Philanthropy Supports ABFE’s Call for Philanthropy to Take Action on Anti-Black Racism

Leaders of many philanthropic support organizations, including United Philanthropy Forum, Council on Foundations, Independent Sector, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, have issued a letter in solidarity with ABFE:  A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities in their call for philanthropy to take action on anti-Black racism.

ABFE is the oldest affinity group in the country, borne out of a moment of both conflict and action, when Black leaders raised their voices to protest the lack of representation within philanthropy. Since their founding nearly 50 years ago, ABFE has worked to mobilize grantmaking entities, donors and nonprofits to improve outcomes for Black communities and the country as a whole. Now, they are calling on philanthropy to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism by engaging in deep, transformative institutional change; supporting Black communities; and deploying an equity analysis in their work.

The leaders say, “We ask you to read ABFE’s call to action and commit to making change within your own institution. We also encourage your support of ABFE and their work by becoming members of their community.  As ABFE says in their statement, “we must be in it for the long haul.” To that end, our organizations commit to working in partnership with ABFE to offer programming and engagement opportunities that help philanthropy develop the deep partnerships with Black communities needed to provide both immediate support and affect long term change.”

The ABFE statement begins, “Our long-term goal is to free Black people from disparate treatment that result in the racial disparities we see in COVID-19, police brutality and on almost every indicator of well-being. To get there, we must dismantle the structures (institutional policies and practices) that disadvantage and marginalize Black people as well as the false narratives about Black communities that allow for continued inhumane treatment. This will lead to stronger Black communities.

“Philanthropy has a critical role to play and must step forward. In addition, a more robust partnership moving forward between philanthropy, government, businesses and Black communities is needed to address immediate needs and opportunities (targeted COVID-19 relief and police reform); as well as the longer-term strategies to address racial inequity. We need deep, transformative institutional change in this country; foundations and donors that support Black communities, in addition to those from other sectors (government, business, etc.) must commit to and deploy an equity analysis to investments moving forward. This is a marathon, not a sprint and all of us in philanthropy must be in it for the long haul.”

The full statement includes 10 action priorities:

BUILD AGENCY — Increase investments in Black-led organizations that connect individuals and families to a
wide array of resources and build power in our communities to lead substantive change.
PUSH STRUCTURAL CHANGE — Given deep-seated inequities, COVID-19 relief and police reform efforts must
take a “long view” and consider policy and system reform needed to improve conditions in Black communities beyond federal and philanthropic emergency and response efforts.
ENCOURAGE SHARED RESPONSIBILITY — Philanthropic funds, particularly those under the leadership of Black foundation executives are part of the solution. However, the targeted investment of all philanthropies as well as public dollars are needed to transform conditions in Black communities in both relief and long-term efforts.
USE ENDOWMENTS — The health-driven economic recession has negatively impacted foundation endowments. Therefore,
there is increased need to prioritize spending on the most impacted communities.  In addition, now is the time to utilize
the full set of resources of philanthropy by increasing asset payout and employing various investment strategies to provide much needed capital to Black communities.
CENTER BLACK EXPERIENCE — Black leaders and communities must be engaged in the development of short and long-term philanthropic and public policy solutions to ensure that well-intentioned “helping” and reform efforts do not exacerbate existing disparities.
TRUSTEE ACCOUNTABILITY — Foundation trustees are accountable for the strategic direction, fiscal health and policies implemented by the institutions for which they govern. During this time of crisis, foundation boards should take stock of the level of grantmaking to Black communities, increase targeted giving and engage in racial equity assessments of their investments moving forward. It is necessary for national Boards to do so but critically important for foundation boards in the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus with sizeable Black populations (e.g., New York, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, etc.).
ENGAGE BLACK BUSINESSES — Foundations and the public sector should actively engage Black businesses in investment management, banking, and other professional services to address the pandemic’s negative impact on Black earnings and wealth
LIFT UP GENDER — The health and economic well-being of both Black people are under threat due to COVID-19; however,
its’ impacts also differ by gender , gender identity and sexual orientation. Black women are suffering worse relative to job loss. Emerging data illustrates that Black men are at higher risk of death and racial profiling relative to COVID-19. Black LGBTQ communities are particularly vulnerable due to higher rates of suppressed immune systems and widespread housing and employment discrimination. Response efforts must take into account these differences, to ensure that all people of African descent are connected to economic opportunities, healthy and are safe from personal and statesanctioned violence
REACH TO THE DIASPORA — The racially charged impact of COVID-19 extends beyond U.S. borders. Black communities in the U.S. territories have been left out of many relief efforts and African immigrants are being targeted in both the U.S (as part of America’s Black population) and other parts of the world. During crises, we must remain vigilant of how anti-Black racism impacts people of African descent around the world and look for opportunities to unite our philanthropic efforts to save and support Black lives.
ADDRESS DISPARITIES IN PRISONS — U.S. prisons are disproportionately filled with Black and Brown people and are
breeding grounds for the spread of coronavirus, other infectious diseases, and, generally, hopelessness.  COVID
-19 relief efforts have reminded us that institutional custody should be reserved as a last resort when there is a risk of community safety or flight. That use of institutional custody must become a standard of operating in all instances. Current efforts must support the safety of those currently imprisoned, early release of incarcerated individuals and advance sustained investments in alternatives that reduce reliance on incarceration over the long-term to support Black communities.

From a Broken World to a New Better

Many of us have heavy hearts from the events of the last weeks and months, watching the lives of people of color be snuffed out by racial violence and the disproportionate impact of a relentless virus.
I want to reach out to our members of color to offer our solidarity and support, and our commitment to continue the work we have begun on racial equity.  We clearly live in a world that is broken, and its sharp edges predominantly scar those whose skin pigments are darker than mine.
In some ways, the pandemic, and the release of videos of racial injustice, are lightening strikes in the midst of a devastating storm.  They shine light on generations of accumulated damage, a legacy of racism that affects the health and well-being and hope of our colleagues, neighbors and friends.
As we move forward in supporting our communities in this pandemic and come together to build “A New Better,” we need to continue to center the work of racial equity, and learn to be better allies and partners in the work of dismantling perspectives, practices and structures that perpetuate harm against communities and individuals of color.
For those looking for tangible, positive opportunities to respond, we will be sharing recommended reading, but for now,  I wanted to highlight Ibram Kendi’s book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, and two articles, “75 Things A White Person Can Do For Racial Justice,” and “Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not.”
If you are a GCRI member, please also plan on joining us next Thursday, June 4 from 2:00-4:00pm for a timely session on “Investing in Equity in Grantee Organizations During the Pandemic and Beyond” to learn more about how to support nonprofit leaders of color, and to advance intersectional racial equity in our work.   Register
This is just a piece of much larger work that is needed, internally in our own organizations, externally in our grantmaking, and community-wide in our state and nation.
I’m grateful for the ways that you all have partnered in supporting our communities through this pandemic, and your continued commitment gives me hope that we can, in partnership with nonprofits, community members and the public sector, indeed build a “New Better” that advances racial equity and healing, and creates a Rhode Island where everyone can thrive.

Independent Sector Open Letter in Support of Nonprofits in SBA Process

Independent Sector has released an open letter calling on financial organizations that administer and directly impact the recipients of SBA 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s safety net.  Nonnprofits account for a third of the country’s workforce and are the backbone of our recovery effort.  If you are interested in signing on to the letter, please email letters@independentsector.org by 11:59pm on April 8.  Here is the letter:

April 6, 2020

To American Bankers Association and Bank Policy Institute:

Thanks to each of you for your leadership in providing critical financial support as our nation navigates the response to COVID-19. On March 27, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The nonprofit sector is committed to ensuring that an essential, yet often overlooked, segment of our infrastructure receives access to the SBA 7(a) loan provisions of the CARES Act. We need your partnership to make this happen.

Independent Sector, a nonpartisan membership organization representing hundreds of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, calls those who administer the loans and directly impact the recipients of 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s recovery.

Nonprofits play an indispensable role in meeting the needs of our communities and supporting our economy in times of crisis. Even as this public health crisis has shut down vast portions of our economy, nonprofit organizations continue to serve on the frontlines to meet a wide range of needs in our communities, from providing meals to families, to offering emergency child care, to identifying emergency financial support for those who’ve lost their jobs in recent weeks.

The economic consequences of COVID-19 are staggering for all sectors of our economy. The nonprofit sector – the third largest workforce in our nation that contributes over five percent to the national GDP – is especially vulnerable because of what we expect to be precipitous declines in charitable giving and earned revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are, therefore, extraordinarily dependent upon equitable access to the financial assistance provisions of the CARES Act, especially the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act Program.

Small nonprofits, especially those operating in underserved areas, often have limited banking relationships, which may make it difficult for them to successfully navigate the loan process. Further, many banks are only extending loans to existing customers. This also may impede small nonprofits from obtaining a loan due to their prior bank history. In short, there is real concern that charities, particularly those that are led by people of color and/or serving communities of color or tribal communities, may find themselves shut out of the process to secure financial resources that are critical to their survival.

We cannot let this happen. Independent Sector stands ready, with our nonprofit and philanthropic partners, to work with government and private financial institutions to devise and deploy strategies that ensure there is equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans for all nonprofits that qualify, consistent with the intent and provisions of the CARES Act.

We need to get this right. By working together in partnership, we believe that we will. We urge you to support and include nonprofits as you administer SBA 7(a) loans and help make a difference in our communities.

Sincerely,

Dan Cardinali
President and CEO
Independent Sector

The Importance of Supporting Nonprofit Sector in Relief Efforts

We are gathering information about the needs of Rhode Island nonprofits in this difficult time.  United Way and Rhode Island Foundation have done an initial short survey, identifying supply needs (mostly food for distribution, sanitation supplies, and technology for remote work), client financial needs (rental assistance, utility assistance, food, unemployment, etc.) and their organizational financial losses resulting from their compliance with public health restrictions.
At the same time that many nonprofits are providing critical services to the most vulnerable in our communities, virtually all of Rhode Island’s nonprofits have lost some or all of the revenue they depend on.  In order to protect public health, they have cancelled fundraising events and arts performances, and are not able to continue programming for which they have fee for service contracts.  In addition, moving forward many of their donors are themselves facing job losses and financial hardships and will not be able to contribute support.
Charitable nonprofits are not currently eligible for Small Business Administration emergency loans so there are currently no resources to help community-based organizations, service providers, and arts organizations survive this crisis and the resulting economic downturn, which John Macintosh of SeaLevel Partners is calling an “extinction level event” for nonprofits.
United Philanthropy Forum, as well as countless other nonprofits, have called for Congress to specifically include the charitable sector in COVID-19 relief legislation.
If members are interested in connecting with members of Congress in Rhode Island or other districts in which you have operations, the Forum, Independent Sector and the National Council of Nonprofits recommend that the relief package:
  • Expressly include charitable nonprofits in the $200 billion loan fund for businesses. The charitable sector needs an immediate infusion of $60 billion and the loan program is a fast way to get cash in the hands of organizations serving immediate needs in communities, yet facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
  • Clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency Small Business Loan Program by using the tax-law definition of charitable organizations (Sec. 501(c)(3) public charities) and removing the language that excludes nonprofits that are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursements.
  • Improve the above-the-line charitable deduction by raising the cap to $2,000 and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes (due on July 15), and afterwards through 2021.

Nonprofit Leaders Call for Federal Support for Sector

United Philanthropy Forum, the National Council of Nonprofits, and Independent Sector (IS) joined more than 50 nonprofit organizations in calling Congress to pass a $60 billion stimulus package to maintain nonprofit operations, expand scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.

In a letter sent to Congress today, organizations asked for a package to specifically include the following policy solutions:

As is done in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), any additional employment-focused relief or stimulus legislation must expressly apply to employment at tax-exempt organizations by making tax credits and deductions applicable not just to income taxes, but to the taxes nonprofits pay, such as payroll taxes. Further, Congress should also ensure that relief and stimulus legislation designed to assist for-profit businesses in the areas of unemployment insurance, employee retention, and risk insurance must also address the unique challenges and realities that nonprofits face.

America’s charitable nonprofits request $60 billion in emergency stimulus funding aimed at helping adversely affected national and local organizations. These funds can be distributed quickly through multiple funding streams, including, but not limited, to expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for nonprofit employers, emergency grants to nonprofits operating under grants from federal, state, local, or other pass-through entities, and other to ensure the continued flow of charitable donations.

To incentivize all Americans to support the vital work of America’s charities, we call on Congress to enact an “above-the-line” or universal charitable deduction for contributions through the end of 2021. Further, to help those who step forward to help America’s charitable organizations immediately assist the most vulnerable, Congress should permit taxpayers to donate today – at the height of the pandemic – and claim the benefit from these deductions on 2019 tax returns.

Every charity in America, regardless of size, that provides paid family and medical leave should receive a tax credit the organization can use. We applaud the HR 6201 approach to provide a payroll tax credit to all employers of a certain size (including charities and other nonprofits) providing emergency paid family leave and sick time pay for care related to the coronavirus. Congress should provide payroll tax credits to all charities, regardless of size, that provide such paid family leave and sick time pay as a result of the coronavirus.

If your organization would like to sign in support of this letter, please email dthompson@councilofnonprofits.org.

Read the full letter here.

Read more about IS’s response and resources from President and CEO Dan Cardinali.

Rhode Island Foundation to Provide $1 Million to Support Public Education

The Rhode Island Foundation announced that it is committing $1 million – above and beyond the Foundation’s annual grantmaking in education – to support improvements to the state’s pre-K to 12th grade public education system.

The funding announcement comes as the Long Term Education Planning committee, convened in late 2018 and led by the Foundation, releases final recommendations for improvements. The Foundation’s investment of $1 million will align with the recommendations in the report. The report includes input provided by more than 300 parents, students, educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors at the Make It Happen: A World Class Public Education for RI brainstorming session at the R.I. Convention Center in December.

The Long Term Education Planning Committee, a 26-member group of educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for profit sectors convened at the request of the Foundation, developed the 10-year plan for improving education in Rhode Island. Click on a link below to read the plan, “Chart a Course, Stay the Course: Rhode Island’s Path to a World Class Public Education System.”

“Participants at the Make it Happen event were extremely vocal about the need to amplify the role of student and family voice. These voices are fundamental and critical to making improvements in the system,” said Steinberg, who served on the committee. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to work together on this effort – be ambitious and bold, display strong support for educators and continue to demand more for all students, in every community.”

In addition to a vision for the future of public education in Rhode Island, the final plan includes a set of four priorities and accompanying strategies, including aligning the state funding formula with both state and local needs and sustaining a rigorous, statewide assessment system.

Full report

Women’s Fund Releases Report on the RI Progress on Gender Equity

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island has released a new research report, titled “An Uneven Path: State Investments in Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency 2019.”

The report and accompanying executive summary drew on state budget documents, Rhode Island’s Standard of Need report, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other publicly available information to gauge the state’s progress on gender equity.  Report and summary

 

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards Three Year Grant to Age Friendly RI

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced a three year grant to Age Friendly RI as part of nine new community investments totaling $972,000, all of which demonstrate the Foundation’s commitment to policies and practices that support healthy aging. These investments are in addition to $3.9 million in grants announced earlier this year.

“The Foundation is proud to support community efforts to be vibrant, healthy and equitable,” said Tom Croswell, Tufts Health Plan president and CEO and a member of the Foundation’s board of directors. “Advocating for public policy change is essential to achieving social change at scale.”
Tufts Health Plan Foundation is the only regional funder exclusively focused on healthy aging. The new grants support engagement of older people as advocates on critical policy work to include addressing gaps in food and health care access, transportation and community safety.

“We value advocacy and leadership among older people,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. “The organizations we are supporting demonstrate collaboration with state agencies and other community groups that spurs innovation and makes our communities better places to grow up and grow old.”

Age Friendly Rhode Island was awarded $360,000 to strengthen its organizational capacity and engage, encourage and expand cross-sector collaboration and information sharing.

 

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Women’s Fund Signs Joint Statement on Sexism, Racism & Xenophobia; Encourages Women Candidates

On July 24, 2019, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island was proud to sign a joint statement by hundreds of sister funds condemning the recent attacks on four of our country’s elected officials who are women of color, in response to chants of “Send them back!” The statement reads: ” Women’s and Girls’ grantmakers, organizations and supporters across the country stand together in condemning the recent vitriol shown towards our country’s female elected officials, and in particular, female elected officials of color.”

To these attackers and their defenders, we say this: ‘You do not represent the shared values that move our country forward.  These values recognize and embrace leadership from all walks of life, recognizing the strength of diversity. For more than 100 years, American women have fought to gain our rightful place in our government institutions.  We will not back down. You cannot erase our presence, nor keep us from taking our place as leaders of this great democracy. As you continue to judge and demean people by gender, country of origin, and skin color, we will take the high road. We will judge people by character and by actions alone.  We will never stop speaking out against the words and actions of those driven by sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

The Women’s Funding Network, its members and partners are steadfast in their support of women of ALL backgrounds who serve and aspire to serve our country in an elected capacity.

We support the active participation in our democracy by those who were not born here, but who have worked hard to become citizens and have pledged their loyalty to our country.  America has always been a country of immigrants. We do not turn our backs on these citizens, and we will not stand to let the actions of a few diminish the valuable contributions they have made to our society.

Your words were intended to divide. They did not. Together we stand, more united than ever.

This past Saturday, WFRI joined with the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts and VoteRunLead to provide training to 60 women considering a run for political office. Participants practiced campaign “stump” speeches on the changes they wanted to make in their communities. When WFRI last ran this program in 2017, 18% of the participants ran for office and of those who ran, 60% won their seats.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution became law on August 26, 1920, giving women the right to vote. This date is now recognized nationwide as Women’s Equality Day. In preparation for the 100th Anniversary of this landmark decision, several organizations and volunteers are banding together to increase voter registration and the number of people voting in 2020.

WFRI will be hosting a training for volunteers on Aug. 26 from 3:00-4:30 pm in the State House Library on the RI voter registration process. Afterward, participants will gather on the State House steps for a picture and a commemorative “Toast to Tenacity” in tribute to the suffragists who fought for American women’s right to vote and in recognition that true gender equity for all has not yet been achieved. GCRI members are invited to attend the Toast without having to go to the training.

Both programs are sponsored by the Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. Co-hosts include Vision2020, Planned Parenthood Votes! RI, RI NOW, The Woman Project, RI Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, RIDP Women’s Caucus, RI Democratic Women for Leadership and the RI Federation of Republican Women

Pushing Back Against Divisive Racist Rhetoric and Reaffirming Philanthropy’s Values

As I was reflecting on this post, I came across a poem by Diane Ackerman in Tara Brach’s book “True Refuge.” The poem, “School Prayer,” includes this stanza:

I swear I will not dishonor
My soul with hatred,
But offer myself humbly
As a guardian of nature,
As a healer of misery,
As a messenger of wonder,
As an architect of peace.

To all my friends and colleagues in the social sector, to all those we are privileged to work with, this is you—this is us. Even in a time of outrages, perhaps especially in such a time, the work remains the work—to be guardians of nature, healers of misery, messengers of wonder, and architects of peace. 

That is our most daunting challenge right now but also our greatest calling: Not to lose heart, not to succumb, not to fall silent, but to continue through our work to manifest love as the only known antidote to hate.

— excerpted from blog post from Grant Oliphant, Heinz Endowment

Many of us have been disheartened with the re-emergence of divisive and racist language in the national discourse recently.

It is vitally important that philanthropy push back against language that insinuates that immigrants and people of color somehow don’t belong in our communities and civic life. We want GCRI to be a safe place for Rhode Islanders in philanthropy to bring their best selves, without fear, and we know that immigrants and people of color bring invaluable experience, expertise and wisdom to our collective work.

If you are an immigrant or person of color, please know that we support you during this difficult time. Please reach out to immigrants and people of color in your workplaces, networks and neighborhoods, to let them know your support and care.

In addition, this is an important to reaffirm your values as an organization and step forward to lead our communities and conversations forward in ways that demonstrate respect, compassion, collaboration and solidarity.

As Jim Canales of the Barr Foundation stated, “We must boldly proclaim the values that unite us, drive us, and bind us to our work of higher mission and purpose. As exhausting and dispiriting as it is to find ourselves at such a moment again, we must persevere. And, as we do, the circle of voices carrying this message of resolve and of hope grows larger and stronger, the best of who we are is manifest again.”

Here are some foundations that have taken this opportunity to step forward and share their guiding values and principles:

Heinz Endowment
Barr Foundation
San Francisco Foundation
Boston Foundation
KR Foundation