Letters from Leadership

A Letter From Our President | May 2022

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As I was preparing for May’s edition of Giving Forward, I thought of all the things we normally associate with May: Mother’s Day, college graduations and Memorial Day, for starters. Sadly, two years ago, we added George Floyd’s murder to our list of memorable days in May. And last week, we added the fresh tragedy in Buffalo and the outrage that comes with it.

As 904WARD so aptly asked after the Buffalo massacre, ‘What have (we) done to be a deliberate part of the solution?’ I’d like to share some of The Community Foundation’s efforts made since our last update a year ago.

Our Work

  • We directed $115,000 in discretionary grants to support racial equity
  • A two-year, $120,000 commitment was made to the Black Business Investment Fund
  • We continued our key strategic initiative of supporting neighborhoods, with strong investments in Eastside, North Riverside and Northwest Jacksonville.
  • 904WARD has leveraged the 70-year retrospective of local data and research about race relations that we commissioned and donated to them into periodic releases to highlight areas of concern in Jacksonville
  • We are deepening our investment in criminal justice reform to address practices that negatively affect people of color.
  • The A.L. Lewis Black Opportunity & Impact Fund has been created and is housed here; it’s a collective giving effort created by Black philanthropists who have pledged to work together to advance equity and justice by making strategic investments in Jacksonville’s Black community.
  • We have partnered with My Village Project to effectively deploy funding from the Walton Foundation to make grants in the Black community
  • We mounted a public awareness effort during Black Philanthropy Month in August with messaging focused on the contributions of Black philanthropy.
  • We increased funding available to support individual artists with a new Field of Interest Fund to specifically support Black artists
  • We made a grant the Florida State Parks Foundation so that Fort Mose in St. Augustine could develop an interpretive trail to inform visitors of its importance as the first legally sanctioned free African settlement
  • Our grantmaking process was streamlined and additional supports were implemented to make funding more accessible to all potential grantees
  • We now collect data on all Foundation-directed grants, including these equity areas: age, race, economic status, gender/sexual identity, and health/physical or mental.
  • A Racial Equity Analysis was initiated to help inform our discretionary grants

Our Staff

  • Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion staff-led Work Group continued to meet weekly, and Board and staff logged 500+ hours of collective learning around DE&I issues
  • Staff participated in 400+ hours of professional development that incorporates DE&I principles; we are now working with Equity In The Center.
  • All staff and Board participated in a bus tour of Jacksonville, led by the retired executive director of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission and focused on areas that had been subject to structural racism.
  • Our Program staff trained on equitable grantmaking, and we joined ABFE (a membership-based philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities)

Our Organization

  • We completed our new five-year strategic plan which includes at least one DE&I goal for every area in the organization
  • A new executive position of VP, Civic Leadership was created and filled
  • Our staff and Board are becoming more diverse
  • We launched the TCF Local Capital Pool which will allow us to invest locally in in nonprofit organizations and for-profit social enterprises that measurably improve access to affordable housing and equitably expand economic opportunity for marginalized residents of Northeast Florida

This list is not exhaustive nor is it finished. Our promise has been to listen and to press for solutions that have the potential to usher in a new era of equity in our community.  We continue to do both and to welcome you to join us in this work.

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