Lately, there seems to be no shortage of attacks on progressive politics and civil rights issues in America, as well as vital institutions like public education and our fledgling national healthcare system. School choice vouchers threaten to take federal dollars away from underprivileged students in public schools. The proposed tax reform bill making its way through Congress eliminates the credit teachers usually get for purchasing their own classroom supplies. Orders to repeal Obamacare and DACA, travel bans, and rising xenophobia has left communities in fear.
So, what can be done? Advocates say the answer lies in greater inclusivity.
Philanthropists and nonprofits are increasingly using strategies that focus on coordination, cultural context, and external or co-occurring factors that prevent certain individuals and communities from achieving positive outcomes, whether academically, medically, or socially.
The idea of inclusivity is nothing new, and has its origins in First Wave Feminism. It refers to the need for greater diversity and the representation of all races, genders, and creeds in business, government, healthcare, education, and other areas of society. This can mean inclusive hiring practices that give opportunities to women, immigrants, or African-Americans. Or it can mean serving a more diverse community by providing services in multiple languages, or learning about patients’ cultural backgrounds to better understand their medical needs.
Priscilla Chan is a pediatrician and philanthropist who works with her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to build or invest in projects that provide opportunities and better care to poor, underserved, and at-risk populations. They founded the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative to address inequality in its many forms, and to help create more welcoming, inclusive societies.
Chan’s background as both pediatrician and teacher inspired her to start a school that brings health and education together under one roof, while Zuckerberg uses his technology and engineering savvy to develop tools people can use to streamline and personalize their own healthcare. An affordable housing initiative went beyond bricks and mortar to provide homework help and other support to the families served.
PhilanthropyWomen.org says the two represent a shift in how men and women of high net worth have traditionally functioned, believing they have a social responsibility to use their wealth and influence to facilitate social change rather than simply accumulating wealth. Their strategy of relational philanthropy is based on challenging and incorporating different perspectives to bring inclusiveness to education and housing access, as well as access to health care.