On a Path of Self-Reckoning
In 2020, we all did our utmost to navigate and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That the inequitable impacts of this health crisis came on the heels of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people by police, and that the pandemic spurred an increase in racist attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was infuriating — and activating for us.
In response, Fund staff accelerated and amplified our discussions of how we could more effectively approach justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). We have long been working to address racial justice through our grantmaking, but now we need to do so more explicitly and vigorously. The place to begin, we understand, is within our own (temporarily virtual) offices. We need to align our personal and institutional values, beliefs, and attitudes as we renew our commitment to racial justice.
Over the past year, we have advanced our JEDI efforts in three key ways:
- Creating a new Strategist, Justice, Equity, and Learning position;
- Funding a new Racial Justice Cohort of Bay Area Black-led nonprofits; and
- Assessing the Fund’s recent grantmaking through a JEDI lens.
Strategist, Justice, Equity, and Learning
In July 2021, we created a Strategist, Justice, Equity, and Learning role. This position is dedicated to implementing our organizational JEDI improvements. Our goal with this position is to become an equitable learning organization, and one that approaches its mission and grantmaking through a JEDI lens. We envision that our early work will be to assess the Fund’s current status on JEDI-related knowledge and practices and we recognize that this work will require focus and effort. A dedicated staff position ensures that JEDI is a top priority within the organization.
Racial Justice Cohort
We know BIPOC-led nonprofits are underfunded compared to white-led ones. This keeps them smaller, and ironically causes funders to withhold investment because they are too small — a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape.
The Fund aims to reform our own grantmaking practices to specifically break this unjust pattern. We want to work in solidarity with our community partners towards a shared goal of dismantling anti-Blackness and defeating white supremacy.
The Fund deepens its commitment to eradicating racial, social, and economic injustice by supporting Bay Area organizations working to further those aims. We launched our first Racial Justice Cohort in 2020, providing multiyear, general operating support grants to 11 Black-led, community-based organizations and coalitions. These nonprofits inspire social transformation through civic education and community organizing and build BIPOC political power by encouraging participation in democratic processes.
The Fund’s investment will continue to support organizational growth and agency for leaders serving communities directly impacted by systemic racism. We will build long-term relationships with racial justice organizations to extend mutual learning and action and to inform our continued work.
Of the approximately $5.6 billion awarded by Bay Area foundations in 2019:
- 19% focused on low-income people,
- 12% went to policy and systems change strategies,
- 14% focused on children and youth,
- 11% focused on women and girls,
- 2% focused on BIPOC communities,
- 1% focused on people with disabilities, and
- 0.8% focused on seniors.
To compare the Fund’s grantmaking to these statistics, and to understand what we need to change, we first need clarity into our own giving statistics. The Fund conducted a JEDI snapshot to evaluate our recent grantmaking through a JEDI lens.
We collected and analyzed data on the following indicators to create a JEDI snapshot:
- JEDI approach;
- Grant subject matter;
- Grant strategy;
- Population served by age, race/ethnicity, gender, faith, and ability;
- Grantee leader demographics;
- Organizational budget size;
- Organizational funding history with W&EHF; and
- Grant duration.
The results of this analysis will be shared in a subsequent blog post.
We hope that these updates provide you with both a better understanding of how the Fund is thinking about JEDI and supply some practical ideas you might put into play at your own organization. This is just the first in a new series of blog posts – “JEDI Journals” – where you will hear from various Fund staff members about our work to achieve justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Please reach out to us with any questions and ideas. We hope to learn about your work as well.