Academic journal article The Foundation Review

How Inclusion and Equity Are Transforming a Foundation and a Community

Academic journal article The Foundation Review

How Inclusion and Equity Are Transforming a Foundation and a Community

Article excerpt

Keywords: Inclusion, equity, Denver Foundation, Inclusiveness Project, emerging leaders of color, Expanding Nonprofit Inclusiveness Initiative, Critical Impact Award, Institute for Executive Directors of Color, Colorado Funders for Inclusiveness and Equity, learning community, Colorado Common Grant Application

While "separate, but equal" policies were outlawed years ago, deep inequities persist in African-American and Latino communities throughout the U.S. This is particularly true in Denver, where an established African-American population and a diverse, growing Latino population display substandard outcomes in education, health care, incarceration rates, and economic stability. The Denver Foundation is addressing these inequities through its Inclusiveness Project. This program has spent the last decade investing time, dollars, and expertise in helping nonprofit organizations, including funders, to become more inclusive of people of color. Through targeted efforts at the individual, organizational, and sectorwide levels, the Inclusiveness Project demonstrates proven results in increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations serving increasingly diverse communities and in supporting leaders of color.

The practices of the Inclusiveness Project have also influenced numerous other related outcomes within the metropolitan Denver community. A major research and funding collaboration that was focused on mental health shifted to include a spotlight on racial and ethnic disparities in access to care. The foundation community revised the Colorado Common Grant Application and included a specific question about inclusiveness practices. The Denver Foundation is increasing the pipeline of diverse leaders joining the sector, having already placed more than 70 diverse interns with nonprofits, and training and making connections for 100 emerging leaders of color to serve on nonprofit boards. In addition, the foundation itself has transformed its own operations and strategic focus to become deeply connected to the communities it serves and to work in partnership with these communities to address disparities.

The Landscape

Metropolitan Denver is a seven-county area with a population of about 3.2 million, with suburbs extending in a ring surrounding the city and county of Denver. Following nationwide trends particularly prevalent in the West, the city itself is already majority minority, and the metro area is not far behind. Inner-ring suburbs such as Lakewood and Aurora are seeing dramatic rates of growth in communities of color. The metro area saw 22 percent growth in the Latino segment of the population between 2000 and 2010 and four percent growth in the African-American segment of the population, while the number of non-Hispanic white residents decreased by seven percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010a). The Asian Pacific Islander population grew by 27.5 percent, to 3.7 percent of the population, while the American Indian population remained stable at approximately 0.5 percent. Along with other Western states, Colorado is expected to be close to majority minority by 2040.

Metropolitan Denver has a relatively stable, diversified economic base with a median household income of $59,007 in 2009, 17.5 percent higher than the national median. However, prosperity is far from equitably distributed. The median household income in Denver for Latinos is 31 percent less and for African-Americans is 41 percent less than that of non-Hispanic white households. Childhood poverty rates in Colorado's African- American community (28 percent) and Hispanic/ Latino community (33 percent) are almost double the rate in the white community (16 percent) (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010b).

Disparities for Latino and African-American residents are especially significant in the areas of education and health. Denver Public Schools reports that Latino and African-American students are less than half as proficient as their white and Asian counterparts in writing and less than one-third as proficient in math, as measured on standardized tests (Denver Public Schools, 2011). …

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