Racial Equity and Philanthropy

Members of the United Philanthropy Forum’s Racial Equity Working Group in Washington D.C.

Blog post by Deb Dubin, President & CEO, Gateway Center for Giving.

The United Philanthropy Forum’s Racial Equity Working Group is tasked with identifying ways that the Forum can best support a national philanthropic commitment to addressing and eradicating inequity. I first wrote about this initiative in a blog post last fall.

The United Philanthropy Forum will be revealing some initial strategies at their upcoming national conference in July 2018. Among a number of recommendations being considered: share racial equity resources and consultants that our members are using; establish peer learning space; provide opportunities for Forum members deeply engaged in racial equity work to share their efforts; and build capacity for philanthropy-supporting organizations (PSOs) to engage their members and Boards in this work. Clearly, some longer-range planning to sustain the Forum’s leadership on racial equity is going to be a critical strategic component.

While these conversations among PSOs are taking place nationally, we have plenty of data, analysis and strong recommendations about our own region’s path forward in this regard.

Right now, important conversations are taking place in St Louis. Ten days ago, a new 115-page report on segregation and housing in St. Louis was released by a collaborative partnership consisting of stakeholders in public health, law, fair housing and community development.

The new report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, provides an overview of decades of intentional and pervasive federal, state and municipal policies that have kept the region’s residents physically segregated from access to economic opportunities and health-enhancing resources. The report outlines specific strategies to dismantle these barriers, including a focus on funding affordable housing; the equitable development and deployment of resources (ensuring community input, transparency and implementation); and renewed initiatives that foster neighborhood stability.

The same week that this landmark report on housing and segregation was issued, Forward Through Ferguson, the legacy organization of the Ferguson Commission, launched #STL2039. Twenty-five years after Michael Brown’s death, advocates envision a transformed region in 2039, “where, regardless of race of zip code, there is justice for all, the opportunity to thrive, and boundless possibility for all of our youth.” Action strategies include advocating for policy and systems change; building racial equity capacity; and sustaining the work to facilitate long-term change. Forward Through Ferguson challenges us to imagine a future St. Louis where race no longer predicts life outcomes.

As I stated in a prior post, organized philanthropy is a critical partner in fostering a just and equitable society. How can we encourage increased philanthropic investment to support transformative change? Read the reports, come to the table, and let’s have a conversation about alignment.

Gateway Center for Giving is grateful to the Trio Foundation of St. Louis and Spire for their support of our DEI-focused initiatives this year.

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