Equity, collaboration and asset framing: Smart ideas from Philanthropy Network's 2018 conference - Generocity Philly

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Nov. 5, 2018 2:02 pm

Equity, collaboration and asset framing: Smart ideas from Philanthropy Network’s 2018 conference

Lessons from this year's convening of Philly funders, themed "Onramps to Equity in Action."

Flyground dance group performs at Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia's 2018 conference, "Onramps to Equity in Action."

(Photo by Julie Zeglen)

Generocity is serving as a media partner for Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia's fall conference.
Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Sidney Hargro has spoken at length about the need for cross-sector collaboration and new ways of operating to solve Philadelphia’s biggest problems, including poverty.

One of those needed shifts: a focus on equity, not just diversity and inclusion, with a more intentional focus on the systems and biases that contributed to a lack thereof over time.

“The term diversity has been in the sector and been around for decades and longer,” said the nonprofit pro told Generocity in August, “but the reality is, if we achieve embedding equity not only in our work, but also in seeking equity in our communities, the other two are automatically there. You can’t achieve equity without diversity and inclusion.”

Following 2017’s “Vision, Voice, Values” and 2016’s “Toward a More Perfect Union,” Philanthropy Network’s 2018 annual conference, which convened a few hundred foundation heads, corporate social responsibility pros and nonprofit execs this past Friday at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, was themed “Onramps to Equity in Action.”

First, a definition: Philanthropy Network thinks of equity as “fairness and justice for those who are disproportionately affected by structures, policies and practices due to race, ethnicity gender identity, sexual orientation, faith or some intersection of the above.”

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And the definition of equity in action?

Here were some of the other bold ideas shared at Friday’s conference.

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Morning keynote Rami Nashashibi, executive director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network, spoke of the need to question privilege and trust communities to know what’s best for them.

Resolve Philadelphia co-EDs Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Hayes joined PhillyCAM ED Gretjen Clausing and Media Mobilizing Project ED Bryan Mercer to discuss their organizations’ creative models of sharing news and information. Don’t forget, “news and information” doesn’t just mean journalism; the public needs trustworthy info of all kinds to live healthy lives.

Best practices for collaboration popped up in several conversations.

Lunchtime keynote and BMe cofounder Trabian Shorters spoke about the importance of asset framing, or a shift to narratives that define a people by their aspirations and assets rather than their challenges and deficits. (Read about Shorters’ call for funders and nonprofit folks to stop describing the people and communities they serve as “at-risk” and “low-income” here.)

2017 Leader List honoree and CSR pro Dominique Goss highlighted a salient point from Shorters’ talk: “People are not their circumstance.”

And Comcast VP Dalila Wilson Scott called upon funders to hold themselves and their peers accountable.

Attendees, what do you think — was this question answered?

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