RECAP: 2021 Racial Equity and Philanthropy Panel

Vaughn Sayers
May 20, 2021
Programs & Research

On February 3, 2021, the Nonprofit Leadership Program and the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania co-sponsored a panel on Racial Equity and Philanthropy. The panel featured three speakers: Matt Stephenson, Founder and CEO of Austin-based nonprofit Code2College; Iimay Ho, Executive Director of the membership organization Resource Generation; and Abhishek Bhati, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University. Each speaker brought their unique perspectives about the current state of philanthropy, its complicated relationship with white supremacy, and the possibilities for a more equitable philanthropic and nonprofit space going forward. The panel was moderated by Kat Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director of the Center for High-Impact Philanthropy. Read more about the speakers at the bottom of this page. 

Panelists argued that, through reflection, philanthropy can dismantle systems driven by white supremacy by adopting a racial justice lens when grantmaking. Donors and grantmaking organizations must shift from a charity-driven mindset to one built through active listening. By listening and engaging with the issues, these individuals and organizations can learn the nuances associated with systemic challenges. This prevents the practice of haphazardly giving from a sense of guilt, resulting in a disengagement from the issues at hand. 

A racial justice approach to grantmaking trusts in the experience of those philanthropy aims to serve, building solutions with the community. It is critical to distribute the power to control and allocate capital by increasing unrestrictive grantmaking and diversifying an organization’s board and staff. Philanthropy’s way forward is through candid conversation, evaluating implicit bias in funding patterns, and seeding power in those most expert on the issues: member’s of the community one aims to serve. Watch a recording of that conversation here. Be on the lookout for more insightful conversations during CSIS’s 2021 Summer Workshop Series.

Dr. Abhishek Bhati

Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University

Dr. Abhishek Bhati is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Bowling Green State University. His research focuses on nonprofit studies, international development, and global politics. Abhishek is a former Social Impact Strategy Doctoral Fellow at the School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in nonprofit and public administration journals such as Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, and Journal of Behavioral Public Administration and The Foundation Review. 


Iimay Ho Iimay

Executive Director at Resource Generation

Iimay Ho Iimay joined the Resource Generation staff as Associate Director in August 2014 and became the Executive Director in January of 2017. They are passionate about organizing wealthy people into a cross-class movement for liberation. Prior to Resource Generation, they spent three years as the Director of Operations and Finance at The Management Center. Born and raised in North Carolina, Iimay was politicized through interning with Southerners on New Ground (SONG). They moved to the Washington, DC area in 2008 to work for OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates. 

iimay ho

Matt Stephenson

Co-Founder & CEO of Code2College

Matt Stephenson is the Co-Founder & CEO of Code2College, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the rate of historically underserved students attending and completing STEM undergraduate degree programs and entering STEM careers. Matt started his career in K-12 education as a high school math teacher and later a Leadership Fellow at Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, CT. Next, he joined NewSchools Venture Fund as an Associate Partner. Matt later joined KIPP Austin Public Schools as Director of Finance managing a district budget of over $50M.

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Katherina ‘Kat’ M. Rosqueta

Founding Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy

Moderator: Katherina ‘Kat’  M. Rosqueta is the founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Founded as a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice and alumni of the Wharton School, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy is the premier source of knowledge and education to help donors around the world do more good. She has held numerous civic leadership positions, currently serving as vice-chair of the board of Candid (recent merger of Foundation Center and Guidestar), the world’s largest source of information on nonprofits and foundations.  In addition, she serves on the national board of Greenlight Fund, a venture philanthropy fund dedicated to addressing urgent social needs cities around the United States,  and co-chairs Greenlight Fund Philadelphia.

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