146 posts categorized "Racial Equity"

Now is the time for philanthropy to be bold: A Q&A with Isabelle Leighton, Interim Executive Director, Donors of Color Network

April 11, 2022

Headshot_Isabelle_Leighton_Donors_of_Color_Network_2Isabelle Leighton is interim executive director of Donors of Color Network, whose mission is to build systemic racial equity to be more reflective and accountable to communities of color. Leighton has 20 years of experience growing social justice and movement-oriented organizations, including Political Research Associates, where Leighton focused on supporting communities targeted by racist and misogynist forces during the Trump administration. Prior to that, Leighton was the founding director of Equality Fund, a philanthropic advocacy project, and served as NYC co-chair of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Leighton currently sits on the boards of the Solidago Foundation, Open City Labs, and the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism.

PND asked Leighton about barriers to donors of color achieving equitable attention and consideration, how media and other allies can assist in better recognizing donors of color, the role that race and racism play in the problems that philanthropists are working to solve, how the philanthropic sector could be more inclusive, philanthropy’s response to climate justice, and how best to demystify and educate the sector on the issues that mean the most to donors of color.

Philanthropy News Digest: While donors of color are not “new” or “emerging,” your report, Philanthropy Always Sounds Like Someone Else: A Portrait of High Net Worth Donors of Color indicates that “philanthropy writ large does not understand who high net worth donors of color are.” What are the barriers to donors of color achieving equitable attention and consideration?

Isabelle Leighton: Philanthropy has a history of being upheld by white supremacy and centered around class, race, and gender—omitting the experiences and stories from people of color entirely from funders to grantees. This has a direct impact on who and what receives funding. Donors of color face constant, historical barriers of entry to philanthropy that often overlook their work and interests in favor of their white counterparts. Donors of Color Network (DOCN) aims to shift the center of gravity in philanthropy towards racial and economic justice to knock down the traditional entry barriers for many donors of color. In doing so, we can address our most pressing issues equitably and create a welcoming space for BIPOC donors who bring experiences and resources invaluable to solving the most pressing issues of our time.

Media coverage is another major barrier to achieving equitable attention and consideration for donors of color. The stories of donors of color have rarely, if ever, been told, and that’s one of the main reasons behind our report. Media across the board needs to make an intentional effort to cover BIPOC donors and stories to amplify their work and raise awareness of the unique causes they fund and why. Our Portrait report revealed that nearly every single interviewee personally experienced racial or ethnic bias that influenced their philanthropic giving. These lived experiences led donors to prioritize social justice, women’s and gender rights, and racial justice as leading issues they want to support. Our goal with this report is to bring more awareness about the work of DOCN and draw more members into our movement to strengthen the voice and power of a philanthropic sector that is more reflective of the vibrant diversity of today’s most innovative problem solvers....

Read the full Q&A with Isabelle Leighton, interim executive director, Donors of Color Network.

How the international community treats refugees: A commentary by Frank Giustra

April 08, 2022

Migration crisis on the border with Belarus_GettyImages_NzpnSelective empathy: An observation on classes of refugees

“These are people who are Europeans, so we and all other countries are ready to welcome them. In other words, this is not the refugee wave that we are used to, where we don’t know what to do, people with an uncertain past—are they terrorists?”

These are the words spoken by Bulgaria’s prime minister, Kiril Petkov, in reference to the millions of Ukrainians who have crossed into neighboring countries since the Russian invasion began on February 24. This sentiment, whether spoken aloud or not, is prevalent among many European politicians. It helps explain the stark contrast between the approach being taken with Ukrainians and that afforded to other refugees, such as those fleeing terrible situations in Syria, Afghanistan, and across Africa. European leaders are bending over backwards to welcome Ukrainian refugees. Meanwhile, people of African descent and other racial/ethnic minorities have faced discriminatory treatment as they flee Ukraine.

Fearing those who don’t “look like us” or who worship God in a different manner is neither new not unique to Europeans. Hungary’s populist leader, Viktor Orbán, labeling all refugees from the Middle East “economic migrants” in contrast to the “proper” Ukrainian refugees is not that dissimilar to Donald Trump calling Mexicans “murderers and rapists.”

To be clear: I am all for helping Ukrainians in this time of need, and I am supporting two humanitarian organizations on the ground there: CORE and World Central Kitchen. That said, I feel compelled to point out the inconsistency in how the international community treats refugees depending on their race, color, and religion....

Read the full commentary by Frank Giustra, founding partner of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, co-chair of the International Crisis Group, as well as founder of Lionsgate Entertainment, Giustra Foundation, Acceso, and Million Gardens Movement.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Nzpn)

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)

Investing in CDFIs to drive equitable economic growth: A commentary by Carolina Martinez

March 25, 2022

Minority_women_owned_business_GettyImages Three ways philanthropies can support community development financial institutions

Over the last two years—as many businesses struggled to stay afloat amid COVID-19 lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and staffing shortages—community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provided a lifeline to small business owners, especially women and people of color.      CDFIs have a mandate to funnel much-needed responsible capital to small business borrowers in low-income communities, communities of color, and other populations facing structural barriers to credit access, and are well positioned to offer financing to these underserved borrowers as the economy continues to recover.

Investing in CDFIs is a winning strategy for philanthropic funders aiming to drive equitable economic growth and address systemic racial and gender barriers to economic opportunity. Grantmakers can play a key role in these efforts by providing more flexible capital that enables CDFIs to scale their operations to reach more socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs—those whom the mainstream financial system has long failed. Most mainstream banks lend less today to small businesses than they did before the 2008 financial crisis.In fact, according to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, 8,000 loans are declined by banks on a daily basis. In addition, women, immigrants, and people of color face structural barriers that mean they face even higher hurdles to securing a loan. Adding to the problem are alternative lenders, including predatory lenders, who have stepped in to fill the gap with products that are expensive and damaging to the health of small businesses.

While the pandemic has intensified these trends, it also has shown how CDFIs can make a real difference. The problematic rollout of the early rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) demonstrated the limitations of big banks, which focused on their existing customers (including some large, profitable corporations) and overlooked borrowers in underserved communities. CDFIs, by contrast, deployed their PPP loans the way that Congress intended. The Small Business Administration reports that 78 percent of PPP loans made by CDFIs were under $150,000 and 40 percent were made to borrowers in low- and moderate-income areas, compared with overall program averages of 50 percent and 28 percent....

Read the full commentary by Carolina Martinez, CEO of CAMEO.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

A vision for equalizing education: A commentary by Yolonda Marshall

March 21, 2022

College_students_pexels-keira-burtonClosing the racial gap in higher education

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the path to higher education for first-generation college students and those growing up in underserved communities was rife with uncertainty and barriers. These hurdles disproportionately affect students in underfunded public school systems, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The global pandemic  further exacerbated these challenges and uncertainties. With school buildings closed and periods of required quarantine creating gaps in attendance, students had to deal with significant disruptions to their learning. For a significant number of students from low-income communities the pandemic had added implications: Whether these students were tasked with the care of younger siblings or older family members while their parents worked essential jobs, or needed to take on a job themselves in response to family job loss, already underserved BIPOC students were taking on additional responsibilities outside the classroom.

As the CEO of Student Leadership Network (SL Network), a nonprofit committed to helping students from diverse, underserved communities access higher education, I am heartened by the progress we have made in our 25 years of leading equity in education. Yet we still see so many systemic inequities prevent equitable access for all students—particularly students of color—in pursuing higher education....

Read the full commentary by Yolonda Marshall, CEO of Student Leadership Network.

(Photo credit: Keira Burton via pexels)

‘How do the humanities figure in a socially just world?’: A Q&A with Phillip Brian Harper, Program Director for Higher Learning, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

February 24, 2022

Headshot_Phillip_Brian_Harper_mellon_foundationPhillip Brian Harper joined the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in October 2020 as program director for the new Higher Education grantmamking area. As part of the foundation’s new strategy to prioritize social justice in all of its grantmaking, the program supports inclusive humanities education and diverse learning environments, with a focus on historically underserved populations, including nontraditional and incarcerated students. In January 2022, the foundation announced grants totaling $16.1 million to 12 liberal arts colleges in support of social justice-oriented curricular development in the humanities.

A literary scholar and cultural critic, Harper previously served as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University and, prior to that, taught at Harvard University and Brandeis University. He is the author of Framing the Margins: The Social Logic of Postmodern Culture (1994); Are We Not Men? Masculine Anxiety and the Problem of African-American Identity (1996); Private Affairs: Critical Ventures in the Culture of Social Relations (1999); and Abstractionist Aesthetics: Artistic Form and Social Critique in African American Culture (2015).

PND asked Harper about the Humanities for All Times initiative, the role of a humanities education in advancing social justice, and the insights he brings to those philanthropic efforts as an academic and a writer.

Philanthropy News Digest: The grants awarded through the Humanities for All Times initiative will support curricula “that both instruct students in methods of humanities practice and clearly demonstrate those methods’ relevance to broader social justice pursuits.” Can you give an example of what such a curriculum might include?

Phillip Brian Harper: Yes, it would include courses that not only familiarize students with certain bodies of knowledge that are relevant to humanities inquiry—accessible, for instance, through a specific set of texts or in a particular archive—but also consciously and explicitly train students in humanities methods for conducting research and analysis on relevant materials: archival investigation, textual interpretation, oral history interviewing, etc.

Furthermore, it would provide students with some concrete demonstration of how those methods can be put to use in real-world social justice work. To give an example, one of the institutions that has received a Humanities for All Times grant, Austin College, will establish 18 different “humanities labs,” each of which would focus on a pressing social justice challenge—for instance, contestations over the definition of U.S. citizenship, appropriate modes of historical memorialization, or medical ethics questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic—and deploy humanities methods in exploring potential solutions to it....

Read the full Q&A with Phillip Brian Harper, Program Director for Higher Learning, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Integrating a focus on equity into our processes: A Q&A with Katy Knight, Executive Director and President, Siegel Family Endowment

February 11, 2022

Headshot_Katy_Knight_Siegel_Family_EndowmentKaty Knight is executive director and president of Siegel Family Endowment, a foundation focused on understanding and shaping the impact of technology on society.  Knight joined the foundation in 2017 as deputy executive director. Her earlier career included working on community engagement at financial sciences company Two Sigma; various positions at Google, most notably on the public affairs team; and roles in education, technology, and community-based organizations. She also previously served on her local Community Board in Queens, New York, and earned recognition in 2015 as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star in City & State. In addition, she serves on the boards of a number of nonprofits, including READ Alliance, CSforALL, Pursuit, and the Regional Plan Association.

PND asked Knight about philanthropy’s influence on infrastructure, the sector’s approach to equity, Big Tech’s impact and philanthropy’s technological future outlook, the politicization of science, and how philanthropy could fill gaps and drive change in education and workforce development.

Philanthropy News Digest: You’ve stated that you believe philanthropy should champion a new definition of infrastructure—like a bridge between social impact work and the infrastructure all communities need to thrive. What does that look like?

Katy Knight: The old definition of infrastructure is outdated: In the 21st century, the systems that are supposed to serve us all are more than just bridges, tunnels, and highways. Infrastructure today means broadband, satellite arrays, data, public spaces like libraries and parks, and more. We see infrastructure as multidimensional—meaning it includes physical, digital, and social elements.

Collectively, we need to recognize the multidimensional nature of infrastructure in order to design, govern, and fund it in a way that actually serves and benefits everyone in every community. As philanthropists, we can help advance and then implement this thinking by demonstrating what’s possible when it comes to infrastructure. We invest in organizations and initiatives that take an ecosystem approach, accounting for the physical, social, and digital dimensions of their impact....

Read the full Q&A with Katy Knight, executive director and president of Siegel Family Endowment.

‘Nonprofits must “live into” their missions both externally and internally’: A commentary by Anika Rahman

January 29, 2022

Hands_in_suits_GettyImagesRenewing nonprofits: Aligning power, money, and vision

In the nonprofit world, power and money can be uncomfortable topics. While we are focused on doing good, questions of power and how it manifests inevitably arise. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced us to confront issues of democracy and justice, has also catalyzed a reckoning across the sector.

Today, most nonprofits have begun to realize that they must “live into” their missions both externally and internally — these concerns are interrelated. For example, while it’s clear that leaders and donors often shape priorities, how power is distributed and decisions are made (including those about compensation) are less widely and openly discussed.

Aligning an organization internally means ensuring that its mission and priorities are reflected in its leadership and governance values. First and foremost, consistency is desirable in any organization. Second, staff and donors are increasingly demanding internal policy changes — calling for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), transparency, and shared decision making — because of a greater awareness of the impact of these interconnected concerns on an organization’s strategies and brand. Finally, equitable internal principles help develop future cohorts of leaders who will continue to advance the organization’s mission, promote DEIB, and strengthen the larger movements of which it is a part.

Yet such alignment has proven elusive for many institutions: There is often a gap between an organization’s stated values and programmatic and internal realities....

Read the full commentary by Anika Rahman, an advocate for human rights, gender justice, social justice, and climate action who most recently served as chief board relations officer at the National Resources Defense Council.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Going beyond community engagement, building community power: A commentary by Aditi Vaidya

January 14, 2022

Hands_collaboration_trust_GettyImages_Prostock-StudioWhy does the country’s largest foundation dedicated to health and health equity care about community power? I get that question a lot when discussing our support of Lead Local, a collaboration funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance our understanding of the role community power plays in catalyzing, creating, and sustaining conditions for healthy, equitable communities.

In its nearly fifty-year history, RWJF has long valued and invested in efforts focused on community engagement to improve health. Through our own analysis and evaluation, we’ve come to recognize that community engagement is critical but in and of itself not enough to create systemic and enduring change. We’ve learned that community power can be designed to specifically target the root and structural causes of health inequities — racism, sexism, and classism within the structures and systems that govern our lives. We know what the social determinants of health are, and now we also know that community power-building strategies developed and led by those communities most impacted by structural inequities are critical to addressing all determinants.

RWJF funded Lead Local nearly three years ago to learn what the sector could teach funders like us that are committed to dismantling structural barriers to health such as powerlessness, housing segregation, and lack of access to quality jobs, food, or medical care....

Read the full commentary by Aditi Vaidya, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/Prostock-Studio)

The connection between charitable tax benefits and benefits to charities has been broken: A commentary by Thomas Vozzo

January 10, 2022

Money_hundred_dollar_bills_GettyImagesStalling charitable dollars hurts marginalized Angelenos

...As a former corporate executive and current CEO of Homeboy Industries, I have witnessed the impact of investing in the most marginalized members of our communities and helping them reenter society with the wraparound support they need. Unlocking charitable dollars means more comprehensive mental health services, workforce development programs, housing initiatives, and access to education, among other services critical to meeting those needs and truly making a difference in the lives of thousands of Angelenos. For nonprofits likes ours and many others, it is critical to ensure that charitable funds actually reach nonprofits in a timely manner.

The fact is, however, that tax rules once designed to get resources to charities now facilitate warehousing resources in charitable intermediaries instead. What used to be a simple connection between charitable tax benefits and benefits to charities has been broken.

Through donor-advised funds (DAFs), donors are now afforded upfront charitable tax benefits — with no assurances that the donation will ever reach working charities. Private foundations, which are required to pay out 5 percent of their assets annually for “charitable” expenditures, can now circumvent the intent of this rule by paying the salaries of family members or putting their funds in a DAF. Rather than distributing these resources to charities, private foundations hold $1.1 trillion while $160 billion sit in DAFs, a report from the National Philanthropic Trust finds. According to the California Association of Nonprofits, the state loses more than $340 million each year as a result of deductions related to DAF donations alone. This matters because warehousing these donations means less money and fewer resources for charities on the front lines of tackling society’s compounding issues such as homelessness, climate change, and massive inequality....

Read the full commentary by Thomas Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries.

The top ten philanthropy stories of 2021

December 28, 2021

Calendar_pages_GettyImages-93870456_grublee

For our final newsletter (subscribe here for our newsletters and alerts) of 2021, the editors at Philanthropy News Digest shared (in chronological order) the ten stories that we felt were particularly significant for philanthropy — both in the moment and for the future. We aimed to include stories that addressed major areas of philanthropic interest this year: climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, education, racial equity, and social justice to name a few.

 

Perhaps the most noticeable omission from the list is the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, which we decided had not yet led to visible changes in the foundation’s grantmaking, although changes are expected in its governance structure.

 

What other social sector news resonated most with you in 2021? Please share your thoughts about our list on Twitter — tag us @pndblog — or leave a comment below.

Thank you for making PND a part of your important work on the vital issues of our time. We hope you all have a safe, healthy, and joyful end of the year and enter 2022 filled with hope.

— Matt Sinclair

 

DAFs may have cost charities $300 billion over five years, study finds

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The report from the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good found that the share of individual giving going to charities fell from 94.1 percent before the advent of donor-advised funds to less than 75 percent between 2014 and 2018, with an estimated $300 billion that otherwise might have gone to charities going into DAFs and foundations....



Asian American Foundation raises nearly $1.1 billion

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Established with initial commitments totaling $125 million from founding board members, the foundation has raised more than $900 million from foundations, corporations, and individuals in support of efforts to address a longstanding lack of investment in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and combat anti-AAPI violence....



Marguerite Casey calls for funding police and criminal justice reform

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Launched on the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, Answering the Uprising: Closing the Say/Do Gap in Philanthropy is aimed at "correcting" the inadequate response of philanthropy to the racial justice uprisings in 2020....




MacKenzie Scott awards grants totaling nearly $2.74 billion

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Grants were awarded to nearly three hundred "high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked"....





Rockefeller, IKEA foundations launch $1 billion clean energy platform

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With the aim of reducing a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and providing a billion people with distributed renewable energy through mini-grid and off-grid solutions, the initiative will be run as a public charity designed to deploy catalytic capital more efficiently and at scale that supports the expansion of local renewable energy projects....



Nearly $40 billion pledged to accelerate gender equality by 2026

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Commitments announced at the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women included $21 billion from governments and public-sector institutions, $13 billion from the private sector, $1.3 billion from UN entities and multilateral organizations, and $4.5 billion from philanthropy....




Philanthropies pledge $5 billion to 'Protecting Our Planet Challenge'

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The commitments from nine philanthropies will fund efforts to meet the 30x30 goal to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030 in partnership with Indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society, and governments....




Powell Jobs to invest $3.5 billion in climate action over ten years

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According to an Emerson Collective official, the Waverley Street Foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change" and sunset after ten years....




GivingTuesday 2021 raises an estimated $2.7 billion in the U.S.

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The GivingTuesday Data Commons estimates that giving totals increased 9 percent from $2.47 billion in 2020, with thirty-five million adults in the U.S. participating, a 6 percent increase over last year....





Bloomberg Philanthropies commits $750 million for charter schools

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The five-year initiative is aimed at closing student achievement gaps — which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for students from lower-income families — and creating an additional hundred and fifty thousand seats at high-quality charter schools in twenty metro areas....

Building the political and civic power of historically excluded communities: A commentary by Christine White

December 20, 2021

I_Voted_stickers_element5-digital_unsplashDonating to civic engagement organizations is an investment in a thriving democracy

As the nation approaches yet another midterm election cycle, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to invest in civic engagement year-round. This is perhaps some of the most important work we can do to preserve, protect, and strengthen our democracy.

The goal of civic engagement as a function of community organizing is to build the political and civic power of communities historically excluded from the political process. These communities have been less likely to benefit from shifts in political power and therefore have had fewer tangible incentives to overcome generations of voter suppression to make their vote count.

The work of voter registration is difficult and tedious — but also rewarding and necessary. While 95 percent of eligible voters in Georgia are registered, this is no reason to slow down or scale back. The work of registering the remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters is probably the most important civic engagement work we can do. Why? Because those remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters are the most isolated, most marginalized, and most disenfranchised segments of our population. This is the population that generations of voter suppression, voter purging, and voter intimidation tactics have worked to silence — and have succeeded in silencing. These folks are overwhelmingly in the lowest income bracket, do not have a driver’s license, and do not have stable housing....

Read the full commentary by Christine White, executive director of the Georgia Alliance for Progress.

(Photo credit: Eelement5 digital via Unsplash)

'All that we hold sacred hung in the balance': A Q&A with Allie Young, Founder, Protect the Sacred

December 07, 2021

Headshot_Allie_Young_Protect_the_SacredAllie Young is a citizen of the Diné Navajo Nation from the Northern Agency of the reservation in Northern New Mexico. She is founder of Protect the Sacred, which educates and empowers the next generation of Navajo and Indian Country leaders and allies to use storytelling and community building to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty and protect Indigenous elders, languages, and medicine ways. Protect the Sacred is a program of Harness, an organization launched after the 2016 presidential elections to educate, inspire, and activate an interdependent community of cultural organizers to use the power of storytelling to imagine and create a more equitable world.

Protect the Sacred began as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic — which struck the Navajo Nation particularly hard — to organize Navajo youth to stay home and keep their families safe. Ahead of the 2020 elections, Young organized Ride to the Polls, which encouraged tribal citizens living on reservations and in remote communities to saddle up and travel to polling places. Over the past year, Protect the Sacred has expanded into a grassroots movement supporting frontline efforts to address the pandemic and ensure access to healthcare information and vaccines.

This Native American Heritage Month, PND asked Young about her work with Protect the Sacred, including efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on Native cultural heritage; her focus on youth; and the impact of storytelling on racial equity.

Philanthropy News Digest: What compelled you to return home to the reservation and launch Protect the Sacred? What were your immediate priorities in the earliest days?

Allie Young: In March 2020, I made the decision to travel from Los Angeles — where I’ve resided the last five years — to my homelands of the Navajo Nation to be with family and in my community. The first confirmed COVID-19 case reached the Navajo Nation before I did. By the end of March, the community was abuzz with talk of the rapidly rising positivity rate. By mid-May, the Navajo Nation dominated national headlines for having the highest per-capita infection rate in the United States. Few of these early articles spoke to the threat of cultural devastation posed by COVID-19. For my community and others like it, much more than death was at stake: All that we hold sacred hung in the balance.

When my former colleagues at the Indian Health Service asked in early March whether I’d be interested in helping them execute a social media campaign centered on COVID-19 awareness, I agreed without hesitation. This felt like a glimpse of hózhó (beauty and balance) — an opportunity to help change the trajectory of the virus in the Navajo Nation.

Read the full Q&A with Allie Young.

Support for first-generation college students beyond scholarships: A commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter

December 02, 2021

News_africanamerican_gradsThe power of private scholarships to fuel systemic change for first-generation college students

The challenge

Each year philanthropists invest $6.1 billion in private scholarships for more than 1.6 million students on their way to earning a college degree. Many of these scholarships were created to help level the playing field for first-generation and underrepresented students. But scholarships alone cannot remove all obstacles faced by first-generation students both in accessing higher education and graduating on time.

College completion has proven to produce better economic outcomes and job prospects, higher wages, increased satisfaction levels, and a higher quality of life. However, when college scholarships are awarded without a focus on completion, promising young people often struggle to navigate the road to graduation. Before a first-generation student can take advantage of the professional and social mobility a college degree can provide, that student must first graduate. But graduation is not only the result of academic commitment; it also requires a student to deal with the social, emotional, and financial strains of pursuing a degree. While this is true for all students, the problem is more pronounced for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Inclusivity initiatives, students’ hard work, and the availability of scholarships have unlocked access to higher education for some students. But once enrolled, those students are often left to navigate college without the on-campus support they need. First-generation students often struggle to find an on-campus community that looks, acts, and speaks like them or understands their background. Even the hardest-working student relies on numerous factors, including community, to successfully graduate. Due to longstanding institutional blind spots, colleges and universities can overlook or underestimate the challenges of being a first-generation student. The result? Lower graduation rates despite sufficient academic ability....

Read the full commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter, the founder and director, respectively, of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship.

Rethinking traditional models, committing to an equity lens: A commentary by Amy Klement

November 29, 2021

Equality_GettyImages_rapideyeLeading with learning: How we’re reimagining philanthropic impact in 2022 and beyond

For those who work in philanthropy, the chaos that began in early 2020 have propelled more much-needed critical introspection than the field has ever faced. The inequities laid bare by the devastating pandemic highlighted how too many of our systems have been failing the majority of people. For us at Imaginable Futures, an education- and learning-focused philanthropic investment firm, owning up that we’re part of the system and have been part of the problem was only the first step.

It’s clearer than ever that for philanthropy to be truly effective in driving sustainable change, we need to rethink traditional models that are too often top-down and risk perpetuating the same systems of oppression they seek to transform. We, as philanthropic organizations, need to work harder to undo the culture of colonialism and white supremacy that is deeply woven into our field of work. And, critically, we must commit to utilizing an equity lens, starting from the inside out.

While a strategy refresh for Imaginable Futures was always the plan for 2020-21, it was done against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the global movement for racial justice. We’ve spent the last year and a half listening, learning, and evolving our approach to reimagine our philanthropic efforts.

Throughout this process of reevaluating and refining our strategies, the entire Imaginable Futures team has committed to doing the work individually and as a team to continually evolve and evaluate our own mindsets, behaviors, and approaches....

Read the full commentary by Amy Klement, managing partner at Imaginable Futures.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/rapideye)

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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