Ford Foundation Donates $500,000 to Emanuel Nine Memorial

Grant will fund social justice initiatives to help eradicate racism

CHARLESTON, S.C. May 5, 2021 – The Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation Board, which manages the fundraising, construction endowment and outreach for the Emanuel Nine Memorial, announced the Ford Foundation has donated $500,000 to the Emanuel Nine Memorial. The funding will help the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation build social justice programs and initiatives to help eradicate racism. 


The Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation’s outreach programs will focus on the implementation of anti-racism and racial equity curriculum for adults, school children, colleges and universities; resources to educate and help bridge inequities in our communities; guidance to help advocate for equality and justice; and training to help promote peaceful reconciliation with our neighborhoods. 

As a part of its outreach programming, the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation announced additional plans to introduce its Luminary program, which designates supporters of the Emanuel Nine Memorial who will spread its mission through the advocacy of racial healing to various spheres of influence. 

“The Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation is extremely grateful for the Ford Foundation and looks forward to growing our partnership by working together to develop social justice programs to help build a more inclusive and equitable society,” said Reverend Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church and co-chair of the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation.

“This generous grant from the Ford Foundation highlights the organization’s unparalleled support of programs bringing about social justice,” said John Darby, CEO of the Beach Company and co-chair of the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation. “We are looking forward to working closely with the foundation to improve communities across the country for all Americans, starting right here in South Carolina.”

The social justice initiatives will launch in 2021 and the Emanuel Nine Memorial, the permanent memorial honoring the five clergy and four church members murdered at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, will open in mid- to late 2022.

“We are proud to support the Emanuel Nine Memorial and pay tribute to the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church members and Charleston community,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “The Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation is building an enduring legacy of hope, justice and resilience and we look forward to seeing how their work transforms our society in the years to come.”

The design process, led by Michael Arad who previously designed the National September 11 Memorial, began by reframing the church grounds to create this sacred space. The memorial will have three components: The Memorial Courtyard, The Survivors’ Garden and Contemplation Basin. 

With a fundraising goal of $17.5 million to design, build, maintain and protect the Emanuel Nine Memorial, as well as fund educational outreach and social justice initiatives, the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation relies on individual and corporate contributions that can be made online by visiting:  


About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

About the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation Board

The Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation Board was established as an independent 501(c)(3) organization to support the mission of the Emanuel Nine Memorial. The Board manages the fundraising, construction, endowment and outreach for the memorial.  

About Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church

The roots of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church run deep in Charleston and its history is one of perseverance in the face of racial hostility. The church is affectionately called Mother Emanuel because it is the oldest AME church south of Baltimore. Founder Morris Brown first opened the church’s doors in 1818, but the church burned to the ground a few years later after plans for a slave revolt were exposed. In 1834, a state law making it illegal for Blacks to assemble in places of worship was passed in South Carolina. Following the Civil War, the church bought the site of the existing structure and named it Emanuel, meaning “God with us.” The church was rebuilt, continued its push for equal rights and welcomed distinguished leaders such as Booker T. Washington and civil rights titan Martin Luther King Jr. Today, Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church is an established institution in Charleston. With seating for 1,200, it has the largest capacity of any African American church in the city. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.  

Emanuel Nine Memorial Media Contact:

Lou Hammond Group

Kelsey Donnelly 


Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation Contact: 

Kimberlyn Davis, Executive Director