Women’s Fund Releases Statement Condemning Misogyny and Anti-Asian Racism

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island joined with members of the Women’s Funding Network in a statement of solidarity that condemns violence and systemic racism and misogyny against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). The statement is a call to action for philanthropy to invest in, and value, AAPI lives. See the full statement here WFN Members’ Statement of Solidarity and Condemnation of Violence – Women’s Funding Network

RI Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund Awards Additional $550,000 in Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded an additional $550,000 in grants from its COVID-19 Response Fund to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the pandemic. With these most recent grants, Foundation has awarded $7.3 million in grants since launching the fund nearly one year ago.

The latest recipients include the Dorcas International Institute in Providence, Operation Stand Down in Johnston, the Samaritans in Pawtucket, Turning Around Ministries in Newport and the WARM Shelter in Westerly.  Bradley Hospital, Crossroads Rhode Island, the Da Vinci Center, the Housing Network, the Interfaith Counseling Center, New Englanders Helping Our Veterans, Project Undercover, Project Weber/RENEW, R.I. Legal Services, the R.I. Parent Information Network, Sacred Heart Elderly Day Care and Women’s Refugee Care also received grants.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March 2020 initially in partnership with the United Way of Rhode Island. The $7.3 million in grants awarded to date reflect just the grantmaking by the Foundation. Nearly 150 nonprofits received grants. See the list of COVID-19 Response Fund grantees.

Empowering Communities and Addressing Racism

Thank you to those who participated in the GCRI Community Empowerment session last week.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the session, the last year (and the last few days) have highlighted not only the devastating impact of racism on our communities and on people of color around the country, but also the imperative for philanthropy to deepen its work in understanding and addressing issues of racial equity and racial justice in our communities.

Part of that work is to acknowledge the complexity, pervasiveness, and intersectionality of this work — to intentionally listen to the voices of individuals and communities who have experienced current and historical racism, and to support their leadership in addressing the root causes and symptoms.

To that end, I would encourage you all to listen to the session, and to support local initiatives to ensure that under-represented groups in Rhode Island, like communities of color, people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, etc. have the resources they need to mobilize and play a leadership role in efforts to address the challenges facing their communities.  Historically, philanthropy has assumed that funders are better able to determine solutions than communities themselves, but now more than ever, it is critical that philanthropy recognize the necessity of resourcing and learning from community leaders.  (Email nancy.wolanski@unitedwayri.org to get the link to listen to the session.)

Supporting Our Asian American Colleagues and Communities

This week’s violence in Atlanta, where 6 of 8 of the victims were Asian American women, is only the latest in an increasing number of racist attacks in the US.  The STOP AAPI Hate project has documented over 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian racism over the last year, many targeted at women and seniors.  The language used by law enforcement in Atlanta, and the rhetoric used by some members of Congress in the hearing on Asian American violence, has exacerbated the pain felt by our Asian American colleagues and other people of color.   To our colleagues of color, please know that GCRI stands with you and your families and communities — we hold you close in this time of pain, fear and isolation.

As the racial justice protests over the last year have demonstrated, this is a pivotal moment for our country, and for philanthropy, to address the pervasive legacy — and current reality — of racism in the U.S.  We need to stand with all of those who have experienced the trauma of racism (and misogyny and other types of discrimination and violence) and to speak out against language and actions that stigmatize, demonize, or harm our friends, colleagues, neighbors or communities.  Our words matter.  And they need to be followed up with action.

As my colleagues Patricia Eng, CEO of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Erik Stegman, Executive Director of Native Americans in Philanthropy, write in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “It is time for philanthropy to do a lot more to curb the rising violence and hatred by using the power of its voice and its grant dollars…Although recent events have been incredibly painful, we hope the philanthropic sector will take this opportunity to stand up by investing in — and valuing — the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. A truly inclusive democracy demands that we meaningfully support these rich and diverse cultures, especially when some seek violence against them. As advocates for Native Americans and Asian Americans, we know too well what it’s like to be excluded and disregarded in philanthropy. This is a moment for the sector to act and stand with our communities.”
GCRI will continue to offer racial equity programming for all of its members, but we also encourage you to join the GCRI Racial Equity Catalyst Group, which will be offering opportunities to go deeper in your professional and personal roles as an ally, advocate, and funder.  If you are interested in participating, please fill out this survey so we can get your scheduling and content preferences.  Survey
On March 26 at noon, United Way of Rhode Island will be hosting From Challenge to Change, A Community First Conversation, a discussion about advancing racial equity in Rhode Island. This conversation will feature community leaders from United Way, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), the Latino Policy Institute, and the Equity Institute.
If you are interested in supporting the local Asian American community during this difficult time, you can consider supporting the RI Solidarity FundARISE, the Center for Southeast Asians, or other BIPOC led organizations, many of which are doing anti-racism work in the community.  The three local organizations that we heard from during yesterday’s session that are doing important work on supporting BIPOC leadership in Rhode Island are New Leaders CouncilOne Neighborhood Builders, and Rhode Island for Community and Justice.
Other Resources in Learning About and Responding to Asian American Racism
Channavy Chhay, from the Center for Southeast Asians shared about the impact of recent Asian-American racism on WPRI
Bystander Intervention Trainings — Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Chicago) and Hollaback!
Combatting Increased Anti-Asian Violence in the Wake of COVID-19 — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Resource Directory
Philanthropy’s Asian American Exclusion Problem — Stephanie Peng, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Supporting Asian Americans in Georgia

 Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta has been working closely with AAPI community leaders and impacted folks in Georgia to learn what care is needed on the ground. If you would like to support them in providing community care, you can consider taking part in the action steps below and following their social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram) for updates on needs.

Three ways to support the Asian American community in Georgia:

 

Organizations

Stop AAPI Hate

Thank you for your commitment to creating a more just and equitable Ocean State, where every Rhode Islander can thrive.  That work is more critical than ever.

Governor Raimondo Announces $8 Million Central Providence Opportunities Initiative

Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced that Rhode Island has been awarded an $8 million, 24-month grant to implement Central Providence Opportunities – a place-based initiative to increase social and economic mobility for residents of the 02908 and 02909 zip codes, and then scale these strategies statewide. The pilot initiative, set to commence next month, brings together the Governor’s office, state agencies, the Rhode Island Foundation, and ONE Neighborhood Builders.

The pandemic has further exacerbated and laid bare the degree to which a resident’s zip code determines economic, health and education outcomes. The Central Providence area, including the Olneyville, Hartford, Manton, Silver Lake, Valley, Federal Hill, Smith Hill, Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods, has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19 in Rhode Island.

The Central Providence Opportunities will be led by ONE Neighborhood Builders. As the leader of this initiative as well as the Central Providence Health Equity Zone, ONE Neighborhood Builders will convene community partners and residents and ensure the focus remains on addressing health disparities through systems change and policy reform. The grant will fund strategies to increase economic security and opportunity for residents of Central Providence, and across the state. Included is a $1 million investment in Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zones, which will provide infrastructure to implement lessons learned statewide. The remaining funds will be invested in organizational capacity building, project oversight and evaluation, and direct investments in:

  • Growing and sustaining community capacity;
  • Increasing affordable housing;
  • Improving leading indicators leading to 3rdgrade reading; and
  • Advancing workforce and business development outcomes – with a focus on minority-owned businesses.

Blue Meridian Partners has made a two-year investment in the Central Providence Opportunities initiative. The investment will be managed by the Rhode Island Foundation, and leveraged by tapping into new and existing state-level resources. The Foundation will serve as the fiscal sponsor, supporting the initiative anchored by ONE Neighborhood Builders, the Governor’s office and state agencies, and working in partnership with both to invest the funds within the identified priority areas. The Foundation will also provide technical assistance aimed at building toward a plan to scale impact statewide.

 

 

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.

AFP-RI Releases Report on Diversity of Leadership at Largest RI Nonprofits

Data Released on Diversity of Leadership at Largest RI Nonprofits

The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Rhode Island Chapter (AFP-RI), through its IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access) Committee, recently completed a study that looked at the gender and racial diversity of the leaders of Rhode Island’s largest nonprofit organizations by net worth. Rhode Island has 4,140 registered 501(c)3 public charities which together hold assets of $31.7 billion.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The largest 150 nonprofits in Rhode Island had total revenue of $11,515,924,424 in 2017;
  • Revenues of these organizations ranged from $5,389,143 to $1,369,753,828;
  • 876 women served on the boards of these organizations, representing 38% of all board members;
  • 43% of the CEO roles were held by women;
  • People of color made up 10% of all board members, despite representing 30% of Rhode Island’s general population; and
  • Only 3% of the CEO roles were held by people of color, less than the national average of 10%. 

“This report provides a baseline for nonprofits to consider what can be done to diversify the leadership of their organizations. From a fundraising perspective, diversity is critical to increasing dollars raised and expanding donor networks,” said Amy Gravell, President of AFP-RI and Managing Director for The Gamm Theatre.

Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island and Chair of the IDEA Committee of AFP-RI which worked on this report, added “The organizations in this report impact a broad and diverse swath of our community; ideally, their organizational leaders should also reflect of the communities they serve.”

The report includes several recommendations for improvement, including:

  • Consider life experiences and transferable skills that can be used in place of certain prerequisites to give individuals more access to organizational leadership pipelines;
  • Move beyond the personal networks of current organizational leaders by engaging outside organizations, consultants and stakeholders in sourcing future board members;
  • Recommend women and people of color to serve on boards or be considered for an open CEO role;
  • Use term limits to ensure fresh and new perspectives; and
  • Provide training and support in fundraising and development, using best practices for both board members and staff in the leadership pipeline.

Annual revenue was the primary criterion for inclusion in the list of the 2019 Census of Nonprofit Directors and Chief Executives in Rhode Island’s Largest Organizations. Information on board members and chief executives was obtained from the organization’s websites, the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s corporation database or other publicly available sources. Where possible, this information was verified by someone on staff or board at the specific organization.

To download the report, please click here.

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

 

LISC and Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone Builds Climate Resilience

#PCFHEZ Climate Resilience Project

What does race have to do with climate change? Which neighborhoods in the greater Providence area are most at risk from extreme heat and flooding? What can residents and local government do to make sure neighborhoods are safe and resilient to climate change?

Take a guided tour of the findings from Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone‘s climate resilience project to make Rhode Island communities safer from extreme heat and flooding.