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What Say You?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

By Ellen LaPointe, President & CEO, Northern California Grantmakers

Could a call to action be any clearer?

 “How can it be that people still sleep in the streets in the richest nation in the world?  Dr. King would hold his head and weep.  We need a new paradigm of what is morally/ethically right and wrong.  Now – more than ever – philanthropy has the opportunity to make creative and prudent use of power and funds to make a difference.”

This was the unflinching invocation Dr. Clarence B. Jones had for NCG members and other community partners who gathered to hear him speak to commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 13. 

In a lively, wide-ranging conversation with KQED’s Joshua Johnson, Dr. Jones shared stories of his time with Dr. King in the years leading up to the world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech (which Dr. Jones helped craft), and brought the lessons and triumphs of that proud, difficult era that changed the course of history into the present day.  He reminded us that there is so much to be done, urging us to Rise Like Lions and take action when we witness injustice of any kind. It was sobering, inspiring, and beautiful, and a magnificent way to set the tone for the new year at NCG. 

We are grateful to our partners the San Francisco Foundation, the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Rosenberg Foundation, and KQED for working with us to make this very special event happen. 

NCG is working in partnership with our members, our partners, and with the broader community to respond to Dr. Jones’ call, and to our own sense of urgency as we all push relentlessly forward in our quest to achieve our goals for a more just world, thriving people and communities, and a healthy planet. 

You can expect several things at NCG in the coming year:

  • A rich, diverse array of targeted programs and trainings, expanding our presence in the Silicon Valley and other parts of the Northern California region. 
  • Strong support for the good work of collaborative funds and networks such as the Arts Loan Fund, the Bay Area Health Funders Group, and the Legal Services Funding Network.  We will complete the work we have begun to re-conceive the Emergency Loan Fund. 
  • Closer strategic alignment with our colleagues at Southern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers as we pursue opportunities to leverage statewide impact. 
  • Signature, deeper-dive events and institutes like our Annual Conference, the New Grantmakers Institute, the Corporate Philanthropy Institute, and, for the first time in several years, the much-loved Heart of Philanthropy program
  • Invitations to come together to inspire one another, to celebrate success, and to re-ground ourselves in our values, our sense of purpose and agency, and the community of people who are committed to this work.

There will be more as well.  As we continue to refine our strategies and engage with members to inform our direction and plans, we look forward to working with you and sharing new developments and directions with NCG members and the broader community.

There is no single approach or solution that will overcome the daunting challenges that confront our communities.  An inherent strength of the NCG community is the rich array of collective knowledge and expertise we possess, and our ability to marshal those assets strategically and in context to address complex issues.  That is our gift, our opportunity, and our obligation. 

We look forward to working with you to capture the formidable energy and capacity of our network, and channel it in a direction that will make Dr. Jones—and would make Dr. King—proud.

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