A Full Commitment to Equity and Justice
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 shut out. Across the region, people are struggling daily for things some take for granted—safe streets, good jobs, health care, affordable housing, and a quality education for our families.
This is why the Weingart Foundation has made a full commitment to racial and socioeconomic equity and justice. Ours is 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 of color 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 of color, including those Southern Californians whose 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, and to support people in having greater control over the systems and structures that shape their lives.
With justice as our ultimate goal, advancing equity is how we build toward this larger vision. We partner with organizations working towards a deeper change, a fundamental reordering of our world so that power is broadly and fairly shared. We strive to understand and account for historical as well as modern oppression in our work, and recognize that unjust systems will always produce unjust outcomes. We lift up race because structural racism is at the heart of the issues we work on and race is determinant across numerous socioeconomic outcomes.
We are not alone in this commitment, and we are encouraged by our colleagues and peers who have been leading conversations in philanthropy about equity. 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 injustice first-hand. We are also committed to challenging ourselves to work with a sense of urgency and to take risks.
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.
While the challenges are great, we also think there is reason to be optimistic. Southern California has an unparalleled ecosystem of changemakers. There is a growing number of civic and business leaders who recognize we need to transform systems. Most importantly, we have an incredible group of local leaders and activists. They are embedded in community, collaborating thoughtfully, and seeing real impact. And, just as importantly, they are taking a long view, striking at the roots of entrenched problems.
This momentum for change from across sectors creates the opportunity for broadly supported action, where the Weingart Foundation can both lead and join with others. Our shared hopes for Southern California—and our shared future—rest on our ability to reimagine what is possible and to work together to create a region of racial and socioeconomic justice for all.