by Emily Feicht, former Director of Operations & Donor Services at WA Women’s Foundation. Emily is currently the Assistant Director of Foundation Board Engagement at University of Washington.
At the Foundation’s June board meeting, board members engaged in a conversation about the role philanthropy can play in advocating for reducing gun violence. This year has heightened our awareness of the devastating disproportionate impact of gun violence on communities of color and the LGBTQ community. In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the Board of WA Women’s Foundation made a discretionary grant to support local community-led efforts to reduce gun violence.
WA Women’s Foundation’s grant provided funding for the Summit on Hate and Gun Violence hosted by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation in early October. Our sponsorship helped the Alliance bring together diverse voices to focus on gun violence prevention and programs in communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence, social isolation and discrimination. As their Executive Director Renee Hopkins noted:
While gun violence prevention work is vibrant and growing, it has not always succeeded at including all communities in the United States. We hope this conversation will help to build a more diverse and inclusive gun violence prevention movement. Your grant allowed us to dedicate October 7th to starting a crucial conversation within the movement in Washington and nationwide. Through innovative approaches to our work moving forward, we hope to fundamentally shift and open up the conversation on how to make all of our communities safer and more connected.
On October 7th, I attended this Summit along with 40 diverse community leaders. The Summit began with a panel of fellow community leaders working on the ground within communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence including: Kayla Hicks, Director of African American & Community Outreach at the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and Dominick Davis of Seattle’s 180 Program. Their lively discussion focused on the root causes of gun violence and how best to engage communities of color in the work around gun violence prevention.
A few takeaways:
- We forget to look beyond the bullet. Gun violence is a symptom of a larger problem, and we have to get to the root of the cause.
- Creating inclusive policy and advocacy is important. We must engage and make space for conversations within diverse communities to allow them to define their own solutions and actions.
- Education and engagement are paramount to policy and social change.
I left the Summit inspired by the work already being done within communities disproportionately affected by gun violence and challenged to think beyond my own perspectives on this issue.
If you would like to learn more about the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, visit their website at gunresponsibility.org/our-alliance/.
Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.
All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfdn.org