Grantmaking With a Racial Equity Lens

Using a Racial Equity Analysis

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We hope this guide will be a useful starting point for conversations that help grantmakers, foundation executives, trustees, grantees, and other colleagues understand how racial and ethnic disparities affect programmatic goals.

In particular, we hope that reading and discussing the guide together will lead to clearer policies and more systemic approaches to grantmaking with a racial equity lens. Recognizing that conversations about race and racial disparities can often be challenging, we offer a few suggestions for getting started with discussion, inquiry, and planning:

  • Check your assumptions
    We all use a racial lens whether we choose to or not, so why not do it consciously and well? Ask yourself: When was the last time I checked my own lens for acuity? Can I articulate my views on racial disparities and the factors I believe contribute to them? Can I engage colleagues in discussion? Read through the PRE collection of resources on page 19 to select materials, speakers, or consultants to help you and colleagues improve your skills.
  • Look “upstream” at past grantmaking decisions
    In a staff meeting or retreat, choose a core program or activity and ask what impact a racial equity lens might have had on its design. Would you have chosen different strategies, grantees, or intended outcomes? What hurdles might you have encountered along the way? How could they have been managed?
  • Borrow tools and adapt them to your context
    Pick a program and try using the Annie E. Casey Foundation tool on page 21 to see if additional information or strategies might improve its effectiveness. Ask: Do we need to know more about the role of race or ethnicity in the problem we’re trying to address? What could we learn and what data could we collect to sharpen our perspective?

    Or take a look at The San Francisco Foundation and Ford Foundation diversity tools. If your foundation already collects diversity information, ask if you’re using it well to promote racial equity. What strategies do you use to help grantees increase the quality of their work by increasing their diversity? Try analyzing data from several key grantees over time or looking at data from grantees in a particular field to learn more about diversity and its implications for programs.
  • Share the guide with your trustees
    A foundation’s board of directors may want to read the guide and discuss the ideas that stand out for them. To prepare for the possibility that they’ll want to learn more or adjust policies to make the foundation more conducive to using a racial equity lens, read and discuss Questions to Ask Inside Your Foundation on page 27.
  • Organize a discussion with other funders
    Using the guide as background reading, convene a conversation about racial equity grantmaking and its potential impact on thinking and practice within your field or community. What does a racial equity lens tell you about the problems you are seeking to address as funders? How might it change your priorities? Does it suggest new opportunities for collaboration?
  • Open up conversation with grantees and other constituents
    Host an informal meeting with grantees or others working in your community or field; send them the guide in advance. Ask them: If your foundation was planning to adopt an explicit racial equity lens, how would it affect their own strategies? In what ways could your foundation better support the use of a racial equity lens in their organization and in their field? Do they know of other partners, including funders, who share your interest?
  • Look beyond your usual networks
    Using a racial equity lens might mean getting ideas from new people and funding organizations you haven’t worked with before. For a quick overview of strategies that can help you broaden your network and diversify who you know and what organizations are on your radar, see Scanning and Networking in GrantCraft’s A Closer Look series.