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Race to Lead

The Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap in Massachusetts

A new examination of leadership opportunities and experiences for people of color in the Massachusetts nonprofit sector finds that, despite the desire to create a more diverse sector, nonprofits are falling short in providing opportunities to qualified leaders of color. The Nonprofit Leadership Gap in Massachusetts: A Race to Lead Brief, was made possible through funding support by the Barr Foundation, and was released today at a Boston Foundation event. The research builds upon the national Race to Lead research done last year by the Building Movement Project, which found people of color nationwide faced steep challenges to advance into leadership roles.

The researchers analyzed more than 170 surveys from Massachusetts nonprofit leaders and staff that were part of the national Race to Lead survey, and supplemented the data with a series of focus groups with Massachusetts nonprofit executives and staff. The Massachusetts findings largely echoed the national results. Respondents of color in both the national and Massachusetts samples were about 6 times more likely to say their race had had a negative impact on their opportunities for advancement. The report also found aspiring and current nonprofit leaders of color faced greater challenges in fundraising and obtaining professional development opportunities than their peers.

“The Massachusetts results offer a sobering confirmation that we must do more than just talk about more diverse leadership in the nonprofit sector – we must dismantle the very real barriers to success that leaders of color face, which have been systematically put in place over time,” said Jennifer Aronson, Associate Vice President of Programs at the Boston Foundation.

Read the press release.