Our fourth blog post in the series comes from Shelley Hoss, President & CEO of the Orange County Community Foundation. The Orange County Community Foundation is a member of Orange County Grantmakers.
A Commitment to Justice and Equity
By Shelley Hoss
At the Orange County Community Foundation, where I have had the honoring of serving for more than 20 years, our mission begins, “to inspire a passion for lifelong philanthropy”— or according to Merriam-Webster, goodwill to fellow members of the human race, through active effort. The word’s Greek roots define philanthropy as “love of mankind.”
It boils down to this: Philanthropy is love in action.
On June 5, as cries for justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death shook our nation and the world, OCCF recognized a call to action—in service to our donors, nonprofit partners and the Orange County community – to make public our commitment to create equity of opportunity, fuel educational and economic progress, support racial healing, and build a more just and civil society – starting in our own community.
To help launch this work, OCCF’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Tammy Tumbling, founded the African American Alliance Fund on June 19 to support African American communities in Orange County and beyond. With an outpouring of community support, the Alliance Fund has grown nearly seven-fold since June, and recently awarded three initial grants in the priority areas of education, health, human services, economic development and civic engagement.
In July, OCCF’s Board of Governors formed a Racial Justice and Equity Work Group committed to helping create an Orange County where all of our residents have the opportunity to thrive. This Work Group has been meeting regularly throughout the summer, and is now launching initiatives on three primary fronts: Learning & Strategy, Economic Opportunity and Educational Equity.
Our Learning and Strategy group is beginning with an organizational learning process. What is implicit bias? What is the historical context of racial inequities that persist both locally and nationally? What strategies do we need to employ to move forward? Ultimately, the group is exploring models to move the needle on equity aligned with Orange County’s specific demographics, needs and resources.
Our Economic Opportunity sub-group is prioritizing minority-owned small businesses. Our first effort is to build pathways for minority business leaders and entrepreneurs to connect with untapped resources – including intellectual and financial capital – that may be difficult to identify or access. As we build access to resources that fuel the success of minorty-owned businesses, we will benefit not only small business owners but those throughout our community who they employ.
And through our Educational Equity group, we are taking a systemic approach to addressing the complex set of factors that result in educational inequities. This group will focus on disparities in school readiness, the digital divide, parental engagement and other impediments to academic achievement to fuel students’ success in school and beyond.
We are committed to exploring all the ways in which OCCF can leverage its knowledge, experience, resources and relationships to create a more equitable Orange County, and look forward to working with our many partners in the philanthropic sector toward this end.
As Nelson Mandela said, “As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”
Let’s get to work!