Cameron WhittenCo-founder of The Black Resilience Fund Portland, OR Award Year: 2020
Cameron Whitten is Co-founder of The Black Resilience Fund, an emergency fund created early in the pandemic that is dedicated to healing and resilience by providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders in need. Cameron was previously homeless in Portland and ever since securing a home at age 18, Cameron has spent the past decade giving back to the very same community that helped them get back on their feet. The idea for the Black Resilience Fund arose after George Floyd’s murder when Cameron and Co-Founder Salomé Chimuku’s inboxes were flooded with messages from white friends checking in and wanting to share resources with Black Portlanders to pay for a warm meal, buy groceries, or pay a bill. Cameron responded with this effort, hoping to raise $5,000 to help Black Portlanders. Within two weeks, the fund had received over $500,000 in donations, and it has distributed more than $100,000, with some 3,600 people applying for help. In addition to their role with The Black Resilience Fund, Cameron is Executive Director of Brown Hope, an organization leading community-grounded initiatives to make justice a lived experience for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in Oregon.
Cameron used their award to build the capacity of their emerging racial justice organization, including building Brown Hope’s infrastructure. This includes hiring staff, stabilizing the organization’s five core programs, and distributing $2 million in emergency COVID relief resources to Portlanders in need.
Cameron told us that while BVBJ’s grant is a small portion of Brown Hope’s overall budget, it has been “an important reflection of the changes needed within philanthropy,” pointing to a study from Philanthropy Today that details how nonprofits led by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people win 76% less in unrestricted net assets compared to their white counterparts, which hinders scalability, flexibility, and innovation.