204 posts categorized "African Americans"

A Conversation With La June Montgomery Tabron, President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Philanthropy and Racial Healing

July 16, 2018

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was one of the first large foundations in the U.S. to apply a racial equity lens to its grantmaking, beginning in the mid-1960s with its investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, continuing in the 1990s with initiatives aimed at narrowing the digital divide in poor and rural communities, and more recently under the banner of America Healing, a five-year, $75 million initiative launched in 2010 to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families through the promotion of racial healing and the elimination of barriers to economic opportunities.

In recent years, the foundation has moved to amplify its racial equity and reconciliation work through its Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (THRT) framework, a national and place-based process launched in 2016 to bring about transformational and sustainable change and address the historic and contemporary effects and consequences of racism.

Recently, PND spoke with Tabron, who became president and CEO of the foundation in January 2014 after serving in numerous leadership positions there over twenty-six years, about the foundation’s TRHT work, the importance of emerging leadership in such work, and what institutional philanthropy can do to advance those efforts.

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Philanthropy News Digest: The Kellogg Foundation launched its Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) effort in 2016. Are you pleased with the results of the effort to date?

La June Montgomery Tabron: As you know, the Kellogg Foundation has been working in this space strategically for several decades. Roughly a decade of that work was done under the banner of America Healing, which was an initiative aimed at addressing what we believed was a lack of connection and of mutual understanding in American society. The goal of America Healing was to foster a different level of awareness of how relationships are built by sharing stories and enabling people to come together in their common humanity. And what we learned is that, yes, we need to encourage people to build these relationships and share these stories, but at the same time the real levers for change are at the local, grassroots level, and that by embedding this kind of work in communities, it truly can be transformative.

That realization led directly to the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort, which took what we learned from America Healing and our knowledge that relationships were at the root of this kind of work and placed it squarely in a local context. Racial healing has to be rooted in relationship building and common experience, and so TRHT brings together people who live in the same community to think about how they can create a better, more equitable community together.

To your question of where we are to date, I think it is moving in exactly that direction, of making change happen locally. We have fourteen places in the United States working in this space. They all are creating their own plans. And no plan looks alike, which is exactly what we expected. But those plans all are characterized by the richness of diversity that comes from being place-specific, from different sectors coming together to work on a common problem, from identifying a starting point and coming up with real, practical solutions for how transformation can be achieved. We are very pleased with the work to date and the fact that it's taking place at the ground level, which is where the Kellogg Foundation is most comfortable.

PND: Would you say the country is more divided or less divided on issues of race today than when you launched TRHT?

LMT: I'm not sure we know. We see and hear the divisive discourse in the media. We look at polls, but polling data can be informed by the divisive discourse we all are exposed to. What I see and hear is a weariness in people with respect to the division in the country. Personally, I don't believe we know whether things are better or worse, because back when we launched our Truth, Racial Heal­ing & Transformation work the conversation was different, and it's hard to compare conversations that are rooted in different circumstances.

However, I can say that when we bring people together in communities and there's a space made for authentic dialogue, which is the basis of our TRHT work, people are willing to be open with each other. Even if they don't start there, that's where they end up. There's a positivity that emerges when a group of people decides to leave the divisive rhetoric behind and engages in a very local and often personal conversation. No one wants to live in a community where the police are seen to be racially biased. No one wants to live in a community where the public schools are failing, and kids are being denied the opportunity to achieve. No one wants to live in a community where a few people have a lot and most people don’t have enough. Most people see those kinds of communities as the exception, the anomaly, and they're eager to make sure their community isn't one of them. That's the kind of thoughtfulness and commitment we are trying to leverage as we engage with community leaders and ask them to be more forward-looking and equitable.

PND: Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing number of foundations — large and small, local and national — adopt a racial equity lens in their work. Do you see that development as a vindication of TRHT?

LMT: First, I'm very pleased to see that this conversation is becoming more widespread and is being acknowledged as the norm. There was a time when Americans didn't want to speak about race, and the fact that race-focused conversations are more common today and we have a shared vocabulary that we can use to discuss these issues is something we at the foundation are pleased about. That change required leadership, and I think we were willing, and our board was willing, to step into that leadership space and name, squarely and forthrightly, what was happening in our country and the impact it was having on our children.

And, of course, we want the transformative part of the work to be embraced and funded by others. This cannot be the work of one foundation; this has to be the work of a nation. The way we have approached this work has always been to be fully inclusive and collaborative. It was always our goal that this would extend well beyond the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Indeed, we believe it should extend far beyond the United States of America; this is a global issue.

PND: One of the key components of TRHT is its focus on emerging leaders. Does the Kellogg Foundation have a working definition of emerging leadership? And why is emerging leadership so important in the context of racial equity?

LMT: We do believe emerging leadership is important, extremely important. The Kellogg Foundation was created because its founder believed that people are the most important ingredient in the change equation. And at the end of the day, people not only make change, they sustain change. Leadership is critical to creating the kind of community you want, and to sustaining that community. As we think about our work, everything we do is fundamentally built on supporting leaders, their aspirations, and making them the agents of the kind of change they want to see.

Your readers may not know this, but our leadership programs date back to the founding of the institution. And in all our leadership programs, we address the issue of equity and racial equity as a fundamental aspect of effective leadership. Regardless of the level at which they are working, leaders have to understand this context as they are working. Our new leadership program, the WKKF Community Leadership Network, isn't separate from our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work; it's connected, as is all our work. So, as we are working to build and sustain racially equitable communities, our leadership program is focused on collaboration, networking, and how you make and sustain local change. That work is critical.

PND: When we spoke with you in 2014, you told us that the fact that women had been tapped to lead several major foundations wasn't necessarily proof that gender equality in the sector had been achieved. I think you analogized the development to the election of Barack Obama as president, referring to both as "transactions," albeit positive ones, in a long process toward racial and gender equality. In your view, are we making progress as a country in terms of full equality for women and people of color?

LMT: My fundamental sentiment hasn't changed. I still believe that we've had transactions, both good and bad. When you look at the data, you still see disparities in earnings for women: white women earn 82 percent of what their male counterparts earn, while African-American women earn 63 percent. Clearly, we still have work to do in this space.

What we at the Kellogg Foundation would hope to see is a more systemic approach to these issues, one that goes beyond transactions. That's how we think about all our work. Things happen, but it will take a systemic approach at the national level to transform those transactions into everyday practice.

We're not there yet. We are making progress. There have been policy shifts in that direction, but we can't claim victory, and it would be naïve to do so. What we can do is continue to be a good partner and highlight the evidence and best practices that come out of our work, share them more broadly with others and support them as they work to advance systemic, sustainable change that impacts everyone.

PND: Do you think foundations, and the sector more generally, are doing enough to support not only organizations working in communities of color, but also organizations led by people of color? And do you have any specific recommendations for donors and funders who are thinking about doing more in this area?

LMT: We can all do more. It's very important for us, as we partner with a community, to get to the level where we understand the dynamic of who these organizations are and what the community mapping looks like. I encourage all funders to increase their level of awareness of the landscapes in which they are playing as they enter a new field or geography. What I find too often, however, is that when you try to do that, the data you need isn't always available. One of the things we've been thinking about as we examine our community leadership network, as well as our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work, is how we can help communities build and collect that type of information so that it’s readily available to funders who want to understand the players in the community, how they connect, and what the larger ecosystem looks like. But again, the best thing we can do as funders is be more informed as we enter these spaces.

PND: Is there an organization in particular that should be filling this role? Or is it something for a coalition of funders and nonprofits to do together?

LMT: That's a good question. I think it could be an entity that already has a role in the space that is willing to take on the larger ecosystem. But it should be a part of the first conversations that any coalition has as it starts to come together. One of the first things we think about is the landscape. Again, it's only one way, even though we hope every com­munity across the nation conducts such an analysis. As you know, we've produced a Business Case for Racial Equity nation­ally, as well as in Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico, and New Orleans. And if you look at those reports, it's both a compelling way of thinking about landscape and a tool that any community could use to quantify its own growth potential if it were to make everyone in the community a productive citizen and full participant in the life of the community.

PND: If I'm not mistaken, the figure you came up with for the U.S. economy is $8 trillion.

LMT: Yes, $8 trillion by 2050, and for our home state of Michigan the figure was $92 billion. I was recently on Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference, which brings together business leaders and policy makers from the state, and our business case was distributed to and discussed by conference attendees. What was so interesting was that the findings were juxtaposed with another con­versation about how commun­ities and municipalities are woefully underfunded. It was a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate that there's money being left on the table as we all think about how to grow and strengthen communities and municipalities and families.

The real value of these reports is in connecting dots that people don't normally connect. If you're an elected official in a municipality and your only concern is to complain to the state about the inade­quate flow of resources to your city, maybe these reports will help you see that there are things you yourself can do to transform your city and bring more people into the workforce, grow your tax base, and create opportunity where maybe those things were lacking.

PND: It sounds ambitious. Where does it start?

LMT: We started nationally, and now we're doing it state by state. Our theory of change is that it is a very useful document if you're a policy maker looking for wins in your community. It's an important document for businesses as well, in that business leaders are always thinking about ways they can grow their business. At the Mackinac conference, we had several conversations with business leaders who were thinking about their workforce needs, and how critical it is at this moment to create a pipeline of skilled workers who will are able to do the jobs that need to be done. But, of course, we can't talk about the workforce of the future without talking about biases, including racial bias, however unconscious it might be.

That said, we've seen a great deal of interest in the reports on the part of business leaders. In fact, later today I'm meeting with a repre­sentative of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is considering sharing the national report with every chamber chapter, because they see the potential from a business strategy perspective, just as we see it from a human and equity perspective.

At the end of the day, we believe a multi-sectoral approach is needed to address these issues, which are public issues, they're busi­ness-economic issues, they're faith-based issues. And so, we're working to forge coalitions and share with them our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation message. And we hope other places will look at our report as a tool as they begin to think about the changes they want to make in their com­munities. Creating productive human capital is something we should all be for.

PND: Can you imagine a future in which the Kellogg Foundation no longer will feel the need to apply a racial equity lens to its work?

LMT: I don't know. Racial equity isn't something we do because it's a nice thing to do. It's the core issue out of which everything else we do flows. Whether it's growing the economy, improving the education system, having a healthier nation — racial equity is at the core of the transformation that needs to happen in all those areas. In that respect, we will continue to work to connect the dots and bring people together.

Your question reminds me of a moment I had when we were opening two museums in Mississippi. Myrlie Evers, Medgar Evers' wife, came up to me and said, "I've gone through days of feeling great, and sometimes health challenged, but through all of this, I've never felt more hopeful that my husband's life and death has not been in vain. I see what you are doing at the Kellogg Foundation, and it gives me hope that we are continuing to make the progress we need to make as a country."

And you know, when I think about young people, particularly those young people in Parkland, Florida, I am hopeful. What I see from our younger generation is people who are not in denial about the issue of race. This country has spent centuries in denial, and one thing I am thankful for in this very tumultuous time is that it is no longer possible to be in denial. Our young people are living the reality and the truth of who we are as a nation, they are courageous, and they are taking these issues on. And they are moving at a much faster pace than I've seen in the past. I think we're on the threshold of a great new movement that will change the face of the nation, and it will be led by young people. So, I'm hopeful about the future and believe our young people will get this done.

Matt Sinclair

Disrupting Arts Philanthropy: Five Lessons Learned

July 10, 2018

Memphis_music_initiative_1The work of Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), which was featured in the recent study Toward the Future of Arts Philanthropy, is centered on  community empowerment through arts funding. The study explores MMI's funding and programmatic practices in the context of promoting equity and inclusive practices in arts funding, access to arts education, and youth development and offers a potential strategic framework for other capacity builders committed to equity in the arts.

The effects of race and place on access to funding and other resources are evident in what we call "philanthropic redlining" — patterns of exclusionary funding practices that all too regularly frustrate arts organizations led by people of color and hamper their efforts to serve marginalized communities. As noted in our study, public funding for the arts at the state and federal levels is down as much as 30 percent over the last decade, and the situation for black- and brown-led organizations, which are often dependent on such funding, is even more precarious. At MMI, a crucial aspect of our work is our commitment to address this issue through a proactive, and corrective, approach we call "disruptive philanthropy."

In addition to operating direct programs that provide music engagement opportunities for black and brown youth, we work to nurture and expand the arts ecosystem in Memphis by supporting community organizations working on the frontlines to increase access to music programs for youth of color. We believe that investments in black-led organizations are an investment in long-term community sustainability. We invest to build strong and efficient organizations — with a focus on communities of color — through general operating support grants as well as supports aimed at fostering sustainability and improving the quality of their programs. Our goal is to enhance the capacity of nonprofit organizations to deliver programs and secure sustainable funding and other resources beyond those provided by MMI. We are working to build a pipeline of community-based leaders dedicated to improving conditions for black and brown youth and to give black and brown leaders the space and time to fulfill their potential and achieve their goals.

In our direct programs, we take our people-centered investment to an even higher level. Our summer program, MMI Works, provides paid opportunities for high school students to work in arts nonprofits and businesses. Participating black and brown youth gain access to career training as well as professional and personal development, building the skills and the networks needed for long-term success. We also invest in the region's creative economy through our In-Schools Fellowship program, which pairs local musicians with Memphis schools and reaches more than four thousand students through instruction and mentorship.

We are a learning organization and constantly evaluate what is working well and what we can improve on. Here are five takeaways from our work that continue to inform our disruptive approach:

1. It's not about you, Philanthropy. Philanthropic work isn't about showing how smart you are; it's about empowering and liberating people. Those who seek to help must respect the community as experts in order to drive solutions that work for the world that they know best. Our work doesn't exist in a vacuum. Whether it's musicians, neighborhood leaders, youth, or teachers, we need as many voices in the room as possible if we are to represent the true needs and interests of those we aim to serve.

2. Brace yourself for difficult conversations. Be prepared to take a lot of heat when you start to talk about moving money and shifting power. It's a zero-sum game. For an organization like ours based in the racialized South, the realities of the region's past play out on a daily basis. In order to move through and past those dynamics, there has to be frank and honest recognition of the institutional practices and structures that have led to the historical neglect of black- and brown-led organizations and communities. And that requires deep thinking about the equitable practices you employ, at every level of your work.

3. "Relationships are the new grant application." This idea was inspired by a colleague and friend in equity and community-based work, Takema Robinson, principal at New Orleans-based consulting firm Converge. Thanks to Takema, MMI will be grantee report- and application-free by 2019. In an effort to rethink the kind and amount of information we need from our partners, we are transitioning from an already short application form to verbal site visit-based reporting. We have always funded, engaged, and partnered with organizations no matter where they are on the organizational development continuum. But by meeting organizations where they are and dispensing with the trappings of traditional grantmaking, we hope to make it easier for our partners to focus on their missions and efforts to engage youth of color.

4. Impatience and comfort zones are enemies of impact. Disrupting established patterns of philanthropy requires focusing on long-term results and reexamining one's relationship with the words "data" and "evaluation." The kinds of metrics funders have traditionally used to capture "impact" does not have to be the only way we measure success in this work. Just as it has taken many years for the practices that perpetuate disparities and unequal distribution of resources to become ingrained in the sector, it will take time and new tactics to change the system for the better.

5. Stop centering whiteness in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. This means shifting away from prioritizing the perspective of any group — including gender, sexual orientation, or class —that traditionally has had the upper hand in philanthropic power dynamics. MMI is led mostly by people of color, and in our work we intentionally empower other leaders of color in arts organizations to have voice. As we recognize organizations for their individual programs, we also push leaders of color to build relationships and foster partnerships that support and encourage their peers.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of what it takes to disrupt philanthropy. The elements may vary based on the community context and operating ethos of each organization. The common thread to a disruptive approach is taking whatever step it takes to "do philanthropy differently." We do not take the journey of this work for granted; we approach it with humility on a daily basis. We believe that our youth, families, and neighborhoods deserve not only different types of support, but exponentially more of our time, talent, and treasure, and our experiences continue to shape and refine our work as we endeavor to be timely and responsive in addressing the needs of the community. We hope that our work will offer some insights that can be replicated in other philanthropic initiatives aimed at spurring transformative change in communities of color.

Kiesha_davis_for_PhilanTopicKiesha Davis is director of grantmaking and capacity building at Memphis Music Initiative, where she leads a team responsible for investments to build strong and efficient organizations serving communities of color.

5 Questions for...Ruth LaToison Ifill, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Council on Foundations

July 05, 2018

Ruth LaToison Ifill was named vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Council on Foundations in May, succeeding Floyd Mills. A military spouse, LaToison Ifill previously served as the manager of national career development services for veterans and military family members for Goodwill Industries International, where she also spearheaded initiatives to improve organizational understanding of and engagement with diversity and inclusion issues internally and in program implementation.

PND spoke with LaToison Ifill about the ways in which the council is working with member foundations to promote DEI across the sector and support systems change; the importance of data and intersectionality to that work; and the impact funders can have on the racial leadership gap at nonprofits.

Headshot_Ruth_LaToison_IfillPhilanthropy News Digest: The position of vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion was created in 2016 "to advance the council's work to promote inclusiveness as a fundamental operating principle in philanthropic organizations." How has philanthropy's approach to DEI changed over the last two years? And do you feel there's a greater sense of urgency now given the current political environment?

Ruth LaToison Ifill: I think the biggest change is that there is now a very robust ecosystem of philanthropic organizations and philanthropy-serving organizations that are working to drive diversity in the field in a myriad of ways. The council, specifically, has been partnering with, but also is being held accountable by, its member organizations. Together, we are demonstrating leadership and developing a diverse talent pipeline in philanthropy through our Career Pathways program, which has already seen great success and graduated sixty-one people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs, 87 percent of whom have gone on to take senior and executive appointments at foundations. At the same time, the council's board is more diverse than it's ever been, which has led us to be more vocal and strategic in our internal efforts and in the services we deliver to our members.

We engage with over a thousand philanthropic organizations, and we are seeing incremental changes in the way our members are doing business. More and more of our members are focusing on racial equity and on the LGBTQ community in ways they were not before. So, we are seeing the sector change, but there's still much work that needs to be done, and we're collaborating with the sector and our partners to accomplish that work.

I hate to give credit to the current political environment, and I want to be fair to the previous administration, which was instrumental in raising DEI up as an issue. But the council had already been actively working to make the world a more inclusive place and highlighting the importance of respecting people regardless of which group they belong to or how they identify — and that became even more important as we saw people whom we love and care about being disparaged. We need to respond to that, of course, but our work on these issues started well before the current environment and only has become more urgent.

PND: What has the council been doing to support foundations' efforts to advance DEI in the field? And what is your number-one priority for that work over the next year or so?

RLI: It's about advancing the work and "inching" our members forward. The philanthropic sector is a big ship with a lot of moving parts and a complicated ecosystem of different types of organizations led by different kinds of people. We first need to demonstrate the cultural humility needed to do the hard work of expanding our perspective and understanding marginalized populations; there are leaders in this space who are already doing work that we can learn from. Philanthropy must be intentional about listening and learning, and that's a process that takes time. We at the council want to be a part of our members' process of learning and broadening their perspectives.

My priorities in this new role are intersectionality and data. Sometimes we can get stuck on the one issue we care about most or the one issue that gets the most attention, but I firmly believe this is not a zero-sum game. We really want people to see the importance of focusing on multiple communities and of paying attention to the data about how local communities are affected. For example, if you're a foundation and immigration is a major issue in your community, the data you are collecting about the impact of your work in that community should help you respond. Paying attention to the data specific to each community is how we want foundations to approach this work: to look at the focus on their giving, the composition of their boards, their staff, and then determine when and where they need to make changes in order to more closely align their work with their mission.

PND: While at Goodwill Industries, you oversaw the organization's efforts to develop a culture of learning and diversity. What were the greatest challenges you encountered in that work? And are there lessons you learned there that you feel apply to the work you'll be doing for the council?

RLI: I learned at Goodwill that it's all about data. Any DEI professional will tell you that "diversity, equity, and inclusion" has to be a part of the effectiveness of every team, program, or service. Data is what helps to keep you relevant, innovative, and morally responsible. By focusing on impact data — not just the number of people served but how their lives were improved — you can help make the best case for DEI. If you're in the diversity space and trying to effect change, gathering, analyzing, and using data to outline your next steps is critical. That's true for any type of foundation, whether it's a community foundation, a large family or private foundation, or a large corporate giving program.

Goodwill has a data analytics initiative that's going to be integrated from retail all the way to mission services and workforce development. Paying attention to data that shows who you serve and how equitably marginalized communities are served — that's what helps steer the ship in a more holistic and intersectional direction. Most people, innately, want to do good, but without impact data you don't know how or where you need to make changes to do good in a meaningful way. And data helps you tell the story. You can say you're committed to diversity and inclusivity, but if you don't have data from your board and HR team, if you don't have data on recruiting and on the kinds of organizations you're giving money to, and on the populations those grantees are serving, and how equitably or inequitably they are receiving services, you're going to find it hard to make change.

At the council, the Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey looks at a lot of data, particularly at the CEO level, and last year we parsed out some of that data in our diversity report, State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector. One of the things we'll be working on is how to take this analysis to the next level: how do we get more information from the sector, to make informed and meaningful impact for populations that have been historically marginalized in our sector?

PND: Are there specific aspects of DEI work that foundations should be paying more attention to?

RLI: I think one blind spot is intersectionality. As I said, this is not a zero-sum game. We can't stop paying attention to people because we want to talk about issues. When foundations look closely at their impact data, they'll find that their passion for people and communities requires them to recognize that certain populations are more negatively affected than others by many of the problems philanthropy is trying to solve. You can't try to improve a local community's access to food and water without intersectionality. You can't say you care about dismantling systems that perpetuate poverty and then ignore the fact that communities of color often are displaced to areas without access to healthy food or cultural amenities or decent public transportation. Issues like poverty, food access, and race are inextricably linked. In the same vein, if you want to improve the overall mental health of youth in America, you can't ignore research that shows which populations are the most affected; you have to talk about LGBTQ youth, who are more prone to commit suicide at unacceptably higher rates. If certain populations are disproportionately impacted by an issue philanthropy is responding to, philanthropy has to care about intersectionality; you have to target your efforts to those populations.

PND: For the most part, private foundations are created by people deeply embedded in and rewarded by existing economic and power arrangements. Does that fact complicate their ability to address structural racism and drive real systems change in society?

RLI: It certainly has the potential to influence the lenses that donors and philanthropic leaders apply to their work, but there are organizations like the Meyer and W.K. Kellogg foundations that are taking the lead in this area. It's the responsibility of each philanthropic organization to think carefully about how their funding model addresses structural racism, and it's our responsibility at the council to pay attention and respond. There are people committed to holding organizations accountable around the impact their dollars can and should be making in communities, and some of the work we're doing with our Inclusive Economic Prosperity events reflects that. It's not lost on those of us at the council, or our partners, or the attendees at our Inclusive Economic Prosperity events, how racial and economic disparities are inextricably connected. We have to start somewhere, though, so the council will continue the work to hold people accountable, and we'll do what we can to ensure that racial equity is highlighted as we work to address economic issues, with the ultimate goal of creating more equity as we create more opportunities for wealth.

Given the wealth that foundations control and the prosperity that many philanthropic leaders have been afforded, foundations must pay attention to the way their grantmaking affects racial and economic inequities. The Building Movement Project's Race to Lead report series about the racial leadership gap in the nonprofit sector talks about how philanthropy, through grantmaking, affects how nonprofits select their leaders and board members: patterns of how they give and to whom they give affect the diversity of the leadership in the sector. Which is why private foundations, corporate foundations, and community foundations all have a responsibility to pay attention to how their actions affect existing power dynamics.

— Kyoko Uchida

CBMA Turns 10: A Decade of Daring Work for Black Male Achievement

June 26, 2018

Campaign_for_black_male_achievementThis month, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) marks ten years of progress: catalyzing more than $200 million in investment in black male achievement while building a national movement to eliminate barriers to the success of African-American men and boys.

From the beginning, we committed to building beloved communities across America where black men and boys are healthy, thriving, and empowered to achieve their fullest potential — that is our core mission and rallying cry.

Leaders in philanthropy, government, and business were not always as focused on mobilizing the necessary investment to ensure that black men and boys — and boys and men of color more broadly — were recognized as assets to our communities and country. That's why in 2008, at the Open Society Foundations, we launched CBMA in response to the growing need we saw in cities and communities across the nation where outcomes for black men and boys lagged far behind those of their white counterparts in all areas, including education, health, safety, jobs, and criminal justice involvement.

Over the last decade, together with our partners, we have catalyzed multiple national initiatives, including the Executives' Alliance for Boys and Young Men of Color, the BMe Community, and Cities United. We played an instrumental role in helping former President Barack Obama launch My Brother's Keeper, an initiative developed in the wake of his speech in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder trial of Trayvon Martin — asking ourselves, "How should philanthropy respond to Obama's speech on black men and boys?"

CBMA was spun off from OSF as an independent entity in 2015, and today our work resides at the intersection of movement and field building, bolstered by a membership network of more than five thousand leaders and three thousand organizational partners. Our network includes inspired individuals like Robert Holmes, who directs the Chicago Aviation Career Education Academy at the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. In partnering with CBMA, Holmes has widened the reach of his efforts to create an educational pathway for young black men interested in becoming pilots, helping diversify a critical industry that has little to no black male representation.

We have mobilized investments in education at the local level to help city leaders alter the conditions in which our young people grow up and set them on a path to better futures. In 2010, we seeded the launch of the nation's first African American Male Achievement initiative in the Oakland Unified School District, with the goal of creating the systems, structures, and spaces needed to ensure success for all African-American male students. Similar initiatives have since been launched in Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia.

We are also implementing a High School Excellence framework in Detroit and spreading those best practices across our network to cities such as Oakland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Baltimore.

Another important aspect of our work is changing media portrayals of and narratives around African-American men and boys. We know that the way black men and boys are viewed by the broader public shapes how they see themselves, and we want them to see what we see: talent and potential. In an effort to affirm accurate portrayals of black men and boys in the mainstream media, we launched a series of events under the name Black Male Reimagined to "acknowledge, explore, and celebrate the lived realities, hopes, dreams and challenges" of young black males.

We also have worked to build a sustained movement to champion black men and boys through leadership development and capacity building. The "Rumble Young Man, Rumble" event launched by CBMA in Louisville in 2011is today the preeminent gathering of leaders from across the country working on behalf of black men and boys.

All this has been made possible by philanthropic partners who have invested in black men and boys and bolstered the movement for black male achievement. They include the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the California Endowment, and the Casey Family Programs, to name a few.

And yet, as far as we have come, I am intentional in saying that we are acknowledging our accomplishments over the these ten years, as opposed to celebrating them. We cannot embrace a celebratory mindset when we consider the paradox of promise and peril still facing America's black men and boys — on the one hand, a groundswell of activity and investments in support of black male achievement; on the other, continued racism, concentrated poverty, police violence, and systemic injustice.

We must collectively step outside our comfort zones to take even bolder action over the next decade. The millions of dollars we've leveraged since 2008 have not adequately translated into increased equity in terms of ownership, entrepreneurship, and social and economic mobility for black men, their families, and communities.

Our 2017 Quantifying Hope report, released jointly with Foundation Center, delivered hard news: while we have seen sporadic upticks over the past decade in philanthropic giving in support of black male achievement, the amount of funding and resources are vastly insufficient. According to the report, foundation funding explicitly benefiting black men and boys totaled $45.6 million in 2013 and $61.4 million in 2014, down from more than $64 million in 2012.

These numbers keep me coming back to the reason we spun off CBMA from Open Society: What this nation truly needs is not a Campaign for Black Male Achievement but a Corporation for Black Male Achievement — an endowed philanthropic social enterprise that will lean into this issue for the generation it will take to create lasting change.

We call on our partners in philanthropy, government, business, and community to join our efforts to keep building this movement over the next decade. We must walk hand-in-hand to the place where America's black men and boys face a land of promise, not neverending peril. We must do better by our young people. Our collective future depends on it.

Headshot_shawn-dove_175x210Shawn Dove serves as the CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), a national membership organization dedicated to ensuring the growth, sustainability, and impact of leaders and organizations focused on improving the life outcomes of America's black men and boys.

[Review] Justice on Both Sides: Transforming Education Through Restorative Justice

June 07, 2018

These days, one doesn't have to look far to find a story about a confrontation involving a school officer and a student of color or to put her finger on a report detailing educational inequities associated with race, gender, and class. In her new book, Justice on Both Sides: Transforming Education Through Restorative JusticeMaisha T. Winn, a professor of education at the University of California, Davis, makes a compelling case for the use of restorative justice (RJ) practices in schools as both an antidote to these troubling trends and as a way to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that has destroyed the lives of too many young people of color.

Book_justice_on_both_sidesMost readers are probably familiar with the case of Shakara, the sixteen-year-old student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina who was put in a chokehold by a school officer, forcibly pulled out of her seat, and dragged across the floor and out of her classroom. Her crime? Refusing to put her cell phone away. Unfortunately, it wasn't an isolated incident, and Winn uses it to frame her questioning of the punitive practices and zero-tolerance policies in place at many public schools in the United States.

Indeed, it was Winn's own questions about Shakara's experience that became the impetus for her book. "What resources, other than arrest, were available to the administrators, teachers, and staff at Spring Valley High to address conflict in the classroom?" she asks. "How could the adults involved have responded differently? Why has it become standard practice to arrest students for such minor incidents?...I argue that we have yet to pause and thoughtfully examine such patterns as stakeholders, particularly from the perspectives of new and seasoned teachers, school staff, and students."

In her bookWinn does just that, reflecting on her experiences as a scholar, former teacher, and teacher researcher — experiences that inform her analysis of RJ practice and how best to apply that analysis to create lasting change. Having noted that under zero-tolerance policies, African-American, Latinx, and Native-American students are disproportionately subjected to harshly punitive practices, including removal from classrooms, suspension, and expulsion, she explains restorative justice as an approach to discipline that aims to address trauma that may be responsible for the student's behavior. The idea, she writes, is to build a sense of respect and mutual understanding while giving students space to take responsibility for their actions.

Perhaps most importantly, restorative justice requires both sides to be "open to the possibility of not always being right but instead making things right." As Winn explains, the three pillars of the approach are harms and needs, obligations, and engagement — in other words, determining the needs of students who cause harm and recognizing that they may have been harmed; creating a culture of accountability for both students and educators; and cultivating a participatory democracy model in the classroom.

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Building Democracy: People and Purpose in San Diego County

May 25, 2018

On a March evening at a community center in San Diego, Francisco "Panchito" Martinez stood at a public forum, a bedrock exercise of democracy, and before three District 8 City Council candidates.

With microphone in hand and more than a hundred people in the audience, several of whom wore headphones to listen in Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese, the college student asked the candidates about cultivating and supporting youth leaders in the eighth most-populous U.S. city.

Martinez's participation was a form of engagement in more ways than one. The youth questioned those seeking the privilege of representing people in government while also addressing the need for multi-generational civic involvement.

For Martinez, who often goes by Panchito, and other residents who questioned the candidates in English and Spanish, the forum marked a continuum of a broader community-leadership initiative in San Diego County — one driven by residents and grassroots organizations seeking greater voice and more meaningful representation in government and community affairs.

Like other parts of the U.S., San Diego County's population has been transformed dramatically over the last several decades. Today, people of color are the majority among the county's 3.3 million residents. Together, Latinos and Asian Pacific Islanders make up four out of every ten residents.

In Barrio Logan, the San Diego neighborhood that Panchito and about five thousand other people call home, there are industrial businesses as well as residences.

In this primarily Latino neighborhood south and east of the city's popular Gaslamp Quarter and within view of the Port of San Diego and U.S. Navy facilities, concerns over health are one reason why residents say local government should better mirror the makeup of this diverse region.

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Addressing Racial Equity With an Organizational Change Lens

May 21, 2018

Racial equity treeOrganizational change efforts can be daunting, even when the organization and its leaders know that such an effort will lead to a stronger, more sustainable organization in the long term. When it comes to racial equity, such efforts often carry an extra level of pressure. That's because change efforts seeking to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can trigger both conscious and unconscious anxieties when staff and leadership are required to examine personal and organizational values, norms, behaviors, and perceptions. No matter what you do to create and communicate a compelling story and adjust policies and procedures, it all comes down to employee engagement, especially when it comes to "unfreezing" behavior and modeling change, both of which are key to ensuring employee buy-in and setting the stage for a successful change effort.

When tackling racial equity, the amount of individual energy and effort required to achieve a truly equitable and inclusive workplace can create stress at all levels of the organization — particularly for people of color. As with other change efforts, racial equity work requires staff members to personalize the process in order to find their own entry points into the work, and as each of us reflects on our own identity and what it means in both an individual and organizational context, frictions can arise. If not tactfully managed, issues of intersectionality, power dynamics, personal and work-related boundaries, and unconscious biases can become barriers that stand in the way of progress. But when implemented effectively, racial equity change initiatives can spark an examination of our lived experience, both at work and in our personal lives — as well as individual transformation. Not surprisingly then, if organizations can create a culture in which individuals are able to express and work through their own unconscious biases, uncertainty, and shame, they will experience a greater rate of change.

CRE's nearly four decades serving the nonprofit community has taught us that organizations ready to address and embrace racial equity must first examine how race interacts with all aspects of organizational culture, from board governance, to leadership and management, to staffing and talent management, to day-to-day work flow. While not an exhaustive list, below are four simple strategies for moving the needle on organizational change efforts intended to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion based on what we have learned from our experience promoting racial equity in our own organization and with our client partners.

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It’s Time to Invest in Youth Leaders

May 16, 2018

DCPSWalkout_AFA-1024x681In the months since the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the response of youth activists has captured the attention of the nation. What has largely gone unnoticed, however, is that across the country a dynamic youth-organizing field has emerged. Over the past twenty years, groups — many of them led by low-income young people of color — have been organizing to improve education, end the school-to-prison pipeline, protect immigrant rights, and address other critical issues.

New research demonstrates that not only does youth organizing result in concrete policy changes, it also promotes positive academic, social/emotional, and civic engagement outcomes. Yet despite recent investment in youth organizing from funders like the Ford Foundation and the California Endowment, overall funding remains modest. That's unfortunate, because even as a new generation demonstrates its willingness to take on some of our toughest issues, the need for investment in the leadership of young people, especially those most impacted by injustice, has never been more important.

According to the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing's National Youth Organizing Landscape Map, there are more than two hundred youth organizing groups across the country, the majority of them focused on middle and high school students of color. These groups support the development of young leaders and organize campaigns to address inequity in their communities. In Los Angeles, Inner City Struggle and Community Coalition led the campaign to ensure a rigorous college preparatory curriculum for all students. Groups such as Communities United in Chicago, Padres y Jovenes Unidos in Denver, and the Philadelphia Student Union have gotten their school districts to create policies that address racial disparities in school discipline, resulting in changes that have benefited hundreds of thousands of students. 

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A Conversation With Nicky Goren, President and CEO, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

March 06, 2018

Founded in 1944 by investment banker and Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer — who later served as head of the War Finance Corporation, chair of the Federal Reserve, and founding president of the World Bank — and his wife, Agnes, a journalist, author, literary translator, and activist (President Lyndon Johnson credited her for helping build public support for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965), the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C., has supported efforts over the years to address racial inequity, urban poverty, and government funding (or lack thereof) for critical needs.

Nicky Goren was appointed president and CEO of the foundation in 2014, succeeding Julie L. Rogers, who had served in that position for twenty-eight years. Before joining the foundation, Goren had served as president of the Washington Area Women's Foundation and acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2015 the foundation unveiled a new strategic plan focused on achieving greater racial equity in housing, education, employment, and asset building.

PND recently spoke with Goren about the process the Meyer Foundation initiated in 2014 to develop and implement a racial equity agenda, the importance of doing that work "authentically," and some things foundations new to the space should keep in mind.

Headshot_nicky_gorenPhilanthropy News Digest: While the Meyer Foundation has long supported efforts to advance equality and break the cycle of poverty for individuals and families, the foundation's 2015 strategic plan zeroes in on the "structural and causal" link between poverty and race. How did the focus on poverty and race come about? Were those discussions already happening at the foundation when you were appointed president and CEO in 2014?

Nicky Goren: At the organizational level, the conversations about race, about racism and its connection to poverty, were not yet happening when I got here. I think individual program officers from time to time had incorporated that connection into their portfolios, but it was not an organizational priority at the leadership level.

I came to the foundation with the point of view that those of us who work in philanthropy really needed to move out of our silos, move beyond thinking about grantmaking as a largely transactional activity, and think differently about how we do our work. And in my initial listening sessions as the new CEO, I was trying to understand where the opportunities were for us to deepen our impact and partnerships in the community and what the big issues were. It became clear to me pretty quickly that the big issue at the meta level was wealth inequality, and that the drivers of inequality in the region were disparities in housing, education, workforce skills, and asset building, and that the through line in all those areas was the history and legacy of systemic racism. From those community conversations it was clear that people were eager to move beyond incremental change to real transformation, which meant looking at things at the population level, which meant looking at root causes, which meant embracing systems change — and confronting racism and its role in creating and perpetuating these disparities. There was no way around it: to do our work authentically, we would have to address systemic racism.

PND: You came to Meyer from the Washington Area Women's Foundation, which focuses on improving the economic security of women and girls in the D.C. region. Did your work there inform the things you are doing at Meyer to advance racial equity?

NG: Definitely. That was the first time I was part of an organization that was using any kind of an equity lens, in that case a gender equity lens. And I was energized by what I learned in terms of the barriers to equality that women face. But in this region, low-income women are most often women of color, and the question started coming up more and more, from both funders and the communities we were working in: "Do you look at the work of the Women's Foundation through an intersectional gender and racial equity lens?" Well, it got me thinking and really helped me ask the right questions when I got to Meyer.

As for the intersectionality of economic and racial equity, at Meyer we've come to understand that the main reason for the persistent economic disparities in our region — and in other urban areas across the country — is racism. And if we don't name it and tackle the systems that perpetuate it — the institutions, policies, practices, and norms around race that lead to these economic disparities — we'll never be able to really address the challenges that low-income communities of color are facing. Naming it and looking at those challenges through a racial lens forces you to ask different questions and come up with different solutions, solutions that are more focused on the long-term and persistent barriers faced by people of color. It's about understanding the role race has played in our region's history and in our country's history so that the solutions you put in place really do make a difference in terms of addressing those disparities.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 3-4, 2018)

March 04, 2018

Rising-pricesOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans

Writer and activist Alicia Garza, who helped found the Black Lives Matter movement, in partnership with the Center for Third World OrganizingColor of Change, Demos, Socioanalitica Research, and Tides Foundation, has announced the launch of the Black Census Project, which hopes to talk to 200,000 black people from diverse backgrounds about their hopes, dreams, and needs by August 1. African Americans in participating can take the first step and fill out the online census.

Arts and Culture

ArtsPlace funders have released a statement on the Trump administration's 2019 federal budget request.

Climate Change

Nonprofit Chronicles Marc Gunther published an op-ed about climate philanthropy, and its failure to drive real progress on the issue, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy a few weeks ago. The Chronicle has given him permission to repost it on his own blog, here

Education

This should come as a surprise to no one: in a statement released earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called Betsy DeVos "the worst Secretary of Education this country has ever seen — by a large margin. Secretary DeVos has spent her first year bending over backwards to allow students to be cheated, taking an axe to public education, and undermining the civil rights of students across the country. [She] has failed in her job and she must be held accountable." Mother Jones's Edwin Rios has the details.

Higher Education

Public colleges and universities are facing a perfect storm of existential challenges over the next decade, and institutions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the canaries in the coal mine. Lee Gardner reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Cities Are Raising the Bar and Building Beloved Communities Where Black Men and Boys Can Thrive

February 16, 2018

Cbma_promise_of_placeTo build beloved communities across America where black men and boys are healthy, thriving, and able to achieve their fullest potential — that is the Campaign for Black Male Achievement's (CBMA) core mission and rallying cry.

CBMA's work is driven by the unwavering belief that black men and boys are assets to our communities and our country, that they possess untapped potential and brilliance, and that they thrive when given opportunities to succeed. We cannot truly prosper as a nation when any group is left behind and forced to exist on the fringes of society. The well-being of black men and boys is directly connected to the well-being and strength of our families, communities, and nation as a whole.

Over the past decade, CBMA has supported leaders in cities across the United States who are working to accelerate positive life outcomes for black men and boys and whose efforts are moving the needle in measurable ways. To chart and track the progress happening in these cities, in 2015 CBMA developed the Black Male Achievement (BMA) City Index, which scores cities based on their level of engagement with and investment in black men and boys. In conjunction with the new index, we released Promise of Place, a first-of-its-kind report series that assessed commitments and targeted initiatives across fifty cities focused on supporting black men and boys. A few weeks ago, we released a follow-up report, Promise of Place: Building Beloved Communities for Black Men and Boys, that explores whether those cities are keeping their promises. Encouragingly, we have found that most cities have in fact increased their investments and actions in support of black men and boys.

The new Promise of Place report finds that, since 2015, 62 percent of the cities included in the index have ramped up their efforts to support black males across a variety of focus areas and needs, with scores based on five key indicators: demographic mix, commitment to black men and boys, presence of national initiatives supporting black men and boys, targeted funding supporting black men and boys, and CBMA membership. Detroit and Washington, D.C., remain the two highest scoring cities, each with a score of 95, while Jackson (Mississippi), Seattle (Washington), Omaha (Nebraska), and Mobile (Alabama) saw the greatest improvements in their scores. Cities not captured in the first report — including Denver and Yonkers, New York — have since become highly engaged in leading black male achievement efforts.

To be clear, the BMA City Index is not a ranking of which cities are doing the best with respect to this work. Rather, it is meant to serve as a starting point to see what commitments and engagements cities are making to black men and boys. It is imperative that city and community leaders hold their cities accountable to these commitments and continue to collaborate on measuring the impact of their efforts.

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A Conversation With Kavitha Mediratta, Executive Director, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity

February 09, 2018

Chattel slavery — a practice (and later institution) in which enslaved Africans and African Americans were bought, sold, or traded as property at the whim of their "owners" — was common in British America from the earliest colonial days. Gaining a foothold in the tobacco country of Virginia and Maryland in the seventeenth century and spreading north and south from there, it was well established in the mid-Atlantic and South by the time of independence, reinforced, as historian Ira Berlin writes, by a regime of violence that was "systemic and relentless; the planters’ hegemony required that slaves stand in awe of their owners. Although they preferred obedience to be given rather than taken, planters understood that without a monopoly of firepower and a willingness to employ terror, plantation slavery would not long survive."

The violence employed by the slaveholding class to protect and extend its authority was, as Berlin notes, buttressed by special judicial codes, the courts (including the Supreme Court), and the U.S. Constitution itself. As the institution grew in scale and scope in the nineteenth century, driven in part by the invention of the cotton gin, which greatly boosted the profitability of cotton as a crop, and the outlawing of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the slaveholding class stepped up its efforts to promote ideologies that justified the institution’s existence — as well as the brutality and means, judicial and extra-judicial, used to maintain it.

While these explicitly racist attitudes were, as Eric Eustace Williams has argued, a consequence of slavery rather than its cause, their regrettable persistence has caused incalculable damage to American society, infected countries such as South Africa — which continues to struggle with its own history of racial apartheid — and even today divide Americans against each other. Indeed, whether America ever comes to grips with the pernicious legacy of slavery remains an open question.

Recently, PND spoke with Kavitha Mediratta, founding executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, a ten-year, $60 million initiative launched by Atlantic Philanthropies, about that question and what her program is doing to support creative leaders dedicated to dismantling anti-black racism in both the United States and South Africa.

Mediratta previously served as chief strategy advisor for equity initiatives and human capital development at Atlantic and before that led the education program at the New York Community Trust and directed school reform programs at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University. She has, in addition, written extensively on race and educational opportunity in the U.S., with a focus on inequalities in school discipline, and has taught in elementary and middle schools in New Jersey, Chicago, and India.

Headshot_kavitha_medirattaPhilanthropy News Digest: How did you get into philanthropy and racial equity work?

Kavitha Mediratta: Well, actually, racial equity work is what led me into philanthropy. I came to the United States with my parents, who are Indian, when I was three, and we settled in a community on Long Island where we were pretty isolated. This was in the 1970s, and we thought America's days as a segregated society were behind it, but that's not really how it was on Long Island when I was growing up, and from an early age I was exposed to some of the contradictions between the idea of America as a place of opportunity for all people, and the way in which black people in America and others who are seen as different often are treated.

As a result, I became interested in racial equity pretty early on. I worked as a teacher and then as an organizer and policy analyst before ending up doing a lot of work with parents and high school students to improve public schools, which I saw as a key locus of opportunity for young people of color but that too often failed to deliver on those opportunities to help children realize their full potential. And it's really the work I did with young people that brought me to philanthropy, and Atlantic [Philanthropies], which had long supported people of color who were working to reform public education, and public institutions more broadly, in America.

PND: What are we talking about when we talk about racial equity? Do you have a definition that informs your day-to-day work?

KM: For us, racial equity is about creating a society in which opportunities and outcomes for people are not defined on the basis of racial categories. But we go a little bit further than equity, in that we talk about dismantling anti-black racism, aka white supremacy, as an important step toward building a truly just and inclusive society. And what we mean by a just and inclusive society is a world in which everyone has the opportun­ities they need not only to thrive, but to be seen fully for who they are, which is an important thing, since, at the moment, only some people in America are seen fully. The question is, How can we build a world in which all people are seen fully for who and what they are, and who are treated with the dignity, respect, and right to self-determination that all members of our national and global community deserve?

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 3-4, 2018)

February 04, 2018

AP-Groundhog-Day.3Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans,

"It's obvious," writes Andre Perry on the Hechinger Report site, "that black history is needed all year long. But white history as we know it can no longer be the standard in a multicultural society, which is supposed to maximize the potential of all of its members."

Arts and Culture

Janet Brown was named executive director of Grantmakers in the Arts in December 2008 and retired from that post in December. On his blog for the Western States Arts Federation, Barry Hessenius talks with Brown about what has changed in arts philanthropy, GIA's racial equity work, and the current status of creative placemaking efforts in the U.S.

Civil Society

We look to civil society for many things and benefits, but do we appreciate and understand the critical role it plays in our democracy? In an excerpt from Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2018, philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz lays it out for us:

Majority-run democracies need to, at the very least, prevent those who disagree with them (minorities) from revolting against the system. Civil society provides, at the very least, the pressure-release valve for majority-run governments. Positioned more positively, civil society is where those without power or critical mass can build both and influence the majority. It serves as a conduit to the majority system and a counterbalance to extreme positions. It also serves as an outlet for those actions, rights, and views that may never be the priority of a majority, but that are still valid, just, or beautiful. When it exists, civil society offers an immune system for democracy — it is a critical factor in a healthy system, and it requires its own maintenance. Immune systems exist to protect and define — they are lines of defense that "allow organism[s] to persist over time."...

Corporate Social Responsibility

The UNHCT, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that it will only reach 1 out of every 4 Syrian refugees at risk this winter. And with 200,000 displaced families in Syria, 196,000 in Iraq, 174,000 in Lebanon, 115,000 in Turkey, and 83,000 in Jordan, the global refugee crisis isn't likely to be resolved simply or quickly. Writing for Inc., Anna Johansson has a nice list of companies that are stepping up to help refugees.

Perhaps in an effort to appeal to socially aware millennials, Hyundai and Anheuser-Busch InBev will be running cause-based marketing spots during this year's Super Bowl. A harbinger of things to come or just business as usual? E. J. Schultz reports for AdAge.

Education

Here's another (bittersweet) milestone of note: DonorsChoose Just funded its millionth project. Fast Company's Ben Paynter has the details.

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Newsmaker: Fred Blackwell, CEO, The San Francisco Foundation

January 31, 2018

Fred Blackwell joined The San Francisco Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the United States, as CEO in 2014. An Oakland native, he previously had served as interim administrator and assistant administrator for the city, led the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Community Development and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency; and directed the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Making Connections Initiative in Oakland.

In June 2016, TSFF announced a new commitment to racial and economic equity in the Bay Area. PND spoke with Blackwell about the foundation's racial equity lens, movement building in the wake of the 2016 elections and Charlottesville, and what it means for philanthropic organizations to speak out, step up, and actually try to achieve racial equity.

Fred_blackwellPhilanthropy News Digest: How do you define "racial equity"?

Fred Blackwell: I define it as just and fair inclusion in a society where everyone can participate, prosper, and thrive, regardless of their race or where they live or their family's economic status or any other defining characteristic. Obviously, the way we think about equity is colored by our particular focus on the Bay Area — a place where there is tremendous opportunity and prosperity being generated, but also where access to those opportunities is limited for many people. So from an institutional point of view, we need to answer the question: How do we make sure that the region prospers in a way that the rising tide lifts all boats?

PND: When you stepped into the top job at TSFF in 2014, the foundation already had a lengthy history of social justice work. How did the decision to focus the foundation's grantmaking on racial and economic equity come about?

FB: Shortly after I came to the foundation, we conducted a listening tour of the Bay Area. As part of that listening tour, we held what we called our VOICE: Bay Area sessions — a series of large public meetings in seven diverse low-income communities across the region. In addition, we held consultative sessions, half-day meetings with practitioners, policy people, and thought leaders to talk about trends, both positive and negative, they were seeing in the region and how those trends were affecting people. We did a lot of data collection and analysis. And the data all pointed in the same direction: the need for greater levels of inclusion here in the Bay Area. The fact that race and economic status and geography had predictive power over where people were headed and what they could accomplish concerned us, and it was important to try to respond to that.

There are two pieces of the foundation's history that we wanted to build on: one is the social justice orientation of our work, and the other is our regional footprint. We serve Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties. So in focusing on the equity issue, we're also thinking about it from a regional point of view. What makes the Bay Area unique is its diversity and prosperity, and yet we are a prime real-time example of the kinds of inequalities and inequities that you see on multiple levels across the country. It's important to us as a unit of analysis because equity and the issues that emanate from it — whether it's economic opportunity or housing or education or criminal justice or civic participation — none of those issues conform neatly to the boundaries of the various jurisdictions in the region. People may live in Oakland or San Francisco or Berkeley or Richmond, but they experience the Bay Area as a region.

What I think I brought to the foundation is a laser-like focus on the dimensions of social justice work with respect to racial and economic inclusion and equity — making sure that that "North Star" is something that is modeled at the top and cascades down through all levels of the organization. I would say that we are more explicit than we've been in the past about making equity the focus — not just in our grantmaking but also in how we work with donors, how we provide civic leadership in the region, and how we bring our voice to the table and those of our partners in order to make a difference. We view that North Star as guiding not only our programmatic work but everything we do here at the foundation.

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5 Questions for...Lateefah Simon, President, Akonadi Foundation

January 04, 2018

At 40, Lateefah Simon has spent more than half her life as a civil rights advocate and racial justice leader. She was a 17-year-old mother when she went to work for the Center for Young Women's Development and was just 19 when she became the organization's executive director. In the years that followed, she helped position the center as a national leader in the movement to empower young women of color — an achievement for which she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. She later led the creation of San Francisco's first reentry services division, headed the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and served as a program director at the Rosenberg Foundation, where she helped launch the Leading Edge Fund in support of the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California.

In 2016, Simon became the second president of Akonadi Foundation, whose mission is "to eliminate structural racism that leads to inequity in the United States." PND spoke with her about the work required to build a movement focused on racial equity — and philanthropy's role in that effort.

Philanthropy News Digest: The Akonadi Foundation, which is headquartered in Oakland, is focused on "building a localized racial justice movement." Why is it important for the racial justice movement to act locally?

Headshot_lateefash_simon_2017Lateefah Simon: What those of us in philanthropy and those working on the ground doing movement-building work know is that many of the racialized policies that have divided communities, from juvenile justice to local policing to school policies, have taken place on the municipal level. We also know that our efforts have to be extremely strategic to undo these policies — for example, the disproportionate overuse of school suspensions and expulsions against black and brown students that has been standard policy for many, many years.

To create racial justice in our communities, we have to go deep — to the source, where the policies come from, and also to the culture. Our work is not just about going after and disrupting racist policy but also about ensuring that all communities of color are working together, understanding that one group's organizing, movement-building, and advocacy work will benefit other groups. If we're fighting for anti-gentrification policies in Chinatown, African-American and Latino communities are going to be able to use those efforts to inform their own organizing, and so on.

PND: The foundation takes an "ecosystem" approach to its grantmaking. What do you mean by ecosystem grantmaking, and why do you believe it's the right approach for your movement at this time?

LS: Five years ago, the Akonadi Foundation set out to envision what Oakland could look like in ten years. Oakland has been a cradle of social movements — and is best known, of course, as the birthplace of the Black Panther Party. There's a historical narrative here around race and the interconnectedness of people of color coming together to defeat horrific racist policies; it's our legacy. In our ambition to create a ten-year period of change, our thought was, even as a small foundation, we need to make grants that address the ecosystem in which "justice" is created and delivered. We know that here in Oakland, for example, we have a responsibility to fund base-building groups that are enlisting people willing to fight back, to fund groups that are going to craft policy prescriptions, and groups that will — when those campaigns have succeeded — ensure implementation of those prescriptions as well as follow-up advocacy and legal oversight of the policies.

And just as importantly, we know that if we are pushing communities to organize and fight campaigns, culture has to be at the center of this work; much of our cultural work as people of color is about staking claim to a city we helped build. So thinking about how change happens, about how the people of Oakland move toward justice — it's broad, and must be led by an "ecosystem" of grant partners who are in movement together.

In 2018, we're going to be engaging our grantees and having them give us a better idea of where we are. The world has completely changed in the last year. And because the world has changed, and the conditions of our city have changed, it's important for us to go back and look at our theory of change and redefine and reexamine how ecosystem grantmaking needs to work.

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