“Foundations lose moral high ground if they fail to connect money and meaning,” Clara Miller from the Heron Foundation said while discussing the principals of impact investing.
The SOCAP 17 conference kicked off today (yesterday officially) at Fort Mason, in brilliant view of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A crowd of Entrepreneurs, Funders, Activists, Artists, Artivists (I learned a new word today) and more gathered for the tenth year to discuss the connection between money and meaning, both in for profit and philanthropy.
Morning comments from Emmett Carson from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation gave a high level overview of the state of Impact Investing, or the concept that businesses and CBO’s alike should care about the entire result of each dollar they spend. Donor Advised Funds are the fastest growing form of philanthropy in the nation and that is set to continue.
This year they’ve added a “Racial Equity” track of breakout sessions, where I headed after the introductions. “The Business Case for Racial Equity” included the authors of W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s study that shares that name, published in 2013, and they discussed the work that went into the update being released this Fall. This study paints a compelling picture of the economic impact that racial equity might have if we adhered to it on a Macroeconomic level; as much as $8 Trillion [T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N] in GDP is trapped in our most marginalized communities, waiting for an opportunity to learn, work, and live.
The “Language Matters” session was equally as intriguing. A Native American leader spoke on their organizations’ efforts to save the 20 native dialects spoken in Alaska, and the importance that comes with the knowledge stored in these languages. We discussed the nuance of language when discussing minorities and women and how our words contribute to oppression.
I made a(n awesome) duck out of legos in a breakout on early childhood education, learning about how problem solving helps form skills in young minds. This provided me many focus areas for my work with Live Again Fresno, as well as relevant data points to collect when running programs for children.
Today I learned from characters ranging from industry leaders and program staff, foundation executives to a lady that taught me the word “Artivist” and made me uncomfortable. She made me uncomfortable because she challenged that we should be engaged in meaning in every aspect of our life, and if each of our actions consequences’ are not measured, that doesn’t mean they are not being felt.
Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m excited to continue learning.