As grantmaking winds down, partnerships continue to flourish

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Funding

Between 2019 and 2021, FLOURISH served as the funding intermediary for the Missouri Foundation for Health and distributed $2.92 million in grants to address the primary factors that increase the risk of infant mortality in the Black community. We saw this as not only an opportunity to address Black infant mortality, but also a way to challenge how philanthropy has traditionally operated, given that less than 2% of funding nation-wide was distributed to Black-led organizations in 2020.

Grounded in our value of centering the lived experience of Black communities, our funding strategy ensured that Black women and birthing people had decision-making power throughout the grant process.  Rather than being made by a large foundation, our funding priorities were set by FLOURISH’s Community Leaders Cabinet and funding decisions for each grant cycle were made by a Community Review Committee (CRC) made up of individuals with professional expertise and/or lived experience in the priority zip codes. The CRC evaluated project proposals for investment in community-identified priorities related to solutions that promote safe sleep, support quality coordinated care, and address the social determinants of health, including transportation and housing.

In total, we directed funding to 105 local community leaders and organizations working in the zip codes with the highest rates of Black infant death.  More than 80% of FLOURISH-funded projects are Black-led and 70% of organizations have operational budgets less than $500,000.

Grants were distributed in two pools targeting organizations of different sizes: 

  • The Aligned Activities for Priority Areas fund focused on larger organizations. In two rounds of funding – 2019 and 2021 – FLOURISH invested ~$1.6 million in 17 organizations with budget sizes over $500,000 to support the health of Black moms, babies, and families.  These funds supported new and existing projects that promote policy and systems change that reduce racial disparities in infant mortality. Funded projects addressed one or more of FLOURISH’s priority areas – safe sleep, coordinated quality care, and the social determinants of health, including housing. Read more about the 2021 awardees on our blog.   
  • The Community Mobilization and Innovation fund aimed to redirect philanthropic dollars to grassroots community leaders. In nine cycles ending in August 2021, FLOURISH St. Louis invested $1.3 million to more than 60 community groups to promote Black maternal and infant vitality, provide social support and healing to new and expectant mothers, and/or build community among Black parents. The grantmaking process bore out our deep conviction that the community members closest to the problem best know how to solve it and introduced us to amazing leaders doing grassroots, on-the-ground work to support Black caregivers and babies.  Many of the awarded applicants were not registered 501c3 or had not previously received grant funding. The final cycle of funded partners was announced in November 2021. Read about our current partners here. 

While new grantmaking ended in 2021, we have spent 2022 investing in strengthening the organizational capacity of our existing partners.  Because our Community Mobilization and Innovation funding pool targeted grassroots, community-based initiatives, many of our partners are new or small organizations with limited staffing and administrative capacity. Their FLOURISH grant may have been their first or largest grant to date, and/or our partners may not yet have plans in place to replace these funds.

Over the course of this year, FLOURISH funded partners have had the opportunity to receive free consulting services on needs specific to their organization, and participate in workshops offered by local content experts. Topics have included:

  • Financial Management, Theory of Change, Board Development, and Fundraising (Mosaic Beginnings);
  • Developing equity centered communications (Revisioned Connections);
  • Advocacy 101 and mobilizing your networks (Generate Health);
  • Preparing for your next grant and program evaluation data you can use (Generate Health);
  • And, Racial equity, organizational change and systems change (Forward Through Ferguson and Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training). 

We love receiving calls from our partners hearing about their recent funding successes, their vision and hope for the future, and how the connections they are making as a member of FLOURISH’s network of partners help them grow.  We hope you’ll take the time to learn more about our partners – each is playing an important role in our collective effort to achieve ZERO racial disparities in infant mortality.


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