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Survey finds racial gaps in Detroit nonprofit leadership

Nonprofits operating in Detroit, a predominantly Black city, have racial gaps in leadership and those gaps likely lead to less access to capital, a first of its kind survey shows. 

The survey, called the Detroit Nonprofit Leadership Census, was produced by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in partnership with Data Driven Detroit (D3).

It found that in a city with 78.3% of residents who are Black, 66.5% of the city’s nonprofits have executive directors who are Black, Indigenous or are people of color. And 62.6% of those executive directors are the first people of color to have the leadership role. 

The results are meant to inform Detroiters about who is in leadership roles at nonprofits that operate in the city and to shine a light on those nonprofits that can get overlooked when it comes to funding and resources.

“We started this journey last year because so much was happening in the world, in terms of the pandemic and the racial uprising,” said Nellie Tsai, social innovation officer at MNA. The pandemic highlighted “more than ever,” she said,  “the stark disparities between how different nonprofits were being leaned on during the pandemic and just really throughout, and what services were being demanded and yet, also who was getting funded and who wasn’t during those times.”

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