Giving Compass’ Take:
• Arabella Advisors announces the creation of the Heartland Fund in conjunction with the Franciscan Sisters and the Wallace Global Fund. The aim is to build up communities in the Midwest with sustainable solutions.
• The impetus of this fund was that we too often overlook rural areas in the country with our philanthropic dollars. How can others follow the lead?
As lifelong residents of the Midwest, we have seen firsthand the impact that 25 years of accelerating economic disinvestment and cultural isolation have had on rural families, communities, and economies. Globalization, the digital divide, big box retail, predatory corporate agribusiness, and fossil fuels have taken a toll on life in rural areas and small cities. We have also seen the ways political actors have manipulated racial and social divides, too often preventing urban, suburban, and rural voters from aligning on policies with collective benefits for their communities. Meanwhile, philanthropy has largely forgotten about places like the ones where we grew up.
For a growing number of donors, the 2016 election was a wake-up call, clearly indicating that we need to re-engage with these communities and their concerns to achieve philanthropic priorities related to health care, immigration, education, economic development, climate and environmental justice, civil and voting rights, and more. Even among these donors, however, discussions about how best to engage often fall prey to assumptions and narratives that pit rural communities against urban ones, communities of color against the white working class, and progressive organizing and movement building against efforts to bridge a broader portion of the political and ideological spectrum.
The reality on the ground in rural and small-city America is far more complex — and in many ways more promising — than these stereotypes suggest. Rural America is almost as racially and ethnically diverse as the nation itself (the difference in diversity is just 14 percent). And people of color and Native Americans accounted for 75 percent of population growth in rural and small-town communities between 2000 and 2010.
With this challenge and opportunity in mind, Arabella is working with two donors with deep roots in rural communities — the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and the Wallace Global Fund — to launch the Heartland Fund. This new pooled donor fund aims to build the power of vulnerable communities to advocate for a just, sustainable, and equitable future for the Midwest.
Read the full article about building communities in America’s heartland by Ryan Strode and Scott Nielsen at arabellaadvisors.com.
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