I Met the Next Generation of Young Leaders

After spending some time at the CCTFP conference, I was blown away by the young people I met. I got to know many participants and RG staff and was so impressed by their energy and commitment to social justice. I thought to myself: this is a serious group with a real commitment to gaining skills and getting involved in their family foundations. I am thrilled to discover this group of young people who come from privileged backgrounds and who are committed to giving back and thinking strategically about how to do that. Parenthetically, I couldn’t help feeling envious that I never had such a great peer group to hang out with and help me when I first started out.
My first workshop was on bringing community voices into decision making practices—something my family foundation, the French American Charitable Trust, has tried to embrace in its grant making over the past 18 years. The power imbalance between foundations and grantees is too great to talk about an equal partnership, but the majority of our decisions were informed by the needs of our grantees. Very early on, we convened our grantees to ask them about a course correction after our first five years and got great advice. Later, when we created a capacity building program, we surveyed them and asked them what they needed. We designed a program that met those needs. Today, we are exiting the field after 18 years of grant making. This was not an easy decision, but it was one that we felt strongly about especially after meeting the next generation roaring to go and become effective social justice allies.