How to Be a Better Ally

Since its founding the Schott Foundation has worked to help build a broad-based movement to ensure all children have an opportunity to learn. Importantly, a movement led by the grassroots leaders in communities of color who are most impacted by educational inequities and other barriers to opportunity. It’s not arms-length philanthropy, but close working partnerships with our grantees and allies that undergirds all our work. Schott's Vice President of Programs & Advocacy, Edgar Villanueva, adds his insight in How To Be a Better Ally and Why It Matters.

More foundations are deepening their understanding of the racial disparities that exist in the U.S. and adapting their work to be more responsive to what communities need. It’s also important for individual donors to learn about these issues, as donors can address racial justice by becoming allies to communities of color.

Many people are only now beginning to understand how systemic discrimination contributed to the wealth divide in this country. According to Prosperity Now, approximately 70 percent of black and Latino households fall below the $68,000 wealth threshold needed for middle-class status, compared to 40 percent of white households. Without this economic foundation, many people of color continue to be locked out of opportunities across all facets of life, from education to employment.

“When you’re talking about generations of economic opportunity, we’re not starting out at the same place so you can’t really get to the same place,” said Leslie Boissiere, Vice President, External Affairs, Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Although philanthropy has tried to remedy large social problems with good intentions, it also perpetuated these disparities. For more than 70 years, the sector has mainly invested in large, white-led organizations and marginalized small organizations led by people of color, according to Edgar Villanueva, vice president of Programs and Policy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and author of Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance.

Despite these mistakes, philanthropy is still being embraced with the hope that we can all do better together.

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