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President’s Message
The Achieving Equity Convening Recap

The Weingart Foundation’s full commitment to equity contains a pledge to use our voice and influence to call attention to the importance of advancing fairness and inclusion and urge our peers to join in this work. Many in philanthropy have taken up the call for equity but much more needs to be done, and we need to learn from one another.

This is why on March 2nd, our Foundation brought together key leaders from philanthropy, as well as from the nonprofit sector, government, business, and labor for the Achieving Equity convening in Los Angeles.

At the convening, we heard from leaders in philanthropy like Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, Rip Rapson of the Kresge Foundation, Lata Reddy of the Prudential Foundation, Phil Henderson from the Surdna Foundation, Antonia Hernandez from the California Community Foundation, Fred Blackwell from the San Francisco Foundation, and Bob Ross from the California Endowment. We also heard from nonprofit leaders including Stewart Kwoh of Asian Americans Advancing Justice—and government leaders like LA City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson—all of whom place equity at the center of their work.

The day was an opportunity to elevate the dialogue across sectors about the challenges and opportunities of creating equity—providing real fairness, inclusion, and opportunity—in Southern California and beyond. Speakers presented the case for equity and provided examples of what’s possible.

The convening was a starting point. In my closing remarks that day, I offered several ways we can all move forward together. We also surveyed attendees afterwards and asked for their suggestions for collective action, which we will share in a report on our website next month.

I invite you to join the collective effort to advance equity by considering the following:

  • Data to Action. First, I encourage you to review and use the Equity Profile of the Los Angeles Region, a new report the Weingart Foundation commissioned from PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). This report represents the beginning of a joint project of PolicyLink and PERE to publish regional equity reports on an annual basis. This tremendous resource will provide all of us with ongoing analysis that can help guide shared strategy, support advocacy, and measure progress. In partnership with the Weingart Foundation and other funders supporting the project, PolicyLink and PERE will design an engagement process for cross-sector leaders to identify shared data needs and capacities—as well as effective approaches, models and strategies for moving data to action.
     
  • Regional Programing. Second, place and local context are important, and if equity strategies are going to be successful, they need to be integrated at the regional, city, county, and neighborhood level. To move the discussions started at the Achieving Equity convening forward, our regional grantmaking associations—Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers—have agreed to devote significant programming to equity, growth, and opportunity. This programming will include nonprofits, business, labor, and government, as well as funders, and will create spaces to identify cross-sector approaches.
     
  • Equity Movement Leaders. Third, if we’re building a movement, and I hope we are, leadership is critically important. I think we owe it to our nonprofit partners—who are, and will continue to shoulder much of this work—to provide them with the leadership training and support they need to continue to build strong movements for change in their communities. With that in mind, the Weingart Foundation is committed to exploring the development of an “equity leaders” program to support organizers, advocates and community leaders and will invite other funders who may be interested to join us in this work.
     
  • National Philanthropy Aligned Around Equity. Lastly, the Weingart Foundation, while focused on Southern California, is committed to both drawing upon and informing philanthropy’s national dialogue about equity. In so many ways, California has become a beacon for the rest of the nation, and this is certainly true in the area of philanthropic collaboration and collective action. We have a responsibility to see our work as part of a national movement. Although we are not sure exactly what form this will take, a number of national thought leaders and I have committed to sustain the conversation from the convening and pro-actively collaborate with other foundation leaders around the country. We know that only by creating a unified field of action around equity, can philanthropy hope to achieve a scale of impact commensurate with the challenge.

I share these four strategies not only to invite collaboration from funders, nonprofits and others, but also to challenge all of us to think about what strategies we may be called to undertake or lead. Increasing equity will necessitate all of us doing what we can and inspiring others across sectors to do what they can, too. In a real sense, it is a call to action for all of us.

We have entered profoundly difficult times, when so many of the underpinnings of our free society seem to be in jeopardy. Our values demand a total focus on equity. This is true whether your organization is working on housing, immigration, education, health care, youth development, or economic development. The societal contradictions that drew us to our work in the first place have only deepened—along with our belief that we can achieve a better world.

Together, we can begin to coalesce as a field of collective action to uplift the communities that have been sidelined for far too long. Responding to the racial, social, and economic divides in this country is both a moral and economic imperative. Our shared hopes and our shared future rest on our willingness and ability to work together to create a region, a state, and a nation of inclusion and opportunity.


Fred Ali
President & CEO