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

What we're reading in 2020

When we named racial equity as a priority in our strategic plan, we also named it a value to start our own internal learning journey as an organization and as individuals. Starting in 2019, each month, we feature a "What We're Reading" section in our Member News that highlights what people in the Funders Together network are reading to expand their understanding of racial equity. This page is an archive of past articles, blog posts, and books that were featured in past editions of the FTEH Member News. We hope this will spur inspiration for your personal or organizational racial equity work and that you'll learn alongside us.

What We're Reading in: 2021 | 2019



What We're Reading: Let My People Vote
Who's Reading It: Martha Toll, Funders Together to End Homelessness Board Member

Martha says: "I’ve just finished reading and reviewing for NPR Books Desmond Meade’s Let My People Vote. In a David and Goliath story, Meade gives a compelling account of the critical importance of expanding the voting franchise. After leaving prison, Meade graduated college and law school. He founded the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the group behind “Amendment 4,” the ballot initiative which won with overwhelming bi-partisan support in 2018. Amendment 4 re-enfranchised over 1.4 million returning citizens in Florida. Unfortunately, Republican legislators subsequently blocked much of the measure from implementation, and court challenges have been disappointing. But the voting rights restoration movement is strong and will persist long term. Meade’s story is an inspiration for justice advocates around the nation."


What We're Reading: Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do
Who's Reading It: Tabitha Blackwell, Director of Networks and Programs, Funders Together to End Homelessness

Tabitha says: "As I was sitting in our most recent webinar on narrative change, this book took on a new life for me. In the book, the author talks about how stereotypes are built and how they are perpetuated beyond race and gender. It becomes the narrative that people use and the story that we even tell ourselves. When I think about how deeply embedded these narratives of bias and stereotypes are embedded in our systems, cultures, and individuals, I realize the long road ahead of us. Despite the daunting task of changing hearts and minds, it is exciting to see philanthropy discussing their role in helping to change the narrative that continues to be told of what a person experiencing homelessness looks like."


What We're Reading: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Who's Reading It: Mayra Sierra, Tipping Point Community, CHI Community Partnerships + Inclusion Manager

Mayra says: "This is such an important read for our time and for the work we do as funders in homelessness. As we do the work to reduce the racial disparities in homelessness, we have to dig deeper into why racism in America has thrived and how often we as funders perpetuate the very systems of oppression we seek to dismantle."


What We're Reading:Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Lives
Who's Reading It: Stephanie Chan, Funders Together to End Homelessness, Director of Membership & Programs

Earlier this summer we saw an endless number of statements stating that Black Lives Matter. There is much work to be done to achieve racial justice, which includes housing justice. As I read reports, like this recent one from NCRP about continued underinvestment in Black communities by community foundations, I am not surprised by the data. But, I am even more motivated to push philanthropy – community foundations, private philanthropy, corporate giving programs, United Ways, and more – to look deeply at their grantmaking. How much goes toward Black communities and organizations? How are you investing those dollars across systems and in specific neighborhoods to address disproportionality and disparities? How are you connecting with grassroots organizers who are pushing for racial justice, and in that work pushing for housing justice, and supporting them with your dollars, your connections, and your voice? How are you organizing within philanthropy to push your donors, trustees and board, and partners to understand why we need to divest from the criminal legal system and invest in Black communities


What We're Reading: Subsidized Employment Responses to COVID-19: How Cities and States can Prioritize Equity and Efficacy
Who's Reading It: Matt Aliberti, United Way Worldwide, Director, Foundations and Grants

We can’t address housing and homelessness without engaging the workforce system. I’ve been hearing about how stressed the workforce system is right now, and federal unemployment benefits are running out. This article gives great examples of what thoughtful workforce supports look like by prioritizing racial equity.


What We're Reading: The Vanishing Monuments of Columbus, Ohio
Who's Reading It: Lauren Samblanet, Funders Together Knowledge Management & Communications Manager

Even as a poet and communications professional, I am relearning the importance of centering care and deep thoughtfulness around the language I use, especially when writing about racial justice and equity. When an artist's medium is language, how can they not consider each word's history, how it arrived to them, how its meaning has shifted over time, and when a word might be a violence rather than a light or a bridge? Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet who is always meticulous in word-choice, uses that same attentiveness not only with the language of this essay, but also with the history of Columbus, Ohio and the history of activism. Abdurraqib outlines the history of colonization and gentrification in Columbus to link us to a reminder that so many white folks, myself included, need right now: this is not just a moment and this is not new. Those fighting for transformation now are following a long line of activists before them. And while sometimes the thought distances me from hope, in the same breath, I am tethered to hope knowing that this work is done in small increments and that each action we take toward justice further propels to a future where Black Lives Matter is supported in our every word, action and system.


What We're Reading: We white women shouldn’t ask “What can I do to fight white supremacy?”
Who's Reading It: Lauren Bennett, Funders Together Director of Communications & Policy

As a white woman with white privilege, I'm complicit in the systemic and structural racism that is embedded into every aspect of life in this country. Acknowledging and accepting this is a call to action and a constant reminder that the work to be anti-racist is never done or over, no matter how "woke" we, especially white women, like to think we are as allies. We must sit and meditate in that discomfort and use it as fuel to continually evolve and take more anti-racist actions. This article from the Real Talk: WOC & Allies collective poses questions that white woman should be asking ourselves and each other to hold ourselves accountable if we want to dismantle the world that white supremacy built for us and we benefit from. While many are asking what we should be doing to fight white supremacy, we really should be asking ourselves what we are willing to give up in order to be part of the solution and build a more just and equitable world for BIPOC. 


What We're Reading: NIS: An Equitable Systems Transformation Framework for COVID-19
Who's Reading It: Foundations for Racial Equity (FRE)

Foundations for Racial Equity convened virtually on April 6-7 in lieu of our planned in-person convening. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to think about the racial equity implications of response efforts and the impact on people of color experiencing homelessness. As our pre-reading, we read this piece by National Innovation Service to set the stage for deeper conversation.


What We're Reading (and listening to): Two Broads Talking Politics Podcast - Episode 292: Anat Shenker-Osorio
Who's Reading It: Michael Parkhurst, Housing Opportunities Program Officer,Meyer Memorial Trust

Michael said: "I recently stumbled upon the work of Anat Shenker-Osorio, who is an expert on messaging – basically, saying things in plain English in a way that resonates with people who don’t already agree with you. In this podcast, she talks a bit about her research that found that leading with racial equity is more effective than burying it under “color-blind” universalism. I encourage you to take some time to listen to the podcast!


What We're Reading: Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity - Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens
Who's Reading It: Adrienne Mundorf,Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Adrienne said: “I’ve been digging into PRE’s Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens guide to help me think about what it means to move from racial equity work to racial justice. As part of Funders Together’s Foundations for Racial Equity community of practice, we’ve been having conversations about power building and grantmaking practices, white dominant culture, and grantmaking practices. If you’ve also been thinking about these topics, I suggest you also check out the guide!”


What We're Reading: We Need Rental Assistance and Services, Not Punitive Policies, to End Homelessness
Who's Reading It: Funders Together Staff

Peggy Bailey, Vice President of Housing Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dives into how the Administration's intentions to abandon strategies that we know end homelessness, like Housing First, and policy proposals that favor criminalization over a focus on community-based health and social services, will not only thwart progress, but also have detrimental effects on people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, specifically people of color. She also makes a call to action for policymakers to "invest further in what works: permanent housing, rental assistance, and strong community support services tailored to meet people’s individual needs."

Showing 1 reaction

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

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.