A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Model How to Advance Racial Equity and Invest in Disenfranchised Communities

**First 100 Day Priority
Upon taking office, the Biden administration made advancing racial equity and addressing structural racism within the federal government a clear priority in its agenda. This priority includes promoting fair housing policiesstrengthening the nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous tribes and Native Alaskansending the use of private prisons, and combating xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders.  

Part of this priority includes an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. Led by the Domestic Policy Council (DPC), it requires a whole government response through interagency work to “remove systemic barriers to and provide equal access to opportunities and benefits, identify communities the Federal Government has underserved, and develop policies designed to advance equity for those communities.” It also rescinded the Trump administration executive order (EO) banning racial equity trainings for federal contractors and grant recipients and the EO on the 1776 Commission, as well as opened the door for bold transformation within the federal government. 

This presents a unique opportunity for philanthropy that has been engaged in racial equity and justice work to partner closely with agencies like HUD to share lessons learned and best methods for prioritizing this work successfully. As the department rebuilds with new staff and priorities, funders can utilize the relationship building through public-private partnerships to provide concrete examples of what has worked in the private sector (both internally within your organization and externally with the community), where there are opportunities for improvement, and how the federal government can measure progress or successThis can be done through racial equity review teams of philanthropy and federal officials as a mechanism of information sharing. 

Philanthropy can be instrumental in pushing the administration to reframe its messaging around its racial equity initiatives because we know that language matters based on the research philanthropy has funded. The EO references “underserved communities” when in reality, communities have been continually disenfranchised because of structural racism and the intentional lack of investment by philanthropy and government alikeMaking clear the historical context and reality of why communities have been disenfranchised is part of racial equity and justice. Funders who have been engaged in this work should challenge federal agencies and officials to use language that accurately describes history and avoid white-washed messaging in order to make others feel comfortable. 

In addition, funders should provide BIPOC consultant references to HUD staff and federal contractors to help facilitate internal learning and assist in the development of strategic priorities around racial equity and justice, especially given the impacts the Trump administration EO on banning racial equity trainings had on consultants and trainers. 

Philanthropy can also facilitate racial equity working groups with HUD that include grantee partners and BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals with lived expertise who can consult on design and models for data collection, identifying barriers to access for government benefits and contracting opportunities, and development of equitable and just policies within HUD and connected agencies.  


<< Back to Recommendations

>> Support an Equitable COVID-19 Response and Recovery**

>> Fund Advocacy and Organizing Efforts to Build and Advance Bold Policy**

>> Engage in Relational Public-Private Partnerships Rooted in Justice**

>> Facilitate Transparency in Engaging Community Voices on the Ground

>> Build Relationships to Support Both Political and Career Staff

>> Support Narrative and Messaging Efforts for Public Affairs Staff

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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