Welcome Ann Lehan!March 28, 2022
Welcome Jason Goode!April 1, 2022
In response to the racial injustices and calls in the field of philanthropy for foundations to hold themselves more accountable by putting into practice their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the DeKalb County Community Foundation created a DEI Roadmap in the summer of 2020.
“Taking an honest and comprehensive look in the mirror first has been our approach,” said Dan Templin, Community Foundation Executive Director. “We talked at length about whether we should make a public statement that summer about our commitment to DEI, but ultimately decided we needed to first do the work to focus on our actions in terms of our policies, procedures, and decisions as an organization and then communicate concrete actions we have taken. The goal of the roadmap is for the Foundation to be a more effective organization that practices diversity, equity, and inclusion in fulfilling its mission and services.”
- Encouraging Board members and staff to ‘look inward’ through individual self-reflection and actions they can take to be more ‘anti-ism’ (e.g. anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-ableism).
- Looking inward as an organization by all Foundation committees walking through recommendations from a document titled “Council on Foundations – Ten Ways for Community Foundations to Consider Diversity and Inclusive Practices.”
- Listening and learning from people and organizations in the community in order to determine what external role we can play to positively contribute to practices of belonging in DeKalb County.
Self-Examination and Actions
The Foundation Board members, staff, and volunteers explored ways to improve ourselves through various standing and advisory committees. We learned that working through the roadmap is a long-term process.
The following are outcomes and key topics of focus to date:
Adopted compelling definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion as an organization so we work from a common understanding of what we strive to achieve.
- Updated our mission, vision, slogan, and organizational commitments to reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- With the goal of adopting policies and practices that center diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work, the Foundation’s various committees accomplished the following:
- Executive Committee – Oversaw the development and implementation of the roadmap, engaged in joint conversations with staff on progress made in implementing the activities in the framework, and reviewed the Foundation’s practices related to recruiting and hiring a diverse staff.
- Finance Committee – Reviewed investment managers that are part of our portfolio in terms of minority ownership and added a diverse manager.
- Community Grants Committee – Updated the Community Needs Grants and scholarship applications to ask demographic questions, provided additional hands-on support and outreach related to grant requests originating from people of color-led nonprofits, developed a Theory of Change document to establish an emphasis on serving all communities, and shared ideas and best practices on marketing to increase scholarship access to more diverse student populations.
- Marketing & Development Committee – Began exploring how to engage and serve a more diverse donor population in DeKalb County in terms of ethnicity, economic status, and geographic representation.
- Community Engagement Committee – Committed to view grantmaking in our community initiative areas of Early Care and Education, Workforce Development, Land Use and Economic Development through a DEI lens to enhance the scope of community impact.
- Governance Committee – Revised our Board matrix and actively recruited Board nominees to further prioritize building a Board that more accurately reflects the diversity of DeKalb County, discussed ways to further reinforce ongoing DEI education and discussion at the Board level.
- Strategic Action Committee – Updated goals and objectives at the Board level, considered the influence of DEI and how strategies and tactics can reinforce our commitment to action.
- Estate Planning Advisory Committee (EPAC) – Discussed future options to encourage and support effective estate planning among lower income citizens in DeKalb County.
- DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP) – The Steering Committee of the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership reviewed their strategic plan and program offerings to determine areas to prioritize DEI: The Give DeKalb County Committee gained input from stakeholders to devise strategies to infuse DEI into the event further. In 2021, the participating organizations grew more diverse, marketing materials focused on inclusion (including Spanish language materials), and promotional efforts were crafted with DEI as a focal point; In partnership with NIU, the Internship Program continued to connect diverse cohorts of students with DCNP members. Historically, approximately 21% of participants are Hispanic and 15% are Black/African-American; Multiple Professional Development MicroGrants supported DCNP members pursuing training specific to DEI within their organizations.
- Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (YEP) – Reviewed and implemented recruitment ideas for Youth Engaged in Philanthropy. Focus was on school diversity and new approaches to recruit students beyond the classroom. Shifted grantmaking priorities to include DEI language and created a list of organizations to invite to apply for a YEP Grant. Some organizations were new or had not heard of YEP before.
Each Foundation committee will continue to keep elements of the roadmap on their agendas and document action associated with such improvement.
Working with community partners and donors, the following outcomes have been achieved to date:
Promise Grants Enhancements – With a boost from the Howard & Mildred Eychaner Fund, the Promise Grants Committee grantmaking budget increased to a total of $10,000 annually. Grants were recently awarded to eleven organizations after receiving an unprecedented 16 applications totaling over $41,000 in funding requests. The committee is also being empowered to consider crafting a new strategy to implement the purpose of this grassroots grant program, which is to award grants to charitable organizations that build belonging and empower people in DeKalb County who are marginalized and labeled as ‘other’.
- I.D.E.A. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action) Initiative – Fueled with an anonymous unrestricted donation to the Foundation and an engaged nonprofit membership, the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP) program designed and partnered with an out-of-state consultant with expertise in moving policy to action to provide an opportunity for learning and to engage in a deep dive to identify and improve practices. The year-long Initiative began in January of 2021 with a webinar titled, “From Awareness to Action”. As a follow up to the webinar, DCNP members were invited to apply to participate in a pilot program consisting of an initial kickoff roundtable, comprehensive policy/procedure reviews, coaching sessions, and a final reflection roundtable.
- Arts in Action – Inspired by Dr. john powell’s presentation on building a more belonging community, a number of local organizations collaborated on a successful proposal to the Illinois Department of Human Services for a Healing Illinois Grant. With a goal of highlighting and elevating the importance of people’s stories related to race and racial injustice, the Foundation provided grant funding in the Healing Illinois project specifically to support a collaboration between the DeKalb County History Center and Ellwood House Museum for the first phase of their Arts in Action The Foundation’s Community Engagement Committee offered additional grant funds to the Arts in Action project, which is designed to create a resource to help educators facilitate productive discussion and understanding of the linkage between DeKalb County history and race relations throughout the years. This thoughtful approach intertwines local historical facts, technology, and stories from our community in an effort to connect place and history. A recent Midweek News article highlights this important project.
“What an exciting and challenging time to be Board President,” said Joe Mitchell, Community Foundation Board President. “As a long-time member of this community and an African-American man, I was humbled by the Foundation’s willingness to engage in tough conversations, readiness to review our policies, and the tweaks we made to the Foundation’s mission statement and principles. Our DEI commitment is fluid, meaning it will continue to evolve. Needless to say, I’m delighted by the direction of the Foundation and what lays ahead for our philanthropic efforts.”
Partnering for the Future
One of the best ways to financially partner with the Foundation is to help us grow The Promise Fund – El Fondo de La Promesa, a permanently endowed Field of Interest Fund at the Community Foundation. Donations can be made online or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, IL 60178. For questions or to start your own charitable Fund that strengthens a culture of belonging in DeKalb County, please contact Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.