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Looking at Nonprofits That Serve African Americans

As Black History Month comes to a close, we’d like to shine a spotlight on U.S. nonprofits serving and supporting black populations. Searching IRS data, financial documents, and GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles,  we identified more than 2,500 organizations that state they serve African Americans. 

Although many other organizations serving black communities certainly exist, this cohort of 2,500 gives us insight into the range and vitality of these organizations.

U.S. map showing the distribution of nonprofits that serve African Americans

There is diversity and variation across every variable of these organizations. They are located all around the United States, in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Some have been around for a long time—80 organizations are 50+ years old—and many are more recently formed, with 476 getting their starts in the past 5 years. They engage in all 26 major cause areas the IRS uses to classify nonprofits by mission—everything from employment and job-related groups to religious organizations, legal organizations to youth development groups. The top five cause areas represented are:

  • arts, culture, and humanities;

  • education;

  • community improvement and capacity building;

  • human services; and

  • civil rights, social action, and advocacy.

In terms of revenue and employees, both small and large organizations make up the cohort. Some 1 percent of these organizations report over $25 million in revenue on their most recent financial filings. A much larger proportion is smaller, with 35 percent reporting less than $50 thousand in revenue. Beyond the populations these nonprofits serve, these organizations employ more than 50 thousand people, and work with countless volunteers.

Graph of organizations serving African Americans by revenue range

Examples of How These Organizations Are Making a Difference

As interesting as it is to look at the landscape of these organizations as a whole, their true impact comes from the work individual organizations are doing to support African Americans and bring attention to important issues. Here’s a look at some of the organizations working in the most popular cause areas, and how they’re making a difference. They were chosen at random from nonprofits that have earned a GuideStar Seal of Transparency.

Arts, Culture, and Humanities

  • The Foundation for Black Heritage and Culture, a Houston, Texas-based nonprofit, works to “elevate Black Heritage through music and arts and to promote the growth of visual art, drama, entertainment, literature, and dance.” It sponsors the Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival, “an all-day cultural affair that promotes historical and cultural solidarity” that is attended by thousands.

  • The Dance Theatre of Harlem is a New York City ballet school that provides arts education and ballet training aiming to “present a ballet Company of African American and other racially diverse artists who perform the most demanding repertory at the highest level of quality.” In addition to performances and training, the Dance Theatre of Harlem also maintains community outreach programs to bring the arts to all.


  • The National Black Law Students Association works across America “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black and minority attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” NBLSA seeks both to support black law students and attorneys with opportunities to develop skills and make career connections, and to influence the legal community at large to address the needs of the black community.

  • Reading Holiday Project seeks to “help black boys ages 4-8 to identify as readers by connecting books and reading to a male-centered space and by involving men in boys' early reading experiences.” The organization champions Barbershop Books, a program to expand reading opportunities for children in New York City; Baltimore; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. Barbershop Books provides barbershops with child-friendly reading spaces, books recommended by black boys, and literacy training for barbers.

Community Improvement, Capacity Building

  • Didtechnology, aka digitalundivided, “takes an innovative, transformative approach to economic empowerment by encouraging Black and Latina women to own their economic security through entrepreneurship.” Its incubator program provides an entry point for women of color into the start-up ecosystem.

Human Services

  • Blackfem, Inc. is a “wealth and financial literacy organization … empowering women and girls of color to create financial stability and sustainability for themselves.” Its personal finance programs focus on “correcting the extreme resource deficiency that characterizes this demographic.”

Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

  • FIERCE is an organization “building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth of color in New York City” with leadership development programs, media advocacy, and political education.

There are numerous other organizations providing resources for African Americans—head to GuideStar to learn more!

Hannah OrenHannah Oren is a data services analyst at Candid.

Topics: Black History Month Nonprofits Serving African Americans Nonprofits Serving Blacks