In 2019, our team started to think more intentionally about healing and racial equity.

A deeper examination of our shared history of racial injustice calls us to consider how we heal from historical trauma and the hate and bigotry that continues to exist. We spent the year engaged with a racial equity consultant from OpenSource Leadership working with our staff and board to continue to build our own internal understanding and capacity for doing this work.

OpenSource collected 21 survey responses from 16 board members and five staff, interviewed 22 stakeholders (current and former board members, staff, interns, grantees, and peer funders), and reviewed key organizational documents. We received the results from that assessment in February of 2020.

Since then, our equity leadership team and board have:

  1. Revised our mission and values and began developing an equity point of view
  2. Examined and updated our grantmaking processes to be more inclusive
  3. Supported the building of the community’s capacity for and understanding of racial equity and justice through supporting the equity offerings at the Center for Nonprofit Management, hosting virtual trainings, and working with other funders interested in racial equity
  4. Intentionally engaged and increased our financial support for nonprofits whose leaders are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
  5. Launched a Participatory Grantmaking  program in Bedford County and North Nashville in collaboration with grantee partners

IN 2020

We funded 18 nonprofits whose leaders are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, totaling $380,330 out of the total awarded $3,919,102.

IN 2021

We funded 36 nonprofits whose leaders are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, totaling $1,161,813 out of the total awarded $4,230,721.


What does racial equity mean?

Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if a person’s racial identity no longer predicted how they were likely to fare. When we use that term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice and include work to address the root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.

SOURCE: Center for Assessment and Policy Development

Why is THT moving to a racial equity lens?

As we celebrate our 20th year of giving, we are keenly aware that while the funding that we have provided has been helpful to our partners, it has not “moved the needle” in terms of addressing or reducing health disparities. We believe that intentionally focusing on race-based health disparities is the best way to begin making long-term changes.  The spirit of our values is the same, but the way we implement them will change.

What does it mean for THT to use a racial equity lens? How does this affect the approval process?

It means that we will prioritize nonprofits that are led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) first, followed by rural applicants, and then all other applicants that don’t fall into those two groups.

Applicants that don’t fall into those two groups will be prioritized based on their organizational approach to equity.

We define a BIPOC-led organization as one where:

  • 30% of its Board and Staff are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  • 51% of its clients are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and
  • The CEO is a Black person, an Indigenous person, or a Person of Color

We will partner with and/or fund organizations that:

  • Represent the community that it is trying to serve
  • Are working to reduce or eliminate health disparities
  • Serve under-resourced communities, people who are underinsured or uninsured, and people that are disenfranchised
  • Are addressing the immediate needs of the community and/or are aimed at root causes
  • Are anti-racist and are working to advance racial equity
  • Are engaging with the community and lifting the community’s voice

We will consider funding white-led organizations that are committed to being racially equitable.

Being a BIPOC-led organization does not guarantee funding and being a white-led organization does not guarantee denial.

Do we have to meet all three parts of the BIPOC-led definition or just one?

Organizations must meet all three parts of the definition to be considered BIPOC-led.

How do you define rural?

We define rural communities as the non-metro counties outside of Davidson County.  Davidson County is the only metropolitan county in our service area, so we consider the other counties that we serve to be rural.

What about intersectionality with other disabilities/other marginalized groups?

Our focus is on eliminating health disparities. Racial health disparities show that even when you control for socio-economic status, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have higher rates of infant mortality, maternal death, and more difficulty accessing services when they have disabilities. We understand that other populations are marginalized and as there is overlap between those groups, we will also address those needs.

Are there any suggestions for what organizations with predominately white service areas can do to remain in consideration for funding?

There’s no one-sized fits all approach.  Every organization will have to examine what it means to implement racial equity in their organizations. The things your organization needs to do may be different than what another organization needs to do.  You will have an opportunity to discuss your organization’s racial equity process/journey during the application process.  There isn’t a racial equity checklist, and we don’t want anyone to be tokenized.

We serve predominantly white, rural, poor, and underserved counties. Will our funding be cut?

Even if the population of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in your community is small, it’s still worthy of time and investment.  We do still plan to fund in rural areas and understand that the populations in those areas are not as racially diverse as they are in more urban counties. However, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color also live and work in rural communities. In communities where there are people of color, we want to know if they are being served and if the staff is reflective of the people being served.

Are there any resources that you recommend for us to learn more?

What strategies can organizations use to advance racial equity in their organizations?

Check out the Equity Matrix for examples.