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3rd EyE Youth Empowerment Selected for Statewide Initiative
Supporting Community-Rooted Arts

Initial Grant Award of $150,000 Is the Largest Donation in Our History 



3rd EyE Youth Empowerment was selected to participate in the Powering Cultural Futures initiative – as announced earlier today by the Barr Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. A collaboration between these foundations, this six-year initiative connects and supports 15 arts organizations rooted in Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities across Massachusetts. 3rd EyE is the only organization based in the South Coast to have been selected.

We will receive operating funds as well as risk capital for growth through grants awarded by the Community Foundation via its BIPOC Arts Equity Fund. Our initial grant, supporting operations over the next three years, is in the amount of $150,000 — three times what we were awarded through the Art Is Everywhere initiative.

“The Community Foundation is honored to establish the BIPOC Arts Equity Fund, and to invest in 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment as a grant recipient,” said Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. “We know that Massachusetts is more vibrant when it embraces all voices, and we view this Fund as a needed vehicle for donors statewide who want to invest in BIPOC artists, art forms, and communities.” 

With support from the Barr Foundation, 3rd EyE will join with peers from other participating organizations in a learning journey, connecting over the next six years to share approaches, challenges, and successes. Throughout this timeframe we will have access to consultants who can assist our planning and organizational development. The lessons and insights gained through the experience of all initiative participants will be shared with BIPOC networks and donors throughout the state.   

“3rd EyE does important work to bring artists and cultural expression to the center of community life,” said Giles Li, senior program officer for Arts & Creativity at the Barr Foundation. “They are poised to pursue a next level of impact and resilience – and to help power the future of BIPOC arts in Massachusetts.”

“The organizations in this initiative are among many across Massachusetts who are true treasures in their communities,” added San San Wong, director of the Arts & Creativity program at Barr. “They have trusted leaders who embrace arts to speak powerfully about the experiences, struggles, triumphs, and dreams of community members. We look forward to learning from these partners, and to circulating knowledge that can contribute to a more equitable, well-resourced arts sector.”

“We are both honored and humbled to join this initiative,” noted Lonelle Walker, 3rd EyE’s program director. “We are inspired by the talent and energy of the other organizations, and appreciate the funders’ vision and their long term commitment to BIPOC-led arts organizations. Arts grants are mostly project-based so it’s hard for organizations like 3rd EyE to plan for the future because we’re always bouncing from project to project to keep the funding. This initiative allows us to take a step back so we can truly nourish our visions and bring them to fruition.” 

Representing a range of ethnic and racial communities, geographies, art disciplines, and organizational characteristics, the 15 organizations participating in the Powering Cultural Futures initiative are:

For more information about the Powering Cultural Futures initiative, visit

About 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment 

3rd EyE, founded in 1998 by three young New Bedford residents, utilizes the positive elements of hip-hop culture to empower young people, particularly those at-risk, marginalized and from communities of color, so they can help transform their community and forge solutions to problems like socioeconomic and racial inequality. 3rd EyE offers imaginative alternatives for youth often ignored by planners and public officials, so they have a voice in shaping the future of their city and region. Our artistic and leadership training allow young people to express themselves and develop creative potential. Our public events contribute to the rich cultural fabric of the region. Our programs are developed and managed by a Leadership Team that is majority BIPOC, including young adults who are alumni of 3rd EyE programs they attended in their childhood and teens. 

About the Barr Foundation: 

The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets in excess of $3 billion, and has contributed more than $1 billion to charitable causes. For more information, visit or follow @BarrFdn.

About the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts: 

Founded in 1991, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts seeks to enrich the quality of life for the people of our region and champion community philanthropy. With assets totaling $200 million, the Community Foundation is an anchor organization for the three counties bordering the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties) and serves as a resource, catalyst, and coordinator for charitable activities. To learn more, visit:

3rd EyE Youth Empowerment Media Contact

Keri Cox
Board President
[email protected]

Barr Foundation Media Contact:

Mary Chalifour
Acting Director of Communications
[email protected]

Community Foundation or Western Massachusetts Media Contact:

Emma Mesa-Melendez
Director of Communications
[email protected]

About the Powering Cultural Futures Initiative:

Powering Cultural Futures is a six-year initiative that celebrates and supports arts of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities across Massachusetts. The initiative serves 15 organizations that play crucial roles as art producers and presenters, cultural hubs, training grounds for new artists, and more. They are treasures in their communities, with trusted leaders who embrace arts to speak powerfully about the experiences, struggles, triumphs, and dreams of community members. Each organization will, over the course of this capacity-building initiative, pursue a scale of operations that fits its aspirations and reflects the needs, hopes, and assets of its community. These cohort members will also contribute, along with Barr and our partner foundations, to bolstering the ecosystem of arts providers and donors that is vital to BIPOC arts flourishing throughout the state. For more information about the Powering Cultural Futures initiative, visit:

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