Crossroads Fund, Chicago Urban League, and Chicago United for Equity are working to advance women of color in leadership, through mentorship, coaching, and grantmaking.

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As a young immigrants’ rights organizer in Chicago, Alhelí Irizarry usually found herself working in community organizations led by white men. A teenage activist who came to the U.S. from Mexico at age nine, she often felt dismissed and invalidated as a leader.

“As benevolent as men at these organizations were, when it’s an issue that’s not affecting them, there’s still a blind spot,” she said. Her experiences left her feeling “jaded, burned out, and disconnected.”

Women of color such as Irizarry are significantly under-represented as leaders of nonprofits, foundations, companies, and other institutions — a deficiency that leaves a wealth of civic innovation and visionary leadership untapped. …


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MacArthur joins philanthropies in repudiating the insurrectionist mob violence that took place in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021 and calls for action to move the U.S. forward.

MacArthur signed on to the following statement alongside more than 40 other funders to repudiate the insurrectionist mob violence that took place in Washington, DC this week. These events are an assault on our democratic values and institutions. They also represent a clear resurgence of White supremacy and the ever-present racial injustice that remains part of life in America. MacArthur is committed to dismantling the inequitable systems that these actions reflect and supporting the transformation of our cities, country, and global communities to create a more just, resilient, and inclusive world. …


Today is National Bird Day! Shoutout to grantees in Chicago and beyond who host birds of all kinds, and to those working to conserve their natural habitats.


Maurice Samuels, Senior Evaluation Officer, and Liz Oo, Evaluation Officer, talk about their experiences as evaluators of color. Their conversation touches on lessons for the field, including more inclusive evaluation methods, meeting communities where they are, and challenging racism through evaluation and learning.

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How did you enter evaluation and what role did your identity play?

Maurice: I fell into evaluation. I was introduced to it while pursuing my master’s in education and became fully and formally immersed in the field during my PhD program, which focused on evaluation theory, methods, and practice in education. Before pursuing my PhD, I was a high school mathematics teacher, and the primary reason I decided to pursue a career in evaluation was to bring about the changes needed to improve the education of Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students. Evaluation theories and approaches that value social justice, culture, context, inclusion, participation, and equity resonated with me the most. I was introduced to evaluation by a Black man and had a couple of Black men that were instrumental to my development as an evaluator in graduate school. …


Dating back to 1989, MacArthur has awarded special grants every winter to Chicago-based nonprofit organizations based on staff nominations. A cross-Foundation committee of volunteers chooses the recipients based on a simple set of simple guidelines, which include: the organizations must have charitable status and have a physical presence in and serve the communities of the Chicago-area (check out the 2019 recipients).

The primary goal of these awards is to recognize organizations that normally would not fall under the Foundation’s grantmaking guidelines. It also provides the opportunity for staff who do not typically make grants to learn firsthand about this important role of the Foundation. …


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Two national foundations have teamed up to systematically champion a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive investment industry. The Kresge Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, based in metro-Detroit and Chicago, respectively, have partnered with financial technology firm Lenox Park Solutions to survey and assess the racial and gender diversity makeup of the U.S. asset management firms that invest a combined $10.8 billion on their behalf.

The financial services industry, and specifically the investment field, has been contemplating its lack of diversity for decades. …


Chantell Johnson, Managing Director, Evaluation, shares some of our practices for adjusting our strategies as we learn and evaluate.

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Our approach to our programmatic strategies stems from a belief that there are no blueprints to how we work in the philanthropic sector. It is a belief that we can and should move forward, create, generate, and do so dynamically — simultaneously gathering input and feedback.

For us, a dynamic approach means that we do not develop static strategies that presume a fixed understanding of how to reach our goals. …


Movement Alliance Project exposes bias in algorithmic decision making tools and advocates for limitations, oversight, and accountability on their use.

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Scooping up countless bits of data, predictive computer models make projections behind the scenes about what products people will buy, how they will vote, who they might want to date, which TV shows they will watch, and more.

The process is known as algorithmic decision making, or ADS. …


John Palfrey, President, MacArthur Foundation

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Last year, MacArthur launched a demographic survey of our U.S.-based grantees and impact investees to better understand how our grantmaking and impact investments align with our values. Today, we are sharing the results and some initials next steps based on the findings.

Our Just Imperative calls on us to interrogate our decisions and actions to ensure that they enhance the conditions in which justice can thrive. …


Ryan Priester, Program Officer, Chicago Commitment, discusses our commitment to partner with communities to elevate their voices in Chicago’s civic life.

We seek to partner with communities to realize a shared vision of a more equitable Chicago. University of Chicago professor Robert Chaskin refers to this as building community capacity, leveraging existing human, organizational, and social capital to solve collective problems and improve the well-being of a community. The Chicago Commitment embraces this approach to investing in Vital Communities, which requires us to recognize various expertise, support collaboration, and align resources.

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, we were called upon to act quickly. Historical inequities that have stymied Chicago’s progress were compounded by the pandemic. Data revealed that the levels of infection and death mirrored the segregation and inequitable distribution of resources in the city. So we joined more than 30 local funders to establish the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund to support nonprofits that provide community safety nets. …

About

MacArthur Foundation

We support creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. ⚖🌿☮🌎

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