Message from Fred Ali, President & CEO:
The Achieving Equity Convening – One Year Later
In March 2017 the Weingart Foundation brought together leaders from philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, government, business, and labor to identify opportunities for advancing fairness and inclusion in communities throughout California. At the concluding session of the Achieving Equity convening, I outlined commitments the Weingart Foundation was prepared to make in four different areas of work. I am pleased to report that we have made progress.
- Data to Action. As discussed by many presenters at the Achieving Equity convening, better data and ongoing analysis is needed to guide shared strategy, support advocacy, and measure progress. The Equity Profile of the Los Angeles Region report, which was released at the Convening, marked the beginning of a joint project from PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) to regularly publish regional equity reports that can serve as a resource for various stakeholders. Since the convening, a table of leaders including PERE, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), Southern California Grantmakers, and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, have met regularly to identify the development of other resources needed to drive effective action.
- Regional Programming. Inspired by the convening, the three regional grantmaking associations—Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers—agreed to devote significant programming to advancing inclusion and opportunity. Over the past year, the three associations have each made a deep commitment to infusing an equity lens into their programming, communications, and policy work. Together, they spent four months in extensive racial justice training to help them better understand how to enter into this work in a meaningful way. They collectively sponsored nearly 40 equity-focused forums and conferences, covering a broad range of topics including operating with an equity lens, the use of data tools and dashboards to drive toward equity, and applying a racial equity lens to the health and education systems. These programs served well over 2,000 participants from the philanthropic, government, and nonprofit sectors. In addition, the three organizations are working together to prioritize advocacy work on the 2020 census to help ensure a fair count for marginalized communities.
The convening also stimulated some new work in Orange County. The Orange County Funders’ Roundtable is working with USC’s PERE to develop an Equity Profile of Orange County and has created an equity-focused subgroup that meets regularly. These funders are committed to using the data generated from the profile to support future programming and projects.
- Leadership for Movements and Youth Organizing. A number of speakers at the Achieving Equity convening also stressed the importance of supporting community-based movements for social change. The Weingart Foundation pledged to explore new ways to provide nonprofits with the leadership training and support they need to build grassroots power and transformative movements.
After the convening, we formed an advisory group of social justice leaders and colleague funders to guide us in the development of a pilot project for movement leadership development. On a separate but coordinated track, we also began exploring opportunities to support the capacity of nonprofit organizations engaged in youth organizing. As once again demonstrated in the aftermath of recent school shootings, young leaders can play a critical role in movement building. This work has been informed by landscape reviews, field interviews and analysis. Once complete, we will share these reports, as well as our plans for moving this work forward.
- California Executive Roundtable. A number of California funders left the Achieving Equity convening committed to working together more systematically to move a shared vision of justice and opportunity. In 2017, we formally created the California Executive Roundtable, a group of 16 foundation leaders from across the state focused on sharing best practices and taking aligned action to advance equity. The Roundtable met for the first time this February and has already begun identifying goals and areas of collective interest. Leaders will continue to meet quarterly, and I am deeply excited about the Roundtable’s potential to foster transformative partnerships to advance equity.
I share our progress on these four strategies to continue to invite collaboration from funders, nonprofits and others. Philanthropy’s interest in advancing equity must be more than a passing fad. The need to achieve justice and opportunity for all must become a driving force in our field.
President & CEO