Building an Inclusive Economy
Author: Mary Thomas
Our economic landscape today looks very different than it did 25 years ago. This pattern of change will inevitably continue as technological advancements are rapidly introduced to the world.
To adapt to this new landscape, foundations must be willing to shift and evolve with the changing communities we serve. Seventy-five years ago, our founder— Walter Scott Montgomery—had a vision of introducing community philanthropy to Spartanburg County to meet the needs of the entire area. His vision began with a $10,000 investment that has evolved into a $213 million philanthropic organization that is continuously working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging local engagement, and responding to community needs.
A great thought leader in our community, Roger Milliken, lived by this motto, “Innovate or die.” Community institutions would do well to live by those words to ensure that our organizations continue to think ahead and maximize community impact by deploying innovative solutions to the issues facing our region. The success that the Spartanburg County Foundation has seen over the years is partly because of its ability to look ahead, remain flexible, and change when necessary to address local issues.
Resolution & Transformation
Author: Robins Foundation
Editor's Note: We wanted to share this item from one of our members, the Robins Foundation, a family foundation in Virginia. You can view the original item on the foundation's website.
Hate has no place in our work.
Many of us have been saddened, confused and angered by recent events highlighting the fractures in our society and community fabric. The fissures created by hate highlight the need for more dialogue and more engagement, not less. We value love, patience, inclusion and teamwork. We value diverse voices and diverse perspectives.
Athlete and sports team protests, Tiki torches, monuments and/or gun violence have ignited more open conversations about racism, bigotry, root causes and possible steps. These conversations yield opinions of many perspectives and we, as a community stakeholder, appreciate those perspectives. We recognize the impact of history on the movements of today. Our region (Richmond, Virginia specifically and the South, generally) was the seat of the confederacy and that, segregation in schools, red lining and other past public policies have consequences that have echoed and magnified for generations. Coincidence that we continue to see downward mobility in marginalized communities here? Coincidence we read that particular evidence in grant proposals on the plight of children and families struggling against 39% child poverty in the City of Richmond? Every day, people living in poverty make heartbreaking decisions between affording rent or childcare, food or shelter, safety or healthcare.
Can we do better?
International African American Museum in Charleston Attracts Support from Philanthropy
Author: Alexa Asendorf
“Went down to the rocks to hide my face. The rocks cried out, no hiding place,” Elizabeth Alexander, Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation, said, contemplating the African American biblical phrase at a recent event in support of the International African American Museum. She continued, “I don’t think that the ground on which we walk stays silent forever. I think that actually the ground has to speak, and now there is a moment where people are realizing that this is a story that needs to be narrated, needs to be spoken.”
The International African American Museum (IAAM) is being designed to give voice to the sacred land of Gadsden’s Wharf, and to the stories of the men, women and children whose lives are intrinsically tied to that hallowed ground. Nearly half of all enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade arrived in Charleston, and the vast majority disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, the future home of the IAAM and one of the most significant and sites of the African American experience in the Western hemisphere.
The museum, a $75 million project, is just $7 million away from reaching its fundraising goal, which it aims to accomplish by the end of 2017. With the funds secured, the museum will break ground in early 2018 and open in 2020.
Philanthropic Networks Have a Powerful Role to Play in Advancing Equity
Author: David Maurrasse
Racial inequities have persisted over generations. Social movements have challenged structural racism and encouraged the societal and policy changes required to alter various dimensions of deep-seated inequities. Whatever progress has transpired over the last several decades, recent developments have reminded us of the depth and breadth of contemporary racism. From incidents of police brutality, to the continued criminalization of people of color, to the normalizing of anti-immigrant sentiments and white supremacist thinking that were exacerbated during the 2016 elections, we have received many reminders how much work is to be done. And it is difficult to grapple with, what feels much more like movement backward in an area where so many had hoped we were on a faster track to progress with the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
In this context, conversations about race and racial equity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have increased in the field of philanthropy. As philanthropic contributions are often designated to address many of the issues (education, health, etc.) in which racial disparities are highly apparent, it is no wonder more voices inside and outside of the field are wondering about the role of foundations in advancing racial equity. While there is much to be done in society at large, there is also a great deal of work required if philanthropy is going to become a reliable catalyst toward racial equity and inclusion.
51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D.
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
In 2020, two issues have dominated the conversation in philanthropy: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight against racial injustice. The two issues are also highly intertwined, with the weight of the pandemic falling disproportionately on Black and Latinx communities.
One speaker at SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting may be more qualified than anyone else to discuss the inequity of the pandemic: James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, the first medical school for African Americans in the South, and one of the world’s foremost researchers of infectious disease, particularly HIV/AIDS.
Hildreth will speak during Race, Place & Systemic Inequities, a concurrent session taking place on the Annual Meeting’s first day. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hildreth has been vocal online, using his Twitter account to urge continued public vigilance to fight the pandemic. Earlier this month, Hildreth wrote a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee urging a statewide mask mandate.
“We need a coordinated, statewide response to combat this virus and that can only be achieved with your forceful leadership, particularly on masking,” Hildreth wrote. “Decisions made during this pandemic should be guided by science, and the science clearly dictates that masks effectively reduce transmission.”
Verdict in George Floyd Murder Trial Is Progress, But Systemic Change Still Needed
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
This week’s verdict in Minneapolis represents a measure of accountability and progress in the struggle against anti-Black violence in America. For centuries, warrantless killings of Black men, women and children, particularly those carried out by law enforcement, have gone unpunished in America – this verdict is proof that this does not need to be the case and that change is possible. It is consistent with the ideals of liberty and equal justice under the law that our nation has aspired to since its founding.
However, the verdict does not change the fact that George Floyd should still be alive – Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others should be as well. These deaths rob communities of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, aunts and uncles. Each of these deaths ends a life that all of us should value.
To live out the belief that Black lives matter, we must build a society where everyone is treated equally under the law, where racial murders and violence are no longer acceptable nor routine, and where those who commit such acts are consistently brought to justice. Racism has had a corrupting effect on law enforcement and many other institutions, but we believe there are good people within these systems who can join together with courage, persistence and purpose to bring about systemic change.
We pledge ourselves to working with our members and the communities in our region to do this work, and to turn our shared vision of an equitable South, and an equitable America, into a reality.