By Dion Cartwright, Director of Equitable Initiatives and Leadership Development

This is a critical moment for philanthropy. We are faced with communities increasingly divided by not only the destructive political rhetoric of the moment, but deep-rooted and far-reaching inequities that affect everything from the water we drink to the air we breathe, whether our neighborhoods are safe from violence and whether our communities can withstand natural disasters. How can leaders in philanthropy step up to confront the difficult truths of our institutions — and of ourselves — that stand in the way of a truly equitable and inclusive future?

etertretConfronting these difficult truths is at the heart of TFN’s PLACES Fellowship, a year-long learning experience for leaders in philanthropy that gives them the tools they need to embed an equity lens in their work. Today we open up applications for our 2019 PLACES Fellowship cohort, and with it a chance for you to embark on this singularly enriching journey.

Last year’s application cycle coincidentally launched shortly before the deadly alt-right protests in Charlottesville, Va. As PLACES alum CJ Hager, a director at the Vitalyst Health Foundation, reminded us last year as we saw the images of white supremacists marching with flaming torches and Nazi flags: “PLACES was started for a reason and that reason still lives.”

It has been a year since Charlottesville, a year of more headlines detailing incidences of injustice, exploitation and erosion of civil liberties. But there is also good work being done by good people who care deeply about making our communities better places to live — for everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status or sexual orientation. PLACES explores these stories, too.

After all my years involved in this fellowship, first as a fellow myself and now as its program director, I’ve realized that above all else, PLACES is a gift. The gift of time to reflect on our work and our impact. The gift of connecting with others. The gift of freedom to question ourselves and our sector, and the freedom to know there are no easy answers. And after seeing more than 100 alumni graduate from this fellowship with a deeper understanding of economic and racial justice, which then informs their work as practitioners, PLACES also has given me the gift of hope.

I’m proud to say that our 2018 PLACES Fellowship cohort, pulled from those candidates who applied in the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests, have thrown themselves whole-heartedly into this shared experience. They, like the many PLACES alumni who have come before them, are working to find light in the darkness.

I encourage you to consider applying for the next places cohort. You can learn more about the program here and access the application here. If it’s not the right time for you to apply, that’s fine. Feel free to share this with someone in your organization or professional network that would benefit from PLACES.

And to those of you who are PLACES alum, current fellows, or have supported PLACES through your work with the Funders’ Network: Thank you for the work you’ve done, and continue to do, to make our communities, institutions and policies more equitable and just. Applications are due Nov. 1, 2018. To apply click here.


About the Author

Dion Cartwright is Director of Equitable Initiatives and Leadership Development for the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.