Surdna Announces Additional $36 Million for Racial Justice

29% increase in funding will support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities to respond to today’s demands and pursue lasting solutions to systemic racism

NEW YORK (October 14, 2020) — The Surdna Foundation announced today that it is increasing its grantmaking by approximately $36 million over the next three years to advance racial justice in the U.S. at this historic moment. Combined with Surdna’s annual grantmaking of roughly $41.5 million per year, this increased spending will bring the Foundation’s total financial commitment to racial justice to approximately $160 million between now and the end of 2023.

Surdna is stepping up its grantmaking to meet the urgent needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities amid the pandemic and ongoing anti-Black racism. The additional funding will intensify the Foundation’s sustained support of leaders, organizations, and networks most affected by systemic racism that are championing powerful solutions to improve the health, wealth, opportunities, and quality of life in their communities and beyond.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s long journey toward racial justice,” said Don Chen, president of the Surdna Foundation. “We are increasing our spending to give grantees breathing room to respond to the demands of today and make progress toward long-term reforms that address deep structural racism. Our grantee partners bring the lived experience, creativity, networks, strategies, and solutions to realize a more just and sustainable nation.”

“As stewards of one of the oldest family foundations in America, it was essential that the Surdna Board increase our funding for this important moment in our nation’s history,” said Peter B. Benedict II, board chair and fifth-generation family member. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also underscores the importance of our social justice mission.”

“The pandemic, economic crisis, and national movement for racial justice require all of us to step up and take action,” said Carra Cote-Ackah, board vice chair and fifth-generation family member. “We are honored to boost support for our grantee partners and their vital work toward an America in which all communities have opportunities, resources, and power to thrive.”

As a longtime funder of racial and social justice, Surdna will initially use additional grant dollars to support existing grantee partners, including:

  • Artists and arts organizations that are particularly threatened by losses in revenue during the pandemic and those working with their communities to imagine and prototype a more racially just future.
  • Grassroot organizations and networks working at the intersection of racial, economic, and climate justice.
  • Businesses and entrepreneurs of color in need of access to capital and a runway to imagine, innovate, and generate wealth in their communities.
  • Efforts to abolish youth prisons and foster safe communities.
  • Program- and mission-related investments that extend the impact of the Foundation beyond grantmaking.

In keeping with trust-based philanthropic practices, Surdna will listen to the needs of its grantee partners and award multiyear, core support grants whenever appropriate. The exact amount of increased grantmaking will be determined by an annual valuation of the endowment on December 31st and is estimated to be $36 million. Surdna will share additional information about the nonprofits that will receive funding as grants are made.

Media Contact
Elizabeth Cahill,; (212) 557-0010 ext. 212


About the Surdna Foundation

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States— communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.

For over five generations, Surdna has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity. Learn more at