The Kenneth Rainin Foundation has been advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across our organization for the past few years. We’ve reported on changes we’ve made in our program areaslessons we’ve learned and how we’re engaging Foundation staff and Board members in the learning process. Feeling inspired by this work, we want to share how our communications team is integrating DEI into our Foundation practices.

An exciting moment in this work started three years ago, when the Rainin Foundation worked with a consulting firm to help us embed DEI into our strategic plans. One of their key recommendations to the communications team was to create a cross-departmental work group to develop a framework for storytelling and communications. In 2021, we formed the Diversity and Inclusion Strategies in Communications (DISC) Group, which includes representatives from each program area and grants management. Below we talk about how our group works and what we’ve accomplished so far.

Over time several things have become clearer to us. We are sharing those insights and lessons, and how they have guided our work.

  1. Take a fresh look at what you typically do. It’s easier and quicker to do business as usual but keeping DEI principles front of mind helps you make improvements that center the people who are most affected.
  2. Start with what’s easy and build from there. Some practices will be relatively simple to implement, while others might require additional capacity or budget.
  3. Reach out to the experts. For our website redesign, we are working with Perkins Access, the professional consulting arm of the world-renowned Perkins School for the Blind. Their expertise has benefited us and our website developers, improving both the content and visuals.
  4. Value diverse community perspectives. Representation matters both in our consultants and in whose voices and narratives we center in a story. Our DEI work has shifted our approach to co-creating stories with our grantees and partners.
  5. Focus your work, set realistic timelines and involve staff. Creating priorities was essential to producing resources that staff and consultants could use immediately.
  6. Match resources to your goals. We felt it was important to have dedicated staff time on this project and to set aside financial resources. Having a communications team member leading each resource development was important to our progress.

Read the full article about embedding DEI into funding practices by Amanda Flores-Witte, Teri Gardiner, and Megan De Trane at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.