Warner Music Group’s social justice fund in partnership with the Blavatnik Family Foundation announced its second round of grant recipients on Monday (May 24), choosing to support South Florida youth development program Overtown Youth Center, New York-based institution The Africa Center and the New Orleans-based Ashé Cultural Arts Center, which focuses on the African diaspora.
The three organizations were chosen for their missions to “build more equitable communities and create real change in the lives of historically underserved and marginalized populations — with heightened attention to Black communities,” according to a press release.
“Over the past year, we’ve been developing a targeted grant-making strategy focused on three key pillars — education, criminal justice reform, and arts and culture — in order to optimize our impact and reach,” said Paul Henderson, a fund board member and executive director of the San Francisco Department of Police Accountability. “This next set of grants is all about the intersection of community, culture, and commerce, and we’re very proud to support organizations at the forefront of addressing racial disparities with robust programming tied to the arts and education.”
Overtown Youth Center currently serves more than 1,700 youth and their families with programs like summer camp and college and career services, with the mission to dismantle systemic barriers and strengthen communities one child and one family at a time.
The Africa Center provides a gateway for engagement with contemporary Africa, aiming to transform the world’s understanding of the continent and its diaspora. It will use its grant money to help plan and produce a multidisciplinary, multi-year cultural exhibition, “Movements in the Modern Diaspora,” exploring the contributions African immigrants have made across art, science, technology, politics and more.
Finally, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center focuses on creating and preserving opportunities for folk art and fine art of the African diaspora, with 5,000 square feet of gallery space.
The fund was formed last June, and in February, it announced its first six grant recipients: Black Cultural Archives, Black Futures Lab, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Howard University, REFORM Alliance and Rhythm & Blues Foundation. As with the initial round of grant recipients, the fund will not only make a monetary donation to each chosen organization, but will also support yet-to-be-announced new projects for them.
For example, the fund has already created a first-of-its-kind mentorship program with Howard University, which will pair WMG executives with the university’s business school students starting this fall, and partnered with the FRRC to sponsor a series of activation booths at concerts, festivals and other events encouraging voter registration.
The fund has also chosen the Black woman-owned financial and tax services firm Richburg Enterprises for accounting and tax compliance, and is in the final stage of hiring an executive director, who will manage the vetting process of potential grantees and make recommendations to the Board.
“We’re committed to making an impact beyond just giving money, by using our creativity, influence, and global reach to support our grantees through meaningful partnerships,” said fund board member Temi Adeniji, who is Warner Music South Africa managing director and SVP of strategy, Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our DEI and philanthropy teams at WMG are actively engaged with our grantee partners. We’re trying to be as thoughtful as possible in our approach, including in how we work with partner organizations and who we select as third-party experts to support our efforts.”