Kelly BrownCalifornia’s Shift is a Wake Up Call for Philanthropy

By: Kelly Brown In: 2013 Fall Conference| Diversity and Inclusion| Philanthropy

23 Sep 2013

While folks here in California are no strangers to the earth moving beneath their feet, they are currently witnessing a seismic shift of another kind. Earlier this year, for the first time, the population of Latinos in California equaled the number of whites. And by early 2014, California will likely become the second state in which Latinos are the largest racial or ethnic group (New Mexico being the first).

As the population shifts, so too must the mindset and make-up of foundations and philanthropic organizations. A failure to do so risks alienating a new generation of leaders and donors who are coming of age in this new demographic landscape, but do not see it reflected in the philanthropic community.

According to the State of the Work report authored by the D5 Coalition, which seeks to grow diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy, only 4 percent of foundations have a Latino president or CEO, while only 7 percent of foundation boards/trustees are Latino. This underrepresentation could help explain why, according to the Foundation Center, U.S. foundation giving designated to benefit Latinos comprised only 1 percent of total foundation funding in the first decade of this century, despite the growth of the Latino population.

The problem of this underrepresentation could create a chasm between philanthropic organizations and the next generation of leaders with the energy and ideas required to tackle the challenges we face. If an organization’s boardroom lacks inclusiveness and diversity, the emerging leaders and donors may look for other channels through which to address challenges.

This disconnect comes at a critical time for the Latino community. The national Latino unemployment rate stands at 9.4 percent—two full percentage points higher than the national rate. And while the Pew Research Center has found that the college enrollment rate of Latino high school graduates is at a record high, Latinos are less likely to be enrolled in a 4-year institution, enrolled in college full-time or complete a bachelor’s degree.

The example of the growing Latino community is just one example of our shifting demographics. I am encouraged by the fact that we do have multi-generational leaders focused on keeping philanthropy ahead of the game. Their insights into how important diversity, equity, and inclusion are to this next generation of leaders are an essential part of the conversation we will have during the Council on Foundation’s Fall Conference in San Diego. California’s seismic demographic shift provides the perfect backdrop against which to have this discussion.

To stay ahead of these trends, we need to better commit to the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion. By bringing new voices and expertise to the table, philanthropy is more effective at advancing the common good, more reflective of the current landscape and more relevant to the next generation of leaders and donors working to promote the common good.

Kelly Brown is the Director of the D5 Coalition.

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