Reflections on the 2012 Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy Retreat

This last May 4th-6th, we hosted and coordinated our 6th Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy Retreat (CCTFP). It is specifically for young(ish) people, 18-40, who are involved, or want to be involved, in their families’ philanthropy and care about justice and equity. Some participants attend because they participate in generations old family foundations, some attend because they earned money and want to start giving with their family. In total, 40 young people involved in family philanthropy attended from across the US and Canada. This year racial justice was a central lens through which we invited participants to engage with the retreat. CCTFP started with parallel race caucuses – for people of color participants and planners, and for white leadership at RG. This caucus time and the on-going discussions about race, racism and racial justice throughout the weekend, were invaluable at helping us explore the connection between economic and racial justice.
Below you will find the voices of 4 different participants sharing some brief reflections on their experiences. We are hopeful this gives you a taste of the experience, what it meant and what folks are taking with them.
Look out for a complete retreat report coming soon with a detailed account of the program, what went well and what we learned.
Mike Gast
Associate Director, RG
I love the community that Resource Generation has connected me to. There is no other way I would have met such incredible people because they often live in other cities and work in different industries than I do. However, we all share common values that motivate us to engage in progressive and innovative philanthropic work. At this year’s CCTFP, I was invited to share my story during the closing plenary. I discussed how the histories of my family and homelands influenced my decision to be a donor-organizer who uses the arts to tackle issues around cultural genocide and other compounding institutional inequities. I also appreciated the opportunity to candidly address how racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia impacts me as I do this work. It is one of my favorite moments at RG because it was one of those rare moments in life where I felt deeply understood and appreciated instead of resented and/or misunderstood for choosing to perform humanitarian work as a woman of color from an upper class background.
– Anonymous

“Let’s be messy.”

This was the request I made to the members of my small group, the riskiest and most critical thing I would ask of them and myself over the few days we spent together at CCTFP. After almost a year work as an RG fellow, I had a good understanding of messy, at least as it applied to the emotional minefield that reveals itself when people start talking about money. And while my own innate tendencies would have me perpetually show the world only the calm, controlled demeanor I work so hard to make convincing, I felt that to be fair I would have to play the game as well. And so, between the speakers, the dinner conversations, the plenaries and impromptu zumba lessons and s’mores around the bonfire, we let ourselves get messy.
The kind of messy that comes out of an RG conference is a unique and beautiful thing. For a few days, we step out of our normal lives, and come together in a space where even the most fleeting conversations can have a lasting impacts.
– Ariana Snowdon, Hill Snowdon Foundation, CCTFP Planning Committee Member
Attending CCTFP as a partner of a young person with wealth is always a bit nerve wracking; my mind is jumbled with thoughts of “will I fit in?” and “will I have anything to contribute?” But in reality, there’s no reason to worry – I could sit silently through the entire weekend and it would still be tremendously valuable. The CCTFP and larger RG community is the most supportive group of people I have ever encountered, and that is just as true for partners as it is for everyone else. This year, my biggest takeaway from CCTFP was feeling good about being messy and not knowing all the answers. Class, wealth, philanthropy – MONEY – is tough to talk about, both as a young person and as a partner from a middle class background. Sometimes I felt I didn’t have the exact words to say what I meant or I felt lost in a conversation swimming with terms I didn’t understand. The best part about CCTFP for me is being able to be transparent about that. Being able to say, “I have a million feelings and let me try to share a fraction of them” and having people listen with open minds is a rare gift I haven’t received in most other communities. This year in particular, there were a lot of talk about racial justice, a topic which hasn’t explicitly presented itself in my life before now and in many ways isn’t directly related to my relationship with wealth or my partner. The whole conversation was new to me, so I still have a lot to learn and a lot of questions, but there’s really nowhere I’d rather be asking them than at CCTFP.
– Liz Sullivan, Chair of the Planning Committee for CCTFP 2012
Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy is such a wonderful, warm retreat, full of ideas and support from people working on some of the same challenges and with some of the same hopes for the world. This year, it was so great to see some of the results of Resource Generation working to develop more programming and support for young people of color with wealth and thinking hard over the history and society that has shaped philanthropy, and the need for restorative racial justice work. Instead of just looking backwards, everybody was also looking forward for good ideas to create positive social change, with record numbers looking at Mission Related Investing and learning about progressive political change. I had a great time and I am looking forward to next year, already!
– Richard Graves, Louise Shelley Family Fund, CCTFP Planning Committee Member