UW fund builds opportunities for Black students

Last July, the UW and the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity launched a Black Opportunity Fund to address the harmful legacies that colonialism, racism, white supremacy and racial capitalism have on Black communities.

The fund came about after months of Black student-led organizing and activism across campus and in the greater Seattle area. It also followed another wave of killings of Black people including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade by law enforcement, and in the wake of the stabbing death of Nina Pop.

Continuing a long history of restorative-justice work on UW’s campus, the Black Student Union, along with representatives from other Black organizations, presented a list of demands to UW leadership last fall. One demand included financial support for Black student organizations. The Black Opportunity Fund is an extension of this demand as well as a result of many conversations between Black students and faculty and University leaders about creating a more supportive space on campus for Black students, faculty and staff.

In January, an anonymous donor invested $300,000 to start an endowment within the Black Opportunity Fund. “Members of our generous community have stepped forward in support of enhancing the campus experiences for the UW Black campus community,” says Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity. “Establishing an endowment signals that we are not just doing this work for the moment. Addressing systemic racism is not a short-term effort. It is something that we at the university should be working on every day. We are fortunate to have a generous supporter step forward in this way.”

For further information and to find other ways to support OMA&D or the Black Opportunity Fund, please contact Katherine Day Hase, Director of Advancement, OMA&D, at kdayhase@uw.edu.