Illuminating Pathways to Gender Equality

June 3, 2014

wmfndnMCF member Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School’s Center on Women & Public Policy, released new research today on the status of Minnesota’s women and girls in four key areas: economics, safety, health and leadership.

The report, Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota, shows that while inequalities exist for all women and girls in Minnesota, even greater disparities exist for women and girls of color, rural women and girls, and older women.

“Gender inequality continues to render women the nation’s poorest, reinforce systemic violence, produce substandard health outcomes, and deny women leadership opportunities across all sectors,” said Women’s Foundation of Minnesota president and CEO Lee Roper-Batker. “When women thrive, so do their families and communities. Minnesota can and must do better. The data help us get there.”

Findings from the research include:

  • White, Asian American, African American, American Indian and Latina women earn $0.80, $0.74, $0.62, $0.62 and $0.57 on the dollar, respectively, compared to white men.
  • Women in elected office at the Minnesota Legislature are stuck at one-third, slightly below historic highs. Almost one-third of the state’s three-seat legislative districts include no women and two-thirds of those are in rural areas of the state.
  • One-third to one-half of overweight girls report harassment or bullying based on their appearance, and 42% of Somali girls report the same based on ethnicity and national origin.
  • Teen birth rates for Minnesota’s African American and white girls are lower than the national average, and for Latina girls, on par. For Minnesota’s American Indian and Asian American teens, the birth rate is double the national average.

Download the report on the foundation’s website, and join the conversation on its 2014 Road to Equality Tour. The tour will visit seven Minnesota destinations through the state, June 3-24.

What Will It Take to Build a Beloved Community?

May 19, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 1.43.35 PMLast week a report on black male achievement commissioned by the Foundation Center and the Open Society Foundation was released: Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement.

The report builds on the 2012 study Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boysmaps current work in the area of black male achievement and makes recommendations on what it will take to strengthen the field moving forward.

Based on interviews with 50 leaders in the social, academic, government and business sectors, the report takes stock of major sectors engaged in the field and examines opportunities for other constituencies — especially the corporate and faith sectors — to become more involved.

A “Rethink Philanthropy” chapter calls for longer funding commitments, increased general operating support, permanent endowments and other ways of moving beyond traditional philanthropy.

Susan Taylor Batten, CEO of ABFE, characterizes such efforts as transformational philanthropy and says:

“Ultimately, we have to find ways to ‘hard wire’ a race and gender lens into all investments rather than setting up special projects that are time-limited. The latter is important, but one of our goals is to change the sector so investments in black male achievement are not dependent on a particular leader.”

It is a timely release in light of a growing number of national initiatives focused on improving the economic, social and physical well-being of black males, including My Brother’s Keeper and the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color.

Beloved Community

The concept of a “Beloved Community” was popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a core part of his philosophy.

According to The King Center: Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

Sounds like a world worth working for.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Inspiration, Renewed Commitments at the Ambassador Awards

April 10, 2014
The Saint Paul Foundation's Carleen Rhodes with this year's Ambassador Awards honorees.

Minnesota Philanthropy Partners’ Carleen Rhodes with this year’s Ambassador Awards honorees.

On April 7, The Saint Paul Foundation held its annual Facing Race Ambassador Awards. The purpose of this event is to honor “…individuals working to build communities where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.”

This year, over 500 people came out to celebrate and honor this work. It was fantastic to see such a multi-generational crowd. Attendees included youth, elected officials, and those from the nonprofit, philanthropic, education, business, and government sectors.

Carleen Rhodes and Rowzat Shipchandler opened the event with an overview of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners’ renewed commitment to racial equity including the racial equity framework. This framework will promote racial equity through the various roles of the foundation: as community participants, economic entities, funders, employers, fundraisers, and leaders.

People were nominated from all across the state. This year, there were two Ambassador Award recipients, Jada Sherrie Mitchell and Justin Terrell, and three Honorable Mention recipients, Jennifer Godinez, Bukata Hayes and Dr. Cecilia Martinez. The Ambassador Award winners each received a $10,000 grant and the Honorable Mention winners each received a $1,000 grant that they may present to the nonprofit of their choice.

Award winning local photographer, Wing Young Huie, was the keynote speaker. He asked questions such as “How much does society shape ideas of who we are,” “Who gets to say who is a Minnesotan,” “When are we different and when are we the same,” and “Are we aware of our subconscious assumptions?” He demonstrated the power of the media across space and time, showing how some reactions to one photo were strongly influenced by images and assumptions from the Vietnam War many decades earlier.

It was a wonderful night of greeting old friends and meeting new ones, building the beloved community, and renewing personal commitments to advance this work.

- Jennifer Pennington, MCF member services fellow

President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” and Philanthropy Investment

February 28, 2014

obama9Boys and young men of color too often face disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success in our society.

Today in the U.S., if you are African-American, there’s a 50-50 chance that you’ll grow up without a father at home, and you’re more likely to be poor, to not read well, to be expelled from school and eventually to end up incarcerated.

And, as President Obama stressed yesterday, “The worst part is we’ve become numb to these statistics. We pretend this is a normal part of American life instead of the outrage that it is. These statistics should break our hearts and compel us to act.”

Act is what the President did Thursday as he signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, an interagency initiative to determine what public and private efforts are working for young men and boys of color and how to expand upon them.

The President has built a broad coalition of backers to help break down barriers, clear pathways to opportunity and reverse troubling trends that show too many boys and young men of color slipping through the cracks.

For yesterday’s announcement, he was joined by philanthropic leaders — including MCF President Trista Harris and David Nicholson, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice — and representatives from communities, business, government and faith groups.

Foundations have already made extensive investments in support of boys and young men of color. Building on that, yesterday 10 foundations (including MCF members The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation) announced additional commitments of at least $200 million over the next five years to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for positive impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.

Look for more next week on Trista Harris’ D.C. experience.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Insights on Diversity and Racial Equity from Sterling Speirn #MCFengage

November 14, 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-14 at 10.34.51 AMThis morning kicked off Pause! Shift! Engage!, MCF’s 2013 Philanthropy Convening. The hundreds of grantmakers and partners in attendance just heard from Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who shared insights on the foundation’s journey toward integrating greater racial equity in its work, and how others can do the same.

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Buy-in at All Levels

Speirn shared that when  he started as president and CEO in 2006, staff had recently gone through an intensive anti-racism workshop. The workshop had a clear impact but some mixed results, as many staff felt unsure where the foundation’s leadership and board stood on issues of diversity.

Speirn addressed this by asking the board of trustees to undertake this same workshop, turning it into a shared experience between board and staff.

When he later asked the trustees what they wanted to tell staff about this work, their direction was clear: “Tell the staff to be the most effective anti-racism organization it can be.” This provided the clear mandate needed for the foundation to promote racial equity and dismantle institutional racism in all its work.

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Looking Within

Another key insight from Speirn: For a foundation, it’s easier to create a new grantmaking program and ask grantees to adhere to a vision of racial equity than to look inside and ask how the foundation can make itself an inclusive environment. However, grantees and other partners were looking to the foundation to lead by example, so internal practices had to be addressed head-on.

Through tools such as the Intercultural Development Inventory, workshops led by White Men as Full Diversity Partners (again a shared experience with both board and staff), and a peer action learning network created by the Council of Michigan Foundations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation made significant progress on aligning all its work around a shared vision of diversity.

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Full Transparency

A significant step from W.K. Kellogg Foundation in demonstrating its commitment to diversity and equity was to publish the demographics of its staff and board on its website every year. This includes not just overall demographics: they are also broken down by different positions, such as board, executive leadership, program officers, etc., to give the public a fuller picture.

Through these reports, the public could see that the foundation staff moved from being comprised of 21% people of color in 2002, to 40% in 2012.

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From Counting People to Making People Count

Speirn also emphasized that counting people was only the first step on the journey. It’s important not to just have diverse people at the table, but that they also have a real voice instead of being expected to conform to an organization’s monoculture. At the final stage, these voices fully matter and contribute to better outcomes.

Speirn closed by sharing his pride that after many years of service to the foundation as a staff member, La June Montgomery Tabron will become W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s first African-American president and CEO starting in 2014.

Stay Tuned!

Look for more from the convening to come soon on this blog, and follow #MCFengage on Twitter for live updates!


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