Our Statement of Belief
PACE envisions a reality in which “Americans are informed and empowered to contribute to the health and vibrancy of the country’s democracy and civic life.” When inequities exist—including those that exclude or disenfranchise based on race, whether done so intentionally or not—our ability to realize this vision is impeded. Therefore, PACE has prioritized addressing racial inequities in its programming and member support.
PACE staff and board members are committed to stewarding opportunities that create lasting and sustainable impact in pursuit of a pluralistic and multiracial democracy. We acknowledge that this work is ongoing and that our statements and beliefs are only as strong as the actions we regularly put into practice.
We have articulated this “working commitment” for how PACE aspires to integrate racial equity into our work and how we understand racial equity and civic engagement to intersect. As it is a “working commitment,” we will continue to refine it and incorporate learnings into our work as we proceed on this journey. We welcome feedback.
We understand that there is much work to be done across all elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion (including gender, class, ability, and other elements of identity and experience). But in recognition of the particular challenges created and reinforced by systemic racism, PACE is explicitly focusing on how race equity impacts democracy and civic engagement.
We acknowledge there are many deep and intentional frameworks, spectrums, and definitions that organizations and leaders use to guide the understanding and implementation of racial equity work. In considering this body of knowledge—and asking ourselves where and how PACE can embed racial equity into our work—we adopt the following working definition of what it means to us:
Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. (1)
In the context of civic engagement, if racial equity were to be achieved, there would not be differentiated civic participation rates based on race. In the context of a healthy democracy, we would not see systemic disparities in opportunity or outcomes based on race.
PACE will explore the ways in which people do or do not receive access (based on race) to information and opportunities to participate in civic life, and how structural barriers and inequities manifest in intentional and unintentional disenfranchisement. PACE can influence this by working within philanthropy to ensure thoughtful analysis of issues related to disenfranchisement and raise awareness in ways that strive for the commensurate flow of philanthropic attention and resources.
- Applied to democracy (our work), we strive for this by actively participating in experiments and learning that counter tendencies to get mired in antiquated models of what works, and by taking advantage of the power of diverse voices and actors to advance our learning and collaboration.
- Applied to philanthropy (our environment), we strive for this by working with funders while also staying mindful that philanthropy can at times reinforce the very systemic inequities it is trying to address, including those that disenfranchise or discriminate by race.
With the ultimate intention of supporting a more equitable democracy and civic life for all, we have developed a racial equity framework with three priorities:
- Establish and steward diverse networks
- Foster racial equity lens throughout programs and events
- Curate a body of knowledge on the impact of structural racism on democracy and civic engagement
To actualize these priorities in the advancement of democracy and civic engagement, the PACE team and Board make the following commitments which:
- Commit to a rigorous, ongoing, and pragmatic internal learning process, in which Staff and Board explore the impacts of systemic racism past and present. Ultimately, creating opportunities that raise racial awareness in pragmatic ways, unearth unintended outcomes, and reduce barriers to more equitable outcomes in democracy and civic philanthropy.
- Broaden our existing networks, prioritize all types of diversity (especially those not often considered or included in decision-making) while continuously driving towards racial equity, and allow learning to inform programmatic and funding efforts driven by PACE.
- Foster intentional dialogue that prioritizes race equity in our services, supports, learning, and experimentation, and contributes to funders’ understanding about how systemic racism impacts policies and practices, in both visible and invisible ways.
- Commit to applying a racial equity lens to present and future efforts to advance and strengthen democracy and civic engagement. Create opportunities to review new learnings and consider unintended outcomes.
- Utilize the PACE platform to amplify racially diverse voices and elevate promising practices and successes to members, as well as others committed to democracy and civic philanthropy.
Credits and Acknowledgements
The PACE Board and Staff acknowledge the contributions of many Members, leaders, and peer organizations from whom we have learned (and will continue to learn) from throughout our racial equity journey. In particular, we have been inspired by the racial equity commitment adopted by our colleagues at Funders Together to End Homelessness, the frameworks of our Members, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Meyer Memorial Trust and the leadership of countless others advocating and championing racial equity, including but certainly not limited to: ABFE, CHANGE Philanthropy, Policy Link, the Center for Equity and Inclusion, and the United Philanthropy Forum. Read more about what we’ve learned on our journey to developing this commitment.