Grants available to benefit African Heritage communities

Men at podium making announcement

Grants available for Unity Fund projects

$200,000 will support African Heritage initiatives throughout the Northland

DULUTH—The Unity Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation announced today that it is accepting grant applications for projects that advance African Heritage communities throughout the Northland.

More than $200,000 is available for projects following a successful fundraising drive that included $50,000 matching donations from both the Community Foundation and the Ordean Foundation.

The Unity Fund expects to provide grants to nonprofits in the range of $5,000 to 10,000 for projects in Duluth, Superior, Hermantown, Proctor, Rice Lake Township and communities of the Iron Range. Grant guidelines are posted on the Community Foundation’s website. Applications are being accepted now and will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

“Whatever we do will affect our community and affect our children,” Unity Fund Committee Chair Salaam Witherspoon said. “We are making a difference in the lives of African Heritage people across the Northland and creating a better future for everyone.”

The Unity Fund announced its start in April 2021 with a goal of raising $100,000, which would secure the two matching grants totaling $100,000.  The Unity Fund seeks to remove social and racial barriers to African American communities’ opportunities to participate fully in—and contribute to—the social and economic life of Duluth, Superior and the Iron Range.

With the grant program, the Unity Fund Committee worked to lower barriers for applicants and to create an accessible process for community members without extensive experience applying for grants.

The Community Foundation expressed thanks to the Unity Fund Committee as well as to donors, including Generations Healthcare Initiatives, Wells Fargo Bank and more than 40 individuals who contributed to the fund.

“We are incredibly grateful to those who have generously supported this effort to create opportunities for African Heritage communities,” Community Foundation President and CEO Shaun Floerke said. “These efforts build a stronger community for all of us.”

Since its inception, the Unity Fund Committee has worked to raise both visibility and funds while creating opportunities to celebrate African Heritage.

It established two events, the Honor Our Elders Luncheon and the Juneteenth Gospel Brunch. It also has partnered with Grandma’s Marathon to provide information on events surrounding the June 19 Juneteenth celebration for families who visit during the June 15-17 marathon weekend.

In addition, a storytelling collaboration with anthropology students at University of Minnesota Duluth produced a recording of lived-experience and perspectives of African Heritage leaders and community members for lasting documentation.