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What We're Reading on Racial Equity, Justice, and Liberation

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: 20212020 | 2019

2022

What We're Reading: 2022 Funders Institute Resources

Who's Reading It: Funders Together Staff

During our 2022 Funders Institute this week, our sessions covered a variety of topics including connecting narrative change and policy efforts, alternatives to policing in our vision for housing justice, authentic collaboration with people with lived experience, and cross-sector engagement for youth homelessness policy wins. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing out learnings, resources, and recordings from our Funders Institute. In the meantime, here are a few resources mentioned during the sessions that staff are reading and sitting with after the many great thought-provoking conversations throughout the week:

 

What We're Reading: The Alternative to Police That is Proven to Reduce Violence

Who's Reading It: Michael Durham, Funders Together Director of Networks

Mother Jones’ recent article The Alternative to Police That Is Proven to Reduce Violence follows San Francisco’s Street Crisis Response Team, one result of dozens of jurisdictions across the country that looked to Oregon’s CAHOOTS model for solutions to police violence after George Floyd’s murder. The violence to which the title alludes is not crime, but rather the harm and deadliness a 911 call can result in, especially threatening Black people, who are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. The article recognizes that the most effective way to reduce police violence is to minimize interactions with law enforcement, regardless of whether police serve any social good.

Lest the dots go unconnected, alternatives to policing are necessary in pursuit of both housing and racial justice: policing does little to keep communities safe, as it claims to, and instead embroils people without homes in cycles of traumatization, criminal-legal-system involvement, and prolonged homelessness – cycles that intentionally and disproportionately oppress Black and brown people. While couched as a program addressing public safety and behavioral health, 60% of CAHOOTS clients are people without homes.

The article understandably dwells with the obstacles San Francisco’s and others’ CAHOOTS-like programs have encountered, but that should not distract from the rare glimmer of hope it uplifts: options that benefit everyone exist.

 

What We're Reading: Homelessness Is a Housing and Racism Problem

Who's Reading It: Lauren Bennett, Funders Together Director of Communications & Policy

In this article, Bill Pitkin synthesizes research from a recent book, Homelessness is a Housing Problem, and rightly calls in the need to name and evaluate how structural racism has and continues to contribute to homelessness and housing insecurity. Without doing so, the three recommendations outlined in the book will not only miss the mark on ending homelessness, but exacerbate racial disparities. 

Bill points out: "Additional resources and greater coordination across systems supported by a better understanding of homelessness as a housing problem are all important, but unless they are accompanied by systems, policies, and practices to redress historical racism, they will likely reinforce racial disparities, not repair them." He then goes on to offer how the movement can form a pathway to racial justice through housing justice.

 

What We're Reading: How a Colorado Health Foundation Is Tackling Underinvestment in Native Communities

Who's Reading It: Funders Together's Foundations for Racial Equity cohort

Native communities have been severely underfunded by both government and private philanthropy. In fact, just 0.1 percent of philanthropic giving in Colorado was awarded to Native American community organization. Recognizing this Funders Together member, The Colorado Health Foundation launched a new initiative to address this underinvestment by providing a $1.5 million grant to the First Nations Development Institute. This grant will support the creation of a Native American Fund for Health Equity to support Native America community-based organizations who are advancing health equity for Native Americans in Colorado. The initiative is an example of how philanthropy can shift its power to create pathways to advance justice and liberation.

Sean Dollard, Program Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation and a member of Foundation for Racial Equity (FRE) shared that he sees this initiative as a direct result "of being steeped in justice-centered work within Foundations for Racial Equity. This deferred-power pathway to advance Native sovereignty—though not specifically centered on housing—was only possible from internal learning and folks’ I’ve learned from within the FRE cohort." 

 

What We're Reading: Sustaining Support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by Don Chen, President of Surdna Foundation

Who's Reading It: Stephanie Chan, Chief Strategy Officer at Funders Together

On the one year anniversary of the murders of eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian, Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation, writes that one of his top priorities is to "promote multi-racial solidarity, as well as solidarity with trans people, individuals experiencing homelessnessimmigrants and refugeespeople with disabilities, and other members of our communities.

Like Don, I am also working to do my part to address the AAPI community's short term needs through co-chairing a local AAPI giving circle that has focused its grantmaking on anti-Asian racism and cross-racial solidarity, as well as tackling structural root causes of injustice through my work at Funders Together. It's been helpful to find ways to meet immediate needs while working on long-term structural change. If you are finding ways to do both, I'd love to hear about it.

 

What We're Reading: Racial Equity Toolkit by True Colors United

Who's Reading It: Funders Together Staff

Our partners at True Colors United recently released their Racial Equity Toolkit. It was designed through the lens of youth homelessness but learnings in this toolkit can "apply to all individuals from all sectors, because no American system or institution is exempt from its history of racial inequity." The intersectional approach True Colors United takes in its work and within this guide is critical to understanding and reconciling how we move through and operate in systems that are designed to further oppress people and communities who have been historically marginalized. The toolkit guides us through the history of anti-Blackness in our housing and homelessness systems as well as its present day forms, and provides concrete actions our organizations and communities can take to dismantle white supremacy, including celebrating and supporting Black joy.

 

What We're Reading: The Lightmaker's Manifesto - How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy by Karen Walrond

Who's Reading It: Katie Mulcahy, The Owens Foundation

Being an advocate can bring us great joy, but it can also lead to emotional burn out. Over the holidays I read this book, which re-ignited my passion and optimism for advocacy and underscored the importance of self-care in this line of work. My personal favorite exercise was writing my very own “Spark” statement or personal mission statement, and in January I had an opportunity to lead this exercise with my peers in Foundations for Racial Equity.

“By unearthing our passions and gifts, we learn how to joyfully advocate for justice, peace, and liberation. We learn how to become makers of light.”- Karen Walrond

 

o. This is the only America some of us know."


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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.

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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.

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