AAPIP Voices

2017 Unity Summit Round-Up: Sample Sessions and Resources


At the 2017 Unity Summit, some session presenters shared resources featuring new research on racial equity in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Here are resources from some conference sessions.

1. People, Place, and Power: Putting Racial Justice at the Center of Philanthropy (9/20/17)

Session Description: As people of color become more prominent in philanthropy, it is necessary to gather our collective resources to ensure that the racial justice movement, both locally and nationally, is well-funded. Speakers will tackle such questions as “What is race-based philanthropy?” and “How do local and national foundations with a racial justice focus work together towards mutually shared goals?”

Moderated by Lori Villarosa (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity)

Speakers: Dimple Abichandani (General Service Foundation), Grace Hou (Woods Fund of Chicago),  Jocelyn Sargent (Hyams Foundation), Tamieka White (Southern Partners Fund)

Resource: What does philanthropy need to know to prioritize racial justice? (Infographic)

  • This infographic presents current data and practices around racial equity grantmaking. It also raises thought-provoking questions for funders regarding the definition of “racial justice grantmaking” and data collection challenges that are unique to this philanthropic approach. Developed by Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity in partnership with Race Forward and The Foundation Center

2. Nonprofits, Leadership, and Race: What’s Philanthropy Got to Do With It (9/20/17)

Session Description: Grantmakers and grantees have been talking about diversity in the nonprofit sector for many years, but why haven’t we narrowed the nonprofit racial leadership gap? The workshop will explore current issues related to leadership and race in the nonprofit sector, particularly how identity impacts leadership experience and the aspiration to advance into leadership positions.

Speakers: Rebecca Fox (Wellspring Advisors), Angelique Kedem (Annie E. Casey Foundation), Sean Thomas-Breitfeld (Building Movement Project), Frances Kunreuther (Building Movement Project)

Resource: Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap (Report)

  • The percentage of people of color in the executive director or CEO role has remained under 20% for the last 15 years, despite the growth in leadership training programs targeted to a racially diverse nonprofit talent pool. Building Movement Project attempted to understand why this was the case. In July 2017, they released a report based on the following: literature review, three dozen interviews with nonprofit leaders, capacity builders, and funders, and Building Movement Project’s survey which yielded responses from over 4,000 nonprofit staff.

3. Advancing Equity Through Rapid Response Grantmaking (9/19/20)

Session Description: In the aftermath of the 2016 election, a number of philanthropic institutions sought to respond quickly to the almost daily barrage of threats to the health, safety, and well-being of marginalized communities across the country. Various rapid response grantmaking efforts were borne out of this moment and their successes (and failures) are only beginning to be understood. In this interactive session, practitioners share their perspectives on leveraging rapid response to promote equity in grantmaking, support existing and emerging movement building, and push from within to promote organizational change.

Moderator: Christopher Punongbayan (Northern California Grantmakers)

Speakers: Carolina Gutiérrez (Blue Shield of California Foundation), Andrew Maisel (Open Society Foundations), Jazmin Segura (The San Francisco Foundation)


  • Grassroots Racial Justice Funding Opportunities from Funders for Justice. This list includes rapid response funds from national public foundations and intermediaries, as well as special funds created for local rapid response efforts.

  • 4 Lessons in Rapid Response Grantmaking. “[Grantees] will tell us, repeatedly, that rapid, more streamlined (unrestricted) grantmaking would demonstrate solidarity more powerful than any slogan – in all grantmaking, rapid response or otherwise.” -Pia Infante, The Whitman Institute

  • Eliminating Implicit Bias in Grantmaking Practice. [W]e noticed that the proposals making it to the top of the heap tended to come from more well-established nonprofits that had larger budgets and staff size, and greater organizational capacity—not the small, grassroots, community-based organizations the fund wanted to prioritize. We also noticed that the smaller organizations, which the process screened out, tended to serve communities of women of color, who historically have lacked access to mental health resources, while none of the organizations at the top of the heap specifically targeted these populations.” -Nancy Chan and Pamela Fischer, Arabella Advisors