Better Together Grants

The Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative (LBPI), a community-advised committee of Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF), has announced the recipients of the Better Together Grants. Thanks to pooled funding from LBPI, Walton Family Foundation and BGCF, grants totaling $150,000 will support 10 organizations with innovative projects working to advance racial equity in Lexington.

“LBPI and its Better Together Grants are just one way the Community Foundation is continuing the critical work to create a more inclusive, welcoming and equitable community,” said Lisa Adkins, president/CEO of BGCF. “We’re excited about the diverse and compelling ideas that will be funded.”

The Better Together Grants support important work by a variety of local nonprofits across a range of industries and focuses, including arts, civic engagement, construction, cultural inclusivity, education, equine and technology. Grants were awarded to the following organizations and innovative programs:

$50,000 Grant Recipients

The Ed Brown Society

About: The Ed Brown Society celebrates the rich history of African Americans in the equine industry and creates opportunities for young people of color to gain industry exposure, training and experience. The organization is named for Edward Dudley Brown, who was born enslaved in 1850 and later apprenticed under Ansel Williamson, the African American trainer of the first winner of the Kentucky Derby, Aristides. Brown rose to become a Belmont Stakes-winning jockey, a Kentucky Derby-winning horse trainer, and an owner of several of the top racehorses during the last decade of the 19th century, earning him induction into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.

Better Together Grant Project: The Ed Brown Society received funding to remove barriers for students of color pursuing a career in the equine industry. The grant will help the Ed Brown Society provide academic scholarships and other much-needed support to assist students in obtaining higher education and internships.

“We thank the Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, Blue Grass Community Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation for this transformational support. The highest level of commitment any entity can show to the work of the Ed Brown Society is to become an Ed Brown Partner. Therefore, today is a tremendous milestone because this Better Together Grant reaches the level of an Ed Brown Partnership. This means so much because we now have an Ed Brown Partner, right here at home – in the Horse Capital of the World.”     

Greg Harbut, co-founder of the Ed Brown Society

Uniting Voices: Lexington Children’s Choir [a program of Chicago Children’s Choir]

About: Founded in 1956 as a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement, Chicago Children’s Choir is rooted in the belief that music is a vehicle for fostering empathy and respect between young people of all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations. Since its founding, CCC has grown from a single choir into a vast network of school and after-school programs that serve thousands of students every year.

Better Together Grant Project: The Uniting Voices: Lexington Children’s Choir’s grant will help develop a new local choir in Lexington under music educator Dr. Michael Preacely to unite youth across geographic, racial and identity borders through culturally responsive music education and performance.

“When you lift your voice in song together with another person, it’s an undeniable reminder that we are already united in our spirits – we need our minds to follow. This Better Together Grant lays a strong foundation for the bridge we will build together, and I look forward to the future when we will stand hand in hand uniting the voices of Lexington.”

Dr. Michael Preacely

$10,000 Grant Recipients

Fayette Education Foundation

About: The Fayette Education Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Fayette County Public Schools, supporting the school district’s commitment to equitable access to opportunities and resources for all students, fulfilling unmet educational needs and removing barriers to opportunity.

Better Together Grant Project: The Fayette Education Foundation received funding for the Teachers for Tomorrow program – a pipeline for equitable access to an effective and diverse educator workforce. Although more than half of the student population is non-white, the vast majority of teachers in the Fayette County Public School system are white. Studies show a race match between educators and students has a positive effect on education outcomes, such as lower detention/suspension occurrences, and greater standardized test scores, graduation rates and matriculation to higher education. This grant will help recruit minority rising educators from local high schools.

University of Kentucky Research Foundation / Turner-UK Construction Diversity Accelerator Program

About: The University of Kentucky Research Foundation (UKRF) was established in 1945 to receive, invest, and expend funds to promote and implement scientific, education and developmental activities at UK. UKRF serves as the university’s agent in the receipt of all external grants and contracts, manages special cooperative agreements, and more.

Better Together Grant Project: The University of Kentucky Research Foundation’s grant will fund the Turner-UK Construction Diversity Accelerator program to help minority-owned, women-owned and other underrepresented businesses gain access to tools, resources and opportunities to be competitive in the construction industry. The CDA program, a partnership between Turner Construction and the University of Kentucky, provides 10 weeks of critical construction-related programming to participating businesses.

$5,000 Grant Recipients

American Spiritual Ensemble

About: The American Spiritual Ensemble preserves and continues the tradition of storytelling through the performance and preservation of the American negro spiritual. Performing these spirituals serves as a tribute to enslaved people who were not permitted to speak their native languages or sing their traditional songs. As they incorporated some of their culture into their lives, spirituals were born, becoming sources of comfort, hope and communication.

Better Together Grant Project: American Spiritual Ensemble received a grant to fund the Singing in the Spirit: ASE Vocal Camp, an experiential camp for children, adolescents and adults to foster a community of talent interested in the performance, preservation and understanding of the American Negro Spiritual.

Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning

About: The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning is a community center devoted to helping everyone improve their quality of life through education and expression. It offers free or low-cost classes in writing, publishing, and languages; tutoring for students grades K-12; vibrant youth and family programs and exhibits; readings from established authors and local literary icons; and other arts-related events designed to encourage among Central Kentuckians an appreciation for learning and the arts.

Better Together Grant Project: Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning’s grant supports the Kentucky Black Writers & Readers Reclamation Project that will celebrate Black Kentucky authors with a featured bookcase at the Carnegie Center, a launch event, and free books for the community. The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning is housed in the former Lexington Public Library building, which was once a segregated facility. The Kentucky Black Writers & Readers Reclamation Project will lift up and celebrate members of our community who, at one time, would not have been permitted in this space.


About: CivicLex is a nonprofit civic education organization building civic health through education, media and relationship building to empower all Lexington residents to meaningfully participate in the decisions that shape where they live.

Better Together Grant Project: CivicLex received a grant to produce a series of workshops and a report for the public related to how past and current local government policies have created inequitable community outcomes related to parks, greenspace and transportation. By informing Lexington residents about the inequitable previous outcomes, CivicLex hopes to shape future public policies that intentionally create inviting and equitable parks, greenspace and transportation in all areas of Lexington.

Lexington Public Library Foundation

About: The Lexington Public Library Foundation funds innovation within its public library system by improving existing programs and adding new services, programs, facilities and technology. 

Better Together Grant Project: Lexington Public Library Foundation’s grant will facilitate free training for individuals to learn Google/Android app development through the Library’s new partnership with Google.

Living Arts & Science Center

About: The Living Arts & Science Center inspires participation in art and science by engaging the community through education, discovery, exploration and creativity, and providing hands-on and interactive instruction directly from professional educators and active artists and scientists.

Better Together Grant Project: TheLiving Arts & Science Center received funding to host a series of programs that highlight the African American history of its neighborhood – the historic East End. The Living Arts & Science Center is located in the house built in 1847 by George B. Kinkead, a noted abolitionist. Following the Civil War, Kinkead developed a neighborhood for freed African Americans on land he acquired adjacent to the Kinkead House. This area came to be known as Kinkeadtown, and at one time housed as many as 300 residents. The programming will include a ten-week educational series at Lexington Traditional Magnet School.

Marafiki Center

About: As Swahili is the third-most spoken language in Lexington, the Marafiki Center was founded to generate cultural exchanges between Lexington residents and the fast-growing Swahili-speaking community. It offers opportunities for Lexington residents to learn about the diverse African community, and for the African community to learn more about American culture. It also works to maintain the African culture, helping kids to remember their Swahili language, cultural traditions and values.

Better Together Grant Project: The Marafiki Center received funding to support Swahili Day, an inclusive community event to create cross-cultural interactions between the African immigrant community and its Lexington neighbors.