When a Statement Isn't Enough

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When a Statement Isn’t Enough 

Grand Rapids Community Foundation stands with our Black neighbors who are hurting and tired from generations of racism, trauma and injustice. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are but a few of the countless lives that have been lost due to this nation’s history of systemic and overt racism and oppression. Black Lives do not merely “Matter;” they deserve to thrive, to be cherished and be to celebrated. 

The Community Foundation has made statements regarding the elimination of racism many times calling for dialogue, understanding and engagement. That work continues, but this time needed to be different. Over the past two weeks we have been reflecting because we wanted our actions to have teeth; to have meaning. 

While the Community Foundation works every day to actively eliminate racial disparities that have been evident for centuries, we own that there is so much more that we need to do.  We are committed to leveling up our action. We are committed to leveraging our resources, networks and influence at a higher level to stamp out the inequities that have existed for much too long.  

We will continue to:  

  • Work on our internal culture, including staff recognizing our individual biases and doing the critical work to working to address them.  
  • Strengthen existing and create new relationships with Black nonprofit leaders and community organizers. 
  • Be transparent about our partnerships and share our successes and failures. 
  • Invite our donor partners to co-invest in solutions that aim to eliminate systemic racism.  
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the historic philanthropic role the Black community has played in Kent County.  

We are leveling up our action by prioritizing:   

  • The voices of community members experiencing inequities. 
  • Our work beyond grantmaking, such as educating, advocating, bridging, convening and championing.  
  • Access to capital and opportunities for historically under-resourced entrepreneurs. 
  • Funding and advocacy that will lead to equitable educational attainment.  
  • Exploration of culturally effective solutions that will lead to health equity. 
  • Arts and culture opportunities led by people or networks who aim to advance equity. 
  • Housing insecurity and homelessness, which impacts communities of color disproportionately.  
  • Efforts led by those most affected by environmental injustice to ensure environmental benefit. 

We know that we will make mistakes and won’t always get it right, and we are trusting our community partners to hold us accountable as we continue this critical work and level up our commitment to combating anti-Blackness and racism in our community. 

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Diana R. Sieger, President 
Grand Rapids Community Foundation