Like every one of you reading this, the events of 2020 have shaken us to our core — at both an individual and organizational level. At the Foundation, we thought our fiscal year would simply be the story of our strategic planning and our ongoing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) journey, but the narrative of our year turned out to be far more complex, more profoundly personal and deeply influential to our work.
Amid the chaos and crises of this year lies an opportunity for learning and envisioning new ways to advance justice and equity in the world. The Foundation has taken time to reimagine our work. These circumstances ultimately deepened our collective introspection into how we have shown up in the community over the past 52 years. We have always been committed to communities of color, but this year, we renewed our sense of purpose and accountability to advancing equity and inclusion. We are now explicitly naming systemic racism as a root problem that must be addressed to advance our mission. Prioritizing racial equity and being an anti-racist organization is inextricably embedded in who we are and what we do.
What remains consistent in our approach is informed by the unwavering focus of our founders, Stewart and Jane Bainum: 1) serving children and families living in poverty, and 2) persistently asking what more we can do. These intentions were passed down to future generations of their family as well as the entire Foundation team. Our journey so far has taken us from supporting youth and older children to supporting the very youngest, and from focusing on education to understanding more broadly what children need to succeed in both school and life. This tradition of self-reflection and evolution ensures that we continue to live out Mr. and Mrs. Bainum’s legacy while always acknowledging the world around us.
In that spirit, we refocused our efforts in the final months of this fiscal year to provide emergency funding to our partners — acting upon what they said they needed most in these challenging times. Hearing their stories has inspired us in both thought and action, leading to the theme of this year’s annual report. It contains a series of stories that showcase how so many in our community — including our partners and staff as well as other funders — quickly and nimbly came together to support urgent and emerging needs of children and families.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, notes that the opposite of poverty is not wealth, but justice. What we’ve learned this year has strongly influenced how we engage with each other and our partners, and has deeply informed our strategic planning process, ultimately helping us propel our efforts forward in a new and powerful way. We know what matters most to us: elevating and responding to the community’s expressed needs and building an equitable society that enables all children and families to thrive.