I began working with the AJL Foundation as a GIV Fellow in August 2022, where I was able to learn about and work on issues in the philanthropic sector, a world that I was very unfamiliar with at the time. Throughout my time working with YouthRoots and the AJL Foundation, I was given many opportunities to get involved with people who were really doing the work to make philanthropy a better and more equitable place. One of those experiences I'll be reflecting on is EPIP’s Philanthropology™ Program.
EPIP stands for Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, a national network of changemakers founded in 2001, and I was given the opportunity to participate in their Philanthropology Program, as described on their website: “In order to use philanthropy to effect change, it is crucial that new practitioners in the sector understand its context, history, and challenges. Philanthropology™, first developed by EPIP in 2012 and revised for 2021, responds to this need with a curriculum that includes both academic and practitioner perspectives in an in-depth critical study of philanthropy and social justice created for and informed by the next generation of inclusive grantmakers.,” (https://www.epip.org/philanthropology2021). Throughout the course of 6 weeks, I was able to gain a better understanding of philanthropy and ground myself in my purpose within this work because of the useful workshopping the curriculum offered.
Each Module was accompanied by a reflection guide, along with a specific theme or topic. The first module was titled: “Evolution from Charity to Philanthropy to Transformative Grantmaking,” which included a history of the Philanthropic sector. We were in a lecture format for a little more than half of the time, and breakout sessions for the rest. This allowed us to share resources, stories, as well as apply what we learned to our discussions. At the end of this first module, we were asked to make personal mission statements, to always keep us aligned with our purpose and values within this work and within our organizations. Mine is as follows:
"Because philanthropy is rooted in white supremacist culture and values, and given that my foundation is committed to trust-based practices, I will bring my own perspective and experience as a young person, a cis-het woman of color and Arab American and commit to making sure my philanthropic practice is human-centered and encourages/drives equitable change within the philanthropic sector as a whole."
The second module was titled: “Equity Analysis, Policy & Advocacy,” which included a guest speaker who spoke on the difference between Equity and Inclusion, as well as the importance of equity within philanthropy. The third module was titled: “Personal Leadership & Strategy,” in which we discussed peer coaching, and self advocacy. This module reminded me of my purpose within this work, it helped me with my feelings of self-doubt, and empowered me to show up as my whole self in the spaces that I occupy.
Overall, my experience with Philanthropology was very positive. I think that there are so many pieces that I will be taking with me, especially my personal mission statement, that will allow me to consistently align myself and my values with my institution and its values. There were many resources shared throughout this curriculum, and all in a way that we are able to bring this with us to the next chapter of our careers.