The New York City-based Surdna Foundation has announced changes to its grantmaking strategies which reflect its belief that racial justice must underpin social justice.
The culmination of a yearlong process designed to ensure that the foundation's work is as relevant and effective as possible, the changes come nearly a decade after Surdna announced that it was moving to adopt an explicitly social justice lens in its grantmaking, and six years after it launched its current program strategies. Going forward, the foundation will direct its resources to efforts that support communities of color and low-wealth communities in using their decision-making and political power to achieve self-determination; catalyze capital to support communities of color and low-wealth communities in their efforts to build and sustain wealth and amass economic power; and invest in the capacity of communities of color and low-wealth communities to hold policy makers and institutions accountable and ensure that community benefits are shared equitably.
Over the next few months, the foundation will implement a number of changes to its grantmaking strategies: the Inclusive Economies program (formerly known as Strong Local Economies) will include two integrated strategies, Business Start-up and Growth and Equitable Economic Development, and will work to foster an inclusive and equitable economy in which people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators, and innovators; the Sustainable Environments program, which will include Environmental and Climate Justice and Land Use Through Community Power, will begin to direct grants to activities designed to ensure that low-wealth communities and communities of color have control, ownership, and stewardship of infrastructure and the land on which it sits; and the Thriving Cultures program will step up its efforts to support the creation of new creative work and social justice strategies generated by artists, culture-bearers, and designers, and will work to connect artists and their work to larger movements aimed at advancing equity.
"Our ongoing commitment to learning requires constantly examining our own assumptions and having continuous conversations with organizations on the front lines tackling society's biggest challenges," said Don Chen, incoming president of the foundation.
"We understand that our dollars are limited and the needs of marginalized communities are great," said Surdna Foundation board chair Peter Benedict II, "and it is out of deep respect for those communities that we are resolved to spending our funds in ways we believe they can have the most impact."