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Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table

May 1, 2020

Echoing Green and Bridgespan collaborated to research the depth of racial inequities in philanthropic funding. Based on what we see in our work as intermediaries in the sector, two of the biggest factors holding back philanthropy's efforts to help advance social change are rooted in race:Understanding the role of race in the problems philanthropists are trying to solve;The significance of race when it comes to how philanthropists identify leaders and find solutions.Color-blind grantmaking, even when grounded in a well-meaning attempt at equity, is the crux of the problem. Philanthropist Jeff Raikes shares: "Tricia and I recognize that we come into this work with blind spots, as did many of our staff. Over the past few years we have challenged ourselves to better understand the ways a race-conscious approach leads to better results for the communities we want to support."Race is one of the most reliable predictors of life outcomes across several areas, including life expectancy, academic achievement, income, wealth, physical and mental health, and maternal mortality. If socioeconomic difference explained these inequities, then controlling for socioeconomic status would eliminate them. But it does not. This means that donors who care about supporting social change must think more intentionally and proactively about race and racial equity.

The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the U.S.

December 10, 2014

There is no greater challenge in the United States today than income inequality. It has been 50 years since the War on Poverty began. We have made progress but not enough. More than 32 million children live in low-income families, and racial and gender gaps persist. For the first time, Americans do not believe life will be better for the next generation. We have both a moral and an economic imperative to fuel social and economic mobility in this country.The Aspen Institute was founded in 1950 as a place to address the critical issues of our time. Today, ensuring that the American dream can be a possibility for all and be passed from one generation to the next is that issue. This commitment is at the heart of the work of many policy programs at the Aspen Institute. Ending the cycle of poverty requires leadership and hard work across all sectors, from nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and academia to the government and private sector. This report recognizes the importance of learning from all sectors in tackling any challenge. Specifically, it builds on opportunities in the growing impact investment field. The report draws on the lessons from market-based approaches to identify tools and strategies that can help move the needle on family economic security. In this report, you will find the following: Case studies -- An opportunity to go under the hood on deals with the Bank of America, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Acelero Learning, and others; Point of view essays -- Insights and lessons from leaders in the field; Deals at a glance -- Snapshots of impact investors and what they have learned, including the Kresge Foundation, Living Cities, and the MacArthur Foundation; and Survey results and lessons learned -- Trends among active and emerging players in the U.S. impact investment field and the lessons that can be applied to economic mobility in the U.S. We are pleased to offer this expanded perspective on impact investing in the U.S. and the lessons for investors, philanthropists, and non-profits working to build strong and prosperous families and communities.