Leaning into trust-based philanthropy
This blog post was written by Erika Dzangare, United Way food security impact manager.
The Wing Luke Museum was filled to overflowing with Black, Indigenous, and people of color community leaders, philanthropists, local government, and some Bruce Lee enthusiasts to coalesce around the powerful racial equity tool participatory grantmaking, the practice of ceding grant-making power to affected communities while giving them agency to decide who and what to fund.
The audience engaged with United Way of King County’s panel, Advancing Racial Equity: Trust-based Philanthropy, and envisioned how together, by centering communities most impacted by systemic barriers, the community’s toughest challenges can be solved.
“We are all indigenous to the planet and participatory grantmaking is an indigenous practice of sharing resources and we need to get back to that,” said panel contributor Russell Brooks, executive director of Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre and recipient of United Way’s participatory funding through the Indigenous Communities Fund.
The conversation was moderated by United Way of King County CEO Gordon McHenry Jr. Additional panel members were:
- Participatory grant-making expert, Dr. Haydeé Lavariega, co-founder of Collective Liberation in Practice and former United Way of King County associate director
- Haley Ballenger, community health program manager at Kaiser Permanente Washington Community and health equity specialist.
Ballenger, who led Kaiser Permanente Washington’s $1.5 million multi-year funding initiative to support innovative partnerships between school districts and people of color-led, community-based organizations improving food security, shared lessons learned. She encouraged funders and systems leaders alike to support participatory grantmaking and lean into complex moments when faced with tough feedback from the community and be accountable to that feedback.
We are all indigenous to the planet and participatory grantmaking is an indigenous practice of sharing resources and we need to get back to that.Russell Brooks, executive director of Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre
Attendees enjoyed food from That Brown Girl Cooks! and learned more about the two coalitions United Way launched as part of their participatory grant-making commitment toward racial equity:
The Black Community Building Collective, a group of 15 Black nonprofit leaders who help determine how United Way funding can support equitable recovery and the long-term viability of King County’s Black community.
The Indigenous Communities Fund, a coalition of Indigenous organizations that addresses the differential impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the county’s Indigenous People.
For more information about the United Way Advancing Racial Equity Series, click here.