Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A HealthSpark Foundation Learning Experience
“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Late last year, we shared an update on the ways in which HealthSpark Foundation has been holding itself accountable to advancing greater racial and social justice. We’d like to periodically share with our community the ways in which we continue to grow in this work- from the internal work of how our foundation operates, to the investments, grants, and initiatives we’re supporting, to how we’re leveraging our philanthropic power within the community.
We understand the long history of systemic racism that has marginalized Black and Brown communities from accessing capital and philanthropic resources to support their communities, institutions, and organizations. The internal structures, processes, and approach of philanthropy can work to break down these barriers or they can work to perpetuate these harms and injustices. At HealthSpark we are actively working to breakdown these barriers and we are seeking avenues to address this issue as we fundamentally believe that lasting solutions will emerge from the community for the community.
Introspection and internal learning are two key tenets for HealthSpark as we continue on our journey to create a more equitable, just, and healthy Montgomery County. In an effort to support these objectives, the staff is committed to seek opportunities for continuous learning that support our grantmaking goals. With this commitment in mind, I’ve been engaging the HealthSpark team in creating a continuous learning experience that elevates how we can leverage our grantmaking tools to support our long-term vision for creating a thriving, resilient, and equitable safety net.
As a staff, we want to examine our current approach to grantmaking with a racial justice lens. With the awareness that each member of the HealthSpark team touches the grantmaking process in different ways, from finance, to grant management, to program development, to operations, it’s important for us to explore every aspect of grantmaking and ask ourselves how it can support justice. To guide and inform our internal learning, the team is reading and reflecting on Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide, created by the Philanthropic Institute for Racial Equity. The Guide aims to drive philanthropy beyond racial equity toward racial justice.
The Guide presents 4 key questions that frame this report:
- What do racial justice activists what funders to know and change to increase effective and sustainable support for their work?
- How do funders understand and define racial equity, racial justice, and power building?
- What are change agents within philanthropy running into barriers to advancing racial justice grantmaking, and how are others overcoming those barriers?
- How do funders hold themselves accountable to transformative racial justice goals?
Our team is excited to share with you some of our learning and reflections as we read the Guide. There are some key questions that we are asking ourselves:
- How do we center power-building in our grantmaking?
- How are we dismantling inequities in our grantmaking processes and decision making?
- How are we leveraging our communication platforms to center the voice and experience of those directly impacted?
Over the next few months we look forward to sharing with you how we have been thinking about the questions above and present additional questions as they emerge. We know that we are on a long and important journey and we are eager to partner with you and create a space to learn from each other as we work towards healthy and just Montgomery County.