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

What we're reading in 2021

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: 20202019



What We're Reading: For #GivingTuesday, We're Getting Out of the Way by Liberation in a Generation
Who's Reading It: Funders Together Staff

Today, nonprofits will be seeking financial support on Giving Tuesday. In this post by Liberation in a Generation, they explain why they won't be participating and will instead promote their partners on their Twitter feed. One particular takeaway from the post and reminder: philanthropy in this country is rooted in white supremacy, and things like Giving Tuesday makes nonprofits "compete against each other...rather than focus on our people, our work, and the movement." While we encourage all philanthropy financially support nonprofits, we also hope you'll take two minutes to read and reflect on this post, as well as check out Liberation in a Generation's Twitter feed this Giving Tuesday.


What We're Reading: How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
Who's Reading It: Funders Institute Attendees

At our 2021 Funders Institute this week, Martha Toll and Clint Smith delved into Clint's book about the whitewashed telling of our country's history and the legacy of slavery and anti-Blackness on issues hidden in plain view, like homelessness.

In Martha Toll's recent review of this book, she says, "Smith forces readers to face uncomfortable truths about America. Violence against Black people is not only core to our founding but the engine that drove the young country’s economic growth...With a deft touch, he raises questions that we must all address, without recourse to wishful thinking or the collective ignorance and willful denial that fuels white supremacy.”


What We're Reading: Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley Ford
Who's Reading It: Katie Owens Mulcahy, The Owens Foundation

After reading this memoir, Katie shares that it is "a courageous exploration of trauma—family, individual and collective. Ford invites the reader into her life and shares her experience growing up in a chaotic home, her conflicted relationship with her incarcerated father, and her journey to stand in her truth from an adolescent girl to a young, Black woman. She so eloquently captures the theme of strong familial bonds that rise above our imperfections and past mistakes."

One quote from the author, Ashley C. Ford, that resonated with Katie: “We are never going to heal if we don’t talk about what hurts.”


What We're Reading: Building a Culture of Accountability by Piper Anderson
Who's Reading It: Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs, Funders Together

After the jury delivered the verdict during Derek Chauvin’s trial, many media outlets and individuals were quick to talk about how this was a moment of accountability, an example of the system working. As I scrolled through Twitter that night, Aisha Alexander Young from the Meyer Foundation raised the question: “Can someone please explain what you all mean by accountable? What individual or systemic responsibility has been taken?”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what accountability means and how it shows up (or doesn’t show up) in our personal relationships, in our organizations, and in our systems. In the article, Building a Culture of Accountability, Piper Anderson shared this idea that applies to the entire carceral system: “The difference between accountability and punishment has to do with relationships. Punishment breaks a relationship; it’s rooted in isolation, shame, and disconnection. Accountability, by contrast, requires communication, negotiation of needs, the opportunity to repair harm, and the chance to prove that we can change and be worthy of trust again.”

Changing systems requires us to also do deep personal work, and I hope you will join me in reflecting on how we can build a deeper practice of taking responsibility for our actions and the consequences of those actions, as well as how to build a stronger culture of accountability with our friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and larger communities.


What We're Reading: Philanthropy Can & Must Help Dismantle Racial Capitalism by Adriana Rocha and Manisha Vaze
Who's Reading It: Lauren Bennett, Director of Communications and Policy, Funders Together

Funders Together is partnering with Liberation House to guide and coach our internal and external racial justice work. In our most recent meeting, they posed this question to staff: "What does transformative mean to you?" It's a timely question as I've been meditating on what it looks like to reimagine philanthropy, especially when it comes to building and shifting power, and what opportunities we might have to move towards transformation for racial justice. In this article on The Forge, Adriana Rocha and Manisha Vaze from the Neighborhood Funders Group, challenge us to think about philanthropy's role in radical transformation through dismantling racial capitalism. They lay out five ways funders can take action to shift power to authentically support BIPOC communities and disrupt the status quo to undo systems of oppression.


What We're Reading: We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba
Who's Reading It: Kristin Aldana-Taday, Program Officer, Domestic Programs, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

After reading the book, Kristin reflected that "this book is important for our sector because it reminds us to take the long view in our work to end homelessness. Kaba reminded me that, 'Your timeline is not the timeline on which movements occur. Your timeline is incidental. Your timeline is only for yourself to ark your growth and your living.' Recently ending homelessness through the support of evidence-based solutions has been challenged and we've seen an increase in attempts to criminalize homelessness. But, we can’t give up. We must forge ahead. It may not happen on the timeline I want it to happen, but I'm part of a collective that is using a racial equity and justice lens to ensure our unhoused neighbors find a home, are supported, and thrive."


What We're Reading: My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
Who's Reading It: Tabitha BlackwellDirector of Networks and Programs, Funders Together to End Homelessness

Trauma-informed care is known throughout several systems and sectors, from the healthcare to homelessness. As a Black woman, I have spent most of my life feeling some degree of unexplainable trauma. Over the last few years, I slowly gained language for this trauma that is experienced by every Black person in this country.

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies outlines the generational trauma experienced in the bodies and minds of not only Black people in America, but also white people. Just as trauma goes beyond that of intellect, so does white supremacy. The effects of white supremacy are felt deep in our bodies. Therefore, the movement for racial justice must go beyond the work of trainings and workshops, and must instead center deep healing.

We're familiar with the saying "those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it." But, what if we chose something different than that repetition? What if we actually looked at our pain and fears and did the hard work to undo the deep seated racial issues we face as individuals and as a nation? What will be lost if we chose not to heal? Will we continue to be a nation predicated on the need for Black people to maintain a calm and comfortable space for white people at the expense of their own identity, wellbeing, and sometime even life? A nation where when a white person feels nervous a Black person dies. As I sit and listen to the Derek Chauvin verdict, my mind wants to believe there is hope, but my body is weary from my ancestors' fight to merely exist and my heart is heavy for the next Black person that will surely suffer for our unwillingness to do the hard work of healing.


What We're Reading: On Discerning What We Need to Experience Joy, Heal, and Wellbeing: An Interview with Aiko Bethea
Who's Reading It: Kelli King-Jackson, Vice President of Programs and Community Engagement, The Simmons Foundation

Hi, y'all. Kelli King-Jackson here. I was asked to share what I'm reading, and I kept stalling. The truth of the matter is that most days I'm not reading. The pandemic and the racial uprising have been emotionally taxing. I have a booklist a mile long but right now that feels like too much. So, when I can focus long enough to read, I stick to short articles that my peers post on LinkedIn.

This interview is with a former philanthropy colleague, Aiko Bethea. I met Aiko through ABFE, the affinity group for Black folx in philanthropy. In this article, Aiko does what she always does, centers Black women. Aiko is a powerful speaker who taps right into my core. Aiko gives us a language to name what we experience, often as the only Black women in our sector. She also reminds us to be future-focused. That part hit me in the gut as I am thinking about my life after philanthropy. What have I learned from my time in the sector that will propel Black folks forward? What have I learned that holds us back from our liberation and healing? What type of table am I building?

As you can tell, the article left me with more questions than answers. But isn't that how it goes with a good read?

As we wrap up Women's History Month, I'd like to leave you with a reframed version closing question that was asked of Aiko: You go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and it’s March 2022 and a miracle has occurred for Black women in philanthropy. What happened?


What We're Reading: It’s Time for Philanthropy to Address Its Erasure of AAPI Voices and Perspectives
Who's Reading It: Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs

On the heels of the Lunar New Year, I am grateful for this essay by Grace Nicolette, Vice President of Programming and External Relations at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. In particular, this sentence is something I, too, have experienced working in philanthropy: “I have also been in several head-scratching conversations outside of my organization where it was implied that as an Asian American, I am somehow not a person of color.”

It is imperative for philanthropy to address the legacies of slavery, redlining, and anti-Black racism, especially when the impacts on housing stability are so clear. It is also critical, as Grace suggests, that philanthropy move beyond simplistic paradigms on race. We must have more nuanced conversations about how AAPIs are a diverse, multicultural group with vast differences in life outcomes; how stereotypes like the “model-minority” myth are connected to anti-Black racism; and how AAPIs have our own complicated histories with racism and are also here to fight for equity and justice.


What We're Reading: We Tried to Tell Y'all
Who's Reading It: Funders Together Staff

Amanda Andere, Funders Together CEO and board member of Equity in the Center, says: "Please stop saying this is not America, or we are better than this. America was founded on the violent taking of land and reliance on chattel slavery by white supremacist slave owners who documented their plan to commit genocide on Indigenous people. Just over 50 years ago, white police officers violently hosed and beat people trying to stand up for their basic rights and continue to do so. This is the only America some of us know."

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.