This Spring, the Citi Foundation and Urban Institute convened leaders from social impact organizations around the United States to share insights, best practices, challenges and successes around key topics including racial equity and financial health. The convening, which spanned three days, is a key component of the Foundation's flagship program – Community Progress Makers.
First launched in 2015, the Community Progress Makers initiative supports organizations that are working to build stronger, more resilient communities. The Foundation’s support to these Community Progress Makers grantees includes a combination of flexible funding coupled with access to a learning community, technical assistance and convenings – like the one recently held in Miami.
The Miami based action-packed convening held earlier this year, offered grantees the opportunity to hear directly from the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. Participants also engaged in a series of breakout sessions on various topics including embedding racial equity into programming and the power of enterprise capital. In addition, participants also had the opportunity to experience stories of progress first-hand through community tours in Overtown, Wynwood and Little Havana.
For those of us at the Citi Foundation, the convening was both informative and inspirational. For our Community Progress Makers grantees, it was transformational. Hear from them directly, below:
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes we just need to sit back and listen, often times what we don’t understand is that silence is one of the loudest messages that we can hear from the communities. When a community is silent, that can mean one of two things: either they are satisfied or they are just disconnected with what’s happening, and that’s when folks like ourselves, Community Progress Makers, can go back and find out what does the community need and what has to be done to empower them.”
"The support from Citi Foundation has been magnificent. We love the fact that the Citi Foundation gives us the opportunity to be creative, because the funds are not destined to a particular program, so we have a liberty to create and better respond to what the community needs. The Foundation trusts that we are the ones who know what the communities need, and they have given us the liberty to do so, and we couldn’t be more grateful with the Citi Foundation not only because of the funds provided but also because of the impact it is having in the communities.”
“Being able to participate in the ‘Undoing Racism’ workshop was great. It gave me the opportunity to hear very open and frank discussions about race and the work we all need to be doing to undo racism. I normally don’t have that kind of conversations with anybody. It challenged me to listen a learn with the people in my community and the staff I work with about this topic and make it a focal point of our work.”
"The general operating support is unparallel, as an organization it’s what you can strive for in terms of freedom and flexibility. For us, the support from Citi Foundation, has allowed us to also focus on research. We are gathering information from our participants, graduates, staff, and community members to redefine what does wealth building means to them and what kind of programs do they want to see from us. Having that ability to do the deeper dive, I think will be really impactful as we look forward and redesign new initiatives."
“What I’ve loved about this convening is the intentionality of trying to address and fight racism and making sure we understand where that racism is coming from and how we can use the work that we are doing to make systemic long-lasting changes.”
"The biggest lesson I’ve gotten from CPM is that our work is never done. As soon as we think we have crossed the finish line, that finish line is going to move, and we are going to have to keep on fighting. The support from Citi Foundation has been incredibly meaningful. It is allowing us to continue the fight, it is allowing us to make sure that we can achieve our mission and keep working for our communities.”
“What I’ve enjoyed the most about the convening is to be able to share experiences, struggles, successes, and best practices with other Progress Makers from around the country and to realize that, while we may be different geographically, so many of the issues and challenges we face are so similar. Finding solutions that can work across geographic boundaries is what makes this convening important. And also, knowing you don’t have to do this alone.”
"The support received from Citi Foundation has been critical to our ability to meet the needs of our community and expand our capacity to do so, both internally and to expanding our partnerships and collaborations with groups that we work with on a continued basis. Our approach was not to chase a grant but to address the needs of our community and trust that the money will follow. Well, this Citi Foundation grant was kind of a message that the money followed.”