Minding the Gap: Strategic Philanthropy and the Crisis Among Black Young Men and Boys

by Lisa Quay; Susan J. Colby; Tia Elene Martinez

Apr 1, 2010

This chapter in "Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color" explores philanthropy's response to the crisis among black young men and boys. Since 1990, overall funding has fluctuated significantly and failed to reach necessary levels. In addition, there are low levels of investment among "new" philanthropists who entered the field after 1980. The authors offer recommendations to overcome these barriers.

  • The authors document three major periods of foundation investment related to black males. From the early 1990's through 2002, large national foundations provided funding, primarily addressing their needs as fathers. From 2003 to 2005, funding dwindled dramatically. From 2006 to the present, there was renewed interest, with initiatives explicitly targeting this population in its own right, regardless of parental status.
  • General barriers to foundation investment in this area are: the challenges involved in directly addressing race and gender in the U.S.; reluctance to take on a highly complex social problem with few proven solutions; and the absence of sustained institutional support.
  • A reliance on strategic-planning methods, which are designed to maximize impact and "value for money," may systematically undermine the likelihood of black young men and boys being targeted recipients of philanthropic investment.