Grantee & Partner News

January 12, 2021

The State of Things

Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese began their Melted Away series in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art when they installed a scuture carved in ice of the word Democracy in March 2006 on the anniversary of the Iraq War.

During the process LigoranoReese filmed the transformation and editing the time lapse footage in its entirety.

The State of Things Remix is the artist updated version substituting Donald Trumps ellipsis speech during the certification of the Electoral College.

STATE OF THINGS REMIX from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.


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November 19, 2020

A New Initiative Calls for Greater Trustee Accountability, Commitment to Racial Justice

News from Inside Philanthropy:

Mike Scutari

Black Lives Matter protestors in Appleton, Wisconsin over the summer. A new initiative is calling on foundation trustees to commit to advancing racial justice. Aaron of L.A. Photography/shutterstock

Back in May, the NoVo Foundation, the largest grantmaker supporting women’s rights groups in the United States—particularly women and girls of color—sent shockwaves through the field when it announced it was ending multi-year funding, reviewing every one of its current grants and laying off a full program team amid the pandemic.

Afterward, a small group of consultants and trustees convened over a shared concern about the announcement, its impact on grantees and staff, and trustees’ lack of transparency.

That initial group, all of whom are white, determined that the NoVo Foundation’s announcement wasn’t an isolated incident, but endemic of larger problems across philanthropy—namely, that foundation trustees tend to operate in a frustratingly opaque manner and are rarely held accountable for decisions affecting vulnerable populations. Moreover, they observed that foundation leadership and staff often don’t see eye-to-eye on critical issues, echoing a recent Inside Philanthropy survey that found only 50% of responding foundation staff felt their board members were “very much” or “completely” committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, compared to 90% of their colleagues on staff.

The group decided to act, and the result is Trustee Accountability: A Call to Action for Foundation Trustees. The initiative includes a list of specific action items trustees can pledge to uphold to bring greater accountability and equity in philanthropy. Individuals can sign the pledge online, post the Call to Action PDF on their organization’s website, and share stories documenting examples of “positive shifts in how trustees exercise power and make decisions.”

While a larger group has shaped the nascent initiative, the core team includes consultants Mike Allison, Susan Colson, Susan Mooney, and Paula Morris; Karie Brown, consultant and board chair of Hidden Leaf Foundation; and Paul Haible, executive director of the Peace Development Fund. The pledge currently has around 100 signatories, at least 20 of whom are trustees or donors.

“There has been a lot of focus on organized philanthropy in recent months and on how foundations are or are not responding to the demands of the moment,” the core organizing team shared with Inside Philanthropy, via email. “But those often speak of foundations generally—we wanted to add voice to that but also particularly to highlight that the power to make real change immediately and over time sits firmly in the hands of foundation board members. How decisions are made and by whom in foundation board rooms has profound consequences particularly for BIPOC communities.”

Alexandra Toma, a signatory and Compton Foundation board member agreed, telling Inside Philanthropy, “Without leadership and a commitment from those who have positional power, change is nearly impossible—or, because I’m an optimist, it’s very, very difficult.”

Transforming culture and practices

The idea of unaccountable foundation trustees, immune from the impact of their decision-making, is not a new one. Ideas for reform have run the gamut, but as things currently stand, “there are actually very few structural mechanisms to support accountability for the impact of decisions made by trustees,” the all-volunteer team behind Trustee Accountability told me.

“The best hope right now for transformation is for trustees to hold themselves and each other accountable,” the team stated. “We hope that this initiative can contribute to pushing them to do that and to sharing positive examples when it happens.”

The initiative aims to “catalyze trustees to transform the culture and practices in their foundations, including inviting those most impacted to inform strategy and funding decisions.” The team also hopes “trustees will advocate for legal and other structural changes that increase and diversify investments in BIPOC communities and solutions in both immediate and long-term ways rather than amassing and protecting resources for decades.”

“This is a volunteer effort, and it is gaining traction,” the team wrote. “We are inspired by the many phenomenal BIPOC leaders who are speaking out, despite substantial barriers in moving systemic and culture change.” The team cited the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s latest newsletter about organizations stepping up to fill NoVo’s void and a piece by Ray Holgado’s experience of anti-Blackness at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The team mentioned other initiatives and organizations that are working toward greater accountability, including the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, ABFE, Justice Funders, the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, CHANGE Philanthropy, Neighborhood Funders Group and Exponent Philanthropy.

While these organizations are doing important work, it is clear, the team wrote, “that any effort to transform philanthropy is doomed to failure if the trustees that hold the power and the purse strings are not actively engaged in transforming themselves and their institutions.”

Laying out an equity roadmap

When implemented, organizers say the Trustee Accountability’s Call to Action and its to-do list “will help shore up a philanthropic sector that prioritizes racial equity and the liberation of all people.”

Some of these recommendations will sound familiar, like “getting unrestricted funds distributed swiftly in the short term,” considering participatory grantmaking, bringing BIPOC leaders on board, and ramping up funding for BIPOC women and girls’ organizations, “given NoVo trustees’ apparent divestment in Black leadership at a critical historical moment.” The document also encourages trustees to support the Movement for Black Lives’ demands for COVID-19 and their “new vision of public safety.”

“Giving differently is a good start, but it is not enough,” reads the call to action statement. “This moment calls for adaptive leadership and practices for true accountability, rather than quick fixes.”

The call to action asks trustees to “take responsibility for how we are upholding white supremacy, regardless of the purity of our intentions.” This involves recognizing “the privilege, power and responsibility we hold, deepen[ing] our own practice of anti-racist leadership so that white supremacy culture is not perpetuated” and taking responsibility for “our own continued learning, rather than be educated by BIPOC staff.”

Initiative organizers also call for structural reforms across the sector. For example, it asks trustees to “advocate to increase payout levels for foundations and donor-advised funds and challenge the warehousing of wealth for future generations when those funds are needed now.”

“White folks need to stand up”

The San Francisco-based Compton Foundation is a relatively small, progressive funder that has traditionally focused on issues like climate change, progressive foreign policy, and reproductive rights and justice.

In November of 2019, the board announced that it will be spending out the foundation’s assets and closing the doors by the end of 2027. Board member Alexandra Toma told me Compton’s decision to spend out was a recognition of “the need to move resources out of the control of unelected trustees, even though the foundation has long had family and non-family members of the board.”

The foundation’s Board President Vanessa Davenport and Treasurer Emilie Cortes are also Trustee Accountability signatories. Toma told me that their collective participation “is a continuation of a longstanding commitment by Compton and me personally to do everything in our power to dismantle racism in the philanthropic sector (and, yes, overall!). So this was a natural next step.”

As to why philanthropy needed the Trustee Accountability project at this specific moment in time, Toma said, “As the events of 2020 continue to unfold, the importance of supporting the leadership of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) organizers—and particularly BIPOC women and LGBTQ people—becomes clearer and clearer. And yet, the progressive philanthropic dollars needed to sustain BIPOC organizing are still overwhelmingly controlled by white people and institutions.”

Trustees, Toma said, “are rarely held accountable for their actions, how they make decisions, and what the impacts are on the communities they purport to serve. White folks need to stand up and do the work!”

Additional signatories include Nathan Cummings Foundation Board Chair Jaimie Mayer, plus trustees at the Hill-Snowdon Foundation and Kolibri Foundation.

As for the foundation that catalyzed the initiative in the first place, Trustee Accountability organizers reached out to the NoVo Foundation for clarity around what grantees can expect in the future. They remain in communication with the foundation, since, to date, “many organizations are reporting to us that they do not know the NoVo trustees’ plans moving forward.”

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September 30, 2020

Can Millions of Deep Conversations With Total Strangers Beat Trump — and Heal America?

Grantee News From People’s Action:

COVID-19 has upended the 2020 campaign. Activists are testing a cutting-edge strategy to change the hearts and minds of voters in our pandemic election

L. said he wasn’t a fan of former Vice President Joe Biden, either. “I’d be leaning more toward Biden because he’s a gentleman,” he said. “Not because he’s any smarter or not because he’ll get any more done. He doesn’t shoot his mouth off like a freaking idiot like Trump does.”

On a scale of one to 10, with one being a vote for Trump and 10 a vote for Biden, L. said he was a five. But if he was being honest, L. added, he wasn’t sure if he would vote at all in November.

Kruggel’s conversation with L. went on like this for nearly half an hour, the personal and political intertwined. Needless to say, it was not your typical campaign phone-banking shift. Kruggel’s call was part of a larger project in search of answers to an urgent question: How do you win the hearts and minds of voters in the middle of a deadly pandemic?

The COVID-19 crisis has all but ended political campaigning for the foreseeable future. Joe Biden will likely be nominated at the first-ever digital Democratic National Convention. Even President Trump’s die-hard supporters stayed away from his disastrous Tulsa, Oklahoma, campaign rally. Congressional and Senate candidates have dramatically scaled back rallies, meet-and-greets, and other in-person campaigning for fear of spreading the virus. Most of the political sparring right now is happening online, but even that could see a dramatic drawdown if Facebook follows through on a possible plan to ban political ads closer to Election Day.

But as we approach the final stretch of the 2020 election year, political operatives and activists are adapting their tactics for contacting homebound voters who (rightly) won’t answer the door if a stranger with a clipboard knocks on it, but who are more anxious than ever about the state of the country and keenly aware of the consequences of November’s elections.

This spring and summer, I remotely “embedded” with a handful of state-based grassroots groups that are trying out a relatively new but promising method for contacting and persuading voters in the time of COVID-19. Under the auspices of People’s Action, a nationwide progressive-populist organization, these local organizations are employing an intriguing organizing technique called “deep canvassing” to persuade voters in time for the 2020 election.

Deep canvassing is when volunteers and organizers engage in extended, empathetic conversations, with the goal of combating prejudice and shifting beliefs. (The typical door-to-door canvasser, by contrast, gives a brief spiel, asks how you’re voting, and moves on.) A growing body of academic research finds that deep canvassing done in person and by phone can have a real, measurable effect on changing hearts and minds. And in a time when so many of our conversations feel shitty and shallow despite the embarrassment of platforms on which we can have those conversations, deep canvassing offers a promising alternative, a way to find common ground and make human connections in a time of political polarization and tribalism.

Even in a pandemic.

“I think a lot of political types declared phones dead years ago either as a major mobilization or persuasion tool,” says George Goehl, director of People’s Action. “We think people want and need to connect and have real conversations to process everything that is happening in the world right now. There’s a basic human need to be in conversation with people and it’s a powerful way to relate to people in this moment that’s not going to happen digitally.”


THE LOFTY IDEA of engaging voters in deep conversations over the phone emerged from a distinctly practical problem. The year was 2012. Steve Deline and Ella Barrett, who worked together at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, had moved to Minnesota and embedded with the statewide campaign to defeat Amendment 1, which would have written a ban on same-sex marriage into the state’s constitution.

Deline and Barrett were early organizers of what would later be called deep canvassing, a concept that itself was born out of desperation. Four years earlier, on the same night that Barack Obama had won his first presidential election, the LGBTQ civil-rights movement had suffered a crushing loss with the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which outlawed same-sex marriage in one of the country’s most liberal states.

At the Los Angeles LGBT Center, one of the largest health providers for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the country, a small group of staffers hatched an idea that was both radical and simple: Let’s talk with people who had voted to ban same-sex marriage and try to understand them better. “People were open to saying, ‘Yeah, we do not know enough about our neighbors who voted against us, and the tools that we have to gain insight into them are woefully inadequate, so we better go to talk to them,’” David Fleischer, director of the Leadership LAB at the L.A. LGBT Center’s former director, recalls.

It was radical because going door to door and meeting your opponents, the people who had just voted to deny you the right to marry, wasn’t something that people did in American politics. Think of it this way: When was the last time a losing candidate for governor or for Congress traveled the state and got to know the voters who had voted against her?

The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s initial conversations with Proposition 8 supporters showed promise, hinting at a new method for countering prejudice and winning over critics. People like Deline and Barrett looked for opportunities to test deep canvassing in other fights. A few years later in Minnesota, they found an eagerness to use this new tactic (though, depending on how you come at it, employing empathetic human conversation to change minds is an age-old method; as Fleischer likes to say, “Jesus was a deep-canvasser”).

But Minnesotans United, the pro-marriage-equality campaign, had a different problem: Most of the volunteers who signed up to defeat the proposed same-sex-marriage ban were concentrated in the cities, and the universe of potential voters those volunteers hoped to reach were spread across the vast expanse of Minnesota. Logistically, it didn’t make sense to send canvassers out into the field. They decided to bridge the two groups by taking the canvassing work to the phones, knowing full well that the kinds of connections they preached might not happen by telephone. “We had skepticism at the beginning,” Barrett says. “There’s so much power with body language.”

By Election Day 2012, Minnesotans United had logged 222,693 extended conversations with voters. Of those conversations, Deline and Barrett say, 20,353 people who received a phone call said they had been persuaded or changed their mind about outlawing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. After 32 losses on ballot initiatives in the previous quarter-century, the marriage-equality movement notched a big win when it defeated Amendment 1.

From there, activists such as Deline, Barrett, and Fleischer continued testing and refining deep canvassing to chip away at prejudice, using the tactic on not only marriage equality but also on acceptance of transgender people and undocumented immigrants. But they still didn’t have hard data on the power of deep canvassing, so they enlisted a pair of professors, David Broockman and Josh Kalla, to study whether there were measurable and lasting effects from the form of intensive, empathetic canvassing.

Broockman and Kalla had studied at Yale University under the renowned political scientists Alan Gerber and Donald Green, who had pioneered the use of field experiments in politics to measure what actually works to persuade potential voters. In their own research, Broockman and Kalla ran experiments using the traditional tools of politics — short phone calls, brief door-to-door canvassing, and TV ads — and found that they typically had almost no lasting effect on changing the mind of a typical voter.

But the experiments that Broockman, who now teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and Kalla, who teaches at Yale, ran involving deep canvassing told a different story. They’ve now conducted half a dozen major studies and, each time, as the data come in, they find measurable effects on prejudice and certain public policies that last much longer than the TV ads and short-form canvassing. One of the key ingredients, they say, is stories — about a marginalized group of people, about a time you were treated differently, but really any personal story. Another was showing respect to the person on the other end of the conversation, no matter how much you disliked or disagreed with them. “We just kept finding in study after study these results,” Broockman says. “Every time we do this, we seem to find this again and again and again.”

That conclusion applies to phone canvassing. In a paper published in January, they found that deep canvassing done by phone also succeeded at reducing prejudice — specifically, in this particular study, transphobia. Although the measurable effects on reducing prejudice were slightly less pronounced than those seen in studies that used in-person canvasses. Those effects persisted for at least a month after the initial deep-canvassing conversation. “The conversations over the phone lasted just as long, in terms of efficacy, as a conversation in person,” Kalla says.

Heartened by the encouraging results of Broockman and Kalla’s research, George Goehl, the director of People’s Action, the populist grassroots group, told me that he and his colleagues had envisioned a massive ramping-up of deep-canvassing work in the 2020 election year. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country, Goehl didn’t hesitate to move the campaign they had planned to a phone-based program. “When there’s this much at stake, you don’t want to leave a method that is powerful on the table,” he says.

THE DOZEN OR SO volunteers with the grassroots group Michigan United logged into Zoom from their kitchens, bedrooms, and couches with their scripts ready. After a brief warm-up talk, each of the volunteers dialed a voter somewhere in Michigan and tried to strike up a conversation with a total stranger about COVID-19, about health care, about, well, really anything.

There was a no-muting rule in this Zoom conference room: As the volunteers made their calls, their sides of the conversations were audible to everyone else on Zoom who had volunteered for that day’s canvass shift, a gumbo of greetings and pleadings, coaxing and joking. It’s hard to capture the sound of so many people talking at once, but it went something like this: “Sí, entonces … May I speak to Margaret, please? … Do you agree with that, or don’t agree? … I’d also like to see if you want to do volunteer work with us … Right … Thank you, I think I can infer …”

Despite all of this happening on Zoom, the “room” buzzed like a real-life grassroots organizing office, or the headquarters of a scrappy congressional campaign.

Remote canvassing calls like this are now happening across the country. People’s Action currently has grassroots groups in 15 states — including Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — contacting voters by text and phone, including deep canvassing. According to figures provided by Kruggel, those groups have contacted more than 2,756,400 voters by text or phone since May, with a goal of reaching 5 million by the end of July.

Going into the final months of the 2020 campaign, People’s Action and its partner groups are hoping to expand to reach the largest-ever universe of voters in a deep-canvassing program, Kruggel says. They’ve already trained 2,400 volunteers and have hired 120 full-time deep-canvassing phone callers, with a goal of reaching 500 by the fall.

The effects of deep canvassing can be profound for the organizers and volunteers, as well. Steve Deline and Ella Barrett, who now jointly run the New Conversation Initiative, a group that educates and trains people on deep canvassing, told me that many of the organizers who worked to defeat Amendment 1 in 2012 were so moved by the experience that they’re still involved in grassroots organizing in Minnesota, some in leadership roles. I’ve watched volunteers break down in tears as they debriefed after an especially rewarding or frustrating shift making calls. It’s important to be clear-eyed here: Many calls end without any real conversation, and some can be deflating or even demoralizing. But when a connection was made and a bond formed for however brief a time, it made the hang-ups and rejections worth it. One volunteer told me that her deep-canvassing shifts ranked as one the most meaningful experiences of her life.

As for Adam Kruggel and L., they went on talking for nearly half an hour. L. talked about his broken hip, his frustration with Trump, but really all politicians, and his late first wife. Kruggel opened up about his own doubts about Biden, and his parents, who found themselves working well into their seventies as a result of the 2009 financial crash.

And when Kruggel asked L. again, near the end of their call, how he might vote in the presidential election, L. said his mind had changed — a little. He said he was a 6, one notch closer in Biden’s direction. “You mentioned a little earlier something about respect for people,” L. said. “Joe seems to have a little bit of respect for people. … I think I could have a conversation with him. But I may change my mind by the time the election comes around.”

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August 19, 2020

The Compton Foundation’s Trust-Based Approach to Spending Down

News From the Compton Foundation and Trust-Based Philanthropy Project:

Ellen Friedman has been executive director of the Compton Foundation for 10 years. We sat down with Ellen to hear about her trust-based journey, and how the Foundation chose to spend out rather than exist in perpetuity.

You’ve been working in philanthropy for 30 years. Can you share a little about when you first started and how your thinking about the role of philanthropy has evolved?

I got into philanthropy to move money from those who had it to those doing transformative work on the ground. In my experience, I observed that donors usually got in the way of people who just needed resources to soar. Funders tend to get stuck in their own ideas about how change happens, rather than listening to people doing the work. Looking back on my early days in philanthropy, starting with my first job as a program officer, I see now that I didn’t listen as well as I could have to people’s opinions, or to organizing that was different from my own.

Over time, I began to take an approach that really valued listening and partnership-building, with a recognition that the power dynamic was real, and that we needed to do whatever we could to diminish it. At the Compton Foundation, we’ve worked hard to shift that dynamic. We’re investing more time in the relationships rather than the paperwork, which also means the majority of our grants are unrestricted and multiyear (which they had not been before).

What are some trust-based changes that you’ve made or challenges that you’ve considered in your grantmaking practice? 

At the heart of it, our grantmaking approach at Compton has shifted as we listened more deeply to grantees. When I came to the foundation, every applicant used to have to send five copies of grant applications to the foundation because we sent them to the grants committee. It then took an average of 4-6 months to get responses. The process was extremely tedious and timely, and we realized that less than 5% of applicants were actually receiving support.

In more recent years, as our grants were becoming majority multiyear, the availability of allocating new grant money was diminishing, the LOI process we adopted was becoming harder, and we could not be as responsive, so we had to pivot again. We had to make a tradeoff between LOI and multiyear grants, which led to less new money.

As we listened to grantees, we realized we needed less and less paperwork. We were having more honest, transparent conversations, which led us to drop almost all reporting requirements in exchange for in-person or phone conversations.

Transparency is key to trust-based philanthropy, but it can also be hard to do. Are there uncomfortable conversations you’ve had where you were glad to have erred on the side of transparency?

The reality is that we’re a small foundation with limitations in terms of our mission and historical commitment to certain fields of work. We place great value on hearing what’s important to our grantees, and even when we can’t say “yes,” it’s important for us to be transparent about our process so people understand why we do what we do. It might not always make everyone happy, but it will hopefully increase understanding, save people time, and show our respect, even if we don’t always agree on the outcome.

There was a recent decision we made to tie off funding to a particular group. They wanted a conversation about it, which we had. We wanted to be completely honest with them and share feedback in a way that was useful to them. While we shared the reasons for the decision, it was really hard, and the grantee did not feel satisfied. The reality was that we’d decided to go deeper with supporting fewer organizations. Despite the fact that we could no longer fund them, we made a commitment to having that conversation with this organization, and to opening up ourselves to them. It was a way to honor the relationship and keep trust in the relationship, even though the grantmaking was ending.

How do you balance responsiveness to your board and grantees, especially as a family foundation?

Under the best of circumstances, board, grantees, and staff are all in alignment and responsive to each other. In reality, it’s a dance between staff and grantees, staff and board, and board and grantees. We’re very aware of the funky dynamics that can be created or magnified in situations where grantees feel that they have to perform for boards. We’ve tried to set up different ways to have more authentic conversations. For example, we invited some of our grantees to do workshops with the board, so that rather than sitting and listening to a PowerPoint presentation, they can engage in practices our grantees do. We invited small groups of grantees to sit in conversation for an afternoon with the board about current topics rather than presenting about their work. We compensate people for their time and expenses, and try to set those conversations up in settings that minimize what could otherwise be stiff or contrived interactions.

Because the Compton board is made up of half-family, half non-family, having non-family board members means we have new and different voices at the table. These people are working on and thinking about social transformation in new ways. The conversation has evolved over the years as we learn and grow. That’s how we got to the decision to spend out – through conversations, refinement, feedback about hard questions. Why do foundations exist? How was wealth created? What’s the harm of that wealth? Who are we? An unelected body giving away money.

One of our core grantees, Rockwood Leadership Institute, talks about leading from the inside out. Our board embraces this notion that we need to do the personal work in addition to organizational work – including understanding the role of white supremacy and patriarchy in the creation of wealth of the founding family. That work had to be done to liberate the resources of the foundation. It’s deeply personal work, coming to terms with who you are, and your family’s history. I had to do that work myself in terms of my own privilege of running a foundation. The work calls on each of us to look at our ego attachment, how we perpetuate power, how we do or don’t relate to and inhabit the positional power of being at a foundation. That’s a journey that each of us are on different stages.

The Compton Foundation is spending out. How did you reach that decision?

If you’re a foundation whose interests are world peace, climate change, gender justice, how can we choose perpetuity over action now? We had a lot of conversations with family members going through a process of realizing what it meant that their children and grandchildren would not have access to this foundation. For some that was uncomfortable and for some that was liberating. Non-family members got to question – what is the privilege connected to this inherited “birthright”? We listened to the honest conversations happening in the sector now, about the role of philanthropy in upholding inequitable undemocratic systems, and the hard truth that if the resources creating philanthropic wealth were taxed and under control of democratic representatives, we would have different policies and safety nets available than we do today. While I am very happy that philanthropy is doing some great work, I am also mainly unhappy about it – it should be public institutions committed to public wellbeing doing this work. Philanthropy undermines a true representative democracy.

What has some of the inner work looked like for you? How have you cultivated your personal relationship to abundance versus scarcity in this work and beyond?

I have to believe the work we’re supporting is important and that it means a lot to people other than the Compton Foundation. If we can lean into an abundant mindset, we can create conditions where we support people from that place. Initially, we wanted to lean into that possibility, by funding storytellers – artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, musicians telling the story about what an abundant future looks like. We have to be able to uncover the horrors of the present, but also see the possibility of a different future: the places where former combatants are working and living together, where people are living in right relationship to the earth, where there is ritual and ceremony that lifts people up and underscores our interdependence with each other and the planet.

I believe this reckoning for new moral and spiritual activism is part of this call for trust-based philanthropy. Our connections to one another, and to lifting each other up, is a spiritual calling. Our interdependence is a spiritual recognition. Trust-based philanthropy is a recognition of the deep meaning of philanthropy, which is love. If we’re going to bring about that abundant future, it will have be with each other and a commitment to a revolutionary love for humanity.


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June 29, 2020

Understanding Gender Equality in Foreign Policy

Grantee News From Council on Foreign Relations:

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What the United States Can Do

Incorporating lessons from the approaches pursued by other countries, the U.S. government should take a more systematic and well-resourced approach to promoting gender equality in foreign policy.


A growing body of research definitively links gender equality with global prosperity and security. Unlocking the potential of half the population is not just a moral obligation—it is an economic and security imperative. At a time when resources are limited, investing in women and girls is a proven way to bolster good governance, economic growth, community health, and peace and stability. Nations seeking to advance national security, maximize the utility of foreign aid, and bolster stable and democratic partners should prioritize women’s advancement.

In recent years, a growing number of countries have begun to institutionalize gender equality and women’s empowerment as a foreign policy priority in the areas of diplomacy, defense, aid, and trade. Nations are adopting action plans, creating funds, appointing envoys, and setting aid targets to advance gender equality through development cooperation, diplomatic and security activities, and trade agreements. The most comprehensive effort is the “feminist foreign policy” first articulated by Sweden in 2014—a designation since adopted by Canada in 2017, France in 2019, and Mexico in 2020—which promises greater commitment to gender equality abroad in service of national security at home.

Incorporating lessons from the gender mainstreaming approaches pursued by other countries, the U.S. government should take a more systematic and well-resourced approach to promoting gender equality in foreign policy. To strengthen prosperity and stability around the world, the U.S. government should launch a high-level White House council to elevate and coordinate efforts to advance gender equality, issue a government-wide strategy to promote this goal as a domestic and foreign policy priority, close the gender financing gap, and mainstream transparency and accountability on gender equality efforts into foreign policy initiatives. The United States should demonstrate genuine leadership, adopt strong policies, and provide sufficient resources that will not only improve the lives of women and girls but also strengthen the stability and prosperity of entire economies and nations. These steps will help the United States draw on the benefits of women’s empowerment globally and thereby promote international security and global growth.

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June 9, 2020

Demonstrations Prompt National Security Community Push for Diversity

May 29, 2020

A man was murdered this week.

May 19, 2020

Philanthropists, Foundation Leaders Call on Congress to Inject $200B from Their Endowments into Economy

May 6, 2020

From Sweden to Mexico, Foreign Policy Goes Feminist. Is the U.S. Next?

April 1, 2020

Emma Watson and Author Valerie Hudson Discuss “Sex and World Peace”