In the spring of 2020, PEAK released the Black Voices in Grants Management issue of our newly reimagined Journal to take a candid look at the experience of Black professionals in philanthropy. “We could not have predicted that a global pandemic would hit the world weeks later, which had a devastating and disproportionate impact on Black people. Those communities were hit the hardest,” guest editor Roland Kennedy, Jr., director of grants management at Carnegie Corporation of New York, recalls. “Nor could we have predicted having to navigate the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.”

We shared this issue with the PEAK members at an especially raw moment for our country, and three years later, its examinations of inequity and how white supremacist culture shows up in philanthropy continue to resonate with our community. “The Black Voices issue of the Journal is unique because it’s squarely focused on the grants management profession and this membership,” Journal contributor Genise Singleton, director of grants management at Kresge Foundation, observed. A year later, we made the Black Voices issue available to the broader community, and readership continues to grow.

With that in mind, as we also honor Black History Month, we reconnected with Kennedy, Singleton, and Steven Casey, deputy director of grants at the We Mean Business Coalition, to ask them to reflect on the Journal, the progress philanthropy has made in the past few years and what more still needs to be done.

Why do you think this resource has the staying power that it does, especially with so many other voices in the sector that have come out with resources on racial equity issues within philanthropy in the past three years?

Singleton: Yes, the voices are many.  But the voices from this resource are coming directly from the black community within the grants management profession. Although the strength of any work requires many hands, its the voices of those with the lived experience that will give power and purpose to any movement.  This journal provides the sector with what is, not theories, but real people that you can touch and see.

Casey: The daily experiences of African Americans unfortunately have a staying power in our country’s memories that continues to be documented and reinforced with every new story exposing another atrocity. Our continued hope and dream that this will be the last time, then, true to form, it happens again and the cycle starts over like yesterday never happened.

That same pattern is mirrored in the career pathways and office experiences of many African Americans in the philanthropic sector. The courage, aspirations and dreams of my fellow authors in Black Voices was to break this cycle of silence in shadows and serve as a bright beacon for others to tell their story, with courage at their hems, to change this sector for the better. Black Voices will continue to have its staying power as long as there are uneven experiences, not just with the African American experience, but for all who fall outside of the dominant power structure.

Read the full article about progress in philanthropy by Steven Casey, Roland Kennedy, Jr., Genise Singleton at PEAK Grantmaking.