San Diego Leaders Launch Black Community Investment Fund and Announce Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarship

Courtesy of The San Diego Foundation - Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, was interviewed by Pastor Miles McPherson, left, during a service at the Rock on March 15, 2020. (Photo credit: K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Black & Magazine Newswire

On Thursday, September 24, a coalition of San Diego leaders, including Donna DeBerry, President & CEO of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce; Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor; Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E Vice President of State Governmental Affairs and External Affairs; and Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation, announced the creation of the Black Community Investment Fund at The San Diego Foundation.

The Black Community Investment Fund, which is seeded with a $1 million commitment from The San Diego Foundation, $250,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric, $75,000 from Wells Fargo and $25,000 from Cox Communications, will prioritize and invest in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans. Grantmaking will focus on four key pillars impacting economic prosperity among Black San Diegans – education, employment, housing and entrepreneurism.

“All San Diegans should have the opportunity to fulfill their highest potential, yet COVID-19 and the events of 2020 have deepened the racial inequities that exist in our community and nation,” shared Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “By co-creating the Black Community Investment Fund, The San Diego Foundation is taking an intentional, sustained approach toward racial equity in the region so every San Diegan can thrive, prosper and feel like they belong.”

“In the centuries-long fight for racial equity, the challenges and opportunities for philanthropy are immense,” stated Donna DeBerry, President & CEO of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, a co-founder of the Black Community Investment Fund. “The Black Community Investment Fund is a significant step in our region’s history as we continue to promote and prioritize equity in every thread of the fabric of our society.”

“SDG&E has a long history of supporting programs and organizations that advance racial and social equity in our community,” said Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E Vice President of State Governmental Affairs and External Affairs. “Recent events have made it clear that we need to do more to spur success within the Black community and to promote opportunity and economic equity for black businesses in San Diego. At SDG&E, we are committed to diversity and inclusion across recruitment, hiring, promotion, and procurement. Today, in partnership with The San Diego Foundation and the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, we are proud to continue our commitment through our support of the Black Community Investment Fund.”

“As a community, we must accelerate access to economic opportunity and remove barriers that have historically stood in the path of inclusion,” said Xiomara Arroyo, Vice President of Social Impact and Sustainability for Wells Fargo. “The Black Community Investment Fund is an important step toward ensuring a more inclusive, just and racially equitable future for all San Diegans, and Wells Fargo is proud to play a role in this important initiative.”

“We’re proud to support The San Diego Foundation’s Black Community Investment Fund to improve equity, access and opportunity within San Diego’s African American community,” said Sam Attisha, Senior Vice President and Region Manager for Cox Communications, and a member of Cox’s National Diversity Council. “This fund, and our donation, is a start to support local programs that address the systemic and institutional drivers of racial inequality. Cox is committed to empowering our diverse communities to have the resources they need to be successful today and for future generations.”

The Black Community Investment Fund, led by an Advisory Council of San Diego leaders, will complement the work of government agencies and organizations focused on building racial and economic equity at institutional levels. Advisory Council members include:

  • Xiomara Arroyo, Wells Fargo
  • Dr. Constance Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego Community College District
  • Tamara Craver, Reality Changers
  • Donna DeBerry, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, County of San Diego
  • Lisa Marie Harris, San Diego County Water Authority
  • Rudolph “Rudy” Johnson, Neighborhood House
  • Councilmember Monica Montgomery, San Diego City Council
  • Doug Moore, AFL-CIO
  • Pamela Gray Payton, The San Diego Foundation
  • Donna Marie Robinson, The San Diego Foundation Board of Governors
  • Mark Stuart, The San Diego Foundation
  • Pedro Villegas, San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Dr. Randolph “Randy” Ward, Teach for America
  • Tony Young, RISE San Diego

To support the education pillar of the Black Community Investment Fund, The San Diego Foundation also announced the Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarship, which honors the courage, conviction and valor of San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.

“During the COVID-19 crisis and throughout her entire life, Dr. Wooten has broken barriers and served as a role model for young people, especially African-American girls, who wish to pursue a career in medicine and science,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Co-Chair, County of San Diego’s COVID-19 Subcommittee. “This scholarship is a testament to her achievements, her lasting legacy and her continued commitment to the health and safety of our communities.”

The Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarship, funded by Alliance Healthcare Foundation, The David C. Copley Foundation, San Diego Gas & Electric and The San Diego Foundation, will provide scholarships to San Diegans who are pursuing a degree in health sciences and come from communities underrepresented in higher education, especially students who are the first in the families to attend college.


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