Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Oakland Community Leaders Tell Uber: Work with Us to stop Displacement



Oakland Community Leaders Tell Uber: Work with Us to Stop Displacement
Open Letter to Be Published in Oakland Post this Afternoon
Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today 20 Oakland community leaders are sending an open letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick calling on him to work with them to ensure that Uber’s move to Oakland doesn’t worsen displacement and lack of opportunity for poor and working class residents. The open letter will be both delivered to Mr. Kalanick and published in this week’s Oakland Post, available in print this afternoon and online Friday morning.
The group is especially concerned by the rapid displacement of nonprofits and low income individuals that accelerated after Uber announced its plan to move to Oakland. Noting that two of Uber’s senior advisors — David Plouffe and Eric Holder — are former Obama administration officials who played key roles in advocating and defending diversity and equality for all, the Oakland leaders believe that UBER has the ability to work with the community to develop a path of shared prosperity and minimize displacement of individuals and community organizations.
The full text of the letter and signatories follows:
Open Letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Dear Mr. Kalanick,
When President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Jan. 12, he said, “Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.”
The president’s words must come to no surprise to you since his former senior adviser David Plouffe and his former Attorney General Eric Holder are now senior advisers to you.
Both of these gentlemen have distinguished themselves as advocates and defenders of diversity and equal opportunity for all.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a technology-driven economy has squeezed workers and disrupted affordable living conditions, even while the overall economy is flourishing.
Here in Oakland this economic disruption has made it harder for a family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for people to remain in the middle class and tougher for workers to live close to their jobs.
The benefits of this technological surge have been very uneven and have led to the biggest wealth gap we have ever seen.  Your unwillingness to release your diversity data worries us about your commitment to Oakland’s diverse residents, especially since your advisers have a history seeking diversity through openness and transparency.
The evidence is clear that a tech-driven economy is accompanied by some serious challenges, including the displacement of the working poor.  That said, we reject the idea that we are powerless to shape the impacts of technology on diverse cities, especially given Oakland’s history of fighting back against policies and actions to disrupt and displace our neighborhoods.
We believe that there’s a great deal we can do to improve prospects for Oakland’s future and its current residents.  We propose a three-pronged effort.
First, we recommend a set of basic agreements in the areas of jobs, education, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, housing, community engagement and research. There’s a strong consensus on several areas that can bring prosperity to Oakland’s current and future residents and there is no need to completely “reinvent the wheel.”
Second, we call on Uber to work alongside us to develop new organizational models and approaches that not only enhance productivity and generate wealth for Uber, but also create broad-based opportunity for working-class residents.
The goal should be inclusive prosperity in Oakland, and not just prosperity for Uber’s full-time workers. Your statement on your website saying that “we strengthen local economies” gives us hope.
Third, we request a meeting with you and a small group of us to reach an understanding. And, given that the digital revolution can get you this letter at half the speed of light, we expect to hear from you within three working days.
As you may agree, we believe that technology is delivering an unprecedented set of tools for bolstering growth and productivity that is currently unharnessed.
Together we can create a city of shared prosperity if we learn about each other, find ways to meaningfully collaborate, and together address the challenges brought by a growing tech workforce in Oakland.
If one simple idea can lead to a $65 billion valuation and perhaps the biggest IPO the world has ever seen, then it’s possible for us to co-disrupt and co-develop a road of shared prosperity in Oakland.
Signed,
Paul Cobb, Post News Group
Orson Aguilar, The Greenlining Institute
Chris Iglesias, The Unity Council
Anne Price, Insight Center
Sondra Alexander, OCCUR
Rev. Michael McBride, Pico National Network
Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Jr., Allen Temple Baptist Church
Junious Williams
John Gamboa, California Community Builders
Joe Brooks, PolicyLink
Gay Plair Cobb, Oakland Private Industry Council
Rev. Dr. Gerald Agee, Pastor/Friendship Christian Center
Jae Maldonado, Street Level Health Project
Jane Garcia, La Clinica De La Raza
Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center
Guillermo Mayer, Public Advocates
Joshua Simon, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
Marvin X, Black Arts Movement Business District
(organizations listed for identification purposes only)
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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining


moneyOrganizations that represent communities facing discrimination or other mistreatment face a constant struggle: How do we raise enough money to have a meaningful voice without letting our agenda be hijacked by those who can write big checks?
We and other organizations (at least those with a conscience) struggle with that question all the time, and I’d never claim the choices are easy. What follows is the story of one group – one I personally wish I could support – that appears to have gotten it spectacularly wrong in the context of a current political campaign.
Here at Greenlining, we’ve long been concerned about the intersection of money and politics. As an organization that works on behalf of communities of color and low income folks who generally tend to be less able to “pay to play,” we often find ourselves opposing moneyed interests. For example, we strongly support consumer protection for telecommunications customers and guaranteed access to affordable broadband. AT&T, which tends not to like regulations that cost it money, just gave $70,000 to Congress’s deregulator-in-chief, Paul Ryan. No doubt it’s sheer coincidence that telecom deregulation is a top Ryan priority.
I could give a hundred more examples. But AT&T is a business; we expect it to support policies that enhance its profits. We don’t expect purported community advocates to advance corporate interests that might harm their constituents.
As a member of California’s LGBT community, I need Equality California, the major state-level LGBT advocacy group, to speak for me. Instead, Equality California’s political action committee has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the California Apartment Association, the California Association of Realtors and other business and corporate interests, and appears to be using that money in a way that has very little to do with LGBT community interests and a lot to do with the interests of landlords and developers.
The amount of money being raised and spent by the Equality California PAC this election cycle is more than double what the group has spent in any recent election. And the majority of it – including a $340,000 ad buy recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle – is going to attack San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, a candidate for the state Senate in the district representing San Francisco and the northern end of San Mateo County.
I need to pause here for a couple important disclaimers: We know Jane Kim, who was a Fellow in our Leadership Academy many years ago. But Greenlining is nonpartisan, so we’re not endorsing her or anyone else in this race, and nothing I’m saying is meant to imply support for or opposition to anyone. But there’s a principle at work here that’s bigger than any individual election contest.
San Francisco and the greater Bay Area are in the throes of a massive housing affordability crisis, a crisis that directly impacts LGBT residents. Surveys have found that LGBT homeless make up 20 percent of San Francisco’s overall homeless population and half of the city’s homeless youth. Kim has pushed aggressively for stricter affordable housing requirements. Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Quilt and protégé of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, wrote recently, “At this point in our history –  for LGBT San Franciscans –  the most important issue is housing.”
Reasonable people can agree or disagree with Kim’s policy proposals on housing, but it’s beyond question that developer, landlord and real estate interests have a financial self-interest in opposing them. To take hundreds of thousands of dollars from these groups and immediately put a similarly huge amount of money into a campaign that appears to enhance those financial interests creates the appearance – at the very least – of having been bought off.
Equality California’s executive director has justified the ad campaign based on the fact that Kim’s opponent is gay, but again, the organization has never put this kind of money behind any LGBT candidate for any office, anywhere. It sure looks like the group’s stated reason doesn’t tell the whole story.
I can’t read anyone’s minds here, so I can’t say positively what’s going on. But I can say that those of us who seek to represent communities facing inequality or discrimination need to avoid even the appearance that we’re bought and paid for by commercial interests.

Marvin X performs opening monologue in Color Struck, Laney College Theatre, Friday, Sat., Sept. 30, Oct 1

Colorstruck 2016 – 2017 Conversations N’ Color Tour

Poet/playwright Marvin X will perform the opening monologue for Donald Lacy's Color Struck at Oakland's Laney College Theatre, Fri and Sat., 8pm. 

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Colorstruck returns to Laney College Theater by popular demand! After a highly acclaimed performance at the 26th Annual NAACP State Convention in Manhattan Beach, and a rousing standing ovation at The Fairfield Theatre, COLORSTRUCK is coming back to rock Oakland!
Join us for an unforgettable night of entertainment and dialogue.

Dates for performances are as follows:
OAKLAND PERFORMANCES BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
Friday  September 30, 2016 8PM
Laney College in Oakland, California

Click here to purchase tickets for Laney College on September 30, 2016!
Saturday  October 1, 2016  8PM
Laney College in Oakland, California

Click here to purchase tickets for Laney College on October 1, 2016!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Official National Museum of African American History & Culture Construct...


See the National Museum of African American History and Culture Constructed in Under Two Minutes

The National Museum of African American History and Culture may have taken over four years to build, but you can watch its construction in less than two minutes.
Tech company EarthCam captured the museum’s construction progress in a time-lapse movie from May 2012 to September 2016. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the Smithsonian Institute’s 19th museum and the HD imagery from the EarthCam construction camera highlights the beauty of the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup vision.
Courtesy of EarthCam
National Museum of African American History an

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Black America's Wealth Illusion


2014-08-04-Decadent4.jpg
I write this piece following the ground work laid by W.E.B. Dubois’s Veil of Double Consciousness. The veil he described was a visualization of the racial duality blacks take on as part of their American identity. I now undertake the daunting task of clarifying the new veil of economics that has covered the struggles of a generation. The decadent veil looks at black Americans through a lens of group theory and seeks to explain an illusion that has taken form over a 30-year span of financial deregulation and new found access to unsecured credit. This veil is trimmed with million-dollar sports contracts, Roc Nation tour deals and designer labels made for heads of state. As black celebrity invited us into their homes through shows like MTV cribs, we forgot the condition of overall African American financial affairs. Despite a large section of the 14 million black households drowning in poverty and debt the stories of a few are told as if they represent those of millions, not thousands. It is this new veil of economics that has allowed for a broad swath of America to become not just desensitized to black poverty, but also hypnotized by black celebrity. How could we not? Our channels from ESPN to VH1 are filled with presentations of black Americans being paid a king’s ransom to entertain. As black celebrity has been shown to millions of people, millions of times, the story of real lives has also been lost, and with it the engine that thrust forward the demand for social justice by the masses. The heartbeat of social action is to recognize your mistreatment, and demand better. With each presentation of Kobe Bryant’s 25 million dollar a year contract, or Oprah’s status as the sole African American billionaire a veil of false calm is created within the overall American economic psyche about the immense black wealth disparity. Young black men from ghettos across America that used to dream to make great changes in racial inequity now just dream to be a millionaire and be like mike and dunk a ball or dance on a stage. The decadent veil not only warps the black community’s vision outward to a larger economic world, but it also distorts outside community’s view of Black America’s actual financial reality.
Federal Reserve numbers show the median net worth (Assets less Debts) for white households in the top 1 percent is about $8.3 Million dollars. While median net worth for all white households is $112,000 — this is the exact midpoint of America’s 90 million white families, where half or 45 million families have more and the other half possesses less. That makes for a staggering 74 times less wealth for an average white household when compared to the asset holdings of the top 1 percent of white homes. This is among the highest levels of income stratification between classes in the developed world. Yet, the wealth difference between the American black household in the top 1 percent and the average black household is several times worse. As reported by MSNBC the median net worth of the few black households in the top 1 percent was $1.2 million dollars, while according to the Census median net worth for all black households was about $6,000 in total.
A black family in the 1 percent is worth a staggering 200 times that of an average black family. If black America were a country we would be among the most wealth stratified in the world.
It is because of this concentration of wealth that any view of averages is destroyed for black America, the disparity between rich and poor is too high. When a few families have a massive percentage of wealth it pulls the average up so astronomically that it makes the mean present a false narrative. The key in this kind of stratification is to look closely at the median and understand its real world impact.
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Looking more closely at the numbers according to MSNBC the Grio Black America is a mere 1.4 percent of the Top 1 percent of households. That means only 16,400 black households of the total 14 million black families are in the top 1 percent. Yet based on the regularity with which media flaunts young black men signing million dollar sports and music contracts, and the frequency with which they display fabulous videos with African Americans in expensive cars and houses you would think a larger percentage of us were rich.
The sad truth is that added together all black households are worth a mere $1.4 trillion of the $80 trillion of total U.S. household net worth. A group that is 13 percent of the U.S. population and built one of the the wealthiest countries the world has known as slave labor controls less than 1.75 percent of that country’s household wealth. With a massive amount of the small slither in the hands of a small black elite. According to the Pew Research Study, 35 percent of Black households have Negative or No Net Worth. Another 15 percent have less than $6,000 in total household worth, that’s nearly 7 million of the total 14 million black households that have little or no security.
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The veil created by mass media, sports organizations and our own psyche in Black America is one of safety through presentation. It is an inversion of the same model implemented by Dr. Martin Luther King so many years ago, except where Dr. King instilled global empathy by showing images of Bull Conner’s disciples water hosing black teenagers. Instead NBA commissioner Adam Silver hands black teenagers million-dollar deals and ESPN then projects that as a normal image of black life across the globe creating apathy for Black America’s truly dire financial straits. This all being shown despite there being a prison rate amongst young African American males that is higher than we have seen in any modern society in history. While media projects Beyonce signing a Pepsi $50 million ad campaign throughout the World Wide Web, the fact that single Black mothers across America have a median net worth of a mere $5 dollars falls in the shadow of the singularity of her financial success.
Even though their numbers are infinitesimal in comparison to the whole of Black America the 21st century million dollar black celebrity’s image has grown to a point of normalcy in homes across the world. So much so that the lives of those struggling financially in urban centers across America have become overcast by the projection of these larger than life individual brands. The issue is our veiled mask glazed with decadent trim has in many ways hidden the true consequence of our historical scars. Without that veil removed, we project progress that has not yet occurred, and in doing so perpetuate an illusion that may in the end destroy us all.
“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” W.E.B. Dubois - Souls of Black Folks

The Wealth of African Americans


Little Known Black History Fact: Wealth of African Americans


According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of the Forbes 400 billionaires is equal to the wealth of the entire African American population. There are currently 41 million blacks in America.  After the economic crises in 2008, wealth, specifically in African American households, declined dramatically.  According to the research, the amount of billionaires that would fit “in a high school gym” equals to the entire number of black households – about 14 million.

On the list of billionaires includes only one African American woman: Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey holds a net worth of $2.9 billion. She is one of six other black billionaires all over the world.
The numbers are also supported by the homeownership percentages for African Americans. 43.1 percent of blacks are homeowners while white homeownership is at 73.3% and Latino at 47.6%. According to the study, African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but have only 2.7 percent of total wealth.

This study was first mentioned in an article by Bob Lords on January 15, 2014 on Otherwords.org. Lords wrote:

As we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s 85th birthday, we’ve all come to know his dream. Above all else, he dreamed that one day this nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Yet here’s the grim reality facing black America today: The net worth of just 400 billionaires, a group that could fit into a high school gym, is on par with the collective wealth of our more than 14 million African- American households. Both groups possess some $2 trillion, about 3 percent of our national net worth of $77 trillion.

We chose to honor Dr. King by making his birthday a national holiday because of his tireless work for justice. And MLK stood not only for social justice, but for economic justice as well.
Back in 1951, he told his future life partner, Coretta Scott, that a small elite should not “control all the wealth.” “A society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people’s needs, is wrong,” Dr. King explained.

And the “March on Washington” was “for jobs and freedom.” At the time of his assassination in Memphis in 1968, Dr. King was standing with striking sanitation workers in their fight for economic justice.

How would MLK view the Forbes 400 controlling as much wealth as our entire African-American population of about 41 million people? Could that state of affairs co-exist with his dream?
Hardly. At the outset of that speech about his dream, the civil rights leader noted that one century after the Emancipation Proclamation, “the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

Dr. King’s dream was as much about economic justice as it was about social justice. Today’s distribution of wealth in America represents his nightmare come true — even with Barack Obama serving as our president.

What derailed the dream? How is it that, 50 years out from MLK’s speech, black America has such a dismally small slice of our nation’s wealth?

Here’s how: In the 1940s through the 1960s, U.S. economic opportunity and upward mobility outside the African-American community were the envy of the world. Back then, economic inequality was plummeting.

While discrimination kept black America mired in poverty, Dr. King watched tens of millions of other Americans climb from humble beginnings to affluence. So, he justifiably believed that if African Americans could break free from the yoke of racial discrimination, they too could share in the American Dream.

It would take a generation or two until most of them made it, but eventually they’d get there.
Soon after the chokehold of racial discrimination on the advancement of blacks finally started to loosen, however, America began its return to the society that existed before Dr. King’s birth, where a small slice of the population lives in opulence while average Americans struggle to get by.
Today, it’s not social injustice, but extreme inequality that constrains economic mobility, not just for black Americans, but all of us. America, once the land of opportunity, now has a level of economic mobility lower than that of almost all other rich countries.

By the time African Americans broke mostly (but not entirely) free from racist constraints on their economic mobility, they were whacked with a new obstacle: the almost equally suffocating injustice of extreme inequality. They’re not the only ones suffering. But because they were locked out of the egalitarian economic progress that took place during Dr. King’s lifetime, they’re disproportionately represented in the group now stuck on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.

So here we are, a half-century after Dr. King described his dream, living through a nightmare where 400 ultra-rich Americans control as much wealth as our entire African-American population.
(Photo: PRPhotos)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Man killed by police for reading while Black in North Carolina

Charlotte Police Kill Black Man Who Witnesses Say Was Unarmed, Reading

Refinery29
Charlotte Police shot and killed a Black man while searching for a wanted person on Tuesday. Keith Lamont Scott, 43, exited his vehicle and was shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson, who is also Black, shot him. Witnesses say that Scott was unarmed and had a disability. Scott was not the person the police were searching for. This just a day after Terence Crutcher, another unarmed Black man, was shot and killed outside his stalled vehicle by police "Police said they were searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs complex on Old Concord Road when they saw a man with a gun leave a vehicle," The Charlotte Observer writes. Police said
Charlotte Police shot and killed a Black man while searching for a wanted person on Tuesday. Keith Lamont Scott, 43, exited his vehicle and was shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson, who is also Black. Witnesses say that Scott was unarmed and had a disability. Scott was not the person the police were searching for.

This just days after Terence Crutcher, another unarmed Black man, was shot and killed outside his stalled vehicle by police

"Police said they were searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs complex on Old Concord Road when they saw a man with a gun leave a vehicle," The Charlotte Observer writes.

Police said that the man “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” in a statement provided to the Observer. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”

His family, however, says that Scott couldn't have posed a threat. Scott's daughter, identified on Facebook as Lyric YourAdorable Scott, used Facebook Live to broadcast the aftermath of the shooting. She said that her father was disabled. He was reportedly married and had seven children.

“The police just shot my daddy four times for being black,” she says at the beginning of the video. “They Tased him first and then shot him.”
Scott's brother and sister both spoke to the media. Scott's brother says he was waiting for his daughter, reading a book. He further says that the officers were in plainclothes. Charlotte police have neither confirmed nor denied that statement.
Scott's sister says he didn't have a gun.
Brentley Vinson, the officer who shot Scott, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a full investigation per department policy, a police press release say.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lateefah Simon Appointed President of the Akonadi Foundation


Lateefah Simon Appointed President of Akonadi Foundation            

 
Oakland, CA June 14, 2016
The Board of Directors at Akonadi Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Lateefah Simon as Akonadi Foundation’s next president, effective August 22, 2016. Lateefah will succeed Quinn Delaney, Founder of Akonadi Foundation, who will continue to serve as the Board Chair for the Foundation. A nationally recognized advocate for civil rights, Lateefah brings over 20 years of executive experience advancing racial and social justice causes in the Bay Area, most recently as Program Director for the Rosenberg Foundation.
 
“We are excited for this new chapter of growth for Akonadi Foundation,” said Quinn Delaney “and are confident that Lateefah’s commitment to racial justice action and her leadership in the field of philanthropy will deepen Akonadi Foundation’s overall strategies of providing long-term investments in organizations and initiatives that are on the frontlines of racial justice movement building.”
 
Since 2011, Lateefah has served as Program Director of the San Francisco-based Rosenberg Foundation, a statewide grantmaker that takes on systemic barriers that stand in the way of full access to equity and opportunity for Californians. Lateefah managed the Foundation’s portfolio of grants aimed at supporting groundbreaking advocacy in the areas of criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, low-wage workers’ rights and civic engagement in California. In 2016, Lateefah helped launch the Leading Edge Fund, a new $2 million fund created to seed, incubate and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California.
 
“It has been a real privilege to spend the past five years working with Lateefah to change the odds for Californians most deeply impacted by injustice and inequality,” said Tim Silard, President of the Rosenberg Foundation. “From advancing criminal justice reform to championing bold and brave movement leaders, her strength, wisdom and wonderful spirit have been invaluable to Rosenberg. I am very excited about this new chapter in Lateefah’s leadership and look forward to continuing to work with her and the Akonadi Foundation to advance our shared missions of racial justice and equity.”
 
Prior to joining Rosenberg, Lateefah was Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she revamped the 40-year-old organization’s structure and implemented successful community based initiatives, including the Second Chance Legal Services Clinic. Lateefah’s passion for supporting low-income young women and girls, and her advocacy for juvenile and criminal justice reform, began at the Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD) in San Francisco. Now called the Young Women’s Freedom Center, the grassroots organization is run for and by systems impacted young women. At age 19, Lateefah stepped into the role of Executive Director for 11 years. Lateefah also led the creation of San Francisco’s first reentry services division under the leadership of then District Attorney Kamala D. Harris, where she spearheaded the flagship program, Back on Track, an advocacy program for young adults charged with low-level felony drug sales. Back on Track reduced the recidivism rate for the population it serves to less than 10 percent. 
 
“Akonadi Foundation’s commitment to ending racialized oppression is in deep alignment with my values and experiences,” said Lateefah Simon, “and I am so honored to join the organization as its President. This nation is at a turning point. Akonadi is not standing idle. The Foundation actively supports groups and leaders who are explicit about the need to transform unjust systems and structures that perpetuate harm to people of color. This is where I want to be.”
final facebookLateefah has received numerous awards for her work, including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Jefferson Award for extraordinary public service. She was named “California Woman of the Year” by the California State Assembly, and also has been recognized by the Ford Foundation, the National Organization for Women, Lifetime Television and O Magazine. In 2016, Lateefah was named one of The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40, and in 2016, was appointed by the Governor of California to the California State University’s Board of Trustees.
Founded in 2000 by Quinn Delaney and her husband Wayne Jordan, Akonadi Foundation began as an outgrowth of their commitment to racial justice. Through the years, the Foundation has given over 1,300 grants totaling $30 million to nonprofit organizations, primarily in the Bay Area as well as across the country. In 2012, Akonadi Foundation shifted its grantmaking to focus solely in Oakland in order to concentrate its financial and human resources toward building a localized racial justice movement.