Naming Race: One Foundation’s Path to a Strategy of Structural Inclusion and Self- Determination
· Common wisdom tells us that by placing people of color in leadership roles in philanthropy, there will be a greater emphasis on issues of racial equity and attention to solutions that are rooted in the experiences of people of color. While diverse leadership is a critical component of inclusion, attention must also be paid to the dynamics of power inherent in the relationship between a philanthropic institution and the community it seeks to serve. Foundations must put in place practices that address the inherent inequities in our sector if we are to contribute to systemic change.
· The Edward W. Hazen Foundation, a small national foundation with a focus on youth of color, provides an instructive case study of an institution’s evolution into a racial-justice organization with a clear structural analysis and grantmaking practices that reflect a commitment to selfdetermination. In 1973 Jean Fairfax was elected to the Hazen board, the first African-American woman to serve on the board of a national foundation. Practices cultivated because of and since her tenure have contributed to the foundation’s support for activities that have led to substantive shifts towards racial equity, particularly for young people of color in low-wealth communities.
· Hazen’s internal practices include a commitment to patient, sustained support for grassroots organizations that develop the capacity of young people for sophisticated analysis of their experiences in the context of structural oppression, and to identify issues central to that oppression, build power, and strive to change them. Over two decades of supporting youth organizing, the problem of racially disparate school-discipline policies emerged time and again as common across geography and local systems. Hazen’s support for young people’s efforts to raise the issue and fight for alternatives have been critical to driving a new interest in more racially just school-discipline policies.
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Bezahler, L. (2014). Naming Race: One Foundation’s Path to a Strategy of Structural Inclusion and Self- Determination. The Foundation Review, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1192
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