SAN DIEGO — A group of San Diego leaders announced the creation of the Black Community Investment Fund at The San Diego Foundation and the Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarship Thursday to assist Black and other underrepresented communities increase racial equity and generational wealth.
"We get up everyday just wanting to do the right thing to protect the health of the public," said Wooten.
The leaders, including Donna DeBerry, president of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce; Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor; Mitch Mitchell, San Diego Gas & Electric vice president of state governmental affairs; and Mark Stuart, president of The San Diego Foundation, said the fund will prioritize and invest in community-led, innovative efforts for Black San Diegans.
"She never loses her calm and is the true testament to a public servant," said Fletcher.
"All San Diegans should have the opportunity to fulfill their highest potential, yet COVID-19 and the events of 2020 have deepened the racial inequities that exist in our community and nation," Stuart said. "By co-creating the Black Community Investment Fund the San Diego Foundation is taking an intentional, sustained approach toward racial equity in the region so every San Diegan can thrive, prosper and feel like they belong."
The Black Community Investment Fund is seeded with a $1 million commitment from The San Diego Foundation, $250,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric, $75,000 from Wells Fargo and $25,000 from Cox Communications. Grants from the fund will focus on four key pillars impacting economic prosperity among Black San Diegans: education, employment, housing and entrepreneurism.
"In the centuries-long fight for racial equity, the challenges and opportunities for philanthropy are immense," DeBerry said. "The Black Community Investment Fund is a significant step in our region's history as we continue to promote and prioritize equity in every thread of the fabric of our society."
The fund is led by an advisory council which includes San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll, San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, Randy Ward from Teach for America and other business, government and nonprofit leaders.
To support the education pillar of the Black Community Investment Fund, the Dr. Wilma Wooten Courage Scholarship will honor "the courage, conviction and valor of San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten," a statement from the group said.
"During the COVID-19 crisis and throughout her entire life, Dr. Wooten has broken barriers and served as a role model for young people, especially African-American girls, who wish to pursue a career in medicine and science," said Fletcher, co-chair, of the county's COVID-19 subcommittee. "This scholarship is a testament to her achievements, her lasting legacy and her continued commitment to the health and safety of our communities."
"Dr. Wooten is a pioneer and a trailblazer," said Fletcher. "We know the barriers that exist today for women of color who want to take a leadership role in the medical community. Imagine what it was like when Dr. Wooten started her journey."
The scholarship, funded by Alliance Healthcare Foundation, The David C. Copley Foundation, San Diego Gas & Electric and The San Diego Foundation, will provide scholarships to San Diegans who are pursuing a degree in health sciences and come from communities underrepresented in higher education, especially students who are the first in their families to attend college.
The amount of money in the scholarship fund and the size of the awards was unclear as of Thursday afternoon.
"If anybody wants to do something, all they have to do is figure out what it takes and go for it," said Wooten.