Pathways to Progress: Focusing Philanthropy on Racial Equity and Social Justice

This paper is the culmination of five years’ work evaluating Ford Foundation’s portfolio of grants, “Community Philanthropy and Racial Equity in the American South.” It is based on reflective, focused, and appreciative conversations with nearly 100 philanthropic organizations operating in both African American and White American settings.

For Grantmakers: This paper presents a framework – six “pathways to progress” – that allows practitioners to use their philanthropic resources more strategically, with the goal of “moving the needles” that indicate how well public systems and private markets perform for different groups of people. It presents a set of promising practices, with examples from the field, and links to practitioner organizations. It includes benchmarks by which initiatives to reduce inequity can be measured. It links to short essays and tools allowing you to go deeper on key topics.

For Nonprofits: This article presents benchmarks carved by individual nonprofit organizations, with examples from the field and links to practitioner organizations, short essays, and tools allowing you to go deeper on key topics.

For Activists: The original purpose of the sponsors of this inquiry was to specify pathways to progress that grantmakers and donors of all kinds could both learn from and be more accountable to.

For Evaluators: This project reveals the power, if you will, of “appreciative inquiry” as an evaluation strategy.

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Originally appeared: Website of Effective Communities Project

Number of pages: 44

Original date: January 2011

Author: Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D., Betty Emarita, Vanessa McKendall-Stephens, Ph.D.

Effective Communities Project
Minneapolis, MN