Advancing Efforts to Promote Racial Equity

Advancing Efforts to Promote Racial Equity

Public Welfare Foundation recently announced its new strategic framework, which focuses on an approach to justice that is community-led, restorative and racially just. With this goal, we are making strategic efforts to promote racial equity across all aspects of our work, including grantmaking.

As the communities our grantees serve become increasingly diverse, we wanted to better understand the composition and organizational make-up of our grantees. We believe this will encourage us all to think about the importance of organizational diversity for our collective racial justice goals.

Last fall, the Foundation collected data from our grantees through an online survey with questions focusing on racial and ethnic diversity at the board, executive director/CEO/president and other leadership staff levels. The survey was sent to the Foundation’s 2017 grantees as well as 2016 grantees with a grant cycle of more than 12 months.

The survey was sent out to 124 grantees, and 98 grantees responded, yielding a 79 percent response rate. The Foundation was interested in tracking the overall race or ethnic makeup of our partner organizations.

The chart below shows the race and ethnicity of the grantees’ top leadership position.


The following charts show racial and ethnic representation within grantee’s boards and other leadership staff. For example, 89 percent of the respondents have at least one White board member.

Public Welfare Foundation recognizes the importance of diversity in all its forms and asked grantees to also note diversity in other forms (e.g. sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, justice system involvement, English proficiency, and disability). Many of our criminal justice grantees reported having staff, board members, and consultants who have had direct or connected justice system experience.

We are grateful for the information our grantees provided, as this data not only gives insight to the field but also allows our grantees to compare themselves to other organizations.

The Foundation also surveyed our own staff and board to review and understand our own diversity.

Public Welfare Foundation (2018-19)
Race/Ethnicity Staff Board
Black/African American/African Descendant 46% 46%
White/Non-Hispanic 36% 28%
Asian/Asian American 18% 9%
Hispanic, Latino/a or Latinx 0% 18%


Like many in the field, the Foundation is learning the best practices for this type of data collection. PEAK Grantmaking’s Insight, Impact, and Equity – Collecting Demographic Data report noted that “the tool and taxonomy used to collect this data should be simple and align with the most up-to-date standard to ensure meaningful interpretation and shareable insights.” Conversations and data collection are happening around the field and, as more funders request data, it will be important to ensure a streamlined process for grantees.

While we will use data to track progress towards our racial justice goals, data collection is not the strategy in itself. We will continue to work internally, and with our grantees, to strengthen racial equity in our partner organizations and in the communities where we work.