President's Corner

A Special Announcement from Luz to Grantees

June 24, 2019

By Luz Vega-Marquis

Dear Grantee Family,

After nearly 20 years leading the Marguerite Casey Foundation and 40 years working in philanthropy, I have decided to retire in 2020. To support a seamless transition, I’ve been working closely with the board, and will stay on through the end of 2020 to be of assistance to the Foundation’s next leader and the board of directors.

In reflecting on my time in this sector, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside each of you. Together, we and the MCF board of directors have sown the seeds for a nationwide movement of low-income families advocating for themselves and their communities on their own terms. At a moment when divisive rhetoric and skyrocketing inequality are rattling the foundations of our democracy, I draw tremendous comfort from knowing that you all are still out there, continuing to fight the long battle for equity, justice, and an end to poverty in the midst of plenty. Your efforts give me hope as I look to the future.

As I look back on my years at MCF, I take great pride in what we have built together: a unique philanthropy grounded in the wisdom of families and dedicated to sparking and supporting a national family movement. Together, we have raised up and supported leaders of color and immigrant leaders who are resolute in their commitment to building collective power in their communities and asserting that power in the public sphere. Your partnership has helped shape my vision for funding change differently- and I want to thank you.

Together, we have:

  • Developed a successful model for movement-building by creating regional networks that bring grantees together across issues to achieve meaningful policy victories.
  • Championed the idea that funders should provide multi-year general operating support, which has given grantees the freedom and stability to create their own solutions for fighting poverty.
  • Changed the narrative about poverty by investing in advocacy, journalism, and organizing.
  • Offered the sector an example of what an organizational commitment to racial justice looks like: 86% of the Foundation’s grantees are led by people of color; 82% of board members are people of color; and 60% of our staff are people of color.
  • Prioritized investments in leaders of color by founding Hispanics in Philanthropy; establishing the Patiño-Moore Legacy award to recognize collaboration among Black and Brown communities; and creating the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty to recognize youth for their vision, passion, and dedication to improving their communities.
  • Mobilized more than 30,000 family members at 65 town halls across the country, resulting in the Equal Voice for America’s Families National Platform, which guides our work to this day.

As I reflect on my tenure at the Foundation, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve been intentional from the very beginning to build a family-led movement, recognizing that families are the best architects of their success.

When I first started, it was just the board and me. Today, we have a strong network of 196 grantees from Oakland to Orlando and Chicago to Louisville. Together, we work across multiple issues to effect policy change and hold elected officials accountable to their public commitment to improving the lives of all their constituents, including those who are living in poverty.

We’ve seen how family-centered advocacy and activism can reap far-reaching social benefits. We’ve witnessed extraordinary policy wins like the restoration of voting rights to 1.4 million citizens in Florida and raising the minimum wage to better support working families in Louisiana, Illinois, and California.

I’m excited about the future at Marguerite Casey Foundation, and I hope you are, too. I look forward to seeing many of you in person over the next year and a half and celebrating our shared journey.

Sincerely,

Luz Vega-Marquis
President and CEO

A Special Announcement from Luz to Grantees

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