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Twelve Greater Philadelphia Foundations Pursue a More Equitable Future

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Philanthropy Network Equity Cohort

There are no shortage of articles and research projects depicting the Greater Philadelphia paradox. On the one hand, we are witnessing increased buzz, somewhat steady population and job growth, and economic vibrancy, while on the other hand the city’s poverty rate hovers at a stubborn 26 percent and many residents throughout the region are left behind as they struggle to benefit from the good fortune. This disparity becomes even starker when you disaggregate data by race and ethnicity, which leads us to ask: “How did we get here?” and “How can philanthropy be more deliberate about addressing historical, structural, and institutional inequity?”

There are no perfect paths to progress, but in philanthropy the pursuit of equity starts with examining how power and privilege influence and shape our policies and practices internally, and manifest in our approach to social impact externally. In other words, progress on arguably the most challenging issue of our time begins with vulnerable self-reflection.

Recently 12 of greater Philadelphia’s philanthropic leaders assembled at Pierce College for the kickoff of a year-long Equity in Philanthropy Cohort designed to offer trusted and truthful space for this self-reflection to occur coupled with strategic guidance for a journey toward institutional change and a full commitment to equity.  With combined grantmaking over $20 million, funders in the cohort represent the range of funding entities that comprise Philanthropy Network’s membership - an independent foundation, a family foundation, grantmaking public charities, a social investor, a giving circle, a state council, an intermediary, health conversion foundations, as well as one of the region’s newest foundations and one of the oldest. 

In the first month, participants in the cohort – where each executive is paired with a board member/trustee - will complete an organizational assessment along 12 dimensions of the Equity Maturity Model  (EqMM) led by Daria Walls Torres, Executive in Residence at Philanthropy Network and Managing Partner of Walls Torres Group.  Once results have been received, each funder will choose up to three dimensions that they will seek to improve. Over the next 12 months, you will hear stories of their journey from the perspectives of both the ED/President/CEO and board member representatives, offering their behind-the-scenes insight and learning along the way. No one knows where this will lead but all believe that it’s the start of a more equitable future for philanthropy and more importantly for communities in our region. Stay tuned!