Navigating the threat of wildfire is an ongoing reality of life in Sonoma County. From 2017 to 2020, fires burned more than 300,000 acres across the county, resulting in devastating losses to ecosystems, homes, communities, and human lives.
The lunar new year of the tiger began on February 1, so it's still a new year which means we have an opportunity for a fresh start. Leaders and staff in organizations from different sectors use the phrase “racial equity” or “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and talk about it but sometimes there is a disconnect between talking and acting on what it means to operationalize racial equity.
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.
Although the missions, strategies, and goals of our foundations are different, we share the belief that the grant application process should be simpler, and it is our responsibility as funders to reduce the burdens we place on grantseekers wherever we can. That is what our newly launched Common Application for the Arts is all about.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude for Alan Kwok for serving as NCG’s and Philanthropy California’s Director of Climate and Disaster Resilience for the past four years. Alan will transition to the new role of Senior Advisor beginning February 2023. Underscoring NCG’s deepening commitment to advancing equity in climate and disaster resilience, we will be growing the team, bringing on a new Climate and Disaster Resilience Director to continue the work.
Working in racial equity and social justice in the philanthropic sector is challenging because the “personal is political,” and there often feels like no break from our 9-5 roles. We don’t get to take off our skin or the grief we feel in our bodies from the years of oppression of racism that our people have endured.
Recently, Dwayne Marsh, CEO of Northern California Grantmakers, and I were reflecting on how many foundations in our memberships are looking to change direction and move toward racial equity. In an ice-bucket-style challenge, Dwayne posted his thoughts and then tagged me with the question, “How best does philanthropy choose courage in the face of the unprecedented complexity the moment offers?"