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The Barr, Kresge, and William Penn Foundations Introduce $13M Funding Collaborative

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Press release via William Penn Foundation

In 2021, the Barr, Kresge, and William Penn Foundations joined together to more deeply understand the needs of organizations utilizing art and culture to address systemic and intersectional societal challenges. The inquiry resulted in the formation of The Culture and Community Power Fund developed throughout 2022 with project Co-Directors Aviva Kapust and Erik Takeshita, and research partner Helicon Collaborative. 
To date, the collaborative has invested over $5.8 million in grantmaking and research. Six organizations in five cities have received unrestricted, multiyear awards based on their long-term commitment to supporting communities impacted by structural oppression. 
  •  Ashé Cultural Arts Center uses art and culture to support human, community, and economic development of people of the African diaspora in New Orleans. 
  •  Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia advances racial equity and understanding by activating artists, youth, and their communities through creative practice and dialogue grounded in the diverse experiences of Asians in America. 
  •  The Boston Ujima Project is a Black-led, democratic, member-run organization building a cooperative business, arts, and investment ecosystem in Boston, with a mission to return wealth to working-class communities of color. 
  •  Center for Transforming Communities provides cultural programming and community organizing to build the health, wealth and leadership pipelines of black and brown neighborhoods across Memphis. 
  •  Northend Christian CDC preserves and improves Detroit’s North End Historic Community by providing opportunities for residents to learn and practice urban agriculture, access green jobs, build cooperative businesses, and beautify their environment. 
  •  The Village of Arts and Humanities supports artists and Black community residents in the Fairhill-Hartranft neighborhood of Philadelphia to imagine, design, and build a more just and equitable society. 
“When intentionally paired with community organizing and leadership development, art and culture can be powerful catalysts for community power building,” says the Culture and Community Power Fund’s Co-Director Aviva Kapust. “This project will support the integration of art and culture into efforts by and within each community to define and set priorities, advocate for their needs, secure resources, and claim decision making authority.” 
Over the next two years, the Fund will partner with the aforementioned six organizations to invest at least another $3.6 million in their communities. Awards will be made to other organizations, individuals, and groups to launch new experiments or build on existing work. Grant making processes will be unique to each community and will be shared publicly through The Culture and Community Power Fund’s website,
“The Fund’s work builds upon and draws inspiration from the efforts of many others working to advance racial equity and the self-determination of communities most impacted by structural oppression,” says The Fund’s Co-Director Erik Takeshita. “By sharing broadly what we are learning with and from those closest to the ground, we hope to add to this existing body of knowledge, mobilize more investors, and inspire additional practitioners to leverage the power of art and culture to help build community power.”
The Fund will also invest over $1.5 million to provide opportunities for learning and sharing among practitioners, investors, and civic leaders, commission national research, and learn from and amplify the work of our grantee-partners and others. The Fund welcomes inquiries through its website from potential thought partners with experience and ideas to inform our path ahead, as well as funders and government agencies in these geographies or beyond interested in learning more and aligning efforts. 
About the Barr Foundation 
The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and enable all students to thrive in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets over $2.5 billion and has contributed more than $1 billion to charitable causes. For more information, visit
About the Kresge Foundation 
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit
About the William Penn Foundation 
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. For more information visit
About New Venture Fund 
The New Venture Fund (NVF) hosts and incubates a wide range of conservation, education, global health, and other charitable projects. For more information visit
About Helicon Collaborative 
Helicon Collaborative works with artists, cultural leaders, philanthropy, and other sectors who are interested in mobilizing the power of culture and creativity for a just and sustainable future. For more information visit