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VIEWPOINT: Why and How We’re Leaning into Racial Equity

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At the Delaware Community Foundation, we believe communities are strongest when all people have the opportunity to thrive.

DCF, Delaware Community Foundation President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay discusses four key strategies to maximize community impact.

Stuart Comstock-Gay

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that many people of color are experiencing extreme barriers and challenges at this moment in our history.

When those challenges prevent our Black and brown neighbors from thriving, it undermines the success of our entire community.

The DCF is committed to addressing this – by building opportunity and advancing equity for all people in all three Delaware counties – regardless of race, gender, ZIP code and other factors outside individual control.

To ensure that all communities in Delaware have the opportunity thrive, the DCF board and staff have ramped up our efforts over the last four years to help address the unique needs of communities of color in Delaware.

What has that targeted effort to advance racial equity looked like?

With guidance from our board of directors and a group of local leaders, we established four key strategies to maximize the impact of what we do best as your community foundation:

Grantmaking

To increase equity in our grantmaking, the DCF launched new grant programs focused on supporting organizations led by and serving communities of color. We also revised our grant applications and review processes, diversified and provided bias training for our grants committee, offered extra time and support for applicants throughout the grant process, engaged our donor community around equity issues, and more.

We’re proud to share that, over the past three years, we’ve invested nearly $900,000 in organizations led by or serving communities of color in all three Delaware counties through specific grant programs focused on advancing racial equity.

Catalyzing Dialog

At the DCF, we pride ourselves on advancing important conversations, and have paid special attention to conversations about racial equity over the past three years. We strive to foster discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion.

We aspire to spark new ideas, provide trustworthy information and host safe spaces for those conversations to occur. Through our annual Building Opportunity in Delaware initiative, the DCF Journalism Internship and other projects, we’ve been working to elevate diverse voices, facilitate constructive conversations about tough issues, and help Delawareans understand one another better.

Since 2019, through Building Opportunity alone, we’ve engaged more than 1,250 Delawareans – DCF donors, community members, and colleagues – in conversations about equity.  And we’re proud to have helped two BIPOC journalism interns go on to become full-time journalists with local news outlets.

Strengthening Communities

The DCF is committed to helping strengthen Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) throughout the state. To focus this work, we developed BIPOC-focused grant programs, increased our work with Delaware’s Hispanic communities, and launched partnerships with BIPOC-led and -serving nonprofits.

We are proud and honored to be a small part of major projects, like one that is building the skills of Latino entrepreneurs in Georgetown, and another that is empowering Delawareans to drive transformational change in their communities, and yet another that is training a next generation of multicultural executive leaders.

Improving Our Organization

Finally, we’ve also worked hard to diversify our staff and board, and we spent much of 2021 and 2022 analyzing all of our internal policies and practices through a DEI lens. Now, we’re making real changes to how we approach HR, grantmaking, communications, fundraising and more, as well as conducting extensive, ongoing training for all DCF staff and volunteers. As an example, we’ve increased BIPOC representation on our grantmaking committee to 43% and our board to 38%.

Addressing racial equity is obviously a tall order, and we are seeing some progress. Is this enough? No, of course not.

We’re excited about these initial steps forward because they indicate that we have some good strategies. These strategies are grounded largely in the work of the Community Equity Fellows – a group of leaders we convened in 2020 – along with guidance from hundreds of other Delawareans, including many of you.

But we have so much more to do, and we need your help.

You can be part of our movement to build opportunity for all. How can you help?

  • Support our grantmaking with a gift to the Delaware Forever Fund at delcf.org/forever.
  • Open your own charitable fund or make a planned gift. To learn how, contact Joanne McGeoch, 302.504.5224 or jmcgeoch@delcf.org.
  • Learn more about us by visiting our website, signing up for our newsletter, and following us on social media.

In this movement to build opportunity and advance equity in Delaware, we have opportunities for all.

Stuart Comstock-Gay is president and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation. 

 

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