The Tzedek Equity Learning Circle is an exploratory initiative offered to Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship host organizations that have completed an anti-oppression audit facilitated by The Adaway Group. Anti-oppression audits were offered to the host organizations that participated in the Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship program during the 2017-2018 Fellowship year. The Equity Learning Circle is designed to support organizations in experimenting with innovative approaches to building equity. Within the Equity Learning Circle, organizations discern the next best steps in addressing the gaps in equity identified by the anti-oppression audit and cultivate a community of learning and accountability with other Asheville nonprofit leaders. Each participating organization will receive $50,000 in funding to implement the plans developed within this circle.
At the Amy Mandel Katina Rodis Fund (AMKRF), we acknowledge that while many organizations realize the importance of equity, they are rarely given the tools and financial support needed to make decisions that challenge Asheville’s status quo. As a result, local nonprofit leadership is primarily white, straight and cisgender, and marginalized communities continuously report feeling disenfranchised by the organizations that purport to address their needs.
AMKRF believes that the key in helping Asheville move from theory to practice in equity building is in supporting nonprofit leaders as they make room at the table for groups that have been historically underrepresented in nonprofit leadership and building systems for authentic community accountability.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which organizations are eligible to participate?
The Circle is only open to past Tzedek host organizations that have completed an anti-oppression audit by The Adaway Group. AMKRF will reach out to the directors of eligible organizations.
Why an Equity Learning Circle?
The Equity Learning Circle is a follow-up to the anti-oppression audits offered to Tzedek host organizations in 2018. As a member of the equity circle, organizational leaders will explore best practices in developing equity in organizations, learn from the brilliance and wisdom of peers living and working in Asheville, and collaborate to develop sustainable responses to the gaps in equity revealed by the anti-oppression audits.
What does the Equity Circle include?
- Six three-hour gatherings to explore and strategize next steps towards building equity in our organizations facilitated by Heather Laine Talley and Marsha Davis.
- An additional 3 hour pre-workshop, “How White People can Interrupt White Supremacy Culture,” for white participants.
- 5 – 10 hours of additional work/reading in between each session
- Coaching from AMKRF staff as requested in building an individualized Equity Improvement Plan for each organization.
- $50,000 per organization to support the implementation of the Equity Improvement Plan.
What is the schedule for the Circle?
- The Circle will meet monthly from May – October 2019 for 3 hours.
- The 5 – 10 hours of additional work/reading in between sessions is self-guided based on your schedule
- The final dates/times for each session will be determined by the members of the Circle.
How can ELC members spend this funding?
Participants in the Equity Learning Circle will develop strategies to increase equity in their organizations. Funds are used in whatever fashion the organization determines they can be best used. Organizations are responsible for ensuring that they comply with IRS guidelines when using these funds.
Examples of possible uses include: raises to frontline staff to ensure that all staff make a living wage, compensating a community advisory board to provide accountability for your organization, paying for interpretation/translation of services, general operating support to free up staff to work on building a more equitable internal culture.
How/When is the funding dispersed?
$25,000 will be dispersed after the 3rd session in July 2019 and the remaining funds will be dispersed after the 6th session in October 2019.
What are the expectations for participating organizations?
- Each organization selects 2 – 3 participants (staff or board members) to join the Equity Learning Circle. Participants must include one executive level staff member. Additional participants can include one board member.
- The Circle is built with the understanding that leaders have limited time. Each organization must have at least one representative present at each session in order to receive funding. This allows for individual participants to have the flexibility to miss a session if necessary, while ensuring that their organization is still able to benefit from the full process.
- Equity Learning Circle will meet monthly from April to September.
- Each participating organization will be invited to host one meeting at their office space.
- Each organization will share reflection on their experience in the ELC by December 2019 through a blog post published on the AMKRF website. The goal of these posts is to model transparency and to invite community accountability in the equity building process.
- Participants are expected to bring concrete ideas for growing equity in their organization to each session and to provide/receive constructive feedback on their peers’ plans.
- Participants must be open to testing innovative approaches to equity that may challenge their organization’s current operating procedures.
- Organizations are invited to share the results of their equity audit with participants of the learning circle.
- Please note that the only requirements to receive funding are attendance and participation in the Circle and completion of an Equity Improvement Plan.
What if we are not successful? Will we have to return or pay back the funding?
As of 2019, no organization we know of has achieved the goal of being a completely equitable organization. This type of work will last generations. As such, we consider ELC members to be successful if they have experimented with innovative solutions and have reflected on the impact of those solutions.
What are the grant reporting requirements?
There are no formal grant reporting requirements, however, ELC organizations are expected to write up reflections on this process for the AMKRF blog as a first step in inviting Asheville to help hold them accountable in continuing this work.
What if we can only send one participant to the ELC?
It is extremely difficult to shift the culture of an organization when the burden for designing and implementing changes falls on one staff person. Having at least two participants per organization join this process provides a built-in support system for this important work. Organizations that can only send one participant are welcome to join the learning process but will not be eligible for funding.
Is the Equity Learning Circle a recurring program of AMKRF?
AMKRF is currently engaging in a community research process to best determine how to support equity-building efforts in Asheville. While the process will not be completed until the end of 2019, we are not comfortable withholding funds from our community when there is so much work to be done. The ELC is one of three pilot programs that we are launching in 2019 in response to preliminary data from our community research process. We cannot guarantee that this program will reoccur in the future.