Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Here is a new resource on philanthropy and structural inequities - Why is something like this needed? Here's why:

"The amount of money provided by institutional philanthropy directed toward social justice and racial equity is minuscule compared to money provided to education, health, arts, culture and other areas.

For philanthropy to effect more progress, more philanthropic resources devoted specifically to closing gaps in racial equity are needed. ...

Here at home, philanthropy in communities of color is growing at a faster rate than in the dominant community. There is fresh search for old traditions of philanthropy. And more traditional philanthropic organizations are showing interest in aligning both their development and allocation efforts to serve matters of equity and justice."

The website is the result of a project led by Steven Mayer and Effective Communities, LLC. The work was funded by the Ford Foundation.* The guiding questions for the work were two:
  1. Can philanthropy help create greater racial equity and social justice?
  2. If so, what would be benchmarks of progress?
The project and website offer six "pathways to progress" for extant grantmaking organizations that want to advance racial equity and social justice. Often, these goals are held by some insiders, but not all; or, if held by all, are not clearly stated, understood or acted upon. It is to these institutions and their staffs and board members that this work is directed. Here, in preview, are the six pathways:

What can philanthropy do? Previewing the six “pathways to progress," philanthropic organizations can:

"...create or support the kinds of conversations needed to support community leadership for problem-solving.

...shape their own organizational activities to pursue a focus that closes gaps in fields of interest that they care about.

...create momentum to move along good ideas and solutions that hold promise for closing gaps. the kind of network and association development and expansion that can support good solutions. raise resources, and devise ways to deploy them better, in the service of closing gaps and disparities.

...make progress on closing gaps if they keep their eyes on that prize, and make their choices to achieve those ends. "

Anyone who has ever tried to change an existing organization knows how hard it can be. Those who are creating new organizations have a different set of challenges. The JustPhilanthropy site can help in either case - by pointing you to tools and resources that others have used and by providing a guidebook down the different pathways.

DISCLOSURE: I know Steven. I have worked with the Ford Foundation.

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