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I took a leap of faith when I decided to join the first cohort of Camelback Ventures' Capital Collaborative program back in 2019. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new initiative to work with white-identifying philanthropic leaders to critically examine and deepen their commitment to racial and gender equity. It was reassuring to know that it was being run by Camelback Ventures, known for its high quality programs. But both my organization, Voqal, and I were already committed to racial and gender equity. Did I need to engage in a six-month program on the topic? Would it be impactful?
I knew I made the right decision to join after the first session. I came into the program with what I thought was a solid understanding of equity issues and how to tailor my work to embrace equity, but I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn. The program gave me the safe space with a group of like-minded peers to learn and gain a richer understanding of power dynamics and the meaning of equity. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until the Capital Collaborative, and the program opened my eyes to the many nuances of racial and gender equity.
Now that I am almost two years removed from the Collaborative, it is easy to see the impacts the program had on me and my work leading the education opportunity gap-related impact investing and grantmaking at Voqal. My investing and giving in the past year has risen to 90% organizations that are woman- and/or BIPOC-led, and in 2022 that number will be 100%. As a result, my overall portfolio of all open grants has increased from about 50% to over 75% BIPOC- and woman-led organizations today.
My grants are now all general operating to disrupt traditional philanthropic power dynamics, giving the entrepreneurs and organizational leaders the ability to decide how best to spend the money, rather than restricting grants to specific programs or projects that I think are most important.
Crucially, I now also examine the impact this funding has on the broader opportunity for historically under-resourced entrepreneurs, since the general funding environment for women and BIPOC founders is dismal.
I think that the most important impact the Capital Collaborative has had on me and my work is that racial and gender equity are now the driving force behind my investing and grantmaking decisions, not merely a component.
The Collaborative has helped me better clarify and strengthen my programmatic goal of measurably reducing educational opportunity gaps, as well as better meet Voqal’s organizational mission. Not only has the Collaborative made me a better venture philanthropist, it has made me a better person and reminded me why I got into this work to begin with.
Camelback Ventures’ Capital Collaborative works with white funders and social impact investors who want to deepen their individual and organizational commitment to racial and gender equity — but may not know how. Our unique approach brings together a community of white accomplices to engage in an introspective and concrete curriculum, to diversify their networks and make their grantmaking processes more equitable. Learn more about Camelback Ventures’ 2022 Capital Collaborative today!
Vinny Badolato serves as the Education Program Director at Voqal, a national organization that is advancing social equity by building an educated, empowered, and engaged public. He leads the education venture philanthropy work with the central goal of measurably reducing opportunity gaps in education. Vinny has worked for over fifteen years at Colorado-focused and national advocacy, policy, and philanthropic organizations advancing issues to improve educational opportunities for individuals from babies to adults. He worked in government management consulting prior to dedicating his career to improving education. In Vinny’s own words: “Education funder, policy wonk, political junkie. Working to advance racial, gender, and economic opportunity through education equity and justice.”