PORTLAND, Ore. — A big part of moving toward an equitable future is making sure oppressed communities have access to the same resources as everyone else. Unfortunately, when it comes to charitable giving that space is not always equal. Enter the Equitable Giving Circle.
In just a few short months the group, made up of about two-dozen community members, raised about half a million dollars. They are flipping the script on how communities, specifically our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities, give and receive charitable funds.
“I trust your need. I believe that you have a need and I want to help fill that gap,” Director and Co-founder of the Equitable Giving Circle AJ McCreary said.
Community trust is a core value to McCreary and the group behind the Equitable Giving Circle in Portland.
“You have a need. I believe you and I’m happy to get you that resource and I believe that’s part of our healing conversation,” McCreary said.
The Equitable Giving Circle is offering a new model of charitable giving: empowering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through community-based donations no strings attached.
“Every family is deserving we need to interrupt that narrative that equates some family as deserving and other families as not deserving enough,” Co-founder Lillian Green said.
Founded and run by black women with unique backgrounds, the Equitable Giving Circle aims to bring economic equity to Portland through direct giving; no income requirements, no lengthy paperwork, or proving there is a need for assistance.
“A lot of these organizations, these bureaucracies, they have all these requirements: you have to do this, you have to make this much, you have to give your social and all these other things, and it’s too much,” Co-Founder Kheoshi Owens said.
BIPOC communities are often in need of more social services because of systemic racism and oppression, however they face more barriers in getting access to those resources, according to Green.
“We know that these barriers exist, we are operating that systems of oppression are alive and well in our society, and we are building systems and recreating systems that are not working for our communities,” Green said, “And I think that’s the beauty of the Equitable Giving Circle -- really thinking about how we build and change how we serve families and serve communities.”
They started forming the Equitable Giving Circle in January, but when COVID-19 hit they kicked it into high-gear. In just a few short months, they have raised more than $500,000 in donations.
“We’ve just been fundraising, sort of going crazy with the way that people have responded and the way this project has resonated with them,” McCreary said.
That money will go to meet immediate needs and big picture projects such as housing stability, diversity education, and their main focus right now: Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
The Equitable Giving Circle buys these CSA shares from BIPOC farmers in the state and then brings that food directly to BIPOC families facing food insecurity who aren’t being served by social service networks.
“We’ve kind of just been feeding families one-off for the last couple of weeks with some of the produce that’s already ready, but we’ll be officially launching in the next couple of days,” McCreary said. “Really excited to get the word out and start connecting families with quality food.”
Theirs is a project that started before recent protesters hit the streets with a rallying cry for change and it is one they hope will inspire others to change the way the think about giving.
“We’re obviously not solving all the inequities, but just doing a little part to help bridge the gap and to move some of these conversations forward,” McCreary said.
To learn more about the Equitable Giving Circle and to donate visit www.equitablegivingcircle.org.