In response to the growing needs of our rapidly aging region, in 2021, Metta Fund announced a refreshed mission and vision along with a formal racial equity commitment as a means of expanding and accelerating the impact of our grantmaking.
Leaning into this commitment, we spent months examining community conditions and progress toward our goals, and are now making shifts in Metta Fund’s programmatic practices and strategies. Today, we are announcing a refined, racial equity-focused grantmaking approach aimed at improving outcomes in later life.
Why We Decided To Do This
- Structural racism persists and continues to produce wide-scale inequity –– compounded in later life
- Philanthropy has a role to play in achieving racial equity
- Continuing our current course would not get us to a different result
What Changes Are We Making?
Metta Fund’s revised grantmaking approach includes new guidelines and funding priorities with the intention of increasing investments in historically excluded communities experiencing inequities.
With that goal in mind, we believe that the pathway toward racial equity in aging is by providing focused support to organizations that are majority led by, and serving, people of color. We know from our own research that philanthropic giving to communities of color and people of color-led work is still unjustifiably low. Historically, organizations led by people of color have received only four percent of philanthropic dollars –– impacting already underserved communities and perpetuating cycles of inequity.
We will also prioritize place-based organizations with emerging older adult programs that may not have the infrastructure to access government resources or institutional funding sources. Additionally, Metta will expand our funding focus in areas impacted by service apartheid ––areas of San Francisco that, due to structural racism, have limited older adult programs, services, access to transportation, food, and digital services, and experience heightened economic insecurity.
The Foundation will also give priority consideration to groups that have demonstrated an approach to engaging the voice and lived experience of older adults in decision-making, community advocacy, and program strategy development.
We will continue to prioritize multiyear, general operating grants to provide flexibility and support capacity-building.
Along with these strategic shifts, we are committing to providing meaningful grant amounts to all grantee partners. And while we are energized by the opportunity to accelerate equity in aging, it also means that we made the difficult decision to transition some grantees out of Metta Fund’s portfolio. Because changes to grantmaking programs have consequences for partner organizations, transition grants are being made to help minimize any disruption.
At Metta Fund, we hope to help chart a course toward greater equity because we believe everyone deserves to age with dignity and joy. Our new approach represents an exciting opportunity to recalibrate our efforts and hold ourselves accountable to this vision.
We look forward to working with and learning from the foundation’s incredible network of grant partners as we course correct. Our hope is that our new approach will help incentivize system-level improvements to advance equity and improve outcomes. We look forward to collectively tackling needed transformation and will share our learnings along the way.
Janet Y. Spears
Chief Executive Officer, Metta Fund