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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Foundations: Advancing Equity Also Requires an Inward Look

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021   

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The world of philanthropy isn't immune from the need to improve workplace culture as society demands greater equity. One Minnesota organization is among those enacting changes in light of the pandemic and racial reckoning.

Improving communities and helping to foster social justice are common missions for nonprofits, and some groups have said that in order to stay true to their work, their internal operations also must reflect their values.

Nadege Souvenir, senior vice president for operations and learning at the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation, said an example includes their information-technology department asking outside vendors to update language routinely seen on staff computer screens that could be deemed offensive.

"Some of the language used in spam vendors - 'black-listing,' 'white listing' - is unnecessarily racist language," she said.

The foundation also has changed its recruiting practices, including no longer having a college-degree requirement for all job postings. Philanthropic groups also have faced criticism from smaller nonprofits over onerous grant applications that restrict spending. Souvenir noted that the foundation has responded in the last year by opening up more funding for operating expenses.

Demetric Duckett, managing director of Living Cities, a collaboration of 19 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions, acknowledged that staff diversity still is a challenge in this sector that must be addressed.

"If you're going to be able to create solutions," he said, "you have to ask how can you figure out problems in situations that aren't familiar to you?"

He suggested that having a more diverse staff with different perspectives can help foundations address community-level issues without being out of touch. Living Cities has prioritized anti-racism training for its board members, allowing them to share the findings with the groups they oversee.

Disclosure: The Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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