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  • Writer's pictureJara Dean-Coffey, MPH

Tension 5 – Acknowledging Those Whose Path We Follow

Originally published on on July 14, 2020


In my last post, I wrote about Tension 4 – Technical Approaches vs Creating Conditions for Change as part of a series of five tensions that I/we are struggling with as the Equitable Evaluation Initiative unfolds. In this post, we want to talk about the tendency not to acknowledge those whose path we follow.

Tension 5: Acknowledging Those Whose Path We Follow

The American roots of rugged individualism run deep and manifest in a myriad of ways. It shows up in two ways that we think have implications for our work which focuses on the philanthropic ecosystem: the new idea and the personality. We, in philanthropy, like to think that our ideas are the best and that our approaches to the work are novel as opposed to a continuation or evolution of thinking of others (10 Places Where Collective Impact Got it Wrong). We tend not to learn from others (either from their challenges or successes) and often are incapable of even learning from our own efforts (CEI Benchmarking Foundation Practices 2020). We also like to hold up the one. U.S. Philanthropy has historically been based on the accumulation of wealth of the one (Ford, WKKF, AECF, Gates, etc.), so it is no surprise that it gravitates towards people or personas who position themselves as experts or who have a unique perspective of the world. Add to this a history of preventing women and non-whites from claiming and protecting their intellectual property, typically in service of monetizing and perpetuating the status quo power structure.

How you do fight that tide? It is not easy. But rather than talking about us, we decided to use this space to give our deep appreciation to those whose work, hearts and minds inform the Equitable Evaluation Framework™ and the ways in which the Equitable Evaluation Initiative is conceptualized, and strategy executed:

Angela Glover BlackwellAudrey Jordanbell hooksChicago BeyondChimamanda Nigozi AdichieCindi SuarezCrystal HaylingDavid KirklandDonna MertensErnie HouseFiona CramHallie PreskillHazel SymonetteHeather KrauseJames BaldwinJames PowellJennifer GreeneJoan LaFranceJulia CoffmanKaren KirkhartKatrina BledsoeLeon CaldwellKien LeeMaria Rosario JacksonMario SegoneMeredith MinklerPaulo FriéreTanya BeerTom WolfTony MorrisonRosalie TorresRodney HopsonStafford Hood



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