MSCF's Commitment to Building Inclusive Communities
June 2022 - Published in: 2021 Annual Report - In 2021, Main Street Community Foundation moved forward with the commitment to raise awareness around racial and social justice issues in the communities we serve while also taking concrete steps to strengthen internal practices utilizing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lens. After having conducted DEI training with the MSCF Board of Directors and staff in 2020, the Foundation expanded its focus and brought in others closely connected to MSCF – the volunteers who serve on over a dozen committees that review grant proposals and recommend grant awards.
In August 2021, MSCF invited Debby Irving, a renowned social justice educator and author of Waking Up White to engage in a virtual conversation with MSCF Board, staff and volunteers entitled “I’m a Good Person! Isn’t That Enough?” Irving is a powerful storyteller and uses her own life story to explore how systemic racism exists in our society. The opportunity to learn and share through the Debby Irving event informed and deepened ongoing conversations around issues of race and the need for action in the communities we serve. It was a conversation offering a fresh perspective on racial bias, stereotypes and tolerance. Funding for this important conversation was provided by the Wally Barnes Fund for Community Leadership Initiatives, an MSCF fund established in 2013 to promote collaborative solutions in an effort to build stronger communities.
As part of the transition to a new online grants management system, MSCF staff also carefully examined internal grantmaking practices through an equity lens to identify ways to remove undue burden placed on grantees throughout the application process and ensure all grant funds are distributed in a fair and equitable fashion. Careful consideration was given to the purpose behind each of the questions we ask grantees throughout the application process. We also updated the ways in which we ask for demographic data from our grantees to better capture an accurate and respectful representation of the communities we serve.
Looking ahead to the remaining part of 2022, the MSCF DEI Subcommittee is planning ongoing DEI education and community collaborations in an effort to build on the momentum created by this early work in our DEI journey. MSCF staff will remain connected and engaged to ongoing local DEI initiatives in an effort to serve as a source of information and education for donors and community stakeholders looking to build greater equity in the communities we serve. Through this work, we strive to ensure the fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people, while at the same time working to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of historically marginalized groups.