On the issue of funding racial equity – and the broader concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion – we at Quixote Foundation have a clear point of view.  To begin, if equity work calls to you, go for it!  Don’t be scared; don’t shy away.  Whether you are explicitly focused on social or economic justice, or if you focus on education, community development, the arts, or the environment, we at Quixote think applying an equity lens to your work is one of the most timely and mutually beneficial paths a funder can take.

Our second point is more instructional. If you decide to embrace a strategy of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI or REDI as it is also sometimes referred to), don’t enter into it lightly. This is not just about adding a few boxes about staff and board diversity in your grant applications.  Nor is it simply about re-stating your grant guidelines. DEI work is complicated, you can’t just throw a little money at the challenge.

Which leads us to the third point.  To do REDI work correctly requires a fundamental shift in your external stance as a funder as well as a deep examination of your internal structures and processes. Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion is particularly challenging because ultimately it’s not just about race, or gender, or changing the faces at the table.  It’s about power.  It’s about privilege. And, it’s about confronting how power and privilege – warped by long-standing social and structural inequities – guide our work as funders. To do this right requires that we challenge the structures that perpetuate the status quo and re-imagine the relationships we have with our grantees, with other funders, within our internal teams, and with ourselves.

The bottom line is this: Funding equity demands sweat equity. You can’t just write a check. You need to step out of your comfort zone and roll up your sleeves.

Read the full article about equity by Lenore Hanisch and Zarina Parpia at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.