Philanthropy’s Role in Fostering a Just and Equitable Society

October 30, 2017

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

Where we’ve been: For more than three years, the Gateway Center for Giving (GCG) has been intentionally engaged in providing our funding community with opportunities to learn and dialogue about the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in August 2014, we tracked immediate regional philanthropic responses to the events in Ferguson and provided that information to our Members in order to foster collaboration and identify engagement points. Since that time, we have offered Members a robust series of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Funders Affinity Group programs, exploring DEI within our organizations and in the broader community. Our team developed a new sector tool, the Missouri Common Grant Application Version 2.0, which infuses an equity lens into the grantmaking process in order to foster transformation, spark dialogue and boost accountability. Most recently, we’ve become a community co-signor to a powerful statement calling for policy and decision-makers to deliver swift action on Ferguson Commission’s Calls to Action.

REWG co-chairs, Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

National implications for this work: As a member of the United Philanthropy Forum’s (the “Forum”) Racial Equity Working Group (REWG), I traveled to Washington, DC last week to participate in two days of conversations about how the Forum can best support a national philanthropic commitment to addressing and eradicating inequity. The Forum network consists of various moving parts, with sector leaders sitting in organizational seats all over the country. Some Forum members are already firmly engaged in substantial programming and activities intended to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion, while others are newer to the work and seeking a meaningful path forward. The Forum intends to bring together all the groups working in this area to connect, learn and share from each other in a more intentional way.

The Forum’s REWG is being co-chaired by Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE: a Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. The REWG will focus on the following action items:

  • Identify effective resources, programming and strategies that have been developed and used to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Identify any gaps in what is needed in resources and programming to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Provide strategic guidance to the Forum staff to lift up, adapt and/or develop resources and programming that can be used by Forum members across the network;
  • Provide guidance to the Forum’s Education Committee and Board of Directors on the Forum’s strategic priorities and goals around advancing racial equity in philanthropy; and
  • Evaluate progress over time.

How can we, as philanthropy-supporting organizations (PSOs), foster a more just and equitable society? How can we encourage increased philanthropic investment to support transformative change?

This is a watershed moment. Organized philanthropy is a critical partner in the work, and the Gateway Center for Giving is committed to providing our Members with meaningful support and tools for action.

Gateway Center for Giving is grateful to the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Commerce Bank, Spire, the Missouri Foundation for Health, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation for their support of our DEI-focused initiatives.

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Gateway Center for Giving Launches Missouri Common Grant Application, Version 2.0

July 5, 2017

 

Free, Customizable Tool for Grantmakers Elevates Best Practices in Giving

The Gateway Center for Giving is pleased to announce the launch of the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) Version 2.0, which now incorporates questions about diversity, equity and inclusion into the customizable grant application template. The CGA, a free community resource, facilitates the application process for grantmakers and grantees. It is available for download by visiting the Gateway Center for Giving website. A companion User Guide, Budget Template, and all-new Funder Guide are also available.

“For the past several years, the Gateway Center for Giving has taken a leadership role in convening regional funders around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the impact on philanthropic practices. The newly revised CGA Version 2.0 helps grantmakers to extend their commitment to DEI by infusing an intentional DEI lens into their strategies. While every grantmaker will have different guidelines, priorities, and deadlines, this is a customizable tool, and we encourage funders to utilize it,” said Gateway Center for Giving CEO Deborah Dubin.

“To build CGA Version 2.0, the Gateway Center for Giving team has researched best practices; convened local funders and nonprofits for discussion and feedback; and consulted with national organizations who are leading the charge to incorporate a DEI lens into grantmaking practices,” said Jama Dodson, Board Chairman of the Gateway Center for Giving and Executive Director of the Saint Louis Mental Health Board. Cynthia Crim, a grantmaker and member of the revision committee, noted that “CGA Version 2.0 will help funders expand their conversations with grantees and gather meaningful data on community progress on the road to equity.”

The Missouri CGA was first created in 2012 as a sector tool, and it has been highly utilized by regional grantmakers, as well as drawing considerable interest from organizations across the country. Support for the effort to revise and expand the CGA in 2017 was provided by the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Spire, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation.


Putting Equity at the Center

December 13, 2016

Gateway Center for Giving Member Blog Post: Putting Equity at the Center

by Claire Schell,  Assistant Vice President, Employee Experience, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation

claire-schell-imageI’ve found that there are a lot of companies making commitments to diversity and inclusion. Because of the work U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) does in communities and because of the very real inequities that we know exist, it is important for us to put equity – particularly racial equity – at the center of our diversity and inclusion work. Part of determining our “why” also has to include an assessment of where we were starting from and where we want to go. If we really want to close the gap between people and access to opportunity, we have to know where people are now.

For us, this assessment had to start internally – applying an equity lens to our organizational practices and policies. Becoming more equitable within our own organization will help us to do better work externally. So we embarked on a climate assessment: asking our employees where they thought we fell on the spectrum of being inclusive and equitable. This has allowed us to minimize assumptions about where one or two people may have thought we were. It has allowed us to become more aware of the different experiences of different people within our organization – different racial and ethnic groups, different teams, different levels of awareness about what diversity/equity/inclusion mean. It has helped us to create a baseline for future work.

As we set out on this internal work this year, some of our major goals at USBCDC were increasing each employee’s understanding around our “why,” developing shared language, and building relationships across difference. As you might guess, these required and have led to new and courageous conversations – in anti-racism workshops, monthly racial equity lunches, in team meetings, in 1:1s, and in the kitchen around the coffee machine. Building this internal capacity around naming the issues and normalizing difficult and honest dialogues has helped to reinforce that conversations are real work. They’re certainly not the only work, but are such a crucial first step toward being able to do more of what we want to do. They help people learn. They encourage people to value different perspectives. They allow people to bring more of themselves to work. They demonstrate our commitment in a more active, and vocal, way. They help us get to know each other better. Practice makes progress, and none of us can afford to shy away from these conversations if we really want to make progress.

We’ve also had to ask ourselves the hard questions if we’re really going to make progress. Are we living up to the commitment we’ve laid out for ourselves? Do people have the right tools (language, knowledge, resources) to be successful? Who else needs to be at the table for this conversation? How do we hold each other accountable in different ways? Where are our spheres of influence? What processes do we need to change or dismantle and how do we design equity into new processes? To whom are we accountable in our decision-making? If we do X, how does it advance USBCDC’s DEI commitment? Asking these questions helps us to determine where the pain points are, where we’re moving the needle, and where we need to stop and start certain behaviors and practices.

Our work this year has helped us to create shared value within our organization, to build skills and capacity that we need for the work ahead, and to make sure that as we’re determining each day what we’re going to do, we’re clear about who want to be along the way. As we have intentionally pursued a more tangible commitment to equity, we have seen the power of change in action by aligning more thoughtfully with others and deepening relationships around this important work. This “contagious commitment” – with our employees, community partners, customers, vendors – will ensure that we continue to build momentum, excitement, sustained support, and mutual accountability for the long haul.

So –

  • What is your organization’s “why” for equity and where are you starting?
  • What important conversations do you need to be having to advance shared understanding and learning?
  • What hard questions do you need to be asking?

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Note: The Gateway Center for Giving invites Members to submit guest posts that foster knowledge transfer and relationship building to help inform the work of philanthropy.

Stay tuned: USBDC’s experience, as well as that of other regional companies making a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, will be highlighted in an upcoming GCG program in 2017.


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