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We are committed to positive change.

Since March, our community has come together in countless ways to help each other during a pandemic. Nonprofits have adapted creatively and with lightning speed to continue with their essential work, despite uncertainty about what the next day may bring. Donors have given freely, making the hard work possible. We feel proud to see what has been accomplished under this pressure and through many people who care.

Yet the events over the last week call to our attention the truth that not every member of our community experiences safety and security—or the same experience of being heard. These are not isolated experiences but everyday realities.

In talking with and listening to local African American leaders over the last few days, I have asked what we can do to demonstrate that we are allies in supporting our fellow citizens. Here are some of their responses:

  • Listen to our voices.
  • Do not wait for a horrendous event to condemn racism and violence against people of color but demonstrate that you support us every day.
  • Stand with us—not just on social media—but through the choices you make at work and in your lives.
  • Help us fight for processes and policies that lead to greater equity in centers of power where inequities have historically existed.

Philanthropy is viewed a source of power, and together with foundations from around the country, we have been taking a good look at ourselves.

Last year in Manatee Community Foundation’s strategic plan, we committed—on paper and in practice as a board and staff—to more deliberately develop a culture of diversity, inclusivity and equity. This has led to initiatives that reflect our commitment. By fully embracing this way of working, we believe that we can do philanthropy better. 

In our ongoing work, we want to hear from more of our community . We know that we need all voices at the table to make our organization and Manatee County stronger, and it is up to us to initiate and sustain these relationships. Thank you for joining us on this journey and for your commitment to a peaceful community in which we honor contributions, abilities and lives.

Susie Bowie
Executive Director