A Racial Equity Program Meets the Moment

A Racial Equity Program Meets the Moment

Truist Foundation leveraged its long-standing relationship with Purpose Built Communities to boost a Racial Equity Ambassador program.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - 3:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Truist Foundation

CONTENT: Blog

A call for change.

The civil unrest that took place in summer 2020 shed light on the longstanding racial inequities ingrained into our society. This inequity ignited a spark within Purpose Built Communities, a nonprofit organization that works with local leaders across the country to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. The organization wanted to find a way to create lasting change and meet this moment of racial reckoning.

In 2018, Purpose Built Communities organized its first cohort of Racial Equity Ambassadors, consisting of seven local leaders from the Purpose Built Communities network.

These ambassadors provide guidance and tools to help neighborhood advocates learn and lead conversations around racial equity.

Since the program began with minimal funding, it was limited to a small geographical area. After summer 2020, Purpose Built Communities realized it was vital to grow the Racial Equity Ambassadors program across the country.

“After launching this initial cohort, we had the confidence to continue, but didn’t know how to grow the model to reach a larger body of the community,” said Michelle Matthews, Senior Vice President at Purpose Built Communities.

A program designed to impact systemic change.

To expand, Purpose Built Communities reached out to its longtime partner, Truist Foundation. With a mission to advance racial equity and impact systemic change, Truist Foundation jumped at the chance to help Purpose Built Communities evolve its Racial Equity Ambassador program.

“We’re committed to partnering with nonprofit organizations that take a holistic approach to address barriers to economic mobility,” said Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation. “Furthering the implementation and integration of racial equity principles into Purpose Built Communities’ network across the country aligns with our purpose and the work we’re doing to shine a light on equity, internally and externally.”

Truist Foundation committed to become the program’s official sponsor and awarded the nonprofit a $7 million grant to accelerate the effort. The money also went toward advancing the work of the Purpose Built network members as they carry out projects that address needs in their neighborhoods.  And the grant funded a $2 million capital pool to help finance community leaders’ projects.

“The Truist Foundation’s investment allowed us to take what was a nascent program and build it out beyond network members and into the community,” said Melissa Devereaux, Vice President at Purpose Built Communities. “We have embarked on an intentional journey to understand the role of race and equity in our projects. Through our learning, we moved away from just having trainings and conversations to being able to support racial equity and have it show up in the work of our local leaders.”

The Racial Equity program has expanded to engage board and staff members within the Network Member’s organization. To make progress on addressing the issues associated with race and inclusion, the program teaches board members how their leadership must align with challenging racial equity and justice work happening on the ground. Equally as important, expanding the staff’s understanding and use of tools helps them integrate racial equity strategies into their daily work and interactions with community members and partners. Additionally, the expanded program provides just-in-time coaching and guidance and helps them identify specific projects they can implement in their local communities.

“I have gotten my Board to focus on diversity for the first time,” said Kia Baker, Executive Director at Southeast Raleigh Promise and a local leader in Purpose Built Communities network. “Without the help of this program, I wouldn’t have known how to incorporate racial equity into our work.”

Moving beyond words. Taking meaningful action.

Truist Foundation and Purpose Built Communities created a program that came at a time when corporations needed to move beyond words and take meaningful action.

“Truist Foundation is showing how a corporate citizen can play a positive and impactful role by specifically investing in people and neighborhoods that have been left out of the American dream,” said Eytan Davidson, Vice President of Communications at Purpose Built Communities. “Truist Foundation’s support demonstrates how corporations can go beyond statements and act in a real way.”

Truist Foundation looks to continue to invest in programs and nonprofits committed to advancing racial equity, which is why we’re proud to support organizations like Purpose Built Communities. Click here for more stories about the work we’re doing.

About Truist Foundation

The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity. Learn more at Truist.com/Purpose/Truist-Foundation.