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Rays release resource guide, grants for social justice initiatives

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City of St. Petersburg Instagram

In early June the Rays had announced that, in consultation with community partners, they would be making grants and sharing resources to further the goals of equity and social justice in the Tampa Bay area.

They chose Opening Day to follow through on their promise, a signal that they appreciate how the fight for justice continues even now that we have baseball to entertain us. Life, they note in quoting Jackie Robinson, is not a spectator sport.

Racial Equity Grants

Their initiative includes $100,000 in grants to local organizations through the Racial Equity Grant Program. The four grant recipients represent organizations that have addressed, implicitly or explicitly, issues of racism on both sides of Tampa Bay. Both the Pinellas County Urban League and the CDC of Tampa have several decades of experience working as agents of change in disadvantaged communities, providing services such as workforce training and housing counseling, and also undertaking development themselves. The CDC of Tampa has developed over 300 units of affordable housing, and created projects and training opportunities to further environmental reclamation activities, focused on their East Tampa service area. The Urban League works across Pinellas and into neighboring counties. Among their noteworthy programs are residential weatherization and financial education. Both organizations have been critical voices in the Black community, incubating the next generation of leaders.

Pinellas Remembers, another grant recipient, is a newer organization, a local coalition working with the national Equal Justice Initiative to ensure that communities recognize the key moments and locations of African-American history. In their view, we can’t achieve true healing and reconciliation until we can acknowledge the injustices of the past. They conduct historical research that will lead to the installation of markers to commemorate lynching victims in the area.

The Rays have also awarded a grant to the Hillsborough branch of the NAACP, a local chapter of the famed national civil rights organization whose history dates back to its 1909 founding. Here in the Tampa Bay area, the NAACP takes a leadership role in matters of voting rights and police reform.

Resource Guide

To further support these efforts, the Rays have put together three resource guides.

Their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) business guide provides links to dozens of restaurants and arts and cultural businesses in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. I for one look forward to working my way down the restaurant list. The education guide lists local cultural institutions like the Carter G. Woodhouse Museum and the Florida Holocaust Museum, as well as an extensive list of books, podcasts, websites, and streaming videos, conveniently listed by streaming service. A significant amount of research went into this lengthy guide — this was not just cut and pasted. Finally, they offer a list of social justice and community development organizations in our area. If you are local and have been wondering how you can get involved, whether by volunteering or donating, this list is a good place to start.