Inland Empire

Fight to End Systemic Racism Getting Financial Boost in Inland Empire

Since 2009, Starting Over Inc., has been helping people get out of poverty through outreach programs, especially people who have been incarcerated.

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The fight to end systemic racism is getting a big financial boost, thanks to the Inland Empire Community Foundation.

It has now awarded more than a dozen non profit organizations with nearly $740,000 in grants to 16 nonprofits.

The funding could have a major impact on the quality of life for many people of color.

Since 2009, Starting Over Inc., has been helping people get out of poverty through outreach programs, especially people who have been incarcerated.

"I'm a third-generation convicted felon so my mother was incarcerated, her mother was incarcerated, my father was incarcerated and I really grew up thinking that's what life was," Vonya Quarles, the executive director and co-founder of Starting Over Inc.

She said it's difficult, especially for people of color, to get on the right path when released from prison.

"Our goal is to address systemic racism and structural racism through the criminal justice system," she said.

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Vonya's organization provides guidance and resources.

Housing is key, she said.

Starting Over Inc. has nearly an 80% success rate.

And that's a reason why it was recently awarded an $80,000 grant from the Inland Empire Community Foundation, which created the IE Black Equity Fund.

"It's the first regional fund of its kind to invest in black led organizations working to end systemic racism here in the region," said Charee Gillins, the foundation's spokesman.

Felicia Jones, of the Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement said they are on the frontlines of social justice work.

They're doing this work everyday, she said, but many of them did not have a pathway into funding.

The money will ultimately create a pathway for a better life, according to Quarles.

"If some hadn't have taken a chance on me becoming more than what I used to be I wouldn't be here," she said.

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