NORTH CHARLESTON — After nine people were killed inside Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist five years ago, public statements were made about the importance of investing in Black communities.
But no policy changes or investments took place that the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina felt were substantive.
Similar commitments were expressed this year following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. But this time around, a seven-figure gift from a social media conglomerate indicates to the foundation there's a serious commitment by the business, and potentially other corporations, to address systemic issues.
The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina announced Thursday it has received $1 million from Facebook to support Black-led nonprofits and Black communities in the tri-county region. The foundation, which works in nine counties along South Carolina's coast, is one of 20 community foundations in the United States to receive $1 million from Facebook to manage grantmaking programs supporting African American communities and Black-led nonprofits.
The gift signals to Black-led nonprofits that too often have been overlooked that a new era has begun, said Darrin Goss, president and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation.
“I think it's a call to action for others to follow suit," Goss said.
Facebook approached the foundation about the partnership, looking to work with an organization with a formidable reputation for helping those in need in South Carolina.
Like many other businesses, Facebook announced other initiatives earlier this year that aimed to support minority communities.
In August, the company said it would dedicate $40 million to 10,000 Black-owned businesses in the U.S.
The most recent announcement is targeted toward nonprofits doing work in South Carolina.
“We’re providing funding directly to Coastal Community Foundation to build on their track record of supporting Black-led nonprofits and ensure that people locally are making the decisions about where these dollars are most needed and can have the most impact," said Marcy Scott Lynn, director of global impact partnerships at Facebook.
In addition to the foundation's ongoing work in advocacy, investment, grantmaking and scholarship programs, the partnership helps advance CCF's goal to create communities rich in equity and opportunity for everyone.
CCF will award funds over two years to nonprofit organizations and programs in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties supporting innovation, creativity, and resiliency in Black communities. Preference will be given to Black-led organizations.
Funds from the Facebook grant will also support four specific initiatives that help advance racial equity, address key issues in neighborhoods, lend structural support to grassroots efforts and create an endowment fund.
One of those initiatives, the Black Giving Circle, will be a permanent endowment for Black philanthropy in the region, Goss said.
"The Black Giving Circle is really an opportunity to highlight the fact that philanthropy in our community is not just for wealthy White people," he said. "Philanthropy can and should be shared by people of color."
The foundation won't just be giving money to organizations. But it will also offer resources such as training, which can help build sustainability for local nonprofits.
Goss said this is an opportunity to work with Black-led social justice organizations, such as the YWCA Greater Charleston, which aims to eliminate racism and empower women.
The $1 million gift is a game-changer, said LaVanda Brown, executive director of YWCA.
"A lot of us just have been overlooked by funders," Brown said.
The foundation committed to taking action following the death of George Floyd, but work to provide all people with access to opportunities has long been underway. CCF is helping fund the new Opportunity Center in North Charleston that will serve as a career training facility and business incubator.
Additionally, the inaugural group of the Rev. Pinckney Scholarship Program, started by the foundation in 2016, graduated from college last May.
Goss is glad to see increased efforts to support Black communities. He said substantive investment didn't follow the Emanuel tragedy because the murders committed by Dylann Roof were widely seen as heinous actions committed by one person instead of the actions being connected to systemic racism.
He said the difference this time around is Floyd was killed while near multiple officers, and, "for the first time, there were people who said 'this is systemic.'"