Giving Compass' Take:

The Vice President of Programs for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation describes how they incorporate an equity lens in their strategic programming so that their grant money can give access to more people of color. 

• Should more foundations incorporate an equity lens in their grantmaking strategies? 

• Read about the National Center for Philanthropy's overview diversity, equity, and inclusion within foundations. 

Over the past ten years, our Vice President for Programs, Mary Harrison, has been instrumental in leading our foundation’s grantmaking efforts to reshape public education to serve our region’s students.

Mary’s leadership has challenged us to think about our work through an equity lens, and as she prepares to leave the Foundation at the end of June, we had the chance to sit down with her to talk about her journey through our equity work.

From your viewpoint, why is it important that NMEF has been engaged in equity work over the past year?

As a philanthropic organization, we wield great influence that goes beyond our money. So, the important question for philanthropy is how we use our privilege, power and influence. I believe it is critical to do so strategically, honestly and with humility. The equity process we have been going through is particularly important because our organizational mission acknowledges the unique needs of underserved New England students in becoming college and career ready and successful adults.

What are your hopes for how the equity process will inform our organizational strategy review and development?

I think it’s important that when updating or revising our organizational strategy, we are explicit about race and how we are addressing racial inequities through our work. I hope that through this process we weigh and balance the benefits that accrue from our new strategy and explicitly favor strategies that discernably accrue benefits to Black, Latino and other severely underserved subgroups of learners in New England. And I also hope that we use our power and influence to visibly stand up against the institutional structures that collectively perpetuate racial differences in education.

Read the full article about equity at Nellie Mae Education Foundation from Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn at Medium