As I walked to work last week, I was thinking about the true strength of low-income families, how they have built a national movement that has fought for and won change around the country.
These reflections aren’t just about the progress and power of families today and how they’re organizing to dismantle structural poverty. These thoughts span nearly 20 years, starting when the Foundation began on Oct. 17, 2001.
Over this time, families, grantees and the Foundation have worked together to make tremendous strides. This holiday season, I want to express my gratitude for this collaborative, movement building work.
In our early years, it was common to hear people describe a nuclear family only as a husband, wife and children. In philanthropy, it was common to hear about top-down grants for single-topic programs. It was common to see puzzled looks when we talked about philanthropy in the context of families, movement building and sizable, general support grants. These grants continue to be multiyear and long term.
We placed the values of “Ask. Listen. Act.” at the center of our work. We viewed ourselves as structural changemakers, willing to take risks and share philanthropic power with low-income families. We persisted because of our faith in families and their agency for progress.
We did not do this alone – we are thankful for the tireless efforts of grantees, networks, community members, allies and families who continue to use their voices in the name of justice and equity.
Now, we see an arc of victories and accomplishments. We see an expanded definition of family. We see public sentiment and institutions bending toward justice. We see more philanthropies recognizing the importance of racial equity and putting families, movement building, justice and general support grants at the heart of their work. And we see family-led public policy victories lifting barriers for the poor.
Accomplishing structural change takes aspiration and discipline. We were honored when we were recently recognized for our movement building strategy in support of low-income families – a strategy that started when few other philanthropies were willing to do the same.
We cherish all families. We value their contributions – and recognize their power as leaders. This holiday season, I hope you will have time to celebrate with your family and friends