The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation, both MCF Members and affiliates of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, hosted a breakfast earlier this month to announce their newly-developed racial equity framework.
A room full of guests listened as MN Partners CEO Carleen Rhodes and Amherst H. Wilder President May Kao Y. Hang shared findings from “Facing Race: A Renewed Commitment to Racial Equity.” The 30-page report serves as a call to action for leaders at both foundations, and stems from their longstanding commitment to fostering racial equity. The hope is that other foundations throughout Minnesota will use this as a tool in their own efforts to create a more equitable philanthropic sector.
In 2012 The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation commissioned a taskforce; they drove the process that identified five different roles the foundations held in the community. With leadership placed in the framework’s center, the roles now include: Community Participants, Economic Entities, Funders, Employers, and Fundraisers. The roles are based on a corresponding set of expectations that the task force recommends board and staff use as an accountability guide. Here’s a deeper look into what each role looks like:
· Community Participants: As Minnesota becomes more racially diverse, foundations owe it to themselves to host convenings that encourage open dialogue; take the time to meaningfully build connections with communities of color; and learn the ways in which racism impacts the communities they serve.
· Economic Entities: This role recognizes how racial justice and economic justice are linked. It challenges foundations to do more than just hire a racially diverse staff by encouraging mindfulness around choosing vendors and investment firms.
· Funders: Setting guidelines, developing programs, and supporting affiliate grantmakers in their best practices around incorporating a racial equality lens will help foundations to better reflect the diverse communities they serve.
· Employers: Taking a look at internal systems, foundations should ask themselves “Are we intentionally recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing employees of color?” “How are we creating a workplace culture that values everyone’s contributions?” “Do our stakeholders and communities know about our commitment to eliminating institutional racism?”
· Fundraisers: Community foundations have a unique role as fundraisers. A commitment to racial equity not only plays a key role in nurturing relationships with current donors; but it also is instrumental in cultivating new relationships with a more racially diverse, culturally competent generation of donors.
What is most encouraging about this new framework is how it holds leadership accountable to walking an influential walk – and talking a correspondingly influential talk. As members of the local philanthropic community, we have to examine our privilege, realize how we are a part of current challenges, and get ready to step beyond what’s comfortable in order to advance. This will require courage, honesty, and openness. It will also require foundations to invite feedback and insight from diverse communities to really take root.
This should be a proud day for MCF, whose groundbreaking Diversity and Inclusion Action Kit helped shape Facing Race.
- Venessa Fuentes, MCF Philanthropy Fellow