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As part of the ongoing work we are doing at Presidio Graduate School (PGS) in the area of equity and social justice, we are hosting an event where we will explore the intersection of racial equity and philanthropy.

Corporations and foundations have recently pledged billions of dollars to combat racial equity and justice issues. The commitment is consistent among organizations from different sectors and the amounts are quite unprecedented. Big dollars are being aimed at initiatives such as investments in education, criminal justice reform, economic equality, and internal diversity and inclusion efforts. For the first time, many organizations are working collaboratively with nonprofits and advocacy groups to co-create innovative solutions in the journey towards anti-racism.

Earlier this year, Intel CEO Bob Swan, not unlike many corporate CEOs in 2020, took a public stand in support of Black Lives Matter and re-committed to building an inclusive culture for the Intel employees. In that same statement, Intel’s leadership went a step further, committing to $1 million in “support of efforts to address social injustice and anti-racism across various nonprofits and community organizations.”

Moreover, Swan tied the company’s inclusion and anti-racism efforts to Intel’s new 2030 Corporate Responsibility Strategy, demonstrating how racial justice is deeply integrated in the company’s overall sustainability work and the collective effort towards making progress on the United Nations SDGs.

The Skoll Foundation, which paid out more than $51 million in grants in 2019 alone and has a vision that we will all “live in a sustainable world of peace and prosperity,” has also been putting equity front and center. The foundation is not only examining its own internal diversity efforts with respect to talent and grantmaking but is also taking a closer look at philanthropy’s role and how it may need to change and evolve if it is truly going to address racial injustice. Skoll states, “We embrace this moment of reckoning to reconsider our role and re-envision our potential for impact. We must demand more of ourselves—now and moving into the future.”

I can’t help but think this statement is reflective of how a lot of philanthropists are “reconsidering” their roles as they seek to think more proactively, strategically, and inclusively.

At FSG, racial equity has been at the core of the firm’s work for some years as it has been nudging clients to implement shared value strategies with equity at the center. Shared value is achieved when organizations invest resources that impact society positively and as well as their bottom line. In partnership with PolicyLink and Just Capital, FSG has now developed a CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity.  It is meant to provide a roadmap for organizations, those who are eagerly pledging dollars and making commitments now so that the efforts are truly effective in contributing to building an equitable society for all.

To learn more about work being done by these organizations and engage in the conversation, please join us on October 20th for an insightful discussion with leaders from the Intel Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and FSG as we look at how philanthropy is being leveraged to address systemic and institutional racism. We will explore what these racial equity and justice investments look like and how corporations and foundations are shifting their philanthropy focus.

We are honored to have an impressive lineup of speakers joining me at this event, including Pia Wilson-Body, President of the Intel Foundation; Brittany Boettcher, Director, Portfolio and Investments, at the Skoll Foundation and PGS alumna; and Lakshmi Iyer, Director, Social Impact Consulting at FSG.


Continue to hear from thought leaders in this space by following our Racial Equity in Action series on the Presidian Blog, where we explore how, as sustainability and impact leaders, we can move the needle toward a more equitable and just society. Our series sits at the intersection of racial justice and social responsibility and features insights from the PGS community as well as external experts and thought leaders. Our goal is that through these shared insights we can better address racial inequity as a part of our day-to-day interactions and careers. If you’re looking to accelerate or shift your career, live your values, and lead with purpose, consider joining an upcoming cohort at PGS.

About the Author / Cecily Joseph

Cecily is the Advisor, Initiative for Equity and Social Justice at PGS. Always working to put equity at the center of sustainability, Cecily brings experience working in the tech sector where she oversaw environmental, social, and governance programs, and served as Chief Diversity Officer. Please feel free to reach out to Cecily with your ideas and thoughts on how we can continue to build a more equitable and just world!

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