Malaika Jabali www.essence.com
Despite grand symbolic gestures— including widespread embrace of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in the halls of Congress and on D.C. streets in the past year— the reality is that Black conditions have struggled to advance materially for several generations.
Gabrielle Wyatt, founder of The Highland Project non-profit organization, wants to do something about it, especially for Black women.
“As Black women, we are tired of performative activism when real and meaningful policies and practices are needed to close the racial wealth gap,” she said in a press release. “Black women do so much for this country, but our contributions are rarely appreciated and certainly don’t always benefit us.” This is where The Highland Project comes in.
The non-profit would “help bolster our leadership in building multi-generational wealth for ourselves and our communities. Instead of waiting for empty promises, we are the solution we seek,” Wyatt stated.
Over the next several months, The Highland Project will identify leaders and amply the voices and experiences of Black women, which is a part of their 5-year fundraising strategy. They plan to launch an inaugural cohort of Highland Leaders by next spring.
“Every year,” Wyatt says in a statement to supporters “we’ll work with a cohort of 15 impactful Black women in education, economic empowerment, political agency, and well being and invest $100,000 in each leader’s brilliance.”
Highland Leaders will learn together in-person and virtually over 12 months, and their funds may be used to “continue commitment to lifelong learning and effective solutions,” “explore new solutions [that may] launch initiatives, public awareness campaigns, or organizations,” and/or ” “expand solutions that are ready for scaling.”
The non-profit’s name comes from Highland Beach, Maryland, a place founded in 1893 and became a “refuge from racism and segregation” that was beloved by Wyatt’s father. “Today, rather than accommodating vacationers, it’s now home to full-time residents, some of whom are descendants from Highland Beach’s first residents. It continues as a place of rest, joy, and community for Black leaders.”
“The Highland Project brings clarity, community, and capital to the most powerful and inclusive force of social change in our nation: Black women,” said Samantha Tweedy, Chief Partnerships & Impact Officer at Robin Hood Foundation in a statement. “History tells us that investment in Black women is an investment in a better future for all.”
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