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Evolving Trust-based Philanthropy for Racial Justice

More foundation leaders need to understand the power of endowments

The Schott Foundation for Public Education’s team left our workshop at the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ 2022 conference this spring feeling hopeful. The room was filled with people leaning in and reflecting on the value and power of building endowments for racial justice organizations. This was exciting because we believe this philanthropic investment strategy better sustains the critical systemic efforts urgently needed to address racial inequities and strengthen our democracy.

After all, who more than foundation leaders understand how a permanent asset or wealth like an endowment brings power? Most institutional foundations are funded through endowments. That's philanthropy’s power source. That's how we plan. That's how we maintain our programmatic momentum. And yet, for most organizations that we work with, that we care about, we haven't taken the strategic step to provide them with the same level of sustainable funding—the same level of power.

As a Black philanthropy leader, this is personal. For decades, organizations and leaders of color have been one of the few forces sustaining democracy across the country and trying to advance racial justice through organizing and advocacy. Groups like Alliance for Quality Education in New York, Education Justice Alliance in North Carolina, ARISE in Providence, Rhode Island, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children and Boston Education Justice Alliance.

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