From the inception of their foundation in 1952, Gaylord and Dorothy invited community members and experts in their fields to serve on the foundation board alongside family members. Community service is a long-standing value for the Donnelley family. Dorothy was a long-time volunteer and board member at the Rehab Institute and has a research lab named for her in what is now the Ryan Ability Lab. This tradition of service continues to this day with board members actively engaged in numerous civic and cultural organizations.
We began this work as a staff in 2016, under the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A staff/board committee was created to guide initial work, and a staff lead was appointed to DEI initiatives. Board and staff completed a full-day antiracism workshop in 2017 and have continued with supplemental training each year, including membership in Enrich Chicago. DEI was added to all committee charters and is a topic at all committee, board, and staff meetings. The foundation began underwriting antiracism workshops for nonprofit leaders in 2019 and continue that support.
All areas of the Foundation are touched by this work – program, finance, governance. More on how we have operationalized equity in each of these areas is below.
In our program areas, we proactively seek groups that are led by and serve those communities most impacted by inequitable philanthropy. Our newest strategies – Broadening Narratives in Collections and both of our Land Conservation strategies – were updated specifically to codify the equity lens. Given the nature of the arts, those portfolios have lent themselves to more risk and experimentation, but each of those strategies will be evaluated and the equity lens codified in 2022.
Supporting Antiracism Work
We have been sponsoring antiracism workshops for grantees for several years now, currently through ArtEquity, Hollaback, CROAR, and consultant Angela Park (links below). We will continue offering those workshops, to account for leadership transitions and staff turnover, as well as shifting language. In Chicago we support the work of Enrich Chicago and the League of Chicago Theaters as each are working to build an antiracist Chicago arts sector. We are now exploring how to support organizations in their next phase of equity and antiracism journeys.
Capacity Building for BIPOC Organizations
As a next step, we began supporting BIPOC (Black, Brown, and Indigenous People of Color) leaders through two peer-leadership cohorts in 2021, on which we’ll report in early 2022. We want to extend support to BIPOC leaders both at BIPOC-focused organizations, as well as at predominantly white-led organizations and are planning to expand the cohort model in the coming year. In the Lowcountry, following a group workshop sponsored by the SC Arts Commission, the consultancy Red Olive worked with two BIPOC-led arts organizations – a Gullah-focused group and a Latinx-focused group. In Chicago, the cohort consists of ten arts leaders, working in two groups of five with facilitator Kimberly Dixon-Mays. In both circumstances, GDDF is not present, ensuring a convening space where leaders can share resources and seek advice on challenges in full confidentiality.
GDDF has launched a Lowcountry BIPOC-Led Arts Capacity Building Pool to help support and strengthen BIPOC/BIPOC-led organizations. The pool will be available over the next three years (2023-2025) to GDDF’s BIPOC arts grantees in the form of grants and technical assistance. For more information, please contact Ame Holcombe, Lowcountry Program Associate, at email@example.com.
Along with several other Chicago foundations, we recently reaffirmed our ongoing commitment to diversity and equity in stewarding our endowment, from managers to investments. The full letter in Crain’s Chicago Business includes several ways for foundations and others to move forward. We welcome continued dialogue with others on investment opportunities.
Diversity mission-aligned investments
After including a diversity lens on our investment policy, we began identifying new diverse managers to add to our endowment portfolio. In 2021 we made the following:
When selecting vendors – from catering to communications – we choose local businesses or independent contractors whenever possible and give preference to those led and/or owned by those from the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and/or LGBTQIA+ communities, people with disabilities, and/or women. We choose B Corp certified when possible.
We have intentionally recruited for board and staff positions in communities underrepresented in philanthropy.
In choosing locations for meetings, we ensure the space is accessible to those with mobility issues and offer CART and ASL upon request.
Recognizing that ableism is a core barrier to equity and inclusion, we are a signatory of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy’s Disability Inclusion Pledge. JOIN US as with 50+ other funders in our commitment to engage in a learning journey with each other from now through 2023 (and beyond).
Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC)
In this hybrid world, we hosted three workshops with CCAC for arts organizations, though the lessons could be applied across any area. The recordings are on our YouTube channel: Disability Awareness, Accessible Virtual Events, and Building Accessible Events and Programs.
This is preliminary language which we will continue to build on as we learn more from our regions’ Native communities.
Building New Relationships
Despite Native Americans accounting for nearly 2% (5.4 million) of the U.S. population, philanthropic funding for these communities remains less than 0.5 % of annual foundation grant dollars. Beyond acknowledging the past and present indigenous communities in our regions, we will begin working in 2022 to convene local indigenous leaders to help us to build connections in the community. We will center and promote indigenous voices in our mission areas and identify ways for us singly and with partners to support Native communities with partnerships, grants, and other resources.
Resources we have found helpful informing our work
Articles and Sites