Peter A. Dunn

Point of View

Giving Voice Spring 2021: Point of View

For the past several years, the Community Foundation has been on a racial equity journey. This effort has included our board and staff in reflective, deliberative, thoughtful and sometimes provocative conversation and opportunities for learning and dialogue.

What is the outcome of this so far? As we move forward, it is clear that devoting ourselves to a mission that endeavors to “foster a thriving Central New York community” requires us to embed equity more explicitly into our work. Towards that end, we are implementing a racial equity lens across our operations – this is not just about what we fund through grantmaking and our strategic initiatives but applies to all of our functions.

This past year, we started utilizing a racial equity impact assessment tool to guide revisions to our policies and practices. We have broadened networks for recruiting for job openings and incorporated diversity, equity and inclusion goals into staff annual performance assessments. We’re reviewing vendors for the CNY Philanthropy Center and Community Foundation operations and are working with our investment consultant to assess our investment pool to track minority and women-owned investment managers. We’ve initiated an effort to gather more robust data on our grantees so that we can more accurately track nonprofits led by and serving communities of color. Through our communications efforts, we’ll be telling stories that explicitly identify systemic racism.

From the murder of George Floyd on through the reckoning on structural racism that has gathered momentum ever since, this year has seen an acceleration of our work. The story of the Black Equity & Excellence Fund, as described in the cover story of this newsletter, is ultimately one of ‘trust-based’ philanthropy – devolving power by trusting those closest to an issue to make decisions. We have learned so much already from this initiative in just the past year and have been energized by the response that we have received from community foundations in other parts of the country who are starting down a similar path.

We believe that embracing racial equity offers immense opportunities for us and for Central New York. There is a significant economic dividend that will accrue to communities that commit themselves to racial equity. This ‘community return on investment’ can take many forms, but ultimately lifts everyone in the greater Syracuse metropolitan area. We are committed to calling others into this journey and hope that you will join us.

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