Nike Founder Phil Knight Pledges $400 Million To Invest Into The Culture

By Gary J. Nix

  • Philip & Penny Knight have pledged $400M to help rebuild Portland’s Black Community
  • Former Chief Investment Officer at Meyer Memorial Trust, Rukaiyah Adams will head the 1803 Fund started with the Knights’ monetary investment

The Nike (NKE +0.43%) brand and Black culture are interlinked in a way desired by but not seen by most companies trying to leverage the community for monetary gain. While the relationship between our community and the Swoosh is far from perfect, Nike co-founder Philip Knight and his wife Penny are putting their money where their mouths have been via a $400 million investment in the 1803 Fund to help rebuild Black Portland. 

Why This Matters: Although the population density of the Black community in Portland is recorded as 5.6%, we continually see proof regarding how this community’s influence creates billions upon billions of dollars in revenue. Thus, a decision to invest in, rather than leverage a community’s work and creativity is a smart one. 

Furthermore, as stated on the 1803 Fund’s website, Black people have always been central to American economic success, but have rarely had access to the benefits and advantages that enable wealth creation. This statement is not only true for Portland, Oregon, this truism can and should be applied globally with ease. If we couple this with the parallels of all the once thriving Black communities across the United States razed in the name of “development,” and gentrification, restoration and renewal of these areas is an absolute necessity.

Situational Awareness/What’s Next: As of now, the details of how the $400 million founding investment will be used or distributed is unclear. However, the CEO of the 1803 Fund, Raukiyah Adams, sees this as the beginning of something even bigger. Adams aims for this fund to grow to between $850 million and $1 billion as “this kind of wealth brings up an authority and a permanence that we’ve never had.”

The size of this pledge and the unfulfilled promises we’ve seen in the recent past are sure to shine a significant spotlight on this particular project. And while cautious optimism is born from not seeing how large amounts of money necessarily erase the historical events that contribute to the need to reinvest and rebuild, if this program is successful, it can serve as both a precedent and a template for how to fix some of the wrongs Black people have experienced over time.

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