Creating a Race Equity Culture™ Together

  • By Equity in the Center® and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, January 20, 2022

Grantmakers in the GEO community are consistently working toward change and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in philanthropy. We have seen many examples of how this commitment to improving processes and practices has benefited our grantmaking and, in turn, the communities we are accountable to.

Through the Remote Learning Series in 2021, we were able to see grantmakers revamp their learning and evaluation agendas to ensure impact data were defined by grantees rather than program officers from foundations. In the Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellowship community, grantmakers leaned into creating stronger, more trusting relationships with grantee partners by creating several different avenues for participating in anonymous, high-quality feedback loops. These commitments to constantly improve structures, policies and ways of being are promising indicators that grantmakers are ready to become who society needs us to be.

But there is more we can (and must) do to operate differently – more equitably and collectively – as a sector. As grantmakers, if we actually want to create a more just, connected and inclusive society, we must make the critical leap from theory to practice, acknowledging our complicity in systemic racism and proactively transforming our organizations and sector to center race equity in all that we do. This necessary leap was the impetus for GEO’s newest learning cohort, the Race Equity Culture™ Fellowship, designed in partnership with Equity in the Center®.

A crucial part of doing philanthropy differently is making room to think and act in transformational ways to embody a Race Equity Culture™. In our charge to support thriving communities and center racial equity, it is imperative that grantmakers understand and know how to adopt a Race Equity Culture™ within their organizations and, ultimately, across the sector. Inherent to this culture is an explicit commitment to dismantling white supremacy culture, interrogating assumptions and biases about how the work of nonprofits and grantmakers is conducted and eliminating institutional and structural racism within the social sector. As stated in Equity in the Center’s Awake to Woke to Work publication, “When your organization has fully committed to a Race Equity Culture™, the associated values become part of its DNA — moving beyond special initiatives, task force groups, and check-the-box approaches into full integration of race equity in every aspect of its operations and programs.”

Grounded in Equity in the Center’s framework, the Race Equity Culture™ Fellowship cohort will outline key organizational levers that are necessary for building, deepening and sustaining racial equity practice within organizations. Participants will engage in intimate settings with like-minded peers who can provide resources to advance organizational change. Our goal is to strengthen grantmakers’ competency in advancing racial equity internally and externally in the philanthropic sector.

Through retreats, small group coaching sessions and team coaching, this cohort is specifically curated for racial equity and DEI practitioners who have committed to upending norms of traditional, institutional philanthropy. After developing a shared understanding of some processes and practices that can be used to build racial equity into the everyday work of the organization, participants will be challenged to implement change efforts and effectively story-tell regarding their successes and challenges.

We are excited to explore how grantmakers are reimagining racial equity in their organizations and to pilot and build together. To learn more about the cohort, visit our webpage here.