Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Steering Committee members for the Boston Racial Equity Fund, created to invest in nonprofits and initiatives that empower Boston’s Black and Brown residents. The 16-member group consists of Boston leaders in education, philanthropy, the business sector, health and the overall civic life of the city. Its list of desired outcomes includes working to reduce and eliminate the dramatic wealth and opportunity gaps between white families and families of color in the City of Boston. 

“We have an opportunity and sense of real urgency to work together, to not only meet pressing needs, but empower communities and individuals to define and lead systemic change,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Racial Equity Fund will complement the work that the City of Boston is doing to embed equity into all of City work and to dismantle racism by putting an intentional focus on supporting communities of color and marginalized groups across all departments. I thank all the members of the Steering Committee for leading this work as we continue to make progress on our work to better the lives of our residents now and for generations to come.” 

The Boston Racial Equity Fund was created in June of this year to increase the safety, wellbeing, equity, and prosperity of the Black and Brown community. The mission of the Fund is to advance racial equity and to dismantle systemic racism in the City of Boston and its enduring effects including economic and health inequities. The Fund will work to coordinate and amplify philanthropic interest, raising $10 million as its initial goal and ultimately getting it up to $50 million. 

“This is a significant effort that is tangible and will have a real and enduring positive impact on our communities” said Emerson College President Lee Pelton, chair of the Boston Racial Equity Fund Steering Committee. “We have a very long way to go to end structural racism in our society, and I’m encouraged by this important step forward. We will navigate, as best we can, the need to respond to urgent needs while putting into place efforts and investments for long-term, sustained and continuous improvement. Our objective is to dismantle the stubborn structural racial inequities that prevent folks from fully participating in this evolving experiment  we call American democracy. “

“Boston is fortunate to have institutions and grassroots organizations that work every day to override decades of disinvestment and tear down obstacles to opportunity that face too many of our residents, particularly Black and Brown Bostonians,” said Linda Dorcena Forry, Suffolk Construction’s Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Community. “In coordination with the New Commonwealth Fund, we are ready to get to work to boost and complement the racial equity efforts being driven by each of our industry sectors.” 

Racial Equity Fund Steering Committee

The Steering Committee members are: 

  • Lee Pelton, (Char) Emerson College
  • Beth Chandler, YW Boston
  • Denella Clark, Boston Arts Academy Foundation
  • Dr. Thea L. James, BMC
  • Eric Esteves, The Lenny Zakim Fund
  • Fatima Ali-Salaam, Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council
  • Karla Nicholson, Haymarket People’s Fund
  • Klare Shaw. Liberty Mutual Foundation
  • Linda Dorcena Forry, Suffolk Construction
  • Lori Smith-Britton, Community Resource Consulting, Inc.
  • Mo Cowan, GE
  • Pam Everhart, Fidelity Investments
  • Penn Loh, Hyams Foundation
  • Steve Tompkins, Suffolk County Sheriff
  • Thelma Burns, Community Advocate, formerly ABCD
  • Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)

The Boston Racial Equity Fund is being staffed and coordinated by the newly-established Equity and Inclusion cabinet, under the leadership of Chief of Equity Dr. Karilyn Crockett. The cabinet works across departments to embed equity into all city work, and actively works to dismantle racism by putting an intentional focus on supporting communities of color and marginalized groups across all departments, and building equitable governmental structures to sustain this work. The cabinet comprises the following existing departments and agencies, including: Resilience and Racial Equity, Diversity, the Boston Human Rights Commission, Women’s Advancement, Immigrant Advancement, Language and Communications Access. 

As part of its COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, the City created the following emergency relief funds to help Boston’s most vulnerable, including the Rental Relief Fund, the Small Business Relief Fund, the Reopen Boston Fund, and the Boston Resiliency Fund, collectively distributing over $38 million to renters, small businesses and nonprofit organizations in need. 

The Boston Racial Equity Fund will initially exist as a program within the Boston Charitable Trust, an existing 501(c)(3) designated trust fund managed by the City of Boston’s Treasury Department. For more information on how to make a donation, please visit:


Contact Department: Fair Housing and Equity

Publish Date: Mon, 09/28/2020 – 10:57am

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