Once upon a time there was a funder. This funder had been working for almost a decade to strengthen local community efforts to improve early childhood development opportunities and outcomes around the state. The communities appreciated and were grateful for this support, and the number of community collaboratives grew.
At the same time, in the face of persistent and racialized inequities, recognition was growing that something more was needed to hold these local efforts together, to harness and connect them, and to align state-level efforts with community needs and aspirations. So a call went out from the various communities to the funder to help do something about this. The funder responded, cautiously, and engaged in “listening” sessions with communities and advocates. And it reached out to some potential resources, including IISC, to explore what might be done. Read More
This post comes courtesy of staff from the Center for Arab American Philanthropy who attended the convening in Michigan that Cynthia and I facilitated last week. As the post mentions, youth played a key role in the proceedings, offering up moving testimonials and powerful elements of a vision for moving the state forward to a place of opportunity for all . . .
Funders for LGBTQ Issues (an affinity group of foundations who fund LGBTQ issues) started a Racial Equity Initiative a few years ago, under the leadership of Karen Zelermyer and with the creative and smart expertise of Robert Espinoza. The initiative was started to improve the ways that LGBTQ grantmakers incorporate a racial equity lens into their internal processes and grantmaking. Rather than taking a single approach, they used a multi-faceted approach (which seems to be what’s necessary to REALLY change an organization’s direction), choosing to create a broader context for the work. The initiative started with an assessment of foundations supporting LGBTQ issues, looking at internal operations and seeing whether they were applying a racial justice lens to their grantmaking (the 2008 Report Card on Racial Equity). Funders then launched a grantmaking initiative – raising $1,000,000 to match with funding at eight queer community foundations to identify and support local people of color organizations (which sometimes required learning and shifting of strategies for some foundations distributing funds). And they convened a very successful Racial Equity Retreat of LGBTQ funders.
Earlier this week, I had the great fortune of hearing Rinku Sen (Applied Research Center), Ellen Gurzinsky (Funders for LGBTQ Issues) and Lori Villarosa (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity) present on “Catalyzing Change and Deepening Racial Justice Impacts” at the Neighborhood Funders Group Annual Conference in New Orleans. It was an exciting session in which they talked about the current racial context in the US and ideas about how grantmaking can be done with a racial justice lens – including real stories about work some specific foundations and groups of foundations are doing. I’ll likely be sharing more over my next few blog posts about grantmaking with a racial justice lens, but wanted to start with some reflections about group processes that came up for me based on their presentation.
As a non-funder, I was listening with an ear toward things that might be applicable to group process as well. Rinku talked about the difference between using a diversity approach and using a racial equity approach to grantmaking, which started me thinking about the difference between these two approaches in stakeholder analyses of multi-stakeholder processes. A diversity approach, as she described it, would be one in which what matters is what the group of people assembled “looks” like – if there are representatives from all the groups affected, etc. – while a racial equity approach might lead one to assemble an entirely different group.