Dear partners, colleagues, and friends,
In 2012, when the Perrin Family Foundation dedicated itself to resourcing youth-led social change efforts across the state of Connecticut, we knew the work would demand a long-haul commitment.
This past year has made abundantly clear what communities are up against in our collective quest for social and racial justice. A global pandemic that has laid bare the race and class inequities deeply rooted in all our systems and structures – from health care to education to housing and more. An unceasing assault on People of Color: Black people who are targeted, criminalized, and killed by law enforcement while jogging, sleeping, shopping, and while simply existing and the recent act of violence in Atlanta, a perpetuation of America’s historical degradation of People of Asian Descent. An ongoing climate crisis contributing to wildfires and “weather events” that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. A direct attack on the very tenets of our democratic process, enacted with a violent assault on the nation’s Capitol following the outcome of an historic presidential election.
We must unflinchingly name the common denominator: the insidious ideology of white supremacy that animates and perpetuates racist beliefs and practices while undergirding the structural racism prevalent in all our institutions – including those in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Our foundation is no exception.
The Perrin Family Foundation has long grappled with what it means to align our own governance structures with our mission. As a family foundation, our institution has been governed by a Board of white family members with significant class privilege. The youth and young adult organizers whose work we support are seeking to transform power structures. What distinguishes our own governance structure from those young people seek to change elsewhere?
Over the past two years, the Perrin Family Foundation has taken concrete steps to evolve. In the summer of 2018, we convened a Strategy Council, an intergenerational team of youth and community stakeholders and changemakers, to help ensure our work was informed, strategic, and accountable. In December of 2019, our Board voted to transition all of our grantmaking authority and power to our Strategy Council. And now, we are delighted to welcome three members of our Strategy Council members – Kerry Ellington, Jahnice Cajigas and Twylah Greaves – onto our governing Board. Please read on, below, to hear their reflections on joining the Board.
We recognize that these shifts in our practice and governance are not an end point, but a starting point in our work to advance social and racial justice. Over the next year, our Foundation will continue to engage in its own internal learning, reflection and growth. In addition, we are embarking on the development of a new strategic plan. When PFF began funding youth organizing work, there were no other foundations in our state doing so. Now, as a result of our field building and funder advocacy efforts, there are numerous youth organizing groups winning local and statewide campaigns across our state, and their work is being supported by dozens of philanthropic colleagues in Connecticut and beyond. This year we will build on our field publications by conducting an impact report to examine how the landscape of youth-led social change has evolved over the past decade and explore how to make it even stronger in the years ahead.
Our commitment to supporting young people as leaders of social change is enduring. We look forward to engaging you – our partners and stakeholders – as we determine how the Perrin Family Foundation can best activate the full complement of our institutional capital and power to do justice to the future that young people are so clearly demanding.
Laura McCargar, President Sheila Perrin, Board Chair