IPA Blog

Inclusive Community Leadership

Monday, August 21, 2023
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This blog was written by Tina Patton, VP/director of nonprofit and foundation engagement for Indiana Trust Wealth Management, to provide an inside look into her Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute class.


The August Mutz session at Bosma Enterprises certainly did not disappoint. The day began with a treat of kolaches for breakfast and learning about their origin.

Our host, Bosma Enterprises, serves the visually impaired and blind. We were given a tour of its manufacturing facility, where they train and employ blind and low-vision individuals. The tour was conducted by visually impaired tour guides who walked us through the facility with ease. The guides told us that 71% of individuals with visual impairments and blindness are unemployed. 

Aaron Eckhardt, principal partner and founder of EckCo, led many of the sessions. He promised to take us on a journey—and that he did. I’ve attempted to capture the most memorable quotes and anecdotes from our distinguished speakers here.

"Being uncomfortable is not equal to being unsafe. If we’re uncomfortable, we’re learning It’s ok to be uncomfortable. The dialogue is more important than the answer."
-Aaron Eckhardt

The day’s journey focused on inclusive community leadership. In the first session, Eckhardt emphasized the importance of dialogue and discomfort in learning. He assured us that throughout the day, we might get uncomfortable, but it would be ok. 

Eckhardt took us through the “impact of silence” exercise and introduced concepts like intersectionality and the wheel of power/privilege. The goal was to promote active engagement and create a cultural shift towards inclusivity.

The next session, moderated by Darryl Lockett, health equity director at Anthem, looked at the complexities of achieving racial equity through philanthropy. The panel included Charlotte Hawthorne, director of social impact from Eli Lilly& Company; Willis K. Bright, Jr., co-director of the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative, who focused on corporate and private philanthropy initiatives; and Jasmine Haywood, strategy director for student success for Lumina Foundation, whose work involves funding four-year colleges and universities.

Lockett set the tone by posing a thought-provoking question: "How do we reach across the racial barriers that allow the world to separate us?" The emphasis was on dismantling these barriers and building connections.

Bright began by defining racial equity as a state where every citizen has equal access to resources, opportunities, and outcomes, regardless of background. He noted that racial equity requires equitable access to information, tools, and levers, with shared outcomes for everyone.

"Racial equity is defined as a condition or a state of being where all citizens are viewed as citizens with inherent rights obligation and responsibilities."
-Willis Bright

Haywood expanded on the concept of equity and outcomes, challenging the idea that post-secondary outcomes should be determined by factors like race or gender. She spoke about justice as going beyond equity and involving repairing the systemic issues that led to these disparities in the first place.

The difficulty of acknowledging historical injustices was addressed. One challenge cited was the lack of proper education that obscures these injustices, resulting in ongoing struggles to confront and rectify them.

The impact of historical injustices was exemplified through housing, identified as a fundamental factor in segregation. The session then transitioned to discussing the role of philanthropy in promoting racial equity. Haywood emphasized a holistic approach involving social determinants of health, access to education, and affordable housing.

The conversation explored whether financial contributions could heal trauma. Dr. Haywood referenced the concept of "decolonizing wealth," which underscores philanthropy's role in addressing past wrongs and involving marginalized communities in shaping change.

The importance of accurate data and databases was highlighted as crucial for effective solutions. The panelists also stressed minimizing barriers to grant access and funding.

Bright discussed equity as removing the curtain on decision-making processes and fostering transparency. The conversation then turned to Lumina Foundation's actions, focusing on HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges & Universities] and collaborative efforts to drive change.

Bright's framework outlined the necessity of consensus among stakeholders to address community challenges effectively. The panel concluded with a discussion on the distinctions between requests for information (RFI) and requests for proposals (RFP), underscoring the impact on proposal quality and stakeholder engagement.

The session offered comprehensive insights into the multifaceted nature of advancing racial equity through strategic philanthropic leadership.

The third session, Inclusive Leadership That Builds Upward Mobility, featured a panel (moderated by Eckhardt) of John Mutz, former Lt. Governor and founder of the Mutz Institute; Jenni Marsh, president/CEO of Heart of Indiana United Way; and David Hampton, executive director of LISC Indianapolis.

The panel discussed the factors that impact economic mobility. Hampton explained LISC's mission to enhance upward mobility by investing in underserved neighborhoods and addressing disparities. Initiatives include Anthem grants for food insecurity, affordable housing, and supporting small businesses, all aimed at reducing racial wealth gaps and improving quality of life. 

"Your ZIP code should not determine your quality of life."
-David Hampton

Marsh highlighted efforts to empower financial stability, education, and health, such as collaborating with third graders' reading development and providing a path out of poverty for children through the Thrive Network, and offering services like income support coaching, financial coaching, and education/employment coaching to bolster safety nets.

Mutz emphasized the significant role leaders play in promoting equitable growth. This includes advocating for modeling desired behavior, even deviating from policies when human needs demand it. It also means stressing the impact of individual leadership and the potential to contribute to the cause in meaningful ways. He noted that a leader’s goal is to model the kind of behavior you hope to take place.

"Your goal is to model the kind of behavior you hope to take place."
-John Mutz

The journey continued with how philanthropic organizations can partner with governments and nonprofits to enhance upward mobility. Marsh emphasized the need for collaboration, while Hampton highlighted strategic partnerships and studying the needs of funded organizations. He stressed the importance of coalitions, trial-and-error learning, and building upon successes. He also noted the importance of development without displacement.

The conversation shifted to addressing gaps and rebuilding trust within communities. Acknowledgment that supporting initiatives may yield uncertain outcomes, but faith and trust in philanthropy institutions are vital. The emphasis on rekindling love in communities and addressing unaddressed trauma concludes the session.

The final session—What I Wish My Funders Knew—was an open dialogue on what nonprofit leaders wish their funders understood about their organizations. The journey continued exploring the dynamics and challenges in the relationship between grantmakers and grantees.

The final panel consisted of Samantha Douglas, president of the Far Eastside Community Council and grassroots community advocate; Greg Keesling, CEO of Recycle Force; and Chrissy Petersen, executive director of Westminster Neighborhood Services.

The session provided a refreshing and transparent conversation, shedding light on the perspectives of both funders and nonprofit leaders, ultimately aiming for more effective collaborations and impactful outcomes.

There was a discussion about the qualities of effective funders: 

  • Douglas highlighted the importance of flexibility in addressing evolving community needs. She mentioned Indianapolis funders' use of ambassadors. 
  • Petersen values strong relationships with funders, regularly meeting to discuss challenges and solutions. She also discussed the cumbersome grant application process, where repeating questions creates difficulties.
  • Eckhardt chimed in, emphasizing the need for application simplicity to prevent organizations from missing out on valuable opportunities due to complex processes.
  • The word “trust” emerged again as a crucial factor in the funding process. 

The group concluded by talking about ways funders can support nonprofit organizations.
Keesling discussed the importance of the foundation's accessibility for discussions and assistance. Petersen highlights funders as advocates, while Samantha emphasizes the importance of connections and addressing gaps through relationships rather than excessive paperwork.

"We know who in our community has the jacked up whys."
-Samantha Douglas, reflecting on community’s real needs and challenges

The importance of executive-level relationship building is underscored, and suggestions are made for funders to embrace operational funding and explore starting businesses to support operations.

As the group concluded, they looked at these keys to success to enhance relationships between grantors and grantees:

  • Emphasis on consistency and multi-year commitments
  • Exploring partnerships with others and 
  • Fostering transparent conversations between granters and grantees 

Our journey was complete!

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