Short Changed documented, as recent reports have confirmed, decreasing grantmaking with clear racial justice impacts, as well as decreasing support for organizations led by people of color. As foundation executives grapple with the meaning of racial disparities in philanthropy and how to remedy them, we hope that the ARC-PRE assessment will help all of us understand how foundations can advance racial equity more effectively.
The two organizations have focused consistently on establishing a racial justice lens in grantmaking, a task for which the foundation world has had too few guideposts and resources. The need for such benchmarks motivated us to create a clear set of definitions, questions and processes to help foundations assess their internal and external systems not only to support organizations led by people of color, but also to drive resources toward those groups that operate with an analysis likely to generate more systemic and racially just solutions.
ARC and PRE initially designed a survey/questionnaire to help foundations examine their inner workings as well as the public expressions of their commitments to racial equity. We received feedback on that tool from more than 50 funders and activists, including participants at the National Network of Grantmakers’ People of Color Caucus meeting in Bellingham, Washington in 2006. We knew that the tool itself was unfinished, and began looking for foundations that might be interested in helping us test and refine it. Our initial audience was not foundations that needed to be persuaded that race mattered. Rather, we focused on foundations that were committed to addressing racial inequities, and that wanted to understand more deeply how their institutions were faring, and how they could improve.