13 Jan, 2021 23:00 am

To Advance Racial Equity, Foundation Boards Need to Take an Active Role

To Advance Racial Equity, Foundation Boards Need to Take an Active Role
A philanthropist and chief executive explain how they transformed a family philanthropy’s governance system so it helped accelerate a commitment to fighting racism.

The events of 2020 inspired many words in these pages about the imperative of putting racial equity at the center of philanthropy.As we reflect on our own equity journey at the Barr Foundation, it is evident that our board’s active engagement has been of the utmost importance to our deepened commitment to racial equity.Like many of our peers, Barr recently affirmed a commitment to racial equity and communicated our intention to significantly expand our grant making, guided by three principles for this moment and for the years ahead: For us, getting to this point has been an intentional journey many years in the making.Racial equity has also become a regular agenda item for our full trustee meetings — where our fellow trustees have the opportunity to engage with our staff on how these issues manifest in our program areas and in our own operations.

It also means our board members bring a certain credibility, authority, and voice that can speak directly to this moment.ADVERTISEMENT Importantly, we have also been intentional about building a board whose members don’t share a deep history together.

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