A resource to help the nonprofit sector address racial equity issues

June 19, 2020

By Jennifer Aronson, Associate Vice President for Programs and Andrea Madu, Senior Program Associate, Nonprofit Effectiveness

Editor's Note: While the Boston Foundation offices are closed for a day of relection to commemorate Juneteenth, today also seems to be an appropriate day to release a new resource for nonprofits seeking to address issues of racial equity. The Racial Equity Capacity Builders Directory provides a listing of resources in 20 aspects of racial equity training. It can be downloaded here and from the Social Justice Ecology page of the Boston Foundation website. 

Interested in having your services listed in upcoming updates to the directory or update your current listing? Click here to submit your information!

Directory cover image View the directory

Despite our region’s changing demographics, the nonprofit sector continues to face a marked racial leadership gap. According to the 2017 Opportunity in Change report, 85% of Greater Boston leaders and 86% of board members identify as white. While people of color represent more than 40% of the population of Greater Boston, the percentage of people of color leaders in our sector has remained below 20% for the last 15 years. The current COVID-19 crisis is shining a bright light on the critical importance of having strong, connected and inclusive leadership and on what happens when those in power are not representative of or authentically connected to those impacted most. Similarly, the recent and brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, while not a new type of injustice, have made more widespread recognition of the need to dismantle structural racism and center racial equity in everything that we do. As we are seeing with the resultant increased national support for the Movement for Black Lives, intentionally naming and disrupting the biases, practices and policies that reinforce the racial leadership gap is critical to our shared progress.

Given the Boston Foundation’s position as Greater Boston’s community foundation and one of the largest grantmakers in the region, we have a unique role to play in supporting the effectiveness of this nonprofit ecosystem and have long believed that representative, connected and diverse leadership is the key to a strong nonprofit sector. Since 2017, as part of our Nonprofit Effectiveness strategy, we have made an explicit commitment to identify, develop and support efforts that advance racial equity in order to help nonprofit staff and board leadership build the confidence, skills and trust they need to lead this work within their own organizations and beyond.

Over the past several years we have had the privilege to host public conversations around the importance of advancing racial equity within nonprofit organizations and have showcased examples of the tools and practices local sector leaders employ in these efforts. We have been heartened by the response we have received, which has included many requests from nonprofit leaders for racial equity consultants and programming recommendations, as well as many requests from racial equity practitioners eager to make connections with organizations ready to deepen their commitment to this work.

We commissioned the Boston Foundation Directory of Racial Equity Capacity Builders in response to this gap. The goal of this project was for us to get clearer sense of the capacity of the sector to support organizations to center racial equity and to provide a resource for nonprofits to help them advance racial equity within their organizations.

A huge thank you to Curdina Hill (Clearways Consulting) and Molly Mead (Praxis Consulting) who have both done incredible work to pull this resource together. We are also grateful to all of the nonprofit leaders and consultants who contributed to this directory. This is our first attempt at creating a directory of racial equity capacity builders, and we plan to update this resource periodically. We welcome your feedback as we continue to modify and refine this offering.

We hope you find this resource helpful as you work to advance racial equity in your organization.