Op-Ed: Creating a Vibrant York County for Everyone

Op-Ed: Creating a Vibrant York County for Everyone

“Change is difficult, but often essential to survival.” – Les Brown

The York County Community Foundation (YCCF) is dedicated to taking the necessary steps toward advancing racial equity in our community. As an organization, we are doing the work to identify the fundamental changes that are needed to allow YCCF to move in alignment with our vision; a growing, prosperous and united community where all have unsurpassed opportunities to thrive. This vision, which serves as a driving force for our work, cannot be achieved when members of our community have limited access to healthcare, educational opportunities, and financial well-being, as a result of their race.

YCCF’s mission is to engage donors, provide leadership and build an endowment to create a more vibrant community. Currently, we are home to over 650 different endowed funds that were created by donors to generate annual grants to benefit the charities and causes they are passionate about. In addition, our donors have helped create the Fund for York County to tackle chronic challenges that hold our community back. The fund currently focuses on improving educational outcomes for children, increasing access to job training and placement and revitalizing neighborhoods and downtown. Our staff continuously reaches out to community organizations to identify projects that can have a meaningful impact and then our diverse group of volunteers evaluate those projects and award grants.

YCCF recognizes that we must work in new ways to address the chronic challenges within our community. A May 2020 report by the Bridgespan Group called Racial Equity in Philanthropy, reported that the two biggest factors that hold back philanthropy’s quest for social change are: (1) understanding the role of race in the problems philanthropists are trying to solve; and, (2) the significance of race in how philanthropists identify leaders and find solutions.

We have heard this same feedback from community leaders of color when we recently held discussions about how YCCF can better support minority communities. They urged us to look for and eliminate bias in how we work and be intentional about incorporating equity into our grant making. They called on us to address the root causes of economic and educational disparities and to ensure those most impacted by racial disparities have a seat at the table when decisions are being made.

YCCF’s Board of Directors agrees that it must support meaningful, positive action to advance racial equity. As a first step, it has used unrestricted funds to establish a racial equity fund that will have an initial pool of resources to make grants now and a permanently endowed fund that will generate annual grants for racial equity initiatives year after year. The YCCF Board was clear that the decision-making for this fund will be in the hands of a new advisory committee. This new committee will determine the purpose, parameters, process for grant selections and will evaluate and select grant recipients. However, grant applications are not being accepted at this time, as those parameters are still being designed. More information will be posted at www.yccf.org\grants.

This is an essential first step to creating real change. We understand that reversing the impacts of racial injustice will require persistent effort and continued financial support for many years to come. YCCF will actively seek other funding partners to leverage these funds with other sources. We encourage everyone to contribute to the racial equity fund to support this important work. No amount is too small; small steps can lead to big changes. To make a donation go to:  https://yccf.networkforgood.com/projects/110503-racial-equity-fund


Signed by,

Krista Darr, Chair, YCCF Board of Directors

Kyle Jones, Chair, YCCF Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

Lisa Kennedy, Chair, YCCF Racial Equity Fund Committee

Jane Conover, President, YCCF