N.Y.C. Social Justice Organizations Merge

New York City-based racial justice and social inclusion organizations Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), have merged. The new organization will be known simply as Race Forward and will seek to both combine the impacts of each individual organization while utilizing what each has done best to fill existing gaps, according to Glenn Harris, president.

“We find ourselves in a historic moment where we see an assault on communities of color and a rollback of civil rights that we haven’t seen since at least the 1960s,” said Harris, who previously served as president of CSI.

Both organizations have operated nationally — focusing predominantly in minority communities — working toward racial justice with local government entities, philanthropic centers, and national intermediaries. Race Forward had previously worked with about 15,000 individuals per year through workshops and technical assistance while CSI assisted more than10,000 individuals annually. CSI also worked with 50 formal members on a government alliance on race and equality, with another 150 jurisdictions participating. Race Forward’s publication, Colorlines, receives approximately 4.5 million online hits annually, according to Harris.

In addition to maintaining and consolidating each entities’ current reach, the intent is for Race Forward to combine what each organization has done best. For Race Forward, that has been communications and research, Harris said, while CSI has operated successfully in policy work – tracking how factors such as transportation, environment, and health affect minority communities.

“Our thinking about the merger was really just not about scale, but how we could better leverage those things…really getting to how we get to a pluralistic democracy,” Harris said.

Discussions about merging the two organizations began about a year and a half ago, according to Harris, when Rinku Sen, former president and CEO of Race Forward and long-time on-and-off colleague of Harris, made it known that she was interested in transitioning in her career. Sen will serve as senior advisor at the new organization after 11 years at the helm.

CSI will initially function as a subsidiary under Race Forward until the two organizations and their assets are formally consolidated in the coming months. Race Forward reported revenue of $5.1 million and assets of $4.6 million in its 2015 Form 990. CSI disclosed revenue of $3.7 million and assets of $2.8 million for the same fiscal year.

Race Forward brings with it more than 30 employees while CSI has employed more than 20 individuals — bringing the total of the new organization to about 60 staff. There are no intentions for a staff reduction, according to Harris. The two organizations have operated in offices about three blocks away from one another in Lower Manhattan. The offices will be “blended” in the short term until a new office space is identified.

In addition to formal consolidation and a new office space, the coming months will be spent focusing on the internal culture and external programmatic work of the two organizations, Harris said. The intent will be to follow with a three-year plan on how the new organization will proceed in its racial justice work.

This story has been updated to reflect provided information that has been corrected.