As a family foundation, we feel very rooted in Oakland, where we live and work and play. We love Oakland and want to see Oakland shine and its people thrive. With the limited resources we have, the board feels that our greatest contribution is to concentrate our resources here in our city of Oakland. We are eager to strengthen community organizations and leaders and to work more closely with them. By focusing in one geographic area we seek to go deeper into the solutions that will bring greater equity to Oakland. There are many opportunities facing Oakland, as well as some serious challenges. But this is an important moment and the Akonadi board believes it is time to seize the opportunities presented.
In many ways this shift is building on the already existing relationships and funding that Akonadi has been doing for years in Oakland. Our approach has been one of viewing the interconnectedness of many issues and struggles. Our strategy has been one of breadth rather than depth. In the future, Akonadi’s work in Oakland will emphasize depth by concentrating on education equity and criminal justice. These two inter-related systems provide moving and vivid examples of ongoing vicious structural racism as the lives of young people of color are chewed apart and thrown away. The immediate and long-term effects of the racist policies and practices in schools, on the streets and in the courthouse are devastating and pervasive. We must fight for change.
We will be taking 2012 to delve deeply into education and criminal justice to learn more about what is the existing work, what are arising opportunities, where can we add value to what is going on, where can a racial justice movement building strategy play a role. Although we have done some work in education and criminal justice, we are taking time to educate ourselves to learn more specifically what leaders in the field see in their work now and in the future. We are just embarking on this mission, and we are looking forward to learning more and engaging with community organizations, academics and funder colleagues.
We know what havoc results when funders change grantmaking focus. Akonadi has tried to be deliberate about this change by giving one-year tie off grants. Even so, we recognize that decisions made by foundation boards have an enormous impact on organizations. We hope that by going deeper into our Oakland work, we can meaningfully add to the exciting work happening in our city and work with others for true racial justice transformation.
"Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle."
- Malcolm X