Bay Area Early Childhood Funders


Racial Equity in Grantmaking


In 2021, ECF embarked on a path to more fully address and elevate racial equity in early childhood philanthropy. ECF is hosting a series of safe-space Learning Sessions for its members, developed a Racial Equity Framework to guide its work, and began to collect resources for ECF members interested in furthering their own racial equity work. ECF is committed to placing intentional focus on racial equity in all of its activities.

Racial Equity Learning Sessions

  • December 5, 2023: Facilitated by consultants Shiree Teng and Ernesto Saldaña
  • The Learning Session kicked off with participants meeting in small groups, reflecting on a favorite cooked meal. Following this exercise, Shiree led a discussion about decolonizing love for self and others and participants broke into small discussion groups to identify pivotal moments that shaped their own sense of self. Ernesto then shared a PowerPoint on coaching and the importance of asking curious and empowering questions. Following this presentation, participants were placed into dyads where each person had the opportunity to coach and be coached, aimed at developing their racial equity leadership skills. Participants were encouraged to ask “what” and “how” questions: “What is important about this for you? How are you feeling? What do you want? What is possible? What is a small bite-sized step you can start with?” Following the coaching exercise participants shared gems from their coaching experience with the full group. Participants shared that even a short amount of time to meet and share with one another makes a difference, slowing down enough to be reminded of their own value and the importance of connection.


  • October 3, 2023, Facilitated by consultants Shiree Teng and Ernesto Saldaña

    Participants started the meeting in small groups, reflecting on a geographic marker, location or physical space/place that represented/belonged to them. Following this exercise, participants participated in a “Wise Counsel” process, whereby two ECF members shared issues that they are grappling with and asked for feedback from their “wise counsel” of peers. Jessica Avendaño with Sunlight Giving Foundation asked “what is the value and best use of collected data” in order to promote the foundation’s commitment to equity? Robert Medina from Sobrato Philanthropies raised the question about how to best connect language and racial justice. Participants self-selected into one of the two groups for an in-depth discussion. The last exercise had participants (family and public foundation representatives) split into two groups reflecting on what they want to do more or, what they don’t want to do, and what they aspire and dream of how they want to do this important racial equity work.

    Please see the PDF highlights for much more information.

  • June 6, 2023: Facilitated by consultants Shiree Teng and Ernesto Saldaña

    ECF was happy to relaunch its Racial Equity Learning Sessions. ECF members shared they wanted the sessions to be driven by two things: first, more time to further “dip their toes” into vulnerability and connect with one another as peers engaging in racial equity, and, second, to continue to learn of promising practices that integrate racial equity into grant making.

    Connecting with Peers
    This first session featured two brief processes to connect participants to one another. We began with small groups where participants shared their earliest memory about race. Next, in dyads, members went deeper and they posed three questions to one another reflecting on 1) “who are you,” 2) “who do you pretend to be,” and 3) “who do you think I am?” in their leadership identities.

    Community Engagement Presentation by the Heising-Simons Foundation
    With these wonderful connections made, participants then enthusiastically pivoted to learn more from their peers at the Heising-Simons Foundation about their ongoing community engagement work. September Jarrett, Malia Ramler, Afreyea Tolbert, and Andrea Michel shared their learning and challenges. Some of their specific learnings included:

    • Parents and providers are most proximate to the challenges and are best positioned to reimagine and improve an early childhood systems.
    • This work takes much learning as well as unlearning some “traditional” practices and actively working to decenter foundations.
    • This is long term work with relatively short term grants.
    • Video submissions have helped elevate grassroots practitioners’ powerful stories as well as streamlined the selection process and broadened and diversified the Foundation’s networks.

  • ECF July 28, 2021 Learning Session: Liberatory Designs and Strategic Thinking
  • ECF April 30, 2021 Learning Session: Grantee/Community Engagement Conversation
  • ECF March 18, 2021 Learning Session: Racial Equity in Grantmaking Conversation #1
    • Audio (click to play or right-click to download)




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