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How Foundations in an Aligned-Action Network Start to Move to Equity in Philanthropy: Findings from a Year of Observations and Interviews

Authors: Levine Daniel, Jamie
Dinh, Tuyen
Paarlberg, Laurie
Keywords: Community foundation, racial equity, aligned-action network, systems change, collective response
Issue Date: 2023
Abstract: Community foundations across the United States hold a powerful role in leading meaningful social change toward an equitable future. Despite community foundations' unique leadership role at the intersection of place, race, wealth, and inequality, we understand little about how such foundations understand and implement efforts that are responsive to issues in their communities, especially communities that have been historically marginalized. This study examines how community foundations within an aligned action network are engaging in philanthropic efforts through their shared commitment to advancing social and economic mobility. Using data from interviews with foundation staff, network meeting observations, and network documents over the course of a year, we sought to answer three research questions: how community foundations define equity, what strategies, processes, and activities were perceived as supporting their equity-related work, and how membership within NEON can help highlight these efforts. Findings illuminate a model of philanthropic efforts along two dimensions: foundation focus (internal and external) and expression type (implicit and explicit). This article unfolds the process within collaborative efforts among community foundations and offers insights for other foundations to better understand expectations and prepare for the conditions necessary to meaningfully engage in social equity and justice efforts, with internal and external community stakeholders.
Appears in Collections:Jamie Levine Daniel's Collection

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