A Full Commitment to Equity
Southern California is a place practically built on hopes and dreams. Our region has long offered the promise of education, jobs, homes, and healthy lifestyles. Like our Foundation’s founder, Ben Weingart, people seeking opportunity have journeyed here—from across the country and around the world—full of hope for something better for their families and their future.
But far too many who saw Southern California as a place of opportunity have been disappointed. Across the region, people are struggling daily for the things some take for granted—safe streets, good jobs, access to health care, affordable housing, and a quality education for our families.
This is why the Weingart Foundation has made a full commitment to equity—a long-term commitment to base all of our policy and program decisions on achieving the goal to advance fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians—especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty.
We recognize that inequity stems from the historic, long-term barriers to rights and opportunities endured by low-income communities, including those Southern Californians whose skin color, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, or zip code has prevented them from realizing the dignities and liberties all people deserve. We have a responsibility to invest in the communities that have been excluded and under-resourced, so they can realize their full potential. It’s a matter of justice.
For us, equity means expanding opportunity by correcting the imbalances we see across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines in our education, health, human service, economic, and criminal justice systems.
We are not alone in this commitment, and we are encouraged by our colleagues and peers who have been leading a conversation to advance equity in philanthropy.
To advance equity requires an examination of privilege, including the power dynamics between funders and nonprofits. Our full commitment to equity also requires the Foundation to constantly examine our own internal policies, practices, and culture with regard to equity and inclusion.
This is complex work, and the Weingart Foundation does not have all the answers. Nor are these issues going to be solved overnight. But we are committed to learning from, and partnering with, nonprofits and the people who experience inequity first-hand. We are also committed to challenging ourselves to work with a sense of urgency and to take risks.
While the challenges are great, we also think there is reason to be optimistic. In addition to social justice advocates, there is a growing number of civic and business leaders who recognize the scales of justice are tipped too far in one direction, creating the opportunity for effective and broadly supported action in which we can both lead and join with others. Our shared hopes for Southern California—and our shared future—rest on our ability to work together to create a region of inclusion and opportunity.