Abstract for: Understanding Limits to Success in Equitable Investment Approaches for Black-led Community Based Organizations

Increased attention on equitable investment in Black-led community-based organizations (CBOs), especially those focused on maternal health, has reemphasized the impact of past failures in translating investment into sustainable success for these organizations. However, little work has explored this failure as a dynamic problem, especially from the perspective of Black leaders of CBOs. In this paper, we leverage previous findings from a comprehensive review of the literature that identified facilitators and barriers for equitable investment and apply the limits to growth/success archetype to illustrate the ways in which feedback shapes relationships between these factors. Application of this archetype highlights how the key mechanisms of mission drift and burnout among Black-led CBOs create a success limiting cycle that precludes long-term sustainable growth. Furthermore, applying this archetype illustrates how white-centered investment creates limiting conditions for key organizational growth processes. Implications of insights from this archetype are that equitable investment requires external organizations and funders to examine how their processes center the white-norms driving the undervaluation and underappreciation that Black-led CBOs experience. We conclude by discussing next steps for extending this work to the context of Philadelphia, PA to support localized efforts to equitably invest in Black-led CBOs within the maternal health space.