Diverse, Inclusive and Racism-free
Grand Rapids Community Foundation is committed to creating a community and a Community Foundation that is diverse, inclusive and racism-free. This section of the sites describes our views on why diversity and inclusion are important and what we are doing to ensure we abide by these values.
We accept diversity in its many forms, including, but not limited to, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, cultural perspectives, qualified disabled status, and economic circumstances. Grand Rapids Community Foundation is committed to promoting tolerance, inclusiveness, and cultural competency in its practices for governance and administration, community leadership, philanthropic services, and personnel and employment policies.
Questions about Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s efforts in cultural competence should be addressed to Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs, or Jonse Young, donor services director at 616.454.1751. Marcia and Jonse have been appointed by President Diana Sieger to serve as diversity champions.
Diversity Vision Statement
With intention and honesty, Grand Rapids Community Foundation offers a safe environment that values diversity and fosters inclusion. We recognize the injustice caused by racism and commit ourselves to eliminating it in all forms.
Our Definition of Cultural Competence
Cultural competencerefers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.
Cultural competence requires that organizations have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.
Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge and skills along the cultural competence continuum.
Why Cultural Competence?
We believe cultural competence will help the Community Foundation grow and prosper. It is important because Grand Rapids Community Foundation is a leader in our community and beyond and needs to model exceptional behavior. It is important because we need to make sure that all of us are sensitive and open to differences and are intentional in how we treat one another and how we treat everyone who comes in contact with the Foundation.
Our diversity policy promotes cultural competence in administration, community leadership, communication, philanthropic services, personnel and employment. We actively seek diverse representation on our Board of Trustees and all Foundation committees. Grand Rapids Community Foundation tracks the use of vendors and encourages the use of local and minority businesses. In our recruitment of staff, Board of Trustees members and Community Foundation committee members and in our communication materials we seek to be inclusive and reflect the ethnic, racial, age, gender and religious diversity of our community. Through diversity in our staff and the diverse composition of our volunteer boards and committees we show by example that diversity creates an organization that attracts talented people and generous donors.
We have also developed guidelines to help select diverse members for the various volunteer committees within the Community Foundation. The Community Foundation seeks to select committee members to reflect the diversity of the community. Diversity may be measured by, but is not limited to, differences in age, ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic circumstance, religion, disability and profession.
The particular skill sets and talents sought vary by committee, based on each committee’s purpose. We have multiple committees, ranging in purpose from reviewing scholarships or grants, guiding our investments and audit, working with children and youth, and accelerating donor strategies.”
Some of Our Internal Practices
Each staff member at the Community Foundation is required to complete at least two professional development activities per year to demonstrate on-going learning in the area of cultural competence. These can be all-staff trainings, attending an Institute for Healing Racism, or other relevant trainings, events or seminars, reading a book or viewing a film.
Each staff member must complete a record after the activity which describes the activity and asks for a take-away learning that informs their work at the Community Foundation. This document is placed in the staff member’s personnel file.
For a staff member who has previously participated in an Institute for Healing Racism, the Foundation will cover up to $100 per staff member each fiscal year for the two professional development opportunities. The Foundation covers the entire cost for staff to attend an Institute.
A group of self-selected staff meet regularly to plan year-round activities and events to help foster cultural understanding. Each month in the Community Foundation’s town hall meeting, the group presents information about a specific culture’s holiday that is taking place that same month.
Early in 2010, we published our Culturally Competent Communication Standards. This manual, written with the input from a diverse group of community members helps Community Foundation staff to refine its communication with diverse audiences and to create materials that are cognizant of age, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender and disability differences. Like a graphic standards manual, this document helps standardize language, ideas and images to ensure of a consistent, clear and inclusive approach to communication activities. We have the document on our website for people to download and we’ve shared it with community foundations throughout Michigan and the U.S.
The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is uniquely poised to build awareness of an “inclusive model” of philanthropy and has made strides in this regard. These efforts include launching the Communities of Color Initiative (CCI). The initiative’s goals were to celebrate and engage donors of color in philanthropy provide awareness and establish formalized and long-term ways of giving that positively impact and address needs of communities of color. To this end the African American Heritage Fund, was established. It provides grants to organizations that offer youth, educational programs during the summer that serve the African American Community. The fund is permanently endowed and provides grants in perpetuity.
The Community Foundation’s goal is to reach out not only to the African American and Hispanic community, but to all cultures within the diverse community we serve. As we planned and thought about how to best serve Grand Rapids’ diverse communities we determined that it would be best to be more inclusive and rather than creating our reach efforts to specific groups of people, CCI efforts are now an integrated, core component of the Foundation. In other words, we should not invite communities of color into our home, only to ask them to sit at another table but include and welcome all into the organization.
Commitment to the LGBT Community
Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the LGBT community
Through our grantmaking and other organizational activities, Grand Rapids Community Foundation supports the LGBT community and efforts for inclusion throughout West Michigan. You can consider us an organizational ally.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded two grants to build local capacity. Among their goals were to advocate for LGBT rights. This engagement will take the form of contacting or visiting public officials, contacting the media to express an opinion and other similar forms of interaction. Goals include:
- Advocate that local school districts adopt LGBT inclusive anti-bullying policies by educating school board members and community leaders; Improve LGBT access to domestic partner benefits.
- Increase literacy in the LGBT community of estate planning and other legal rights.
- Decrease discrimination against the LGBT community in housing, employment, health care, public school, and other services.
- Protect LGBT youth from hate crimes and bullying.
- Equal access for the LGBT community in public accommodations.
GIFT (Gays in Faith Together): Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded grants to develop a movement of inclusion and acceptance of LGBT issues across congregations. We also offered meeting space and free parking for the convening sessions.
Kent Intermediate School District: The Community Foundation invested in a deep diversity/inclusion over several years so every 9th grader in Kent County could participate. The program included LGBT awareness. Several high schools have started LGBT Ally clubs as a result.
Our publications: Gay couples and singles have been featured in articles in our quarterly journal Current and in our annual reports (and we’d love to have more).
Partner benefits: Beginning in 2012, we began offering partner benefits to our employees for health and dental coverage.
Staff leadership has been vocal about LGBT rights and non-discrimination. Examples include posts on the President’s blog, a Vice President testifying to change laws in Muskegon, advocating for LGBT inclusion in key Grand Rapids conversations and staff support efforts of Until Love is Equal.
Committees and Board: We have or have had LGBT people serving on our committees and Board.
The Gerald M. Crane Music scholarship was created by his partner Randy Block after Gerry’s death in 1996 at the age of 32. We worked closely with Randy to ensure his wishes and Gerry’s legacy would live on.
Though the fund is now closed, the AIDS Fund was housed at the Community Foundation for many years and made grants to dozens of AIDS service providers in the community. We stood with friends and community members in education and healthcare for people with AIDS.
Our LGBT Advisors
Henry Matthews and Tim Chester
Tommy Allen and Michael Pfleghaar
Dottie Rhodes and Gwen O’Brien
Ken Bandstra and Ken Terpstra