Global Fund for Children (GFC) and The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, have announced the opening of the Phoenix Fund. This new initiative, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will provide £1 million in emergency grants to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and will support BAME leadership across England.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice sweep the world, the time to decisively support BAME leadership and relief efforts is long overdue.
Survey data from the Ubele Initiative, a convening partner of the Phoenix Fund, shows that nine out of ten micro and small BAME organizations are at risk of closing within three months due to COVID-19. This research helped prompt the convening of BAME-led infrastructure and community groups from across England, starting in May 2020 and leading to the co-creation of the Phoenix Fund.
For years, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic organizations have faced systemic barriers to accessing resources to carry out their vital work. Now, throughout the UK and worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting BAME organizations and populations, deepening racial inequality and threatening their existence.
The Phoenix Fund is now accepting grant applications from micro and small BAME-led organizations in England, with a turnover up to £100,000, that are working with people of any age and providing essential and emergency services, support, and education tailored to the BAME community.
Successful grant holders will receive core funding to meet critical needs and continue their organizations’ missions, with the flexibility to make their own decisions about what is most important for their operations and programs.
A collaborative panel of individuals who have understanding and lived experience working with Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities will drive the fund’s grantmaking decisions, awarding grants to BAME-centered and -led community organizations. Young people from GFC’s Youth Leadership Council and The National Lottery Community Fund’s advisory group will also be involved to help lay strong foundations for future BAME leadership in the sector.
The £1.4 million commitment from The National Lottery Community Fund was made possible thanks to National Lottery players and makes available £1 million in grants to BAME communities across England and a further £400,000 to support further development of the fund. This funding is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s wider COVID-19 emergency response for communities.
“We’re proud that, thanks to National Lottery players, the Phoenix Fund has been co-created with a range of community organizations across the country and is committed to a more equitable future. Not only will it provide vital emergency funding to develop infrastructure and leadership, but will have, at its heart, the communities that continue to experience inequalities which have been heightened during COVID-19,” said Shane Ryan, Deputy Director, England at The National Lottery Community Fund
“This is just the beginning and we will use learnings from this and invite others to join us, as we help ensure that the voices and expertise of BAME-led organizations are central in how we imagine a more inclusive civil society,” Ryan added.
“By centering the knowledge, expertise, and power of BAME-led grassroots groups, the Phoenix Fund aims to serve as one step toward disrupting the institutionalized racism present in philanthropy. Only by centering a lens of racial justice in our grantmaking, and putting young people and communities in the lead, can we build meaningful change for future generations in England and around the world,” said Hayley Roffey, Senior Partnerships Director at Global Fund for Children.
“We are honored to partner with and learn from the deep wisdom of BAME leaders in the United Kingdom to co-create the Phoenix Fund, supporting this work as an ally while keeping the knowledge and decisions of BAME community groups at the center of the fund’s development and decision-making,” Roffey added.
“The Phoenix Fund has the potential to disrupt some of the prevailing ways in which grants are made in the UK. Not only does it promote participatory approaches, which cut through power dynamics inherent in grantmaking, but it also facilitates collaboration among an intergenerational group of skilled and experienced BAME leaders who hold deep knowledge of community needs at this challenging time,” said Yvonne Field, Founder and CEO at the Ubele Initiative.
“The fund demonstrates that grantmaking can be empowering if controlled by BAME grantmakers who will support BAME communities’ access to funding. It offers a unique, system-wide learning opportunity, if lessons learned are listened to and adopted by the wider grantmaking system,” Field added.
The Phoenix Fund partnership is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s wider commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and is expected to inform The National Lottery Community Fund in developing its approach to equity and inclusion and to funding diverse groups.
Learn more about the Phoenix Fund – and apply for funding – at thephoenixfund.org.uk.