The hope of the New Year has not started in the way that I had wanted to. And, I know that I am not alone.
I am sad and horrified and angry about the events that took place in our nation’s Capitol last week. Like many of you, I was ready to turn the page on 2020 and start afresh in 2021 with eyes toward a vaccine, my kids back in school and perhaps a summer vacation on the horizon. I am aghast at the overt racism we have witnessed this past week, enraged by the hypocrisy between the treatment of the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests over the summer and the assault on the Capitol, and saddened by the thought of our elected lawmakers huddling in the offices in fear.
But we can take action, and we can cultivate hope.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is committed to working for change and creating solutions. We do this through the learning that we are undertaking within our organization, how we use our voice in our educational offerings, and the grants we award out of our disaster recovery funds. These changes strive to support disaster-affected communities in their recovery process and reflect the best principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. The action that we are taking at CDP is equally internally facing as it is externally facing.
Systematic racism negatively affects communities’ ability to recover well or equitably from disaster events.
We are actively working internally to ensure our grantmaking practices remove barriers and support organizations led by or specifically serve Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). We are working with our grantees and those disaster-affected communities to reverse this trend and minimize further inequity.
The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately devastating to communities of color, specifically African American, Latinx and Native American communities.
CDP, through our COVID-19 Response Fund, is allocating funding to BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organizations across the country. Grantee partners such as Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, Backside Learning Center, Color of Change, Conexion Americas, Emergent Fund, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Partnership with Native Americans and many others are working to dismantle unjust power systems and serve the underserved.
Disaster events are more harmful to vulnerable populations, especially communities of color, than they are to non-vulnerable populations.
CDP, through our needs assessments and careful due diligence, works to award grants to communities that are marginalized or lack access to services. Fund directors look at the demographics of disaster-affected communities, bring forth community-level pandemic data, interview local leaders globally and benefit from local, state and federal data to assess where philanthropic dollars can be deployed for the greatest good. Through the work that we do to educate philanthropy, we shed light on the data and the evidence of these disparities and look for solutions and change.
Inequality and injustices will not stop in the coming days or weeks. We in the philanthropic community know, though, how to create change. CDP, other philanthropic organizations and the nonprofit community worldwide know how to be changemakers and change leaders.
Here are a few suggestions for how to confidently step into the role of change agent:
- Allocate funding as locally as possible.
- Absorb the minimal risk associated with funding small and perhaps unknown organizations.
- Support communities of color that are disproportionately affected by disaster events and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Partner with organizations like the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation and CERF+ that actively support individuals working in the gig economy.
- Call every one of your existing grantees and investigate how your philanthropic organization can better serve them in light of the pandemic and social justice.
At CDP, we will continue to use our Funds, our educational outreach and our consulting services to ensure that underserved communities receive the human, financial and technical assistance they need to recover from the pandemic and other disaster events.
For my own part, I will continue to volunteer in my community. I will cultivate friendships to heal the divisiveness we currently feel. I will walk miles with my friends to keep my body and my mind well. I’ll keep my gratitude journal going with increased dedication. My husband and I will talk to our girls about what meaningful action and hope look like in our lives.
As we walk deeper into 2021, I hope you will join us at CDP in bringing hope, change and action toward a more equitable and thriving future for all.