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Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

United Philanthropy Forum’s key strategic priorities include a focus on advancing racial equity, diversity and inclusion in philanthropy. The Forum envisions a courageous philanthropic sector that catalyzes a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper. It is not possible for us to achieve this vision without addressing racial equity.

The Forum supports efforts to address equity in all areas of society. But if you look at just about any issue that philanthropy cares about, from education to health care to the environment, some of the greatest disparities are along racial and ethnic lines. These racial disparities have persisted for decades, and in many cases the gaps are widening. It is impossible to make significant progress on any of these issues without focusing on how to narrow these gaps.

The Forum views our racial equity work in a specific way: we strive to be the leading connector, convener and collaborative partner for all regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) on racial equity, diversity and inclusion. Our network includes nearly 75 PSO members—including regional philanthropy associations and national affinity groups, networks and associations of funders. We are working to help PSOs bring a racial equity lens to all aspects of their work, including their internal operations, external programming, and leadership work in the field, and to catalyze and guide greater PSO collaboration in this work. We believe this has the potential to shift the thinking and practice of many of the more than 7,000 foundations that are members of these PSOs, leading to deeper change in the field.

The Forum’s work is guided by our Racial Equity Committee, which is comprised of representatives of regional and national PSOs that are further along in their racial equity work. The group is co-chaired by Susan Taylor Batten, President & CEO of ABFE, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Advancing Racial Equity in Philanthropy: A Scan of Philanthropy-Serving Organizations

The Forum conducted a scan of regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) in February through May 2018 to get a more comprehensive understanding of PSOs’ current work and future needs to advance racial equity in philanthropy. The scan involved both a survey that asked about PSOs’ current work, future needs and greatest challenges in advancing racial equity, plus in-depth interviews to discuss what it takes to do this work effectively and to identify their key challenges, barriers and opportunities for addressing systemic inequities. 

Related Resources

Sarah Eagle Heart, Executive Director, Native Americans in Philanthropy, presented as part of a plenary session at United Philanthropy Forum’s 2018 Annual Conference in Boston on July 18. Eagle Heart spoke about how her organization is using popular media to help change the narrative about Native Americans in our country....more
Michael McAfee, President of PolicyLink, gave this presentation on July 18, 2018, as part of a plenary session at United Philanthropy Forum’s 2018 Annual Conference in Boston focused on changing the false narratives told in our country about communities of color. McAfee urged participants to stop changing the narrative, to see his narrative and to stop being afraid of the narrative....more
Cristina Jiménez, Executive Director and Co-Founder, United We Dream, presented as part of a plenary session at United Philanthropy Forum’s 2018 Annual Conference in Boston on July 18. Jiménez asked participants to be unapologetic in talking about the inclusive country that we want to build together....more
Richard Rothstein , Research Associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley) and author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America . Rothstein surfaces the forgotten history of how federal, state and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide....more
Dr. Elizabeth Hinton (@elizabhinton), Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University and author of the award-winning book From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America. Dr. Hinton examined the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States....more
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, shared key concepts from his New York Times-bestselling book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America....more
Grant Oliphant, President & CEO of The Heinz Endowments, gave an inspiring keynote presentation at the 2018 Forum Annual Conference in Boston, MA on July 17. He is a vocal and outspoken philanthropy leader who stresses the importance of foundations speaking out against government policies and decisions that are at odds with their work....more
This conference plenary session, entitled “The Future of Collaboration and Partnership for Philanthropy,” featured three nonprofit and philanthropy leaders discussing how and why philanthropy-serving organizations can develop deeper collaborations and partnerships, at a critical moment in our sector, to increase the impact of our members and further increase our relevancy....more