commitment to equity

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A message from the Board Chair, Greg Wilkinson and President & CEO, Sharon Avery:  

September 2021

 

Bias, discrimination, oppression and racism continue to be realities in our city and 2020 saw a serious escalation. Our Vital Signs research shows that police-reported hate crimes overall increased by 51% in 2020 with crimes against the Jewish community the most frequently reported and the largest increases reported by the Asian/Chinese communities and Black communities. Police data is not yet available for 2021 but community and media reports of anti-Semitism spiked again in May of 2021. We are alarmed, saddened and moved to stronger action by this rise in hate that ultimately harms us all. As a community foundation we believe we have a responsibility to draw attention to these threats, to act on them through our work and to also ensure that we root them out within our own systems.

We acknowledge that as a community foundation, we are centred in a white-dominated philanthropic system, and we are two white leaders in that system. We have heard from some courageous fundholders, community leaders and stakeholders who are Black, Indigenous and otherwise of colour that Toronto Foundation has work to do for them to feel fully welcome. But we are also hearing that many of our white fundholders are committed to being more inclusive, to doing what is necessary to change philanthropic systems, and they are looking to us to provide support and leadership. While we have been using an equity lens in our work and have started to take action on our own diversity, equity and inclusion journey, we recognize that we need to do better. We are committed to making this moment count and being accountable for our role in contributing to lasting systemic change.

One of the values of Toronto Foundation is public trust above all. To live that value [and our commitment to justice and equity,] we need to be better than we are today by addressing the bias and barriers in our own systems and practices. As we do, we will continue to share our progress and learning with our stakeholders as we listen, learn and act to ensure that both our organization and philanthropy in this city are more equitable.

Our Commitment

Toronto Foundation acknowledges that multiple factors including colonialism, white privilege and structural racism result in the oppression of individuals and communities. We also acknowledge that discrimination and barriers for individuals and communities can also arise from other factors such as Indigeneity, gender, race, creed, disability, sexual orientation, and immigrant status. Toronto Foundation commits to taking actions to address bias, discrimination and racism in all our work, policies, programs and structures, with the goal of creating an inclusive organization.

As a leader in the nonprofit sector, Toronto Foundation has a unique role to play by being an advocate and partner in responding to barriers to equitable participation in all spheres of life.

Between 2018 and 2019 Toronto Foundation adopted this vision and purpose:

  • Vision: A city of informed, engaged philanthropists, accelerating meaningful change for all.
  • Purpose: We aim to create a more fair and just society where everyone can thrive by mobilizing those with resources and the will to partner with others.

The new philanthropy focuses on co-creating a society that fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of wellbeing and belonging, and promotes trust. Guided by this vision and purpose, Toronto Foundation will start a holistic review this year to address anti-racism/oppression and to uncover and address bias in program delivery, policies, human resource practices and governance structures. We will report back to our stakeholders on the results of this review and how we plan to address the findings.

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