The foundations and financial institutions that fund Living Cities are critical partners in their efforts to close racial income and wealth gaps. They share our convictions about what it will take to achieve our vision: that transformative and lasting change requires patient, long-term commitment; that no one institution or even sector can undo racial inequity alone; and that a consistent focus on racism as a root cause of today’s inequities is imperative.
Through the collaborative, we are striving to disrupt the status quo by prioritizing long-term, systemic fixes that recognize structural racism as the root cause of the issues we are tackling and becoming accountable to each other and the communities we serve for getting real results. And we are practicing interrogating the histories of our own organizations, the power and privilege we hold as individuals and as institutions, and the implications for how we work today.
Like our staff, our board members have been exploring what norms, practices and skills are necessary to lead an organization working toward closing racial income and wealth gaps. As a collaborative, we are building competencies to reckon with the history and legacy of structural racism in this country and in our own institutions.
Our member institutions are some of the world’s most influential philanthropies, foundations and financial institutions. Senior representatives from our member institutions sit on our board of directors:
Living Cities Member Covenings: Beyond simply funding together, our board has explored ways to collaborate and move toward alignment on the deep root causes of the issues each of us is trying to address.
Our collaborative relationship has looked different over the years:
Deep collaboration among our members has resulted in Racial Equity Here—an initiative focused on advancing racial equity in municipal government in five cities. We have also created a community of practice that periodically brings together staff from member institutions to share opportunities, challenges and strategies related to advancing and measuring racial equity and inclusion in their institutions. That group is also supporting the board in developing a set of shared measures for understanding progress toward racial equity as a collaborative.
We have worked alongside on our Board to understand the effects of racial inequity as related to our work and how we can best leverage our collective power to eliminate gaps and are becoming increasingly aligned and focused toward our shared result. For more stories of our evolution in relationship with our Board Members, read our 2019 Annual Report.
In early 2020, we announced a historic recommitment for the organization with its member institutions. Eighteen of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions re-committed to work together for another three years within us. This marks the tenth time that these institutions have committed to harness their collective resources to support local communities. Today they are explicitly putting racial disparities at the center of the collaborative and seeking to use their grants, loans and influence to close the racial income and wealth gaps in U.S.cities.
Additional insights shared by Living Cities: Living Cities Board Commits To Fund Racial Equity Centered Mission Foundations and Financial Institutions Recommit to Work for Racial Equity
Financial involvement from our member institutions takes several forms:
Each member institution contributes general operating support to a “blind pool” that underwrites the plan of work approved by the Board of Directors every three years.
Individual member institutions may decide to make additional targeted or restricted grants to support specific work or projects that align with or further their work.
Members may participate in the Catalyst Fund by providing loans that are combined with loans from other Living Cities members to enable the creative use of debt to further program activities and leverage grant and private sector loan funds.
Members may make loans directly to partners on the ground in support of Living Cities’ programmatic priorities.