Giving Compass' Take:

• Kathleen Kelly Janus and Karthick Ramakrishnan highlight the need for philanthropy to support leaders of color in rapidly-diversifying inland areas. 

• The authors emphasize the need to prioritize the intersection of racial equity and regional equity. Where can you begin? 

• Learn about the impact of disparities in funding for leaders of color

As leaders in the philanthropic community question the ways philanthropy has contributed to racial inequities, there have been many calls to take strong corrective action. But when most funders and policymakers think about racial equity, they tend to exclusively picture coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles, or other large metropolitan areas like Detroit, Chicago, and Atlanta. While it is certainly heartening to see such concentrated attention on advancing racial equity, it would be a mistake to overlook inland counties and medium-sized cities, areas whose rapid population growth, significant racial diversity, and worse health and economic outcomes than coastal areas also demand our attention.

Take, for example, the Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino County, with its majority Latinx population and a Black population that has grown so significantly in the last two decades that one out of every 7 Black residents in California lives there. But while whites account for just over 30 percent of residents, they are disproportionately represented in the share of good jobs, college degrees, elected office, and nonprofit leadership.

Similar disparities hold true in California’s Central Valley, where rapidly growing Latinx populations are falling farther and farther behind in achieving the American Dream, whether measured by attaining a college degree, having access to health insurance, or getting on a career path that provides upward mobility. Even outside of California, most Black-majority and Latino-majority cities and counties are in non-coastal areas, with life outcomes that lag behind the rest of the country.

By overlooking these regions, philanthropic giving only reinforces these disparities. Nonprofit organizations from inland areas operate on budgets that pale in comparison to their coastal counterparts: while Bay Area nonprofit organizations receive $745 per capita, Inland Empire organizations receive just $31 and San Joaquin Valley just $9. This funding disparity has forced inland nonprofit leaders to address a global pandemic, economic crisis, and the struggle for racial justice with a fraction of the resources of their coastal counterparts. And these regional disparities in California are reflected across the United States, where the promise of the American dream has failed to reach those in smaller metropolitan and rural areas of the country. If we don’t invest in the community-based leaders who are fighting to lift up these inland communities, we cannot achieve equitable or sustainable economic development for all Californians or for all Americans.

We urgently need a playbook for investing in the intersection of racial equity and regional equity.

Read the full article about supporting inland leaders of color by Kathleen Kelly Janus and Karthick Ramakrishnan at Stanford Social Innovation Review.