Advancing racial equity in Iowa was added as a Strategic Priority of the Iowa Council of Foundations by its board of directors in fiscal year 2020. By naming it as one of our four Strategic Priorities, we seek to raise awareness of how philanthropy has — both historically and currently — been influenced by biases and prejudice, and to be a part of the growing coalition working to right past wrongs. We recognize that this is “life’s work,” as one of our Racial Equity Cohort facilitators, Sharina Sallis, frequently reminds us, and we are committed to keep moving forward. Here is some of the work that has been done to-date:
A Beginner’s Guide for ICoF Members — coming soon!
We are all at different points in our learning on racial equity and justice, and specifically how they apply to philanthropy. If you are new to philanthropy or new to racial equity work, we are gathering some of our best resources for you as a place to start. (Coming soon!)
Rural Equity Leadership Series (2022)
Leaders in Iowa know the importance of making their communities welcoming and inclusive places to live, work, raise families and retire. Successful communities understand that centering equity in these conversations ensures that reality for all Iowans and newcomers. Census data tells us that demographics in Iowa are shifting, and we must adapt and evolve as our communities change.
Understanding rural equity and leading racial equity conversations in rural Iowa is good, important and sometimes challenging work. Leaders have been asking us questions like:
- Where do we start? What language do we use?
- How do we support newcomers and diverse populations in our rural towns?
- How do we lead these conversations with business and community partners?
The ICoF gathered more than 50 rural leaders to address these questions and more in a three-part workshop series in 2022. These interactive conversations gave rural Iowa leaders knowledge and tools to apply in their work. The series equipped leaders to bring their communities/counties together around what they love most about their unique place and the people who call it home.
Another goal of this series was to create a network of regional leaders committed to rural equity who will continue to be allies for each other, as we collectively build bridges and learn to communicate across cultures in rural Iowa. The workshops used tools developed for the Community Heart & Soul® process that are designed to do meaningful community engagement work in small, rural towns. The tools involve all voices and bring people together around the things that matter most.
REPG Racial Equity Learning Exchange Series (2022)
The Iowa Council of Foundations was one of FOUR philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) selected to participate in the 2022 United Philanthropy Forum/REPG Racial Equity Learning Exchange Series. Sixteen PSOs applied; we are thrilled, honored, and humbled to be selected to participate in this partnership alongside the likes of New York and California PSOs.
Eight of our member organizations were selected to participate in the Racial Equity Learning Exchange Series representing Iowa’s philanthropic sector. This learning was intended to help participants bring new concepts back to their foundations in order to develop or refine their policies, systems and operations regarding racial equity and justice. The Series was grounded in REPG’s Learning Exchange Framework, which was developed based on many years of experience in facilitating the Race and Equity in Philanthropy Group.
Racial Equity Cohort (2021)
In 2021, the ICoF hosted a year-long Racial Equity Cohort experience for members. 54 participants, representing 27 different member organizations, will engage in 6 peer-supported learning sessions. Participants will also work with accountability partners throughout the year to explore together the lessons of the cohort and applying changes in practice and policy at their organizations — and personally. Change in practice and network progress will be measured using a Equity assessment tool designed specifically for the cohort.
The ICoF has pledged to support our members by providing space to learn about the structural racism that exists in our country; to understand the blind spots in our work; and to come together as a membership community to discuss solutions and strategies to create real, positive, and lasting change throughout Iowa and our nation. We were pleased to offer this cohort opportunity in 2021, and encouraged by the number of members who engaged in this journey.
Stay tuned … a final report on the 2021 cohort is coming soon.
Members only: Link to meeting materials and resources
Foundation Openness Cohort (2017-2019)
In January 2017, ICoF received a $20,000 grant from the United Philanthropy Forum and the Fund for Shared Insight to launch a Foundation Openness Cohort. An additional $10,000 grant was received in January 2018 to continue the work.
Twenty cohort members participated, representing 17 ICoF member organizations. The cohort explored user experience theory and applying those principals to funder-grantee relationships in the philanthropic sector. We partnered with Visual Logic Group and a team of consultants from See What I Mean Consulting on this project. Read the Foundation Openness Cohort Report published in April 2019.
A special thanks to cohort sponsors, the Alliant Energy Foundation and the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation!