Helping Ourselves: A BAR Op-Ed

header2A few days after Thanksgiving, I stepped out of a modernist East Side building into a cold New York evening – elated. The building houses the rather grand offices of the Ford Foundation, generally regarded as the world’s most influential private foundation. And Ford had good news for the LGBT community.

A foundation steps up
That day, Ford had gathered people from the foundation and LGBT advocacy worlds to launch a major new initiative called “Out for Change.” It came with a commitment to grant $50 million over the next five years to LGBT causes.

Advocates like Horizons Foundation and the national Funders for LGBTQ Issues have long called for more private foundations to fund LGBT causes. While that advocacy has helped bring millions of dollars to our community over the years, total LGBT funding remains but a small fraction of one percent of all foundation grants. So the dollars alone promised by Ford will help. Equally important, Ford pledged to put its considerable institutional weight to work as well and encourage other wealthy private foundations to fund more LGBT work. Continue reading

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Not just another meeting

Foundations rarely just “meet.” They “convene.” In fact, alongside perennial foundation-world buzzwords like “community” and “partnership,” convening might be the field’s most gratuitously overused word. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with community, partnership, or convening. It’s just that when deployed so relentlessly, the words begin to drain of meaning.

But sometimes “convening” fits the occasion. I write this while flying somewhere over Ohio, heading home after a gathering that does merit the grander moniker. The world’s second largest foundation, the Ford Foundation, brought together 150 or so leaders from LGBT advocacy and foundation worlds. It was an honor to be there. Continue reading