Why I Gave to The Runway Project

Note: This newsletter was originally sent on 12/20/18. To view it in its original context, please click here.

In February 2017, I was on phone call with Konda Mason and Jessica Norwood to learn about The Runway Project Oakland. I had recently met Konda and Jessica at local investing conferences, and I knew they were both powerful visionaries building the next economy. On the call I was struck by a contradiction in my own work-- I realized that while I was giving money to black led organizing for black liberation, I wasn’t giving money to investment projects working to build intergenerational black wealth.

I decided to give Runway Project Oakland more money than I’d ever given to one organization at a time before, $20,000.

Jessica Norwood is a thought leader, and at conference after conference I’ve seen her present with grace and strength on her vision for joyful, beautiful, thriving black economies, and I wanted to invest in her. While I was excited about becoming an investor in Runway Project, I heard about their need for gift capital and wanted Jessica and Konda to have an abundance of the kind of financial resources they needed the most for the Runway Project to be successful.

As a white person with inherited wealth in this country, I know the history of wealth accumulation is inextricably bound up with racism and violence. White wealthy people need to work to shift resources towards reparations, and to work for wealth redistribution. A powerful piece of that work is giving to and investing in black-led investment funds that support self-determination. Another powerful piece is resourcing black financial activists who work, often unpaid, to build the next economy we desperately need.

Impact investing spaces often tell investors that we can just invest in a business or in a community, and that investment of financial resources alone will be sufficient support to help them thrive. But additional resources are needed to support technical assistance, the infrastructure of the local economy and the financial activists boldly experimenting and designing the investment vehicles we need. If you’ve invested in Runway Project, especially if you are a person with wealth or represent an institution with access to wealth, consider giving in addition to your investment so that Jessica, Konda, Rani and Nina can bring the fullest, most vibrant version of their vision for Project Runway to fruition.

In the spirit of this season of gifts, I want to invite you to support the Runway Project with generous, no strings attached donations, so as they continue their work they feel the abundance of their communities support.

In solidarity and with love,

Kate Poole, Co-founder of Chordata Capital