Leaders from U.S. foundations gathered for a one-day intensive on racial equity in philanthropy and for the Embedding Equity Community of Practice (EECoP).

EECoP centers racial equity as core to systems change and facilitates longer-term transformation across environmental philanthropy. (Image: Keecha Harris and participants in the May 2019 gathering of the Embedding Equity Community of Practice)

The one-day intensive and the EECoP are programs of the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Environmental Philanthropy (InDEEP) initiative. The gatherings were convened by Keecha Harris and Associates, Inc. (KHA), a firm that leads professional development offerings spanning more than $152 billion (17 percent) of the $890 billion in U.S.-based philanthropic assets.

The one-day intensive was designed to provide funders a primer on creating more equitable funding practices both internally and externally at their organizations. Seventeen participants from nine organizations, representing more than $19 billion in assets, gathered for the day-long session at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Los Altos, California.

The EECoP is designed to address issues cited in Dr. Dorceta Taylor’s studies that highlight the overwhelming lack of racial and ethnic diversity in environmental leadership and decision-making. It is a learning community that provides career development support to grant-making professionals over a two-year period.

Sixteen leaders from five foundations and an InDEEP partner organization, representing more than $14 billion in assets, met over two days in Los Altos, California. EECoP members participated in a series of curated activities, covering topics such as white fragility, power and leadership, and Courageous Conversations™ on race.

InDEEP has been supported by 15 organizations, including the McKnight, Mertz Gilmore, Walton Family, and the Doris Duke Charitable foundations. Since 2016, InDEEP has convened over 400 individuals from 141 foundations and six philanthropy-serving organizations through webinars, in-person events, technical assistance, and its community of practice.

In a 2018 InDEEP assessment, 70 percent of respondents reported that making new professional contacts related to race, inclusion, and diversity was the top benefit of participation. As one respondent noted, “InDEEP has helped to normalize conversations about race in environmental philanthropy.”

“Even more than previous gatherings, this community of practice convening emphasized collaborating with peers to address the pressing issues around racial equity in environmental philanthropy,” said InDEEP director Dr. Keecha Harris, UAB School of Public Health alumna. Participants worked together to lay out a vision for a more equitable sector and to determine what a strategy to get there might look like. At the one-day event, Harris said, “funders were challenged to engage in courageous conversations around race and equity while receiving very specific accountability from their peers.”

InDEEP will hold additional webinars and convenings throughout 2019 and 2020. Learn more at www.indeepinitiative.org.

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