Mekaelia Davis Q&A with Economic Opportunity Funders

The following excerpt is from an interview between Economic Opportunity Funders Network and Mekaelia DavisProgram Director, Inclusive Economies, Surdna Foundation:

What is the mission of your foundation, and how does addressing economic equity and opportunity fit?

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures.

To advance our mission, we work to increase democratic participation, wealth creation, and public and private accountability. In our Inclusive Economies portfolio, this means building inclusive and equitable economies where people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators, and innovators across sectors.

How has COVID-19 and the current public outcry for racial justice and structural racism reforms impacted your grant-making? How are you shifting your strategies to meet this moment? 

For years, Surdna has supported solutions to dismantling the policies, behaviors, and cultural drivers that have produced racial injustices over generations. In 2018, Surdna explicitly focused its grant-making strategies on addressing structural racism. This focus informed our grant-making decisions during COVID, beginning with recognizing the challenges our processes created for grantee-partners. In response, we streamlined our grant operations to reduce burdensome administrative demands for our partners.

We continuously work to get as proximate to folks most impacted by structural racism and, in our efforts to do so, changed our multi-year grant policy from three to six years to recognize the time it takes to build power and grow movements that are led by impacted communities.

Finally, our Board authorized an increase to our grant-making budget through 2023 to give grantee-partners breathing room to respond to this moment. This decision focused on supporting the work of existing partners – organizations that have been leading the way for years on racial equity and social justice.

Read the full interview