A Louisville nonprofit received a six-figure reparations payment from a generous white donor who discovered their great-grandfather owned slaves in Kentucky.
At a press conference on Monday (May 31) Change Today, Change Tomorrow said they were approached by a white grad student who had recently inherited money for her 25th birthday. After learning that her family’s wealth could be traced back to her great-grandfather who enslaved six people, the donor wanted to support the work Change Today, Change Tomorrow does for Kentucky’s Black community.
“It is a blessing for us but also definitely owed,” the nonprofit’s founder and executive director Taylor Ryan said. Ryan explained that it can be difficult for Black-led organizations to get financial support from big foundations in Louisville.
“We feel that other entities, specifically the foundations locally, need to get up to speed. Their practices are very, very outdated. They’re very still, you know, deeply embedded in white supremacy,” she said. “And a lot of people are doing a lot of talking, but we need action.”
In a news release Change Today, Change Tomorrow said the grad student wanted to remain anonymous. But she did tell the nonprofit that she felt white people “unfairly benefit from racism.”
“We have to be willing to part with what was stolen, and do so without expectations of praise or control over how the money will be spent,” the donor told Change Today, Change Tomorrow. Change Today Change Tomorrow’s deputy director Nannie Grace Croney said the organization thought they were being “scammed” when they initially got an email about the donation.
“So the initial emotion was like, ‘Oh this isn’t real,’ but once it was real, we knew that we had to act on it. We knew that as disruptors and changemakers, we have to challenge other corporations, foundations and individuals to really pay reparations back,” Croney said. She explained that the white grad student was unable to track down the direct descendants of the people enslaved by her great-grandfather. So, the donor decided to make a payment to Change Today, Change Tomorrow to support the work it does for Kentucky’s Black community.
The nonprofit plans to put 40% toward supporting its staff. Another 40% will go to sustaining their community outreach efforts and 20% will be put into reserve.