Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared here.
Hate has no place in our work.
Many of us have been saddened, confused and angered by recent events highlighting the fractures in our society and community fabric. The fissures created by hate highlight the need for more dialogue and more engagement, not less. We value love, patience, inclusion and teamwork. We value diverse voices and diverse perspectives.
Athlete and sports team protests, Tiki torches, monuments and/or gun violence have ignited more open conversations about racism, bigotry, root causes and possible steps. These conversations yield opinions of many perspectives and we, as a community stakeholder, appreciate those perspectives. We recognize the impact of history on the movements of today. Our region (Richmond, Virginia specifically and the South, generally) was the seat of the confederacy and that, segregation in schools, red lining and other past public policies have consequences that have echoed and magnified for generations. Coincidence that we continue to see downward mobility in marginalized communities here? Coincidence we read that particular evidence in grant proposals on the plight of children and families struggling against 39% child poverty in the City of Richmond? Every day, people living in poverty make heartbreaking decisions between affording rent or childcare, food or shelter, safety or healthcare.
Can we do better?
To help combat racism, bigotry and historical root causes, philanthropy in general could and should celebrate and include more voices and more tolerance for doing things differently. Philanthropy could and should begin to address governance in a way to include more of those voices, through outreach to those most impacted by the work and funding. Those we serve should always have voice and a seat at the table. Philanthropy could and should change our funding and decision making processes to include partnerships with smaller, grassroots community organizations on the front lines of change.
We could and should make new efforts to right past wrongs and at the same time provide new pathways toward new learnings. We need new ways of building relationships across previous barriers. We need to talk more to each other. Many voices… many paths forward.
We do not speak for philanthropy as a sector, or philanthropy in the Richmond region, we do speak for the almost six decades of family service and philanthropy on these pages. We pledge to leverage our resources for positive and equitable transformation and against hate and the root causes that divide us now. We are humbled to announce an enhanced vision and mission, crafted over months of board conversation and retreat.
The Robins Foundation will advance the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations, and education, all of which will serve as a model for creating an environment of opportunity for everyone to thrive.
Our Mission (and our commitment to YOU)
To lead transformational change in the greater Richmond community by listening, learning, and engaging through innovative philanthropy that inspires solutions to society’s greatest challenges.
We are Moved to Share
Our legacy of philanthropy stems from a belief in education and local community. It is the belief that, “education is the solution to the problems in our society – nothing (sic) is more important for success and more important for a happy life than a good education.” (Founder, E. Claiborne Robins, Sr.)
We have committed to a deeper focus on education with the expectation that a focus on an “education pipeline” could lead to better outcomes and a decrease in some of the poverty indicators vexing this region.
At Robins Foundation, our board and staff aspires to connect equity with transformational change for children and families across our region. We are reflecting on opportunities in our own organization. This includes our governance, our management and our process of funding. This includes raising our awareness and deeper understanding of the past and its influence on dialogues locally and beyond. We recognize that much is expected of and required of philanthropy, and we recognize that many times, we need to change the most.
We will continue to support and bolster our efforts that reverse the outcomes of systemic problems that have set the lives of our region’s youth on a track towards poverty. We will leverage our resources – our grants, our thought leadership, our partnerships, our flexibility, our space, and our appetite for innovative, new ways to solve old problems. We will use our voice and we will be intentional. We will tackle poverty by increasing access to opportunities through the organizations we support. We will use partnerships, innovation and equity as lenses to achieve our vision.
We believe education is the great equalizer. Our work will address social, economic and structural conditions to enhance equitable education outcomes across the region.
We believe in community and the shared experiences and assets from every neighborhood. We believe access, opportunity and expectation help children and families thrive.
Hate has no place in our work. Partnership, innovation and equity do.