Dec 16, 2020 · 5 min read

CZI Supports Community Driven Solutions to Advance Racial Equity, Strengthen Tribal Identity, and Improve Youth Well-Being

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Provide $7 Million in Grants to Local Leaders

2020 | Family working together on homework | Photo by gilaxia via Getty Images

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced a $7 million commitment to five community organizations to help advance racial equity as well as Tribal identity and support student mental wellness in communities most impacted by COVID-19. The grant recipients are: First Nations Development Institute, Forward Promise, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, and The Skillman Foundation.

“We are proud to support these organizations and their work with local communities to protect youth well-being through programs that advance racial equity and strengthen Tribal identity,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “These communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing inequities. And as they rebuild, it is especially critical that communities continue to prioritize mental wellness for students to ensure they reach their full potential.”

The five organizations receiving funding include:

  • First Nations Development Institute will receive $1.6 million to support Native-led, community-driven programs that focus on the holistic well-being and identity development of Native youth. Grants will enable community partners and school institutions to share and preserve Native language, Tribal identity, and community practices in remote environments and maintain intergenerational connection in virtual settings.
  • Forward Promise, a program incubated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will receive $1.3 million to deepen their focus on mental and physical healing from racial trauma, and creating villages of support around young men of color. Forward Promise will expand an existing cohort of organizations cultivating safe spaces for healing that emphasize self-efficacy, self-sufficiency and strengthening family and school relationships.
  • Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, an affiliate of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, will receive $1.1 million to expand partnerships with Texas Pre-K-12 schools and community organizations. These community partnerships are designed to improve academic achievement, enhance community conditions, and positively impact mental health and well-being for youth of color and their families using a strength-based approach.
  • The Center at Sierra Health Foundation will receive $1.5 million to provide support to improve the mental health and well-being of young men of color in California’s Central Valley. The program will increase social-emotional and other wraparound supports within schools as well as promote policy and systems change to reallocate public resources from punitive measures to counseling, mental health and identity-affirming resources for young people, their families and the staff who serve them.  Through this multi-pronged strategy, the long-term goals are to transform the educational pipeline and increase the number of young men of color prepared to enter and complete post-secondary education in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley.
  • The Skillman Foundation will receive $1.5 million to expand investments in Detroit to partners who embed programs and practices that foster social-emotional and mental health and general well-being in schools and community-based programs. Grants will enable schools and community organizations to more holistically support young people and educators, including strengthening connections among peers and between youth and the caring adults who serve them, and building resilience among students, families, and educators to ultimately improve academic outcomes for youth.

Community organizations are playing a pivotal role in responding to the pandemic and racial reckoning across the country. This work is part of our commitment to bringing the principles outlined in the guidance on student and educator well-being and connection into practice. Released earlier this year, the guidance was developed by WestEd and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

These investments are the latest in a series of grants from CZI to support racial justice and mental wellness practices for youth as well as the restoration of schools and communities in this time of crisis. Since the onset of the pandemic, CZI has committed more than $22 million to support teachers and students impacted by COVID-19. This includes grants to the HEARTS program at the University of California, San Francisco, Village of Wisdom, Kingmakers of Oakland,  Beloved Community, the National Parents Union, and additional support for teacher professional development and the expansion of broadband solutions.

CZI’s education work is focused on ensuring that every student can get an education that’s tailored to their individual needs and supports every aspect of their development. CZI envisions a country where demographics are not predictive of student outcomes and every child enters adulthood with the knowledge, skills, habits and agency they need to realize their full potential. For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are supporting student well-being, visit


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

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