In June 2020, GKFF-BEST made a commitment to actively pursue and work toward racial equity in a number of ways. While a single initiative cannot fully address centuries of systemic racism, GKFF-BEST has remained committed to doing our part by engaging in ongoing, critical self-reflection and improvement. GKFF-BEST pledged to “relinquish and share decision-making authority with those individuals and organizations with the most direct experience with the barriers of poverty, racism and injustice.” Alongside our partners, GKFF-BEST spent the past year exploring different ways to elevate community voice through promising partnerships and opportunities. One of these efforts led to the BEST Advisory Committee determining the allocation of more than $2.2 million dollars. The Committee includes community and program organizational leaders from all components of GKFF-BEST.
“Honoring and valuing proximity to community is essential for hopes of making an enduring impact. Those who are closest to the problem have unique insights and experience that need to be a part of the decision-making for the allocation of resources, the development of interventions and so much more.
SOPHIA PAPPAS, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT THE BIRTH THROUGH EIGHT STRATEGY
FOR TULSA (BEST)
GKFF-BEST and BEST Advisory co-created and implemented a process to distribute these funds. Beginning by defining the fund’s purpose, process and parameters, BEST Advisory members nominated organizations, following thoughtful conversations with community members, frontline staff and each other. Critical to BEST Advisory’s intention was a desire to identify and fund organizations who may be considered “uncommon players” in philanthropy, providing the necessary resources to scale and expand their services to families with young children. Ashley Philippsen, BEST Advisory Committee member, added that not only do historically disenfranchised communities and organizations like those led by BIPOC leaders lack vital access to capital, they are also isolated from capacity-building resources and opportunities for organizational development and growth. The BEST Advisory Shared Decision-Making Fund and the resulting grants represent an opportunity to connect families to much needed services while simultaneously shifting critical resources to BIPOC-led and/or serving organizations.
“We prioritized organizations that can’t as easily get funding from philanthropic organizations. [Advisory] came together to fund these ‘uncommon players.’ It was incredible to see organizations represented who are not typically grantees.”
ASHLEY PHILIPPSEN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ENGAGEMENT & ADVOCACY AT IMPACTTULSA, BEST ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER
These grants will focus on increasing the capacity of education and/or health services to ensure families with young children get connected to the critical services necessary to mitigate the impact of longstanding inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming months, the BEST Advisory Committee and GKFF-BEST will actively pursue ways to support these organizations beyond the grant, making available resources and supports provided to the broader BEST partner network.
Today, the birth and life outcomes for Tulsa’s young children living in poverty continue to widen over the course of their lifetimes, especially for children of color. In order to reach our vision of ensuring all of Tulsa’s children living in poverty have equitable access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive, GKFF-BEST and BEST Advisory recognize the importance of integrating values and principles of racial equity and community authority into every aspect of our initiative, including our grantmaking processes. Over the next year, the BEST Partner Pipeline Sub-committee, an active working group made up of GKFF-BEST partners and community leaders, will reimagine the continuum of GKFF-BEST’s new partner process to create new systems and structures that address root causes of inequity, shift power and create opportunity.
By placing equity, accessibility and inclusion at the core of all these efforts, GKFF-BEST hopes to achieve enduring outcomes and long-term change alongside those most proximate to the problem. The creation and process of establishing and distributing the BEST Advisory Shared Decision-Making Fund is one aspect of our long-term commitment. This fund promises to be a start of GKFF-BEST’s ongoing racial equity commitment and actions.
Below is the list of the 13 BEST Advisory Funded Organizations:
- Art 4orms Foundation
- Be Well Community Development Corporation
- Birthright Living Legacy Inc
- CREOKS Mental Health Services, Inc. (dba. CREOKS Health Services, Inc.)
- Crossover Community Impact, Inc.
- Education-Recreation, Inc.
- Hunger Free Oklahoma, a fund of Tulsa Community Foundation
- La Cosecha Inc.
- Mental Health Association Oklahoma
- New Sanctuary Empowerment Center, El Centro
- South Peoria Neighborhood Connection Foundation dba South Tulsa Community House
- Spot 31, Inc.
- Teach Not Punish Family Resource Center Inc.