2017 was not a typical year in our community. August 11 and 12 of 2017 were painful and horrifying days for all of us. We saw violence, terror and the loss of three lives: those of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke Bates.
We faced challenges that became a national focus — and your Community Foundation found itself uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role by partnering with others in ways we had never been called on to
Changing Our Perspective
For the Foundation, the ground shifted beneath us, and what we thought we saw, knew or understood about our community changed. In many ways, nothing new was before us, but the fissures exposed old structures in ways we hadn’t seen them before. As an institution, interconnected with our surroundings and history, we had an important opportunity to take a deeper look at ourselves, our work and our way forward.
It has become clear to us at the Foundation that we have to “see” our community differently — for the many populations we are. The notion of a universal experience of community doesn’t work. To truly empathize and move forward together, we have to be willing to acknowledge that historical and structural contexts cause people to experience our community differently. We can’t overlook that fact.
We also can’t overlook the reality that our community doesn’t work the same way for everyone. There remain structural, long-standing and silent mechanisms of exclusion that have been baked into our society and institutions from their beginnings. There are persistent racial disparities in health, education, policing and incarceration, economic opportunity, mobility, and wealth-building. Deeper, more structural causes are the reasons that significant disparities persist.
We have to see our community differently — for the many populations we are.
Building on Strengths
While the events of the summer of 2017 have caused us to look at ourselves and our community differently, we remain committed to our work with donors and nonprofit partners. We’ve been reflecting on our existing approach across all of our work and making changes to better serve our region and increase the amount of funding flowing into the community. We have launched a donor education series to offer more opportunities for fund holders and donors to meet one another and learn about causes they care about. We have also enhanced our resources for nonprofits and will be deepening our partnerships and celebrating the ways that they make an impact.
At the Foundation, we are on a journey, and we are exploring what our role can be as we serve this community. We are a grant maker, a steward of generous giving and an advisor to other philanthropists. We are a partner to many community-based initiatives. We have a mission to improve the quality of life in the region, and we believe that means including all people in our region.
We are committed to taking a deeper look.
A pair sharing a laugh at RoseWood Village
Photo by Derrick Waller
Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel addressing a crowd at Sprint Pavilion
Photo by Zach Wajsgras
A mechanic working hard at Larry’s Auto and Truck Repair
Photo by Eze Amos
A musician performing at Vibe Fest at IX Art Park
Photo by Derrick Waller
Friends catching up at His Image Barber Shop and Natural Hair Studio.
Photo by Kori Price