Lessons for Supporting Community-Led Change

Community Led Change

Local philanthropy has the power to support community-led change. To make this a reality, many of our partners are eager to learn how to advance equity through their giving. This is especially true for many donor partners who create a Donor Advised fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. They are passionate about giving and appreciate the support of the Community Foundation staff, who have deep ties to Kent County nonprofits.

A group of fund holders recently met at an event about how to respond to ever-changing needs of our region. They engaged in a conversation about what it means to be community-led and the recent activities of our identity-based funds, such as the Black Legacy, Our LGBTQ, Somos Comunidad and Youth Field of Interest funds. The takeaways were substantial, and the learnings can extend to anyone interested in creating meaningful impact.

Ciciley Moore, from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, joined Community Foundation staff for the conversation, and volunteer leaders answered questions about their work to advance equity and justice in Kent County. Takeaways include:

  1. Communities have the wisdom to solve their own challenges. Around the world and in West Michigan, communities of color use philanthropy to become agents of their own change. A partnership with W.K. Kellogg Foundation, through its Catalyzing Community Giving program, accelerated the Community Foundation's work. Read the 2022 article.
  2. Change in philanthropy isn't just who, but how. As Ciciley Moore said, building power and agency in communities of color isn't only about who is involved, but the processes, policies and practices shaping how giving decisions are made.
  3. The Black Legacy Fund and Somos Comunidad Fund are case studies for philanthropy led by their communities. Each fund is led by community volunteers, and engages in grantmaking and community engagement. Explore more about these and other identity-based funds on our website.
  4. Community listening shaped new grantmaking practices at the Community Foundation. Focus groups invited community members to share their perspectives, and created an opportunity to build and deepen relationships. Read more about these recent activities and the grant awards made from each fund.
  5. The need for support is great! Three identity-based funds received nearly $11 million in funding requests. In total, the funds had approximately $1 million in resources to award. Each fund prioritized nonprofit organizations led by people of color.

Our team is eager to talk with you. Did these lessons spark ideas for your personal philanthropic goals? Would you like more information about the Community Foundation’s efforts and direction in this regard?

Please contact a member of our team through our website or by calling 616.454.1751. We’re happy to set up a time to discuss further – this learning is ongoing.