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Foundations of Racial Equity

NCG's Foundations of Racial Equity (FRE) provides training for philanthropic practitioners to understand how anti-Black racism and white supremacy influence the field of the practice of philanthropy and provides opportunities for action in your organizations.


Anti-Black racism and white supremacy are embedded in philanthropy and in our institutions, often invisible to the majority of us, even as we work with intention towards equity and justice. As change agents within philanthropy, we are stretching to become our best selves, rise to the moment, and progress toward racial equity.

In order to undo systems of oppression, we need to understand the foundations of systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy in our country. We are all living in a culture that centers on whiteness as the standard mode of operation, fallaciously claiming that proximity to whiteness, and away from Blackness, is the measure of humanity. Each of us can understand the role we have to play in our fight towards racial equity and justice by centering systemic anti-Black racism within an intersectional framework through which we understand the social, economic, historical, and cultural dimensions of human life.

We cannot shift systems or our organizations without understanding how we got here, nor without looking at ourselves, at our relationships, and at our organizations themselves. The guiding purpose of Philanthropy California’s Foundations of Racial Equity program series is to provide training for philanthropic practitioners to understand how anti-Black racism and white supremacy influence the field of philanthropy and our practices and to provide opportunities for action in your organizations based on what you learn here.

Target Audience

All are welcome here, advocates and aspirants alike; Foundations of Racial Equity is a space for guidance and fellowship on the path to racial justice. Wherever you are on your journey, we invite you to consider whether this entire series or individual sessions within it, will support you in making progress on your anti-racism journey.

We acknowledge and recognize that Philanthropy California members exist on a spectrum. Some are already well along in their racial equity journey, and others are just beginning. In this training series, we’ll provide participants with opportunities to explore the foundations of racial equity, and the ways systemic anti-Black racism most commonly plays out in philanthropy. You should join this series if:

  • You are beginning your learning journey with your awareness of the impacts of systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy in institutional philanthropy.
  • You want to bolster your anti-racism efforts with content that gives you a foundational and holistic understanding of how racism shows up in philanthropy, and how to make progress towards racial equity in your institution.
  • Your foundation does not squarely see racial equity as your target work but understands its importance.
  • You want to act on racial equity and don’t know where to start.

Please note that all functional areas within organizations are welcome, including full teams and  trustees.


Session 1: The Cultural, Historical, and Political Foundation of Racism

Description: In order to undo systems of oppression, it is crucial that we begin by understanding the foundations of systemic racism in our country. This introductory session to the Foundations of Racial Equity Series will offer two modules that explore the historical, cultural, and political roots of race and racism in the U.S. Over the course of these two modules, trainers will help participants understand the origins and applications of racial hierarchies, the four interconnected levels of racism - individual, interpersonal, institutional and structural - and how to begin recognizing and addressing structural racism in the philanthropic field, using practical applications. Our trainers will also help participants explore and understand intersectionality as a form of praxis that helps us to understand and collectively address the common threads between racism and other inequalities.

Session 2: Racism and the Economy: Understanding Racial Capitalism

Description: In this second session of the Foundations of Racial Equity Series, we explore racial capitalism, which describes the current economic system of extracting social and economic value from a person of a different racial identity. Racial capitalism is based on the theft, exclusion and exploitation of the land, labor, and capital of people of color. Philanthropy—as a social, political, and economic strategy of society’s wealthiest people, mostly white men, and institutions that “do good” while moving wealth without tax exposure—upholds racial capitalism.

Session 3: Equity, Power, and Communications

Description: This third session of the Foundations of Racial Equity Series focuses on the importance of healing justice as a strategy, framework, and way of being within philanthropic institutions. The session will focus on internal organizational practices and external opportunities for philanthropy to resource healing justice strategies. This first module will ground participants in the lineage and historical influences that shaped the strategy of healing justice. he second module will provide participants with an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of what an integrated philanthropic Healing Justice and Holistic Security praxis include. 

Session 4: Advancing Equity through Organizational Culture and Operations

Description: In this fourth session of the Foundations of Racial Equity series, we will deepen our understanding and awareness of how our identities  impact our work. We will practice discussing experiences of identity, which is out of pattern for most workplaces. In the two modules of this session, participants will engage in conversation and activities to link their identity to their experience of culture and operations within their organizations. We will cover topics like organizational culture, human resources, vendors, operating capital, investments, and partnerships. 

Session 5: Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens

Description: In the fifth session ABFE trainers will guide participants through an introduction to ABFE’s framework for advancing racial equity through policies and practices. The training will focus on the incorporation of a structural lens to the work of grantmaking, and an introduction to the use of core tools to advance racial equity. Three tools will be presented in this module: 1) Data disaggregation and root cause analysis; 2) Racial equity impact analysis; and 3) Communication.

Session 6: Awake to Woke to Work: A Framework for Racial Equity in Your Organization

Description: This sixth session of the Foundations of Racial Equity series explores Equity in the Center's “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture” publication and framework. Equity in the Center’s research is designed to support leaders as they build and expand their organization’s capacity to advance race equity and transform their culture. In these modules, we’ll engage in a critical conversation on the cases, tactics, and tools that will drive action to combat structural racism in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector. This framework will help you understand how to take action on racial equity within your organization.


Kate Seely headshot

Kate Seely, Senior Director of Leadership, Culture, and Community, Northern California Grantmakers

For more information about the Foundations of Racial Equity Series contact: