Equity in the Center
At Cone Health Foundation, significant bodies of work are progressing to underpin and guide the Foundation’s future strategic direction. Racial justice and the events of 2020 have made candid conversations more important than ever. There is great need, in our community and across the country, to address the connection between structural racism, health and societal inequities.
Susan Shumaker, Foundation president in front of downtown Greensboro muralcreated in the spring of 2020.
Our planning process comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities and the resulting economic crisis has put immense strain on our grantee partners and community-based organizations working on the front lines. “The Foundation is called to do its work in a different way,” said Susan Shumaker, Foundation president.
One of our partners is MDC, a Durham-based nonprofit that equips southern leaders, institutions, and communities to advance equity and improve economic mobility. Founded over 50 years ago, MDC has a historic commitment to removing systemic barriers that hold back economically marginalized people. The goal is to help Cone Health Foundation develop the focus, strategy, capacity, and culture to further advance equity.
Cone Health Foundation is also joining with eleven other southern foundations as part of the Awake to Woke to Work cohort program presented by Equity in the Center. Equity in the Center works to “shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Equity in the Center envisions a future where nonprofit and philanthropic organizations advance equity internally while centering their work externally.”
In addition to our grantmaking, the Foundation’s endowment is a powerful tool which can be leveraged to achieve positive social change. A search process is underway to select a new investment advisor with significant expertise in impact investing. Our new advisor will incorporate an environmental, social and governance (ESG) lens into our investment decisions to promote sustainable and equitable practices. The result will be a values-aligned portfolio with opportunities to identify future program-related investments to maximize our impact.
We recognize that we are on a journey. We understand that we will encounter challenges, gain new perspectives, and learn to see ourselves, our community and partners in new and different ways. Stay tuned as we move toward authentic practice that is accountable to those we serve.