A Tectonic Shift in Mindsets: The Future of Philanthropy
The recent 6-part New Profit x Worth Media series, “Rearchitecting the Future Through Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship,” brought together the nation’s most innovative social entrepreneurs in a collaborative learning journey. Panelists discussed the dynamics of equity and social problem solving, as well as the future of philanthropy.
Transformative, equitable change is needed right now to set America on a path to realizing the true ideals of its founding. On the road to that goal, we must shift our mindsets and re-architect the systems that have contributed to entrenched disparities. The challenge is clear, but so is the opportunity: these systems were designed by humans and they can be re-designed by humans. Indeed, visionary social entrepreneurs across America are showing us a path towards a more equitable future across education, workforce development, public health, criminal justice, and other areas.
Three months ago, New Profit joined forces with Worth Media in the launching of “Rearchitecting the Future Through Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship,” an online video series aimed at engaging philanthropists, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and business leaders in conversation on how to drive more progress in the fight for equity.
During this six session series, we invited expert social entrepreneurs and leaders from our network to share their unfiltered perspectives and experiences on a variety of topics—ranging from education to workforce development to public health and more.
To ground ourselves in the transformative pieces of knowledge shared throughout the series, we invite you to relive our learning journey.
Session 1: A Tectonic Shift in Mindsets and Actions
Philanthropy, like other sectors facing a moral reckoning on racial equity, continues to have a vital role to play in creating an America that lives up to the promise of its founding ideals. But we must overcome the bias and barriers that have existed in philanthropy for too long if we hope to unlock the ideas, talent and collaborations that can drive us toward an equitable future.
Recent research has shown that entrepreneurs of color and from underinvested communities receive a disproportionately small fraction of total funding in philanthropy, even though they often are most proximate to many of the systemic challenges we face and have the expertise and systems-focused approaches needed to address them. Bridging the racial funding gap for entrepreneurs and other leaders, which can unleash a new wave of progress against entrenched inequities, will take a shift in mindsets among funders, first and foremost.
“Inclusive Impact is about building a multiracial coalition of people who arise from diverse experiences and economic backgrounds and stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Now, that has never been done. Philanthropy has never before come together to scale support for proximate leaders. But we have the opportunity to do that right now.”
Session 2: Using a New Lens to See and Invest in Transformative Change in Education
COVID-19 and an intense national focus on racial equity have changed the way they work and their vision for the future of education. To pursue new pathways and take on systemic inequities, leaders and their organizations have evolved their models amidst the crisis.
"Due to the pandemic’s at-home classroom experience, teachers are now proximate to their students’ experiences outside of school—which has given educators the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their students’ conditions at home. Teachers now have the insight and ability to strengthen their relationships with their students, as well as their methods of instruction."
Session 3: Using a New Lens to See and Invest in Transformative Change in Work
At a moment when millions of displaced and underserved workers are facing systemic barriers to even providing for themselves and their families, rearchitecting the future of work and workforce development is critical. A wave of transformative possibilities—from reskilling to alternative post-secondary pathways and technological innovation to policy change—have started to take root, led by social entrepreneurs. The time is now to invest behind them to drive towards equitable economic opportunity.
“As a leader or a person in power, you need to make a choice that you are going to do everything you can to get proximate to the people that you say you serve. And then do the work to get as close as you can to their lives.”
Session 4: Using a New Lens to See and Invest in Transformative Change in Democracy
The glue for an inclusive, healthy, and responsive democracy — like a healthy relationship — is trust. Democracy requires trust in the political apparatus — such as Congress — as well as trust between its people. The state of trust in our country, however, is a pit of brokenness. According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans are “low-trusters” who believe that people cannot be trusted and only look at their own self-interest. Interestingly, among this group of Americans, 40% believe we are overreacting to the COVID-19 crisis.
Trust not only impacts what we believe and how we engage with each other, but also our ability to weather and address crises effectively. Democracy entrepreneurs are building innovative models to repair or dismantle the broken systems in our democracy to create an inclusive, healthy, and responsive democracy grounded in trust.
When we look across the country at the groups that we are working with and the incredible work that they have done, a lot of these young people have been on the forefront of centering culture and joy in their work amidst a pandemic, a racial reckoning, and the unemployment crisis. They kept the focus on joy, empowerment, and the vision that young people are fighting for. Young people are pushing through those barriers and now they are ready to govern — to hold elected officials accountable for their actions and for following through with their promises. We are making sure that young people are invested in as leaders for this moment and then also for the future.
Session 5: Using a New Lens to See and Invest in Transformative Change in Rural America
Across the U.S., rural, small-town, and Indigenous communities struggle to access the resources they need for their people to thrive. While these communities often look out for one another in powerful ways, they receive a disproportionately small share of total U.S. philanthropy, vital resources for innovation, for transitioning to the new economic footing, and for bridging to other forms of capital. Given the national context, including rising inequality and polarization, it has never been more important to bridge this resource gap and engage with rural social entrepreneurs and communities that are taking on entrenched challenges.
Closing Session: Rearchitecting the Future Through Philanthropy
A shift in mindsets is necessary to see and invest in transformative change. From education and work to democracy and health care, removing the bias and barriers entrenched in the philanthropy sector is the first step we must take as we work toward an equitable future for all. If philanthropists truly hope to drive progress in the fight for equity in America, we must reflect on the challenges that must be overcome and the groundwork that must be laid for systemic change.