Prior to joining the California Black Freedom Fund, Marc led the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. Under his leadership, the Alliance successfully advanced more than 100 state policies and established powerful partnerships with the California Senate and Assembly Select Committees on the Status of Boys and Men of Color and the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color. Through Marc’s leadership, the Alliance broadened its focus to include fighting for gender justice and ending intimate partner violence by addressing misogyny and patriarchy, as well as racial equity.

Through these experiences, Marc has gained deep campaign and policy expertise across a wide array of issues, including public health and violence prevention, police and prison abolition, education, the criminalization of youth, economic equity and poverty eradication, and voting and civic engagement. Marc serves on the board of directors for the California Immigrant Policy Center, Partners for Dignity and Rights, and is on advisory committees for the University of Southern California’s Equity Research Institute and The Colorado Health Foundation’s locally focused work, and he is co-chair of the Equity Subcommittee of the Essentials for Childhood Initiative, a coalition coordinated by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Social Services.

Keshia Sexton, Director of Engagement and Operations

Keshia Sexton joined California Black Freedom Fund in December 2022 as the Director of Operations and Engagement. Recognizing the inequities in education and the pipeline to prison at her high school, Keshia decided at 16 that she wanted to be part of the solution to ensure Black people have a better quality of life. This awakening also inspired her to study Africana Studies at California State Dominguez Hills to expand her knowledge of Black culture, history, and social justice movements.

Keshia has over 16 years of organizing experience, building power to create a more equitable and just world for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. She is a member of the State of California Baldwin Hills Conservancy Governing Board and California State University, Dominguez Hills’ Alumni Council. Before joining CBFF, she served as Director of Organizing at Mothers Out Front and Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and as a Part-time Lecturer at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Keshia is passionate, strategic, and grounded in her commitment to Black liberation and wellness. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. When Keshia is not working, she finds joy in nature, traveling, and spending quality time with her family, friends, and dog.

Carmen Ross, Director of Programs

Carmen Ross joins the California Black Freedom Fund as the Program Director, overseeing the Fund’s fundraising and grant making work. She comes into this work with a passion to serve as a bridge builder to help connect resources that amplify, to communities of color. 

Prior to joining the Fund, Carmen served as the Senior Program Manager at the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. In partnership with community leaders, Carmen led work to improve educational equity for Boys and men of color in the Sacramento region through scholarships and grants, support elevating youth voice in philanthropy, and provide strategic direction for the Foundation’s competitive grants. She has also served as the Communications Director for the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, where she helped position the Chamber as a community partner through marketing, outreach, and asset-based community development program creation. Before Lodi, she collaboratively raised funds for Northern California regional social service programs through grant writing in her role as Foundations & Corporate Relations Associate for The Salvation Army.

Carmen earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, where her interest in philanthropy and creating opportunities for communities of color through grant-making was sparked. Having moved to a number of cities throughout the state—Carmen claims Southern, Northern, and Central California as home. Her other passions include painting, photography, dancing, and traveling.

Advisory Board

  • Rick Callender - NAACP
  • Joseph Devall - Ballmer Group
  • Joanna Jackson - Weingart Foundation
  • Byron Johnson - East Bay Community Foundation
  • Felicia Jones - Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement
  • Michael McAfee - PolicyLink
  • Rev. Ben McBride - Empower Initiative
  • Dr. Monique W. Morris - Grantmakers for Girls of Color
  • James King - Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
  • Kaci Patterson - Black Equity Collective
  • Retha Robinson - San Francisco Foundation
  • Anthony Thigpenn - California Calls
  • Madelyn R. Adams - Kaiser Permanente, Northern California Region

Why It Matters

Since the Great Migration, millions of Black Americans have settled in California, searching for opportunity and a better life for their families. Today, California has the sixth largest Black population in the country, but trails in funding infrastructure and building the capacity of Black-led organizations. 

The racial justice uprisings that have swept the nation after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many more have shifted policies and culture across the country and in our state, giving us a glimpse of what a new, racially just California could look like. 

Now, we have the opportunity to make lasting change. The California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) is founded on the belief that increasing the capacity and effectiveness of Black-led organizations will, in turn, enhance the freedom and self-determination of Black people most impacted by structural racism in order to drive California as a whole toward systemic transformation.

Black-led, movement-building organizations in California are addressing the multiple and intersecting harms of systemic racism, police violence and racial inequities our communities face. For example, organizations focus on stopping police violence, promoting education equity, improving health outcomes, championing voter registration and civic engagement, and crafting policies around increasing access to housing. These organizations need resources, now and in the future, to continue and strengthen their work. 

Philanthropy has the opportunity to sustain, build upon and accelerate the Black-led racial justice movement underway in California. Doing so requires investing in Black-led organizations to build and strengthen their organizing power within our communities.

Grant Support


CBFF supports Black-led organizations through fast, flexible, and responsive philanthropy that meets their biggest challenges. Our grantmaking addresses organizations’ key concerns and mitigates obstacles preventing Black power-building in California to ensure our grantee partners’ success. 

Responding to Shifting Demographics 

With many Black communities moving (or being priced out of) urban centers, CBFF is using census data to track where Black Californians are living and working. CBFF utilizes this data to inform grantmaking and supports Black leaders as they seek to engage and organize their communities.

Providing Flexible Funding

CBFF offers flexible grants for operating costs because we trust in Black-led organizations to use resources that best support their short and long term goals.

Investing in Wellness and Healing 

Black-led organizations are on the frontlines, suffering from and responding daily to injustices. This work takes a toll on staff and leaders, who report being mentally and physically exhausted. As a result, CBFF supports Black-led organizations in their efforts to provide healing and wellness opportunities to staff so they can continue their important work to fight for equity and justice.

Read Grant Reports

See Full List of Grantee Partners

Current Fund Partners

The California Black Freedom Fund has set a goal of raising $100 million over the next five years through a mix of foundation, corporate and individual donor support. As of February 2021, nearly two dozen funders have joined this important effort as fund partners. To learn about how you can join us as a fund partner, please email Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Updates & Stories

Honoring the Legacy of Chinedu Valentine Okobi

Honoring the Legacy of Chinedu Valentine Okobi Chinedu Valentine Okobi was a poet, devoted father, Morehouse graduate, son, and brother – today, February 13, would have been his 42nd birthday. In October 2018, Chinedu was killed by San Mateo County sheriffs who tased and beat him to death. In honor of Chinedu, his family has […]

Round 7 Funding grants $3.5 million to 75 Black Powerbuilding organizations

Round 7 Funding grants $3.5 million to 75 Black Powerbuilding organizations This Black Futures Month, we’re honored to announce the awardees of our seventh round of grantmaking, an investment of $3.5 million dollars into 75 Black Powerbuilding organizations across the state of California! When we put out our request for proposals last summer, we received […]

Support the Fearless Fund’s Right to Give

Support the Fearless Fund’s Right to Give California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) has joined our peers in philanthropy, Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector, in pushing back against the lawsuit against the Fearless Fund, an organization led by Black women that helps combat underfunding in venture capital by providing grants, tools, and mentorship to women […]

Activists, Policymakers Join To Discuss ‘Freedom’ From Domestic Violence

Activists, Policymakers Join To Discuss ‘Freedom’ From Domestic Violence Domestic Violence Awareness Month may be over but the conversation continues. On October 30th, California Black Freedom Fund co-hosted a panel discussion and podcast recording with Blue Shield of California Foundation called, “Let’s End DV: Heal, Restore, Prevent.” The event focused on the disproportionate impacts of […]

#FundBlackFreedom in Black Philanthropy Month and Beyond

#FundBlackFreedom in Black Philanthropy Month and Beyond Author: Marc Philpart As California Black Freedom Fund celebrates Black Philanthropy Month, we are looking ahead at the future of serving Black communities in California and beyond. It has been a busy few months as our team and partners have been campaigning for a $100 million state budget […]

California Black Freedom Fund on Reparations and Affirmative Action

California Black Freedom Fund on Reparations and Affirmative Action “Yesterday, California took early strides for justice for Black people by presenting its first-in-the-nation attempt at making reparations for the legacy of slavery real. As legislators translate these recommendations into policy, we affirm the wisdom, clarity and courage of our grantees and partners in influencing a […]

Announcing RFP for Round VII Grants

California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) is thrilled to release the RFP for our seventh round of funding. CBFF’s approach is to provide multi-year, operational grants to increase Black-led organizations’(BLOs) access to the practical resources and tools needed to continue driving transformative, multi-sector, policy change.

Strengthening Democracy and Building Black Futures!

Strengthening Democracy and Building Black Futures! We closed out Black History Month with an inspiring funder reception on “Strengthening Democracy and Building Black Futures”, hosted in partnership with Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and co-sponsored by ABFE Leverage the Trust: CA and the Black Funders Network. Held in Oakland at the Oakland Museum of California, it […]

California Black Freedom Fund: Philanthropic Sign-On Letter in Response to Police Violence

California Black Freedom Fund: Philanthropic Sign-On Letter in Response to Police Violence By Marc Philpart, Executive Director, California Black Freedom Fund We, the undersigned, lead philanthropic institutions throughout California that came together to seed and establish the California Black Freedom Fund. Established just two and a half years ago following the brutal murders of Breonna […]

Our Fifth Round of Funding Supports Black Power Building in Los Angeles

The California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) has hired Marc Philpart, renowned advocate for boys and men of color, their families and communities, as its first executive director. Beginning April 27, Philpart will oversee the five-year-long initiative to raise and distribute $100 million so that California’s growing ecosystem of locally rooted Black-led organizing efforts have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism. 

Introducing our 2022 Mid-Year Impact Report!

We’re excited to share CBFF’s 2022 Mid-Year Report: Demonstrating Impact, where you’ll find information and data from two years of grantmaking, as well as inspirational stories from some of our grantees and network leaders.

Reflection on the Two-Year Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder

Two years ago this week, George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. His killing sparked national outrage and a global uprising. Around the world, people grieved, marched and protested the systemic racism and patriarchal violence that enabled his public death. In response, lawmakers, funders, companies and other civic leaders made commitments to address the routine state violence facing Black communities and right the historic wrongs. 

California Black Freedom Fund Hires Marc Philpart as First Executive Director

The California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) has hired Marc Philpart, renowned advocate for boys and men of color, their families and communities, as its first executive director. Beginning April 27, Philpart will oversee the five-year-long initiative to raise and distribute $100 million so that California’s growing ecosystem of locally rooted Black-led organizing efforts have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism. 

Recording: Investing in Black Organizers on the Front Lines

Meet California Black Freedom Fund’s New Grant Partners

How Philanthropy Can Make a Lasting Commitment to Racial Justice

In this period of continued racial reckoning in America, we are reflecting on the days after Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in 2014. The death of an 18-year-old Black boy and the lack of police accountability for the killing led to a wave of righteous protests across the country, along with pledges from philanthropy to invest more in Black-led movements for justice.

California Black Freedom Fund Invests Nearly $9 Million in 74 Black-led Power-Building Groups Around the State

The California Black Freedom Fund today announced nearly $9 million in general operating grants to 74 Black-led groups across California as part of its commitment to resource, connect and strengthen Black-led power-building organizations in the state.

Rev. Samuel Casey

“Foundations and society often expect Black organizations to do more with less than their counterparts. They tell us to make bricks without straw. And that just isn’t sustainable. It’s time to build and invest in movement building specifically for Black communities.”

Powering Black Organizing and Movement Building in California

The Recording of the Virtual Event – February 2021 Webinar.

CBFF Black Organizing PSA

The California Black Freedom Fund is a Five-Year, $100 Million initiative to ensure that Black Power-Building and movement-based Organization have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism.

Funders Join Together to Launch $100 Million California Black Freedom Fund

New Fund Invests in Black Power-Building and Organizing in California. February 4, 2021 — Today, philanthropic organizations and funders joined together to launch the California Black Freedom Fund, a new $100 million initiative to provide abundant resources to Black-led power-building organizations in the state over the next five years.

Hear from Our Funder Partners

“To make racial justice and equity real in California, philanthropy needs to elevate its investments in Black organizers who are focused on advocacy, organizing and holding our institutions accountable — something that we call power-building. The vision of California Black Freedom Fund is to bring justice to our communities by making sure Black-led organizations are sufficiently supported and strong, and their leaders are galvanized.” Lateefah Simon, President, Akonadi Foundation

Angela Glover Blackwell

“We all have come to realize that we’re not going to make change incrementally. It has to be transformative. So, unleash and catch onto the tail of your radical imagination and let that take you into the future that we need. Fund radical imaginations all across the country for sustainable transformative change.”

Ben McBride

“My own story makes me committed to ensuring that no more Black boys and Black girls have to stand under the moonlit sky, staring down the barrel of a gun in fear for their life. This is what frames my call to be responsive, to reduce violence and why I’m a deep believer and proponent of the California Black Freedom Fund.”

Kaci Patterson

“If we are ever going to really fully deliver on the promise of California as the golden state, it means that Black people and Black communities have to be at the forefront of that change. We have to center their experiences, the life wisdom of Black people who know what it’s like to be marginalized and who can actually take us to the promised land.”

Shimica Gaskins

“We’re constantly being told that our ideas are not innovative enough when, in fact, we are trying to reverse the impacts of racism and solve problems that have been persistent for generations, which is the very core of innovation.”

Take Action

CA State Budget Request: #FundBlackFreedom

CBFF is requesting up to $100 million from the state’s general fund to ensure the resiliency of Black led and/or Black serving organizations in the state. This funding will:

  1. Resource, bolster and strengthen Black-led and serving networks and grassroots organizations throughout California through regrants.
  2. Build the organizational infrastructure for an independent Black operating foundation serving the Black community.
  3. Provide seed funding for an endowment to the Black Freedom Fund.

Share your support and urge Governor Newsom to secure our $100 million goal in state funding to support organizations that are closest to the issues as well as the solutions. This is the kind of investment California can afford to make and one that our communities deserve.

Share your support

In this moment of reckoning for racial justice, we have a shared opportunity and responsibility to marshal our resources in order to tackle systemic racism in communities across California. These unprecedented times call for all of us—including philanthropy—to respond in new ways.

Through the California Black Freedom Fund, private, corporate and community foundations and individual donors have the opportunity to prioritize investments in Black-led organizations as a strategic imperative and turn this moment into a sustained movement. Join us in building the capacity and power of Black organizers and advocates to make justice real in California.

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