Jen Ford Reedy, President of the Bush Foundation, shares GroundBreak vision during Community Briefing. Photo by Molly Miles
When George Floyd was murdered, the racial reckoning that followed was global. But for those of us in Minnesota, it was local, too. George Floyd was our neighbor, our community member. So there was another layer of pain, another layer of shame.
For those of us who had been working on racial equity, it was made clear, made stark, that we were not doing enough. We had to do more, act bigger.
At Bush Foundation we took action to do more and act bigger—including issuing social impact bonds and offering $100M of our assets to Black and Indigenous individuals to build wealth. I have watched lots of organizations in this community step up to do more, too—in ways that I’ve found remarkable and inspiring. And… I know that the community response we need is far more than the sum of our best institutional efforts.
If we want this place to truly work for everyone, we need transformation. We need to be thinking about change on a bigger scale. We need radical collaboration.
The GroundBreak Coalition is designed for transformation, at a big scale and through radical collaboration. It is pushing us to a new level of civic leadership, with public, private, and philanthropic institutions working together in different ways.
The challenges we face are beyond the scope and power of any one sector. GroundBreak is pushing us all to craft and combine our efforts to intentionally complement and amplify each other, to do more good. It is calling on all of us in institutions with capital to change the ways our money moves, together, in ways that build up a system that works for everyone.
This means integrating public funding and private capital in financial solutions that work better for people. It means targeting charitable dollars to get the most possible good from government programs. It means using public and philanthropic commitments to get more money flowing from banks to more people. It means cross-sectoring to the max.
For example, one of the aspects of GroundBreak that I am involved in is figuring out how to have foundations (and other organizations with assets) come together and pledge our assets to guarantee loans for Black entrepreneurs and developers. As foundations, we have way more capacity for risk than almost all other kinds of institutions, and I love the idea of using that capacity for risk to make it possible for more people to get the money they need from banks and other financial institutions.
I’m excited about the commitments that organizations have already made to GroundBreak. It’s extraordinary. And for this to work, we need more institutions to join. For those who haven’t yet made a commitment, there are a number of folks ready to help. Whether you need us to come and present to other leaders in your organization to understand GroundBreak’s potential, or whether you need problem-solving help on how you might best connect in with the various elements of the GroundBreak approach—or whatever could be useful—reach out to Erin Imon Gavin and we can figure out how to support you.
This is a leadership moment for our region that will define us. And in this moment, we are the leaders we’ve got. It is on us to show ourselves and the world what we can be. What it takes to transform—and be a place that truly works for everyone.
Over the next decade, GroundBreak is working to secure $1.2 billion in flexible capital to build Black wealth, close racial wealth gaps, and create a more prosperous region for all. By working together, every dollar of flexible capital from sources like philanthropy, government, and other investors can unlock over $3 in private-market capital. To learn more, contact Erin Imon Gavin at email@example.com.
About the author: Jen Ford Reedy is the president of the Bush Foundation and serves on the GroundBreak Steering Committee.