Environmental Funders Gather to Deepen Personal, Institutional Commitments to Racial Equity

Birmingham, AL – On March 5 and 6, leaders from U.S. foundations gathered for the Embedding Equity Community of Practice (EECoP), which centers racial equity as core to systems change and facilitates longer-term transformation across environmental philanthropy.

The EECoP is a program of the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Environmental Philanthropy (InDEEP) initiative. Its goal is to increase the allocation of funding to environmental organizations led by people of color.

The EECoP is convened by Keecha Harris and Associates Inc (KHA), a firm that leads professional development offerings spanning $98 billion (12 percent) of the $890 billion in U.S.-based philanthropic assets. The EECoP of InDEEP is designed to address issues cited in Dr. Dorceta Taylor’s studies that highlight the overwhelming lack of racial and ethnic diversity in environmental leadership and decision making.

The EECoP is a learning community that provides career development support to grantmaking professionals over a two-year period. Twelve leaders from four foundations and an InDEEP partner organization, representing more than $11.8 billion in assets, met over two days in Portland, Oregon. EECoP members participated in a series of curated activities, covering topics such as white fragility, power and leadership and courageous conversations on race.

InDEEP has been supported by 15 organizations including the McKnight, Mertz-Gilmore, Walton Family and the Doris Duke Charitable foundations. Since 2016, InDEEP has convened 349 individuals from 129 foundations and six philanthropy-serving organizations through webinars, in-person events, technical assistance and its community of practice.  

In a 2018 InDEEP assessment, 70 percent of respondents reported that new professional contacts related to race, inclusion and diversity was the top benefit of participation. As one respondent noted, “InDEEP has helped to normalize conversations about race in environmental philanthropy.”

“It’s vital to take time to explore our personal and institutional commitments to racial equity,” said InDEEP Director Dr. Keecha Harris.

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This initiative provides vital time and space for decision-makers to contemplate new possibilities and leadership pathways for the environmental movement. According to Harris, “by participating with a group of their peers across philanthropy, participants are able to gain confidence in their ability to create and mobilize a more inclusive environment both at the organizational and sectoral levels.”

InDEEP has additional webinars and convenings planned for 2019. The EECoP will convene next in late May at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, California. Environmental grantmakers who would like to participate in a racial equity primer session on May 28 can register to do so by May 13.

Learn more at www.indeepinitiative.org.


As a national consulting firm, Keecha Harris and Associates, Inc (KHA) leads organizational development, project management and evaluation projects for publicly and privately funded efforts across a broad range of topics. Clients include the Annie E. Casey, Robert Wood Johnson, W.K. Kellogg, William and Flora Hewlett, David and Lucile Packard, Schmidt Family and Energy foundations, as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). KHA is United States Small Business Administration 8(a) certified and woman-owned business based in Birmingham, Alabama.

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