We believe that addressing structural racism and racial disparities is the first essential step towards reaching our vision for Central New York: to be a vibrant community with opportunity for everyone.

Dismantling Institutional Racism: The Beginning of our Journey (January 2021)

No matter where you come from, what you look like, or how much money your family has, everyone should have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. However, opportunity in America has traditionally depended on who you are and where you come from. Policies, practices, and beliefs—rooted in history and still affecting people today—continue to oppress, exclude and prevent Black, Latino, Native and Asian people from fulfilling their potential.

At the Community Foundation, we believe that addressing structural racism and racial disparities is the first essential step towards reaching our vision for Central New York: to be a vibrant community with opportunity for everyone. But in order to partner with our community in making change in this way, we must first start from within.

Our staff and board have been laying the foundation for this work over the past two years. We’ve already taken several important steps:

  • Ongoing Learning: You cannot tackle an issue if you do not understand it. In 2019, we began by implementing the Intercultural Development Inventory among all of our staff. Last year, we continued this journey guided by the expertise of The Race Matters Institute and the Association of Black Foundation Executives. Our entire staff attended an intensive three-day virtual racial equity workshop this summer, followed by specialized sessions for those in leadership roles. This has served as a jumping-off point for ongoing staff education through book reads and discussion around topics of white privilege, implicit bias, institutional racism and more.
  • Board Planning: Our board of directors is engaging in a series of listening, learning and community conversation sessions designed and facilitated by Gwen, Inc. to help inform our next strategic plan and integrate an equity lens more explicitly throughout our infrastructure.
  • Infusion into Operations: Community Foundation staff are helping us to integrate equity into our work by participating in open dialogue in the assessment of internal policies, practices, protocols and communications to ensure they align with our aspiration to be an anti-racist organization. In addition, we’ve expanded our existing commitment to utilize Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) when choosing external suppliers and vendors.
  • Investing in Black-Led Organizations: In June, we announced that we would be investing a minimum of $1 million over the next few years through a new Black Equity & Excellence funding priority. While addressing issues directly related to racial inequity has always been foundational to our work – to improve early childhood education, literacy, educational and professional opportunity and to put an end to childhood lead poisoning, this new commitment will allow us to enhance these efforts.

This fall, we announced the formation of the Black Equity & Excellence Advisory Council, comprised of members of the Black community in Central New York, to assist us in this effort. The council will review proposals, make grants and be integral in the institution of anti-racist funding practices across our community investment work.

These are helpful first steps, but there is much more to do. We are committed to taking further actions as we continue down this journey. For any effort that we undertake, we will ask ourselves how race informs the issues to be addressed and the audience to whom it applies.

Racial equity is mission-critical for us, so as we head into the development of our next strategic plan, we will be evaluating how we can incorporate it into everything we do. This includes a systematic review of our operational policies, hiring practices, grant and initiative efforts, external communications and donor development practices to ensure racial equity is fully integrated into our work.

This work will not happen overnight, but we are committed to seeing it through while learning and listening to the community. And we want the community to provide feedback and hold us accountable.

We aspire to be the change you hope to see in Central New York and across the country.

Related Stories

News Releases October 27, 2021

Community Foundation Announces New Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council Members

The Community Foundation launched the Black Equity & Excellence Fund in June of 2020 to ...

Blogs October 26, 2021

Reflections: Using Data to Improve Equity

Frank Ridzi, vice president, community investment, reflects on how nonprofits can measure how effectively their ...

Group of individuals standing together
News Releases September 30, 2021

$248,000 in Grants Distributed to Black-Led Organizations to Support Black Business, Youth and Building Generational Wealth

The Community Foundation recently distributed a new round of grants from its Black Equity & ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | UrbanTSyr

The Black Equity & Excellence Fund allowed for optimization of UrbanTsyr online content with professionally ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company

Through the generous support of the Community Foundation’s Black Equity & Excellence Fund we produced, ...

Stories August 25, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Dunbar Association

Knowing that initiatives such as the BE&E Fund believes in your vision helps wounds become ...

Stories August 13, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Tamika Otis

I want Central New York to look like a place that exemplifies an overwhelming love ...

Stories August 11, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Barry Wells

"Philanthropy can address many of the issues and problems hindering our march toward forming a ...

Stories August 9, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Me'Shae Brooks-Rolling

"Philanthropy is not just about giving out handouts (although that most certainly has its place); ...

News Releases October 27, 2021

Community Foundation Announces New Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council Members

The Community Foundation launched the Black Equity & Excellence Fund in June of 2020 to ...

Blogs October 26, 2021

Reflections: Using Data to Improve Equity

Frank Ridzi, vice president, community investment, reflects on how nonprofits can measure how effectively their ...

Group of individuals standing together
News Releases September 30, 2021

$248,000 in Grants Distributed to Black-Led Organizations to Support Black Business, Youth and Building Generational Wealth

The Community Foundation recently distributed a new round of grants from its Black Equity & ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | UrbanTSyr

The Black Equity & Excellence Fund allowed for optimization of UrbanTsyr online content with professionally ...

Stories August 26, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company

Through the generous support of the Community Foundation’s Black Equity & Excellence Fund we produced, ...

Stories August 25, 2021

8/28 Day Spotlight | Dunbar Association

Knowing that initiatives such as the BE&E Fund believes in your vision helps wounds become ...

Stories August 13, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Tamika Otis

I want Central New York to look like a place that exemplifies an overwhelming love ...

Stories August 11, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Barry Wells

"Philanthropy can address many of the issues and problems hindering our march toward forming a ...

Stories August 9, 2021

Black Philanthropy Month | Me'Shae Brooks-Rolling

"Philanthropy is not just about giving out handouts (although that most certainly has its place); ...

News & Stories