Michelle Decker,
IECF President and CEO

As we witness the events of the weekend in Buffalo and Orange County – senseless, racially motivated mass shootings of innocent people who could be our own family members, it definitely brings a wave of exhaustion. Didn’t we rise up and say, “No more. I will be a part of the change”? And it seemed like there was an awakening. There was progress. But then…this. Again. For students of history, the violence against Black Americans and people of color is devastating. To see our elders harmed and killed after living such full lives, surviving COVID, and sharing so much wisdom and love in their communities, is utterly heartbreaking. To reflect on the divisions that are keeping us from sensible gun reform and allowing the radicalization of online communities, feels like we are trapped in a loop we cannot leave.

We know there are no easy answers, but what we do know is that we need to keep moving forward. Even though these events aren’t even unique or unbelievable anymore – we still have to show up. This is the present day, it’s really happening and, as citizens of this great nation, it’s happening to all of us.

We can’t allow anyone within listening range to believe that it’s just the way of a world gone wrong. We can make sure that anyone within hearing distance understands that we believe any violence based on race and fueled by extremism is un-American. We can continue the journey to build an anti-racist Inland Empire by listening, learning, and investing in Black-led organizations and organizations led by people of color.

This week, we’re asking the questions, “How are you feeling? Do you need to talk?” Perhaps you can do the same by having thoughtful, open-ended conversations with the people whose lives you share – children, family members, neighbors, co-workers – who are also weary and need encouragement.

Always, we’re participating in discussions about our priorities as an organization and acting on our promise to promote racial, gender, and economic equity.

We’re standing with nonprofits and coalitions in the IE that are working to advance social and economic equity. Effective in 2020, our unrestricted grantmaking now focuses on strengthening organizations to build the most vibrant, peaceful, and just communities possible for the Inland Empire. This is evidenced in our recent awards of $589K to 40 nonprofits through our Community Impact Fund in support of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journeys, and our partnership with the IE Black Equity Initiative to grant over $740K to 16 grantees through the IE Black Equity Fund.

There is always more to be done. We welcome you to the conversation – these questions and issues are for all of us and all of us can make a better world. Plan with us, act with us and join us as we move forward.

Here are more ways to get involved. (We will update with additional links as we have them.):

The Center Against Racism & Trauma (CART) equips the IE with information and opportunities to fight against racism of all forms.

Buffalo Community Foundation offers two ways to support their community, the survivors of those who were killed, and those directly affected by the May 14th shooting.

Learn about how we’re working with philanthropists and nonprofits to make a difference in our region. Sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, Philanthropy Matters.

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