Catalyzing Giving in Communities of Color
June 07 2017
WUGC co-chair Karla Muldowney (center) with Ed Fields (left), chair, community investment network and Mijo Lee, Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest.

WUGC co-chair Karla Muldowney (center) with Ed Fields (left), chair, community investment network and Mijo Lee, Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest.

In early May, I was asked to represent CFW as the chair of the Women United Giving Council (WUGC) as part of a panel for the Kellogg Foundation’s Catalyzing Community Giving Convening. The objective of the convening was to engage in dialogue and peer exchange with organizations that seek to expand philanthropy by and for communities of color, while also learning best practices for supporting donors of color. Racial equity was at the center of the convening, and more specifically what addressing and working towards racial equity looks like in our work.

As the chair of WUGC—which is one of two identity-based giving councils at CFW dedicated to providing grants to culturally specific organizations and programs benefiting diverse communities in the Chicago—I discussed the importance of intersectionality and the necessity of having identity-based giving councils. During the panel, Sustaining Efforts Across Community and Identity-Based Funds, I spoke about how we, WUGC, do our work through the intersection of gender and race and how we are part of a movement of women, specifically women and girls of color, who are, and have always been, giving back to our communities in a multitude of ways. Moreover, I highlighted and emphasized the need to continue to bring women of color to the table in the field of philanthropy, since women have been underrepresented in philanthropic support.

This is only a snippet of my experience participating on the panel. Overall, attending the convening was truly an impactful experience for me both professionally and personally. Not only did I have the privilege of learning about and talking to other organizations that are supporting donors of color and investing in expanding philanthropy for and by communities of color, but it reminded me how fortunate I am to be part of an organization like CFW, that is truly invested in the communities they serve and in creating visibility for voices and bodies who often are unrepresented or rendered invisible. It was a reminder of how critical and necessary the WUGC community is—how being active and a part of the WUGC community is one of the ways I choose to show my resistance. How, for me, my intersecting positionalities are honored and seen, and I am participating in a space where my voice is truly heard.

One of the woman I met at the convening said it best, “We are in a time where healing is colliding with action.” Now, more than ever, it’s vital we continue to ask ourselves how systematic injustices, like racism for example, are being perpetuated and continue to work towards dismantling systems of powers and narratives that render folks invisible. There is no progress unless we are all progressing together. Being able to participate in the Catalyzing Community Giving Convening was a holistic and healing experience for me in ways more ways then I described here. So, I end with a line from Aurora Levins Morales’ book, Medicine Stories: History, Culture and the Politics of Integrity, that beautifully sums up the feeling I still hold from this experience: “it is part of our task as revolutionary people, people who want deep-rooted, radical change, to be as whole as it is possible for us to be.”

Karla Muldowney is Chair of the Women United Giving Council at Chicago Foundation for Women