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Racial Equity

We believe that for our city to thrive, we must promote authentic relationship building and equitable policies that serve and benefit all.

Communities Foundation of Texas has awarded grants in support of racial equity work in Dallas to:

  • Help facilitate storytelling that gives voice and understanding to marginalized experiences,
  • ​Engage others in looking at racial inequalities locally,
  • Contribute to racial healing activities within and across sectors in Dallas,
  • And create and implement practical solutions to race-related challenges in Dallas.

In fall 2017, a total of $150,000 was distributed across 35 nonprofits, with grants ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

"Allowing people the space to tell their stories and experiences of bias and discrimination and providing opportunities for others to hear those stories and be touched by them is the first step toward healing," said Sarah Cotton Nelson, CFT's Chief Philanthropy Officer. “Additionally, offering grants specifically in support of those working diligently on issues of racial equity allows CFT as an organization to learn more ourselves about what needs to be changed across our community, and to get to know all those involved more deeply."

CFT board members approved this unique funding opportunity in early 2017 to complement the new Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (D-TRHT) effort.

“This support for racial equity nonprofits shows Communities Foundation of Texas’ commitment to the hard work and the heart work of truth, racial healing and transformation,”- says Joli Robinson, manager of the community affairs and outreach unit of the Dallas Police Department and co-chair of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation.

Dallas is one of 14 places in the country receiving $1 million in grant support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement D-TRHT, which will be customized for Dallas with input and leadership from the community.

CFT is proud to be one of the many organizations contributing to truth, racial healing and transformation in Dallas.

To learn more about our racial equity work, please contact Tina Lin at

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Recent Racial Equity Grant Recipients

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Abounding Prosperity provides services to address health, social and economic disparities among African-American men, with a focus on the gay, bisexual and transgender community in Dallas county. Project SAFE will aim to highlight local service providers who offer “best fit” services for racial and ethnic minorities with regards to cultural sensitivity, awareness, and humility, including:

  • Solidarity – working with local agencies, service providers, medical facilities, funders, faith-based institutions, and others to establish a unified force for developing realistic and culturally sensitive coordinated health services for the most vulnerable local populations
  • Accountability – ensuring equal attention and focus is given to persons who seek out the health services
  • Facts – following local data trends that illustrate effectiveness of innovative service provision strategies
  • Education – providing public information, education, and materials on matters involving the health of black LGBTQ communities, while including the voices and opinions of those who are actually affected

To support the community education on this issue, Abounding Prosperity will convene four community town hall meetings to discuss racial inequities in the Dallas LGBTQ community.

The Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at UT Dallas is an internationally-recognized center focused on teaching the history and legacy of the Holocaust. Funding will be used to support “Confronting Our Histories, Changing Our Future,” a collaborative and interactive citizen history project that will explore, document, and curate the history of hate and racial/ethnic violence in DFW. By Fall 2018, the Ackerman Center will publicize its work through a public symposium, academic publications, articles, lectures, exhibits, and partner with the School of Arts and Humanities to put on performance pieces to share the stories collected.

Bachman Lake Together is an early childhood collective impact initiative committed to serving the families of the Bachman Lake community through dual generational programming and parent-led community leadership. Operating out of the new Bachman Lake Together Family Center, dual generational services are provided by four core partners: AVANCE-Dallas, Catholic Charities, The Concilio, and Lumin Education. There are now twenty dual generational partners committed to school readiness and community improvement in Bachman Lake. By activating their Community Action Network to engage in storytelling exercises, Bachman Lake Together plans to have courageous discussions about race and racism, learn about race and racism from skilled presenters, share their own narratives about their experiences and document them, learn how to outline and write their narratives in a shareable formant, and produce a Community Action Network Narrative Collection/Journal.

Border Crossers’ mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and inequity within public school systems, and the communities they serve. Training is accomplished through a pedagogical approach that incorporates storytelling to support educators in deepening their own understanding on the impact of racial identity on their teaching as well as on their students’ experiences. The “Talking About Race in the Classroom” (TAR) training program equips educators with the skills, tools and analysis to deepen their knowledge on the history and impact of racism, as well as how to incorporate racial equity into school communities. Since 2015, demand for this training has increased within DISD, requiring additional trained facilitators to accommodate requests. Border Crossers has built strong partnerships with several local educational institutions, including Teach for America DFW, DISD, Young Women’s Leadership Network and Uplift Charter School Network.

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bcWorkshop) works directly with residents to document neighborhood narratives and provide a platform to share these stories to produce films, exhibits, and publications that trace the interrelated social, economic, political, and physical histories within a neighborhood. Funding will be used to support Neighborhood Stories, a research and storytelling project that celebrates community identity and culture by showcasing neighborhood histories and giving voice to marginalized experiences, as well as to support Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center, a program focused on empowering the residents of a historically significant, low-income neighborhood with fully realizing the potential of their homeownership through educational workshops.

Since 2013, Neighborhood Stories has reached over 1,000 residents encompassing 33 distinct neighborhoods, with a goal to conduct archival research, collect oral histories and produce media to engage communities in an examination of historical racial inequities. bcWorkshop also provides residents with information and education on subjects such as property tax and title clearance, to support residents with how to manage their home owner rights as their neighborhood changes through development.

Cara Mia Theatre Company presents critically acclaimed plays and experimental works, while also developing innovate and educational youth arts programming that is reflective of the Latino experience in the U.S. Funding will be used to partially fund the salary for the Curator for Community Action, who develops community conversations, talkbacks, and special “Youth Nights at the Theatre” based on the themes of each production with an emphasis on the experience of Latinos, people of color, community healing, and community action.

The Chocolate MINT Foundation was created to address the lack of affordable enrichment programs for children whose parents had little to no economic resources. It has grown to support children and families in the Southern Dallas region through mentoring and career training programs, as well as a establishing a food pantry that provides supplemental food assistance to families and senior adults. Funding will be used to support collaborations with DeSoto ISD to provide regularly scheduled college entrance examination workshops targeting students of color entering the 9th and 10th grades, as well as partnerships with the Desoto Police Department through cross-cultural sensitivity initiatives with youths of color.

Community Alcohol Drug Aftercare Program (CADAP) serves the communities in the Southern Dallas region from the Trinity River south to the Dallas County/Ellis County line, which includes South Dallas, West Dallas, Oak Cliff, Duncanville, DeSoto, Lancaster, Red Oak, Hutchins, Ferris, and any other unincorporated areas through education, awareness, and special services. The target demographic is specifically youth, women with children, and persons transitioning back into society, with 100% of the audience being people of color. Funding will be used to purchase technology to support a digital story-telling facility that will allow the community to create and share their own visual stories of racial inequities and proposed solutions.

The Concilio was created to advocate and enhance the quality of life for Hispanics in Dallas. Because the staff not only see racial inequity for clients, they also experience it for themselves, so funding is for a Restorative Circle experience for staff and board members that will help them to better serve their community, and also create a space and opportunity for staff to discuss their own personal and professional experiences.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre is a contemporary modern dance theater presented as through the African-American experience that has performed for over 4 million arts patrons and 2.6 million across the nation over the last 40 years. Funding will be used to support “Uncharted Territory,” a new multimedia work that presents Southeast Asian culture through choreography to engage the audience in exploring cultural influences on issues relating to social constructs and identity.

The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance teaches the history of the Holocaust and advances human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference. The “Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII” is a special gallery exhibit that begins in the 1920s when African Americans experienced segregation and discrimination in daily life, going through Jim Crow laws restricting civil liberties in every part of society, including the military. The exhibit will follow African Americans who enlisted at the start of WWII, but were treated as second-class citizens, segregated from other units, and relegated to non-combat roles. The exhibit highlights the heroic achievements of African Americans during WWII both abroad and at home, and explores how the war served as the catalyst for African Americans seeking social change and equal rights, including personal accounts of those who served during the war. The centerpiece is a featured eight minute video on the Tuskegee Airmen’s successful efforts.

Education Opens Doors works with students throughout high school, using a data-driven approach to help them navigate successfully to either the college, career or post-secondary option of their choice. Since its founding in 2012, over 23,000 students have been served through DISD. EOD is looking to contract with a consultant to internally assess the organization’s hiring practices as well as how leadership pipelines are developed, and then to help implement a racial equity lens for use in both the hiring process and board recruitment as the organization plans for rapid growth over the next three years. Additionally, EOD is looking to work with student interns, including providing them a small stipend, to help improve the marketing and educational materials that is put in front of the students during the year-long program, ensuring that the images including in the materials represent the racial and ethnic diversity of the population being served. Finally, taking the results from the Assessment, EOD will hire a consultant to work with the curriculum team to identify the strengths and areas for improvement before the redesign of the student manual in Summer 2018.

Faith in Texas is multi-racial, faith movement affiliated with PICO (People Improving Communities though Organizing) National Network, which is the largest network in the U.S. developing civic leadership in low and moderate-income communities. Faith in Texas works with churches and other faith communities to train teams of lay leaders to work in their communities to identify systemic issues and move their communities to action through the use of storytelling, empathy and shared action across the boundaries of race, religion, class and ideology. Faith in Texas is looking to host 4-5 storytelling/deep listening sessions and panel discussions through the rest of 2017 at Faith in Texas member churches throughout Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties. The sessions will be hosted by predominantly black and Latino congregations, where the other group will come to share their stories of racial inequities and allow for questions and discussions. The ultimate goal is to help participants move from surface-level solidarity to true racial healing.

GEM was founded by Dallas attorney Brittany Byrd whose mother was incarcerated for eight years beginning in 2006. GEM was started to help other children with incarcerated mothers with overcoming the stigma and shame with having an incarcerated parent, empower girls to see their own worth and value, ultimately breaking the cycle of incarceration from generation to generation. The #AmplifyHER campaign is being launched to highlight the needs and struggles of incarcerated women, providing impacted families with the opportunity to tell their stories, giving voice and understanding to the experience of this underserved population. The campaign will include media engagement across print and online via the GEM website, social media engagement through content sharing (infographics, news, and social media posts to drive a call to action). GEM will also partner with SMU as well as other criminal justice reform organizations to develop a community engagement panel discussion event for up to 200 individuals.

Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) works for the creation and maintenance of thriving racially and economically inclusive communities, expansion of fair and affordable housing opportunities for low-income families, and redress for policies and practices that perpetuate the harmful effects of discrimination and segregation. Funding will support:

“Voices of Opportunity” StoryCorp Project - In the interest of changing the current narrative about low-income renters of color, ICP will use the StoryCorp platform to facilitate paired interviews of renters and their respective ICP counselor or other social service professional to capture stories about their housing. In the long run, ICP hopes putting a face on the affordable fair housing issue will help move the needle in a positive direction.

“Moving Voices” Racial Healing Circles - Client gatherings supplement usual one-on-one post-move counseling and the healing circle format at gatherings allows clients (mostly single mothers) to express pains and experiences they have never felt comfortable sharing.

Young Leaders, Strong City (YLSC) launched in 2014 as a pre-conference to Race Forward’s Facing Race conference in response to the lack of youth inclusivity and voice. Funding will go toward support of the 4th annual Young Leaders, Strong City Racial Justice Summit on November 4th, 2017. Students are strategically recruited from public, private, charter, and magnet schools, as well as community organizations in Dallas and Collin County. Students from various backgrounds are brought together to engage with peers across the city and region to learn how to effectively bring racial equity into their lives and into their communities. The conference is facilitated by local and national leaders in social justice. The YLSC 2017 summit has four tracks: Art, Media & Culture, Organizing, Activism & Resistance, and Skill Sharing.

Junior Players is the oldest nonprofit children’s theater organization in Dallas. They provide free arts education and encourage intellectual growth, mental well-being and life skills development through creative expression and drama. Last year, staff saw the need for youth to have a voice in the racial equity discussions occurring around the city. In partnership with youth members, staff developed the Junior Players Student Council (JPSC) to guide a long-term strategic plan to use arts to address social issues such as racial equity and inclusion. In August, JPSC held a Youth in Arts panel to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to engage in dialogue with youth about the power of art to positively affect racial equity. JPSC planned a dance performance alongside the panel to further highlight the theme of equity. They will continue to hold monthly meetings to discuss equity issues while being trained and guided by community experts. JPSC will also plan a 2018 Youth in Arts Panel.

KERA is looking to launch a series of personal stories, online content and programming (similar to the highly successful “One Crisis Away” series) that is focused on the topic of race within our local North Texas community. To increase the impact of the stories, these reports will be broadcast on air and online within the existing key news content areas of education, health/science/technology, poverty and arts. KERA resources will also be devoted to breaking news events and produce an in-depth series that addresses a specific issue of race in North Texas to include radio stories, new and archival video, interviews with community members and stakeholders, resource guides, lesson plans for parents and teachers, and online interactive elements for viewers who want to engage deeper with the content. Heavy marketing through KERA advertising and social media channels will invite public commentary interaction.

Make Art With Purpose (MAP) provides an innovative platform for artists, designers and architects to engage with the wider community to address social and environmental concerns. They work in collaboration with organizations such as the Dallas Museum of Art, AVANCE Dallas and DISD. To address a gap in arts engagement in Latino communities in Oak Cliff, they partnered with two community organizations to produce an arts engagement project called Hablemos. Hablemos program participants will co-create a bilingual publication with visual and written stories about their lives and neighborhoods. Hablemos will also include leadership workshops focused on community building and mobilizing to increase Latino participation in the civil sector. MAP will collaborate with Dallas Faces Race, Latino Cultural Center, Dallas Public Library and others to hold public events to share the work with a wider community.

Paul Quinn College, a nationally renowned Historically Black College, provides quality, faith-based education to prepare students to be servant leaders and agents of change in the global marketplace. As they become closer to being also a Hispanic Serving Institution, students noticed a need for more cultural exchange and understanding so they created a Race Relations Institute. The Institute holds programs to encourage respect and solidarity among racial and ethnic groups, as well as to provide avenues for conversation and positive social change. Part of an intentional effort to create a more aware and engaged student body, the Institute has led programs that have improved campus culture and student engagement. Because of the success of their programs, they seek to expand the reach through an interactive symposium. The symposium will bring in creative artists and athletes to share their experience of the power of solidarity, understanding and cooperation.

Project Row Houses is the fiscal sponsor of Trans.lation Vickery Meadow, created in 2013 to showcase the cultural diversity of the Vickery Meadow neighborhood and provide an economic outlet for its talented artisans. The immigrant, refugee, African American and Latino community of Vickery Meadow bring unique experiences and perspectives to the community, and often do not have the language or access to share them. Because of the high demand, Trans.lation has grown from a single event into a neighborhood organization that works at the intersection of arts and community organizing. Programs includes resident artists, a leadership council, community festivals and media production. They saw many youth in their programs who wanted an avenue for engaging in community issues so they created a new political education program. The program engages neighborhood youth to learn about racial equity issues and design community workshops to build awareness and conversation.

Project Unity was founded in response to the shootings in Dallas on July 7, 2016, Project Unity is a collaborative, faith-based movement focused on building and sustaining community through dialogue, community-building events and activities, education, and empowerment. The “Together We…” series includes different types of events and ways for the community to engage and participate with each other, through food, prayer, sports, arts, and other creative forums. Funding will be used for general operations and marketing, to hire staff positions and maximize the programmatic reach, as well as executing the Year of Unity (Y.O.U. activities).

Social Venture Partners (SVP) is a mentor-driven social innovation fund committed to improving lives and maximizing social impact. SVP launched their Equity in Action conference in 2016, where attendees heard from leaders speaking on equity issues in mental health, criminal justice and housing. They have continued to organize community conversations and equity trainings throughout the year.

SVP’s 2017 series on equity will culminate with a Social Innovation Lunch featuring Rais Bhuiyan, founder and president of World Without Hate on September 27th. Mr. Bhuiyan will share his experience of racial healing as a victim of a hate crime based on his race and religion. World Without Hate is a nonprofit dedicated to sharing the power of forgiveness and compassion.

Soul Rep Theatre Company offers African American theatre productions and arts education based out of the South Dallas Cultural Center. Soul Rep was awarded a $10,000 grant from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs this year to support their unique Ten Minute Play Festival highlighting stories from South Dallas residents. Last year, over 200 students who regularly attend their children’s production were unable to attend due to school budget cuts. Soul Rep aims to help these students access theater through their new Educational Program Access Fund. The Fund will ensure students attending schools in the South Dallas and Fair Park community have access to productions and workshops. Funding will provide transportation, workshops and compelling conversation with experts to students from local public elementary and middle schools.

In 2016, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church discovered “Shelton’s Bear Creek Cemetery” -- one of Texas’ oldest slave and emancipated-slave burial sites in their area -- overgrown and needing serious attention. Their project will restore this historic cemetery; complete genealogy research and notify family members; and through the process, give voice and understanding to a marginalized population and its history. They will publish their genealogy research online and will format it to be more searchable.

St. Philip’s School and Community Center serves 220 pre-K – 6th grade students and an additional 4,500 community youth and adults with social service programs. St. Philip’s hosts community meetings once a month to help build positive interactions and relationships in their South Dallas neighborhood. Staff saw the potential for these conversations to dig deeper into specific community issues related to racial equity. Funding will support “A Seat at the Table,” a workshop to create space for story sharing and racial equity training for South Dallas community members, St. Philip’s board members and a few key stakeholders such as police officers and preachers. St. Philip’s staff designed the workshop after participating in the National Facing Race Conference and Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute. It will be facilitated by a professional in the racial justice field. Several breakout sessions will be held to address issues of marginalization, police-relations and education. They are currently conducting a community-wide survey to assess the needs of the community and the workshop will be designed to incorporate those needs with a racial equity lens.

Teach for America DFW began in 2009 and currently has 350 first- and second-year teachers as well as over 350 alumni teachers and 150 alumni school leaders. Their teachers work in schools across Dallas ISD, Fort Worth ISD and charter campuses with Uplift Education and KIPP:DFW. Each summer Teach for America DFW partners with Big Thought, Momentous Institute, Dallas ISD and SMU’s Simmons School of Education to host preservice training for new cohorts of 150-200 new teachers. They realized the need for their teachers, who all work in diverse, low-income schools, to be capable of having meaningful conversations about race and utilize a strong racial justice lens as classroom leaders. In partnership with organizations like Border Crossers, TFA will hold professional development sessions, host racial affinity groups and increase hands-on training so that teachers will learn about the history of race in DFW and analyze their own experiences.

Teatro Dallas is a non-profit professional theatrical institution focused on international theater through the Latino experience. They support local theater artists by producing works in a variety of genres to promote a sense of community while celebrating the diverse traditions of the community. Funding will be used to present "Little Mexico," collected stories by Mexican Americans from the 1950s through present day, and performed by two actors, a dancer, and local spoken word artist Alejandro Perez.

Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (TMWF) provides educational, outreach, interfaith and social services to empower and support all women and their families. In 2011, TMWF leadership helped establish the Islamic Arts Revival Series (IARS), an art exhibit in all art media, to educate and allay stereotypes and misconceptions about the Muslim community in Dallas. The exhibit includes film screenings, international art exhibits, symposia, performances and art workshops. IARS views art as a universal language that connects people across cultures and traditions. IARS partners with many organizations, including Dallas Museum of Art, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Irving Arts Center and many others in bringing exposure the diversity of Islamic Art. IARS reaches close to 1,000 participants annually.

Texas Organizing Project Education Fund (TOPEF) improves the lives of low and moderate income families by building power through community organizing and civic engagement. They saw the need to build connections across organizations and decided to reach out to have in-depth conversations with groups representing or advocating for the Muslim community, the Asian American community, LGBTQIA organizations and other groups working to act in the face of racial inequality. Funding will support community conversations between TOPEF Community leaders and other groups to increase understanding of the stories of others, experience healing and build mutual support across communities. The TOPEF community leadership team will reach out to other nonprofits and community groups to hold sharing circles and discussions around racial equity. They will then train community leaders in the use of racial equity tools and those leaders will then take conversations and actions back to their campaign or neighborhood to spread awareness and healing into the wider community.

Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation (VMYDF) supports educational and enrichment opportunities for low income youth in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood. Their Eagle Scholars program, a college-readiness program for 130 7th – 12th grade students, is comprised of youth representing 15 countries and over 21 languages. Funding is requested for 10 Eagle Scholars to participate in a three-day retreat that allows youth to tell their stories and give a voice to their own experiences. The retreat will also include opportunities for multimedia projects that can be shared on social media to expand the reach to a wider audience. The goal of the project is inform youth, break down barriers and develop stronger cross-cultural alliances, friendships, and understandings.

The Village United Methodist Church (The Village) began in 2010 and has quickly grown their predominately African American congregation to their current location in DeSoto. Funding will support their pilot project to partner with Cockrell Hill United Methodist Church, a predominately Hispanic congregation, and The Woods United Methodist Church, a predominately Caucasian congregation. The partnership will allow about 120 congregation members to engage in activities that promote racial equity and cultural understanding in the southern sector of Dallas County. The project will culminate with a participant-designed project to address solutions to race-related issues in Dallas.

WaterTower Theatre was established in 1996 to create innovative, diverse theatre that builds community by fostering empathy and dialogue. In 2016, they appointed new Artistic Director Joanie Schultz to lead their efforts to increase patron diversity and outreach in the community. This year, WaterTower commissioned actress and playwright Regina Taylor to produce Bread, a story about an African American family in Oak Cliff and their stirring and timely story of identity and family. Bread will be the first work towards a larger strategy of developing new plays, providing opportunities for local artists and creating innovative, diverse theatre that encourages examination of racial inequality on a personal level. With Bread and future plays, staff will also create opportunities for community forums to have in-depth conversations about the play’s themes and their relation to personal struggles and community challenges.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas operates 19 branches across the Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex, serving over 3,000 teens annually through programs that build health spirit, mind and body. After the tragic shooting in July of 2016, the Y hosted a Youth Forum on Unity to address racial tensions in the community. Because of the positive response and reception by the youth who participated, staff decided to continue to hold youth forums between teens and adult community leaders to spark challenging but respectful conversations. Youth forums include small group breakout sessions for further discussion. During these forums, youth create their own personal action plans to use in their family and school communities.

Young Women’s Preparatory Network (YWPN), established in 2002, is a public, all-girls school serving students in grade 6-12. Following the 2014 Dallas Faces Race Conference, students and staff recognized a need to bring the conversation about bias and discrimination into the classroom in a formal way. They developed Respect Starts Here, a multi-year curriculum for middle and high schools students focused on teaching anti-bias and racial equity. The program also includes teacher training to help teachers successfully facilitate challenging issues and conversations. School-wide activities like community art projects, guest speakers and small-group lessons focused on gender, race and disability will help build enthusiasm to encourage full participation and create an atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance and unity among students.

“Thanks to this grant funding, Cara Mia is now better able to promote racial healing: our cutting-edge theatrical performances are now coupled with community conversations, youth engagement processes and healing circles." Ernest McMillan, curator for community action for Cara Mia Theatre

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