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GREENWOOD Dist. – The Commemoration Fund has announced the selection of a new round of grantees in its third grant cycle, totaling more than $1 million in funds. This year the board, made up of some of Tulsa’s most influential leaders, has chosen 30 unique organizations to champion in their individual efforts to overcome racial disparities in the community.

“The Zarrow Commemoration Fund Advisory Board, composed entirely of people of color, invests to empower,” said Chair Hannibal B. Johnson. “We provide grants to forward-thinking nonprofits, most of them led by people of color and focused on communities of color. We granted nearly $1 million our first year and $1 million last year. This year, we will award another $1 million.

Urban Coders Guild seeks to build generational wealth for Black Tulsans

One of the winners this year included Urban Coders Guild, an organization that teaches computer science skills to students in the city. Based in Historic Greenwood District, Urban Coders Guild founder Mikeal Vaughn is on a mission to establish generational wealth for Black Tulsans.

The median annual wage for computer and technology occupations was $97,430 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And one of the things that we discovered thinking about the largest tech ecosystem in Tulsa, is that if we are able to move 2,197 Black Tulsans, who are currently making $30,000, the median income, into a role that pays above $60,000, then we would effectively close the median income gap in the city,” Vaughn previously told The Black Wall Street Times.

Commemoration Fund gives to transform communities

Established in 2020, and one of the first organizations of its kind nationwide, the Commemoration Fund has awarded a total of 79 grants to 55 programs and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the city’s Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and otherwise marginalized communities.

This year is no different, with grant recipients receiving funds ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 for a grand total of $1,033,975 to help carry out initiatives that include addressing inequalities within health, education, economic development, and the justice system.

As in previous grant cycles, the organizations awarded in 2023 have committed resources toward transforming the realities of families and individuals that have often found little support in overcoming the economic and social barriers in their day-to-day lives.

Through the dedicated and innovative programs offered by the Commemoration Fund’s grant recipients, Tulsa’s minority and underserved populations find a helping hand and a sense of relief as our country grapples with a nationwide recessionary period.

“As we invest in these incredible organizations, we are inspired by their unyielding commitment to fostering a more equitable Tulsa,” said Board Secretary Ashley Harris Philippsen.

“Their work is a beacon of hope, shining light on the path towards equity and justice. Through them, we remember that the pursuit of progress is not a solitary journey, but a collective effort deeply rooted in the power of community.”

A “competitive” fund cycle

The Commemoration Fund’s advisory board, made up entirely of Black, Indigenous, and LatinX board members, received 80 applications totaling a requested amount of $5.5 million during this grant cycle’s application period, demonstrating a community’s increasing desire to provide sustainable solutions that advance diversity and equity for fellow Tulsans.

To adequately facilitate these efforts in a way that will make the greatest impact, the board chose to distribute funds among entities focusing on community building, informal education, health equity, economic/cultural development, and wealth-building.

“This year was the most competitive grant cycle to date with our highest number of applicants,” said Vice Chair Eunice Tarver.

“Given the impact of our prior recipients’ work and this year’s record-breaking number of requests, these funds are changing lives and transforming our city, one initiative at a time. This is a testament of what is possible when the process of charitable funding truly becomes inclusive and accessible to communities of color.”

2023 Grant Recipients:

  1. 1st Step Male Diversion Program, Inc.: Purchase of a new 10-person van to transport program participants to daily classes, counseling sessions, court appearances, and supportive activities.
  2. The Bail Project: Support for the Tulsa-affiliate of this national organization that provides voluntary community-based pretrial support and bail assistance for people who cannot afford bail.
  3. BeHeard Movement: Support for a mobile resource center to provide showers, haircuts, and laundry services for people experiencing homelessness.
  4. Birthright Living Legacy: Support for grassroots effort providing fatherhood programming and family supports.
  5. Casa de la Cultura: Support for engaging programs designed for the preservation, promotion, and advancement of the Latinx culture and arts.
  6. Catholic Charities Tulsa: Support for Immigration Legal Services, a nonprofit clinic offering removal defense and assistance to asylum seekers.
  7. Community Health Connection: Grant funds for a pilot program benefiting Latinx patients diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes.
  8. Crossover Community Impact: Support for StreetLeader Program, offering employment opportunities for teenagers in North Tulsa.
  9. Downtown Tulsa Partnership: Grant funds for PopUp Downtown, an initiative to match under-represented entrepreneurs with commercial space.
  10. East Tulsa Main Street: Support for community engagement and business support programs in the Tulsa Global District.
  11. Foundation for Tulsa Schools: Support for CHAMPS Male Mentoring Program to serve Black and Latinx students with a culturally informed lens.
  12. Guiding Right Inc.: Grant funds for BePrEPARED, an effort to raise awareness of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and reduce the risk of HIV for Black women in Tulsa.
  13. J.A.M.E.S. Inc.: Support for case management and scholarship opportunities for adolescent parents.
  14. Jewish Federation of Tulsa: K-12 field trip support for Sherwin Miller Museum’s exhibit that invites students to explore the role of white supremacy in the Jewish holocaust and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
  15. La Cosecha: A purchase of a forklift and other capital improvements to distribute food primarily to economically under-resourced Latinx residents in Tulsa.
  16. Leadership Tulsa: Funding for expansion of the after-school development program focused on building the next generation of diverse civic and community leaders.
  17. Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa: Support for food distribution, language translation, and development of strategic relationships in East Tulsa.
  18. Met Cares Foundation: Grant funds for The Hometown Collective, an initiative to provide North Tulsa high school students with internships within in-demand industries.
  19. New Hope Oklahoma: Program support to interrupt the cycle of incarceration through after-school programs and summer camps for children of justice-involved parents.
  20. Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Inc.: Funding for the FreshRX ‘Food is Medicine’ designed to improve health metrics for people living with Type 2 diabetes in North Tulsa with locally sourced fresh foods.
  21. Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma: Support for training in restorative practices designed to reduce trauma, dehumanization, and recidivism in schools and organizations.
  22. Speaks 4 You, Inc.: Grants funds to offer comprehensive scholarship literacy resources to underserved students of color.
  23. Supporters of Families with Sickle Cell Disease, Inc.: Support for a comprehensive continuum of care for Sickle Cell Disease which impacts Black people at disproportionate rates.
  24. Theatre North: Support for a long-established North Tulsa, Black-led theatre program that stages and presents plays reflecting the Black experience.
  25. Thunder Fellows: Funding to build new opportunities in sports, entertainment, and technology for Black high school and college students in the Tulsa area.
  26. Tri-City Collective: Support for this award-winning professional broadcast journalism effort that engages the local public on issues important to communities of color.
  27. Tulsa Bike Share: Grants funds toward repair, recovery, and replacement of damaged bikes in Greenwood, Kendall Whittier, and the Phoenix District.
  28. Tulsa Children’s Museum: Funding to extend STEAM Pathways to a multi-event in-school model in North Tulsa elementary schools.
  29. Urban Coders Guild: Support for a creative after-school tech-training program for middle and high school students of color to develop a more inclusive tech ecosystem.
  30. Women Empowering Nations: Support to relaunch the Girls Leading Our World Tulsa project to provide leadership and career development programming to Black high school girls.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...

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