Black Managed Nonprofits Need Support From Big Foundations To Help Them Serve People
By guest columnist IVORY CLOUD, founder of Dreams of Lois, Inc.,
My name is Ivory Cloud and I am a wife, mother, educator and entrepreneur. I have been in teaching for almost 20 years. I am a proud founder of the registered non-profit association 501 (c) (3) Dreams of Lois, Inc. I created Dreams of Lois over 10 years ago in honor of my mother, Lois , died very young of cancer.
We are a community outreach and mentoring organization based in suburban Atlanta, Fayetteville, and we aim to bring motherly love back to our community. The areas we serve are primarily communities of color, people often not reached by other social service organizations. Although we are a black run organization, we do not only serve black people in our community. We aim to help everyone, regardless of race. The goal of Dreams of Lois is to identify specific unmet needs in our community and work to meet them. We believe that small acts can have a big impact on someone’s life, and we seek to find opportunities where even a small nonprofit like Dreams of Lois can do a lot of good.
Every month, Dreams of Lois hosts a community outreach service project where we serve hundreds of people through donations – like food for low-income children in the summer without access to a free lunch; pajamas for patients at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta; personal hygiene products for homeless families; backpacks at the start of the school year for low-income students, and other necessities that people in our community need to live comfortably, but simply cannot afford to buy.
Low income children in my community are underserved by other nonprofits or government infrastructure and therefore are in dire need – imagine having to start the new school year with an old broken backpack because you can’t not treat yourself to a new one, or be hungry every summer when school lets out because you don’t have access to food. These gifts and events are essential for the growth and development of communities that suffer from the inequalities of life.
Simply put, we help people live comfortable and dignified lives, so that they can overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. For example, hygiene products help homeless people clean themselves up so they can show up to a job interview fresh and confident. This job is very small and hyper-local – literally, we serve those in need and in our community. The work is done by my family and I in our spare time, and all of our running costs are reinvested in serving those in need. My husband, Antre ‘Cloud, and I have two teenage daughters, Charity and Chastity, and they are responsible for identifying areas to serve. Our base of operations is our garage. Dreams of Lois is truly a popular organization that thrives on making personal connections in the community.
Black-run nonprofits, which are sometimes the only organizations reaching black communities in need, face many obstacles to the growth of the nonprofit sector. As a young founder of minority-owned nonprofits, I have not been able to tap into Atlanta’s extensive donation and fundraising infrastructure. Often times, people who are good at fundraising come from privileged backgrounds and are literally born into a network of wealthy and influential people who fund nonprofit organizations. It’s not like that in my community. I could never afford to hire a sophisticated development consultant to help me create these sources of funding. Like many black leaders, it’s me, my community, our passion for raising other people of color, and all with very limited resources to do so.
Black nonprofits need mentoring and networking assistance with influential people, both of which are extremely fundamental to the development of any nonprofit. I would love to see more programs aimed at black leaders that help them enter the halls of power. These barriers that we must break down are as much about race as they are about class. It is essential for those in power to know that because communities of color do not have access to capital, they do not have the tools or resources to easily tap into funding structures.
Someday I wish I could commit to Dreams of Lois full time, rather than doing it in my spare time (I teach in school to pay the bills and devote all the time and resources possible to my non-profit organization). This is a very important hurdle that I have to overcome to become eligible for grants. By not having a full-time employee, Dreams of Lois is not eligible for many grants. I understand that the requirement to have a full-time administrator is to ensure that a non-profit organization is sufficiently developed and professional to manage a grant; However, for small black-run nonprofits, it is apparently impossible to get a grant to afford to have a full-time employee. In a way, that’s a problem – you can’t get a grant if you don’t have a full-time employee, but you can’t have a full-time employee unless you get a grant. subsidy to pay them.
I’d like to see, for example, the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta commit to continuing to provide more targeted grants to black nonprofits, which they made a priority last year. Specifically, I think more capacity building grants (like CFGA grants Toolkit grant) would be a great way to elevate these organizations. Helping black-run nonprofits reach the point where they can have a full time employee is an area where we need the big foundations to support us, so that we can see the growth of nonprofit organizations. lucrative run by blacks.
Dreams of Lois wants to support thousands of people per month and take our organization to a global level. Dreams of Lois has made great strides over the years. We have faithfully broken many barriers and succeeded in making an impact on the lives of thousands of people. We are extremely proud of all of our accomplishments, the support of local businesses, our family and the community. I feel so blessed to live the life of the non-profit founder of Dreams of Lois, my mother’s legacy of serving people will live on forever.
Note to readers: Ivory Cloud is the founder of Dreams of Lois, Inc., a registered 501 (c) (3) charity and mentoring organization.