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A fundamental realignment of power between funders and community: A commentary by Emily Yu, TC Duong, Brittany Giles-Cantrell, and Chris Kabel

March 30, 2022

Balance_power_dynamics_GettyImages_akinbostanci_553x482In recent years, amid calls for greater social, racial, and health equity, philanthropy has rallied together with communities to dismantle deeply rooted systemic inequities that jeopardize our nation’s safety, health, and prosperity. For many foundations, the pursuit of equity has become a powerful and unifying call to action. Yet supporting communities in the sustainable advancement of equity remains a challenge for the philanthropic sector.

As members of The BUILD Health Challenge®—a funding collaborative launched in 2015 to support partnerships among community-based organizations, health departments, and hospitals/health systems to reduce health disparities—we’ve hosted a series of conversations with community leaders, partners, and peers across the country to ask what their communities needed to advance equity and how philanthropy could be a more effective partner on that journey. The response was clear: There must be a fundamental realignment of power between funders and community—one that reflects and honors both groups' expertise and experience. The conversations surfaced four vital approaches to centering equity: 1) designing with, not for; 2) building equity capacity; 3) changing deeply rooted policy and practice; and 4) sharing power....

Read the full commentary by Emily Yu, executive director of The BUILD Health Challenge, TC Duong, program officer at Blue Shield of California Foundation, Brittany Giles-Cantrell, senior program officer at de Beaumont Foundation, and Chris Kabel, senior fellow in the Kresge Foundation’s Health program.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/akinbostanci)

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