Racial Equity Grantmaking Coding Project

GIA is sharing this blog post to as in introduction to the collaborative Racial Equity Grantmaking Coding Project being led by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) with Callahan Consulting for the Arts (CCA) and a cross section of grantmakers nation-wide. You may find more information here and apply to join this cohort here by November 1, 2023.

We believe that what we count counts. GIA is participating in the Racial Equity Grantmaking Coding Project, the culmination of research led by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) with Callahan Consulting for the Arts (CCA), for just this reason.

This pandemic and the ongoing murders of Black people by the state has made eminently visible a crisis as old as the nation itself – structural racism. Our national grantmaking field has used this historic moment to increase support to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, as we should. With that said however, the national grantmaking field is already expressing some ambivalence about maintaining these changes going forward.

This ambivalence is evidenced through the challenges the larger funding field has faced in confirming the awarding of racial equity funds. GIA and DDCF are anxious that these challenges are, in part, exacerbated by the difficulty of collecting information on changes in equitable grantmaking over time. This difficulty was illustrated by findings in a joint report released in 2021 by PolicyLink and Bridgespan Group. What does racial equity funding really mean if there is no sector-wide consensus about what grantmaking efforts fit into the category? Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink, says a consensus is needed to distinguish “between really good acts of charity” and “the liberatory work that is necessary to create” a just and fair society.

In our Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy Statement of Purpose and Recommendations for Action, one of the actions to which GIA has committed is to advocate for research and data collection that accurately represents the demographics of folks served by and serving in arts organizations and foundations. The Racial Equity Coding Project has evolved from an internal research study on DDCF’s existing data into a larger, collaborative pilot that begins to measure racial equity in arts funding among a group of grantmakers.

Central to the issue of equity is self-determination. The resourcing of BIPOC communities for self-determination is what separates efforts toward equity from efforts toward diversity or inclusion. Similarly, GIA, DDCF, and others believe that our nation’s grantmaking community must exercise deliberate self-determination in tracking our support to racial equity. GIA has partnered with DDCF to examine how grantmakers track their own efforts at increasing equity in arts funding so as to more accurately hold ourselves accountable for increases and decreases in support to BIPOC communities.

In 2018, DDCF began working with CCA to complete initial research on how the national grantmaking field does or does not track support to racial equity in the arts. DDCF drafted a new measurement framework, based in part on GIA’s Racial Equity Statement of Purpose, that seeks to capture progress in racial equity in a nuanced manner. Specifically, the new measurement framework allows grantmakers to code their grants along a spectrum for three different considerations: The extent to which the effort or organization supported is By BIPOC communities; For BIPOC communities; About BIPOC communities. In 2020, DDCF tested the new By, For, & About measurement framework with the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

DDCF and partners presented at GIA’s 2020 virtual convening and – thanks to the interest expressed – recruited the following grantmakers to join them and Hewlett in applying the measurement framework to their own grantmaking: Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, NC; Jerome Foundation in St. Paul, MN; and Opportunity Fund in Pittsburgh, PA. The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, CA has also continued their engagement.

This blog is the beginning of GIA and DDCF’s engagement of the larger grantmaking field to share what we’re learning through this process and to broaden this experiment in self-determination for increased funding support to BIPOC communities nation-wide. We look forward to continuing to share further information with you throughout 2022.