You could say I grew up in philanthropy. As a teen, I joined the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) of the Community Foundation where I was able to learn how grantmaking works, build relationships with nonprofit leaders, and become a voice of change as a youth advocate. After leaving the YAC, I continued to find ways to support my community through philanthropy and ended up working as a program officer with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
While innately approaching grantmaking with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), I found that more could be done in the field to address the systemic challenges faced by various communities within southeast Michigan. While I was a part of many initiatives that promoted DEI in my role, I had the honor of spearheading a groundbreaking initiative – the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative. Launched in 2019, this innovative project marked the first of its kind, a multi-funder effort designed to support nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving immigrants and refugees in our region.
The impact of this endeavor has been profound. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has allocated nearly $900,000 in grants to bolster critical needs like housing, healthcare services, community organizing, legal assistance, civic engagement, and more. This initiative, meticulously built from the ground up, equipped us to be nimble and provide timely resources to organizations assisting Afghan arrivals in early 2022.
More than grantmakers
Being a member of the staff at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and engaging in initiatives such as the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative has provided me with the opportunity to recognize that the Community Foundation’s work transcends the allocation of grants and financial assistance. Our work is deeply entrenched in the steadfast advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion across every facet of our operations and continues to grow in understanding of how to live out these values.
Over the years, the Community Foundation has taken substantial steps to promote DEI. These include developing learning opportunities focused on racial equity, anti-ableism, bias, belonging, and inclusion for our staff and board members, as well as integrating DEI considerations into our strategic planning. As the Director of DEI & Community Engagement, I work closely with each department to identify and enact annual DEI objectives and have actively advocated for policies that enhance staff well-being and inclusion, including introducing paid parental leave and increasing paid time off for all staff. I also led outreach to our donors and grantees to ask for feedback on how we show up in the community.
Join us in creating lasting change
The Community Foundation’s investment in allocating resources to make DEI a priority will have a lasting impact on our region. One of the ways that we fund this work is through our donor-supported Now and Forever Fund. This endowed fund ensures that the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan maintains the talent, technology, and resources essential to uphold our mission and presence in the community for generations to come. By contributing to the Now and Forever Fund, you become an integral part of our mission to create a lasting impact on our community and to ensure that our region’s challenges and opportunities can be met both now and in the future.
I invite you to join the Community Foundation on this extraordinary journey. Together we can truly make a tangible difference for those who live, work, and play in southeast Michigan. Your support will aid us in building a better, more inclusive, and brighter future for everyone in our community.
Join us as your trusted partner in philanthropy and add your own voice to the voices of change creating a lasting legacy in our region.
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