Deepening Equity and Inclusion at The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

September 29, 2020

The Giving Practice (TGP) is guiding and supporting the program team at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to ensure best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across its programs in order to deliver on the foundation’s mission to promote a just, equitable and sustainable society.

The Mott Foundation was established by Charles Stewart Mott, who created the foundation out of a deep affection for his adopted hometown of Flint, Michigan. Today, the Mott Foundation has grown significantly, awarding grants to organizations in Flint and around the world.

Our facilitation began with sessions with program directors and the program vice president. Then we met with the whole program team, engaging them around how DEI shows up in their work, internally and externally, and what they hoped to learn, discuss, "dream and do." The information gleaned through these sessions (including pre-session surveys) gave our TGP team an opportunity to build relationships, prepare the group for the important and challenging work ahead, and bring the spirit of curiosity, authenticity and joy to the process.

We then designed additional sessions that began with a personal narrative sharing exercise that illuminated the team members’ rich diversity of perspective and life experiences, reinforced their strong connections and surfaced knowledge (lived and learned) across the team. Doing this enabled each member of the team to bring their full selves into the DEI discussion as well as the program analysis that immediately followed and is still ongoing.

We also provided a range of resources about inequalities and the value of shifting power to help the staff identify issues relevant to their internal and external work. They prioritized what they needed to learn and unlearn, and what actions they needed to take in order to engage in their DEI work most effectively.

Since the murder of George Floyd, conversations within the Mott Foundation program department have focused more specifically around addressing racial equity and justice. This work has enabled the foundation’s program teams to better understand and elevate the consequences of racial injustice – in different but related ways – in areas as widespread as South Africa, Brazil and their hometown of Flint, Michigan.

"The work we’re doing with TGP is enabling us to be a more effective funder and partner when it comes to addressing diversity, equity and inclusion,"

"The work we’re doing with TGP is enabling us to be a more effective funder and partner when it comes to addressing diversity, equity and inclusion," said Neal Hegarty, vice president of programs for the Mott Foundation. "In partnership with TGP, we started by identifying changes we needed to make internally, and this is helping us to create positive change externally, in collaboration with the communities we serve." TGP believes this grounding in racial equity is showing up on multiple levels: deepening the Mott program staff’s personal connections, candor about what people needed to learn and how their lived experiences impacted their work, a shared understanding of institutional power and community-centered programs, and examining their practices internally and in their external work.

If you want to learn more about The Giving Practice’s approach to working with foundations to integrate diversity, racial equity and inclusion into strategy, governance and program, please contact Audrey Haberman.