Posted Friday, October 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm

As conversations around race and equity gain prominence in the national dialogue, it seems the philanthropic sector is increasingly recognizing the ways in which a long history of segregation, systemic racism and inequality hinders our ability to build strong and equitable communities. In the words of Malala Yousavsai, “we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

A number of grantmakers who are part of the Collective Impact Forum and GEO are considering how they might use their privileged positions to help combat inequities and apply an equity lens to their work. In response to this interest, GEO and the Collective Impact Forum partnered to explore grantmakers’ roles in bringing an equity lens to place-based collaborative efforts. We admittedly had a lot to learn, and our first step was to conduct an environmental scan. We wanted to learn more about work already happening in this space and how grantmakers are grappling with questions around disparities and structures that perpetuate them. The research provided us with a helpful grounding in the content while at the same time underscoring the complexity of this topic and illuminating how much we still don’t know.

While we started this exploration to inform internal decision making among the Collective Impact Forum and GEO, we decided to share what we’ve learned so far publicly as a conversation starter (find a link to the report here). Several interviewees who contributed to our research have also  generously written short complementary pieces on equity and collaboration, sharing their experiences and offering thoughts on how the field might make progress on addressing inequities in communities. We are thankful to Kelly Brown, Jeff Raderstrong and Juan Sebastian Arias, and Sandra Witt for chiming in on this conversation, and we invite you to join the discussion as well. If you are interested in reading more on this topic, the recent Stanford Social Innovation Review blog series that focuses on equity and collective impact highlights many of the questions we have been grappling with.

We would appreciate hearing from you as well. How do the early suggestions from this research resonate with your collective impact experiences? What do you see as opportunities for the field to make greater progress addressing inequities in communities? Have you found other resources helpful in getting started?

Please share your thoughts, experiences, and questions in the comments below.


Read the Report: Collaborating to See All Constituents Reach Their Full Potential

Voices from the Field

Contributors to this research scan share more recommendations on how organizations can add an equity lens to their work to help better serve their communities.

3 Levels of Racial Equity Work within Collective Impact by Juan Sebastian Arias and Jeff Raderstrong (Living Cities)

If You Don’t Know Who You’re Impacting, How Do You Know You’re Making an Impact? by Kelly Brown (D5)

Pitfalls to Avoid When Pursuing Equity by Sandra Witt (The California Endowment)