The Casey Foundation Goes Deep on Race Equity and Inclusion

Posted July 26, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Get­ting more than 200 peo­ple in a room to talk about race, racism, uncon­scious bias and white priv­i­lege for three days is no small task. But that is what hap­pened in mid-July for our entire Foun­da­tion. We spent our annu­al sum­mer con­ven­ing dis­cussing these impor­tant top­ics with the goal of inte­grat­ing racial and eth­nic equi­ty and inclu­sion into all aspects of the Foundation’s work, both inter­nal­ly and externally.

Giv­en our mis­sion of devel­op­ing solu­tions to build brighter futures for all of America’s chil­dren, we imag­ined this would be a time­ly and per­ti­nent top­ic. We already had plen­ty of data that show kids of col­or expe­ri­ence the worst out­comes on near­ly every mea­sure of well-being. We knew that the Cen­sus Bureau had recent­ly report­ed the major­i­ty of kids under the age of 5 would be kids of col­or, in the next two to three years the major­i­ty of kids under the age of 18 would be kids of col­or, and in the next decade or so, the major­i­ty of the work­force would be peo­ple of col­or. We also knew that data show that a person’s race is the lead­ing bar­ri­er to suc­cess in the Unit­ed States.

From my van­tage point, there were plen­ty of com­pelling rea­sons to name race equi­ty and inclu­sion as a Foun­da­tion-wide pri­or­i­ty and to make it the focus of the annu­al con­ven­ing. When we start­ed plan­ning back in Jan­u­ary, we didn’t know we would all be com­ing togeth­er around this sub­ject a week after watch­ing videos that showed the killings of two black men by police offi­cers in Louisiana and Min­neso­ta with­in hours of each other.

We were cer­tain­ly not plan­ning the annu­al sum­mer con­ven­ing with those hor­rif­ic events in mind. How­ev­er, we did use this lat­est news as yet anoth­er rea­son to help all staff see the need to deep­en their under­stand­ing of race and have deep­er con­ver­sa­tions about issues affect­ing racial­ly mar­gin­al­ized groups in America.

Race and racism and lack of equi­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty affect all of us. Their per­ni­cious his­to­ry and present pow­er require us all to sum­mon our col­lec­tive best to be the change we want to see. Cre­at­ing equi­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty is no longer a choice. It’s an imper­a­tive. This uncom­fort­able moment in time is our moment to get it right for the next gen­er­a­tion of kids — to improve out­comes for all chil­dren, regard­less of their race, eth­nic­i­ty, or immi­grant sta­tus or the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.

Through pol­i­cy advo­ca­cy, prac­tice changes and finan­cial invest­ments, we see great oppor­tu­ni­ty to elim­i­nate the insti­tu­tion­al, struc­tur­al and sys­temic bar­ri­ers that oppress peo­ple of col­or and per­pet­u­ate inequities. It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to be more inclu­sive of peo­ple of col­or so they have a voice in design­ing and devel­op­ing solu­tions and strate­gies that work for them. And it’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for phil­an­thropy, whose pur­pose is to improve the well-being of humankind by pre­vent­ing and solv­ing social prob­lems, to be a true mod­el of change. Phil­an­thropy can lead the way and show oth­ers the dif­fer­ence that can be made when fun­ders tar­get their invest­ments and strate­gies to the kids, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties who need them the most.

Our coun­try seems to be strug­gling with what to do and where to start. In his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Com­mu­ni­ty?, Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. sug­gests we have to aggres­sive­ly change our insti­tu­tions and spend­ing pri­or­i­ties to see the large scale shifts we so des­per­ate­ly need. Dr. King said we will need to edu­cate our allies on the issues, we will need lead­ers to make rad­i­cal change and we will need to work togeth­er — to be a collective.

No one enti­ty can solve the nation’s prob­lems of racial inequity. By work­ing togeth­er, think­ing togeth­er and invest­ing resources in new ways to sup­port chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties who need those resources the most, we can chart a new path for­ward to heal the ills of our world — to cre­ate racial and eth­nic equi­ty and inclu­sion for all Amer­i­cans, not just a priv­i­leged few.

This will require us all to be bold, chal­lenge our own assump­tions, take a hard look at our own data about what and who we fund and make some dif­fi­cult choic­es about how to allo­cate resources that are always lim­it­ed even when they seem sub­stan­tial. Our Race Equi­ty and Inclu­sion Action Guide pro­vides insights, tools and out­lines 7 key steps to help shape insti­tu­tions and poli­cies that sup­port mar­gin­al­ized chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Deploy­ing Casey’s REI Frame­work: Lessons from the Civic Sites tells the sto­ry of our work to bring these strate­gies to our long-term port­fo­lios in Bal­ti­more and Atlanta.

Casey main­tains a prac­tice of exam­in­ing our data, work, strate­gies and part­ners. For the past five years, we have been col­lect­ing and ana­lyz­ing the racial diver­si­ty of our grantees and con­sul­tants. We share the data with Casey staff and with our grantees and con­sul­tants. We also pro­vide staff with con­sid­er­a­tions and ques­tions to ask when look­ing at the diver­si­ty of our grantees and con­sul­tants and review­ing and ana­lyz­ing the dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data they provide.

Because we believe diver­si­fy­ing our grantees and con­sul­tants is an impor­tant com­po­nent of more equi­table results, we are proud to report that near­ly 40% of our grantees and almost 30% of con­sul­tant orga­ni­za­tions are made up of peo­ple of col­or. These num­bers have been pret­ty con­sis­tent for the past three years. We are com­mit­ted to increas­ing our grantee and con­sul­tant diver­si­ty by 5% over the next year.

We are also devel­op­ing a score­card” to strate­gi­cal­ly and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly mea­sure our progress in oper­a­tional­iz­ing our com­mit­ment to racial and eth­nic equi­ty through­out our pro­gram­mat­ic work, gov­er­nance, human resources, oper­a­tions and invest­ments. We believe that this score­card” can serve as a use­ful resource for the Foundation’s inter­nal and exter­nal stake­hold­ers as they part­ner with us to cre­ate a cul­ture of equi­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty in this orga­ni­za­tion and across the country.

It is not enough to want to do good. Philanthropy’s great­est respon­si­bil­i­ty is to use its resources to do good, espe­cial­ly for peo­ple of col­or who have been try­ing to achieve the Amer­i­can dream for way too long.

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