December 6, 2021

Monday, December 6, 2021

CMF Community Voices

CMF Community Voices features a series of conversations and insights from leaders across our community of philanthropy. This curated collection of blogs and Q&As lifts up inspiring voices from changemakers who lead efforts in the areas of Equity, People, Practice and Policy, with equity at the center. 

This week we are featuring Centering Inclusive Voices, a blog by Erika VanDyke, program officer at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and CMF’s and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) Michigan’s 2021 recipient of the Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award. 

Centering Inclusive Voices

By Erika VanDyke, program officer at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Before working in philanthropy and joining the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) in 2018, I served as a Kent School Services Network family resource coordinator in an elementary school. My job was to meet the holistic needs of students and families through partnerships with local nonprofits and volunteers, without any sort of budget. I was responsible for knowing the organizations that would be able to help the families I served, requiring me to build a very strong network of groups and individuals that families could trust.


Even before that job, I often found myself in roles where I was bringing people together around a common goal, usually with limited resources. These were the skills that led me to the program officer position at GRCF.

I didn't have a background in philanthropy, so I had a lot of learning to do around the system and was grateful to have access to professional development opportunities and networks like Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and CMF, which helped me get plugged into the work.  

I started learning about trust-based philanthropy, participatory grantmaking and other progressive ideas in the field, and those are what give me hope for the future of philanthropy.  

I also had amazing mentors who supported me in the transition and helped me begin to find my place as a young professional of color in a field that was never set up to center the voices and experiences of people like me, much less the students, families and community members to whom I consider myself accountable. 

Being a Latina in philanthropy is complicated because you have to learn the system as you work from within to disrupt it, while trying to ensure that you don’t become too much a part of the system, become complicit or end up compromising yourself and your values.  

We know that traditionally, white, wealthy folks are the ones who have had the power and resources to shape how philanthropy works. If we're serious about changing it, we must change who has the power to decide where and how funding should be distributed.  

We should trust that those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions, and start not only centering their voices and experiences, but also compensating them for their expertise.  

Being a Latina in philanthropy is a tremendous responsibility. I am accountable to my community, and to those who came before me, to leverage the power I have in the spaces of privilege that I occupy, using the platforms to which I have access.

I'll always be incredibly proud of La Lucha Fund, particularly for the degree to which it was led by the community. Held at GRCF, La Lucha Fund was a short-term, emergency COVID response, that provided more than $750,000 in direct cash assistance to 1,200 families who were undocumented or had mixed immigration status in Kent County.

Seven community organizations approached GRCF with the idea of La Lucha Fund — four didn’t have their 501(c)(3) status and six were led by people of color — and all decisions about how the fund functioned were made by their members, including the impacted community.

La Lucha Fund received more than 500 individual gifts from donors both locally and nationally, 80% of whom had never given to GRCF before, reflecting the community's willingness to show up for a funding model that we had never tried before, but that clearly connected with people in a deeply meaningful way. Lucha awards weren't nearly large enough to meet the ongoing needs of undocumented communities in Kent County, and there is still so much work to be done before our neighbors without documentation have equitable access to resources and the comprehensive immigration reform needed to ensure that access, but the fund is certainly a testament to the power of collaboration and relationships in community.  

GRCF has made grants to support immigrant communities and continues to have conversations about how to further advance the work of La Lucha Fund. It has also opened conversations about how to better support community organizing and advocacy across the board. We've recently entered that space in the context of education, but I'm hopeful that we'll be able to advance that learning into other areas in the future.

To affect transformative change that truly centers inclusive voices, we have to flip the dynamics that leave community organizations struggling to meet our expectations and start asking ourselves what we need to do to be in right relationships with them so that they want to partner with us.  

Systems that were built can be torn down. We can imagine comprehensive immigration reform, abolition, restorative practices, mutual aid and universal healthcare. We can rely not only on hopes and dreams, but on concrete, actionable plans for community change, led by those closest to the pain.

It’s going to take a shift in thinking, and an even bigger shift in power and resources. It’s going to take time — a balance of patience and zeal. Most importantly, it’s going to take all of us being active participants in the work of building more just, equitable and inclusive communities that hold the promise of success for all of our neighbors.  

Erika VanDyke is a program officer at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Want more?

Read more about La Lucha Fund.





Sustaining Change in Philanthropy

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and national reckoning for racial justice in 2020 resulted in philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to reimagine their roles and ways of working, and explore what it means to center diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) has documented the ways in which foundations responded in 2020 through a series of three reports highlighting how foundation leaders reexamined their work, focused on racial equity and became more flexible and responsive. 

CEP’s second phase of this research, Foundations Respond to Crisis: Lasting Change?, is a cross-sectional study that explores what foundations ultimately did in 2020, what they carried forward into 2021 and what they plan to sustain after the pandemic is contained.

In April and May 2021, CEP surveyed over 900 foundation leaders and received responses from 284 foundation leaders. In April through June 2021, CEP staff conducted 33 in-depth interviews with foundation leaders and staff and 32 in-depth interviews with nonprofit leaders who are part of CEP’s Grantee Voice Panel.

The report highlights three key findings from the data gathered and whether foundations plan to sustain these changes:

1.    Almost all foundation leaders said their foundations are working differently now than in early 2020.

2.    Most foundation leaders reported making changes to their work that enable them to better address systemic inequities and advance racial equity.

3.    Foundations with more racially diverse boards—boards whose members are at least 25% people of color—were more likely to adopt practices to support nonprofit partners and the people and communities they serve.

According to the report, most interviewed nonprofit leaders said they experienced greater flexibility and responsiveness from their funders, especially more flexible processes and more unrestricted support. They also experienced deeper relations and greater trust and openness with their foundation funders. 

“The pandemic allowed us to rapidly pivot, eliminate historical administrative hurdles and is informing how we will sustain these principles of flexibility and responsiveness going forward,” a foundation CEO said.

Data at a Glance:

•    55% of foundation leaders said their foundation worked somewhat differently with their nonprofit partners and 42% reported working very differently with nonprofit partners.

•    41% of respondents said they sustained most changes to their work with their nonprofit partners into 2021 and 21% said they sustained all changes.

•    67% of foundation leaders surveyed reported that their foundation increased its grantmaking budget in comparison to the last fiscal year. 

•    76% of foundation leaders made changes to application processes and/or reporting requirements to reduce the burden on nonprofit partners.

•    61% of respondents reported that their foundation is providing a higher percentage of unrestricted grant dollars compared to pre-pandemic giving levels. Of those, 65% said they will continue to provide unrestricted grant dollars after the pandemic.

•    80% of foundation leaders said they have been doing more to incorporate racial equity into their internal practices.

o    Over half of foundation leaders described offering formal trainings for staff and board, holding informal meetings and providing support focused on racial equity, conducting organization-wide diversity, equity and inclusion audits and/or focusing on a more inclusive, equitable and supportive organizational culture.

o    One third of interviewed leaders offered trainings about implicit bias, racial equity and anti-racism.

•    59% of foundations are changing aspects of their grant application process to reach more nonprofits serving communities most affected by systemic inequities. 67% are changing aspects of their nonprofit partner selection process.

o    83% of foundations reported they will sustain the changes made to the grant application process and 85% will sustain changes to the nonprofit partner selection process.

•    23% of foundation leaders reported that all grant dollars or a large percentage (50-100%) are going to organizations that serve Black or African American communities and 29% reported that a moderate percentage of grant dollars (25-49%) are going to these organizations. Of those respondents, 45% expect grant dollars to increase to these organizations and 36% will stay the same. 

•   20% of foundation leaders reported that all grant dollars or a large percentage are going to organizations that serve Hispanic and/or Latinx communities and 29% reported that a moderate percentage of grant dollars are going to these organizations. Of those, 35% said grant dollars will increase and 43% will stay the same.

•    7% of foundation leaders reported that a moderate percentage of grant dollars are going to organizations that serve Asian or Asian American communities and 53% reported that a small percentage (1-24%) are going to these organizations.

o    18% said grant dollars will increase and 53% will stay the same.

Most respondents attributed the changes in their work to a shift in mindset. Most respondents noted broad shifts in how they think about their work in understanding the role of race and racism relative to the problems that they seek to address and the importance of listening to and supporting their nonprofit partners with greater flexibility and responsiveness.

According to the report, the more racially diverse boards more frequently reported sustaining all the changes they made in 2020 into 2021. 

Foundations led by people of color more frequently indicated that they had sustained all of the changes they made in 2020 into 2021. Leaders of color reported that they are now directing more dollars to organizations serving Black and lower-income communities.

In conclusion, CEP shared that this data points to a level of change in foundation practice that they have never seen before. Changes have lasted beyond what they initially documented in 2020 and foundation leaders plan to sustain many of these changes.

Want more?

The full Foundations Respond to Crisis: Lasting Change? report is now available in CMF’s Knowledge Center. View report. 





Exploring the Impact of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation in Kalamazoo

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF), has released an impact report reflecting on the impact of TRHT in the community over the past few years. 

TRHT Kalamazoo is one of the 14 TRHT sites nationwide and one of four in Michigan including Flint, Lansing and Battle Creek. It is a community-based movement to bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. 

CMF is the statewide convener supporting the four sites and the initiative is led by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). 

We’re sharing more from the Impact Report highlighting how TRHT Kalamazoo has evolved from 2017-2021 and its impact on the community.

•    TRHT Kalamazoo has grown from 55 partners engaged in 2018 to 646 in 2021.

•    83% of TRHT partners reported change in their organization as a result of TRHT participation in 2020 compared to 26% in 2017. 

•    91% of people report a change in their personal behavior or habits as a result of TRHT participation.

The impact report shares key highlights from the various core programs TRHT Kalamazoo has created over the years, as well as the work being led by various partners.

Racial Healing

Over the past three years, TRHT Kalamazoo has been building its capacity to facilitate racial healing throughout the community. According to WKKF, "racial healing is to restore to wholeness; to repair damage; and to set right. Healing a societal racial divide requires recognition of the need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, while addressing the consequences of those wrongs."

•    The TRHT Kalamazoo Racial Healing Circle Practitioner Cohort has built an organizational structure to deliver in person and virtual healing experiences for the community. 

•    44 individuals across the community have participated in a workshop to learn how to facilitate racial healing circles. Six of these individuals have become lead practitioners who facilitate workshops and help train others to become practitioners.

•    Healing practitioners have hosted 17 healing circles and 12 virtual healing experiences over the past three years. 

•    In 2020, TRHT Kalamazoo partnered with Rootead Enrichment Center to launch the Black & Brown Therapy Collective with the goal of connecting residents to therapists of color.

•    In response to the pandemic, TRHT Kalamazoo Virtual Healing Project was created as a way to continue to create and deepen relationships, share resources and support each other collectively.

•    The Virtual Healing Projected launched the Essential & Frontline Worker Webinar Series to support frontline workers during the pandemic. The series provided practical tools for holistic wellbeing and a space to discuss health and wellness.

Law Design Team

The Law Design Team works to build bridges between community and law enforcement through racial healing. The team is leading projects like the biannual Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) Police Academy Expanding Our Horizons: A Cultural Awareness Experience and the Advocates & Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) Kalamazoo Group. 

Expanding Our Horizons events are designed to expose community members and police academy cadets to racial healing and the history of racism in the U.S. The Law Design Team has hosted five workshops for the KVCC Police Academy with 214 participants. 

Program participants shared their reactions to the events which are highlighted in the report:

•    94% felt these events helped build or strengthen relationships with members of the community.

•    96% felt that these events provided a space for them to talk truthfully and openly about race and racism. 

•    94% indicated an interest in attending another racial healing circle of similar event. 

ALPACT’s goal is to enhance the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve by addressing the divisions that exist now. So far, the Law Design Team has held community forums, book discussions and invited speakers and consultants with expertise on police reform. 

Housing Task Force

TRHT Housing Task Force formed a partnership with Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community (ISAAC) Housing Taskforce and produced a report and recommendation that helped pass the Housing Equity ordinance by the Kalamazoo City Commission. 

The ordinance sought to expand housing protections, create a Civil Rights Board, protect against predatory application feeds, protect against blanket rejections and remove religious exemptions for public accommodation-type housing. 

The Housing Task Force led this work by hosting workshops and healing circles on housing equity. They met with residents, landlords and advocates who knocked on over 1,700 doors. 

The Impact Report also shares highlights from TRHT projects and design teams like TRutH Talks, the Historical and Cultural Landscape Project, Narrative Change Arts Design Team, Economy Design Team and Education Separation Design Team. 

Over the years, partners of TRHT shared that they have seen the impact of TRHT grow in the community. 

In 2020, 83% of partners believed that TRHT has had a moderate or great impact in the Kalamazoo community compared to 26% in 2017. 

Want more?

Read the full Impact Report. 

Learn more about TRHT Kalamazoo. 

Save the date for the sixth annual National Day of Racial Healing taking place January 18, 2022. 






Member Spotlight
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Commits $100 Million to Bolster Arts & Culture Sustainability, Economic Impact and Access in Southeast Michigan

Content excerpted and adapted from a Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation press release.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF) announced a $100 million commitment to transform the financial strength and long-term viability of Southeast Michigan’s arts and culture communities through the establishment of an endowment that will support the sector now and forever.  

The Wilson Foundation will contribute nearly $60 million over 10 years to establish an endowment at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM). This investment will create permanent operational funding streams for 11 of the region’s largest arts and culture institutions that play a critical role as economic drivers. It also includes an annual grant opportunity for additional arts and culture organizations across the region. 

Once fully funded after 10 years, the endowment will generate approximately $3.75 million in annual payout to permanently support the operations and sustainability of the region’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

To ensure the program has immediate impact on the sector and regional economy, the Wilson Foundation will provide an additional $3.75 million annually over nine years, for a total of $33.75 million, allowing grantmaking to begin in 2022 while the endowment is built. 

Finally, the Wilson Foundation is awarding a $5 million capital campaign gift to the Motown Museum, one of the largest gifts to-date for the museum’s $55 million capital campaign.

“We are building upon years of substantial investment by critical public funding streams and philanthropic funders that have helped these institutions become the cultural treasures and economic drivers they are today,” David Egner, president & CEO, RCWJRF and CMF trustee said. “As a regionally focused foundation with a limited life, we saw a unique opportunity to make this significant contribution to impact the region’s quality of life and economy through jobs, tourism and more. We hope this annual operating support will help to strengthen the financial condition of these institutions allowing them to continue to develop creative, audience-centered initiatives that make them more inclusive, welcoming, and accessible places for all.”

Of the $3.75 million in annual funding, a total of $3 million will be dedicated to the following 11 institutions including their annual grant allocation:

•    Arab American National Museum ($100,000 annually).

•    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History ($300,000 annually). 

•    Detroit Historical Society ($200,000 annually).

•    Detroit Institute of Arts ($700,000 annually). 

•    Detroit Symphony Orchestra ($700,000 annually).

•    Detroit Zoological Society ($150,000 annually). 

•    Holocaust Memorial Center ($100,000 annually).

•    Michigan Opera Theatre ($200,000 annually).

•    Michigan Science Center ($200,000 annually). 

•    Motown Museum ($200,000 annually) 

•    The Henry Ford ($150,000 annually). 

The overall impact of these gifts is significant as these unrestricted funds can be designated for general operating needs. Each organization will also co-design, in partnership with Community Foundation and national consultants, metrics and benchmarks that support their goals and strategic plans.

The Wilson Foundation is also dedicating $500,000 annually to support other arts and culture nonprofits, primarily of small to medium size, across the seven counties of Southeast Michigan. These funds will be deployed flexibly based on organizational and community needs. The first grants will be awarded by the end of 2022.

“From arts organizations that anchor a neighborhood to ones that anchor a region, these creative businesses make significant contributions to the economic health and growth of communities, and the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis supports this insight with data showing the arts industry as larger than construction, transportation, and agriculture,” Omari Rush, executive director, CultureSource said. “The attention this Wilson Foundation investment gives to wide-ranging arts groups is a beacon of opportunity for any policymaker, philanthropist, or agency looking to drive economic development. It is a provocation to shift narratives from the arts being nice to the arts being essential.” 

The remaining $250,000 in annual funding will support permanent capacity at CFSEM to manage and operate this endowment and grant program, which includes leading the efforts to advance inclusion and access within the grantees individual operations and the sector. 

The Community Foundation, together with CultureSource, will launch community conversations to help build capacity for adaptable and inclusive arts organizations. Local arts and culture organizations can sign-up to participate here.

“The vision of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to make such a significant investment in our regional arts and culture organizations is transformational and will serve the residents of southeast Michigan for generations to come,” Mariam Noland, president, CFSEM said. 

News type: