Note: Rasmuson Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan is among two dozen philanthropic leaders around the country asking for equity to be front and center as the new federal $1.9 trillion relief package is distributed. In Alaska, the Anchorage Assembly has announced its process of allocating the funds locally.

March 11, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden
Vice-President Kamala D. Harris
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris:

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 presents an extraordinary opportunity to set the nation on a safer, healthier and more economically stable path.

In particular for the people in communities of color — whose health, safety and economic stability has been most devastated by the pandemic — passage of this bill is a hopeful first step. Now, the next and perhaps most important step is putting equity at the at the center of the bill’s execution.

In the pandemic, longstanding and severe inequities in health, education, economic opportunity and community safety have been laid bare. We are writing to urge a strong racial equity focus and to offer our assistance.

Our philanthropies have given many millions of dollars to help alleviate the shocks of the pandemic on children, families, communities and the nonprofit organizations that serve them. But long before COVID-19, our work with grantees across the country established trusting relationships with the communities that this recovery package must reach. Their experiences throughout the past year have revealed deep fault lines in our society. As grantees have emphasized, when racial equity is not explicitly a goal in decision-making, inequities are likely to be perpetuated.

This was the case with 2020 pandemic relief packages, as you know. Since federal agency rules, guidance and state administration efforts did not consider or plan for racial disparities on the front-end, many of those most in need were unable to access recovery and relief assistance. When the programs rolled out, the systems in place only reinforced societal inequities. Federal funds for education couldn’t help students and families without technology or access to high-speed, affordable internet connection in their neighborhoods. Loan funds were out of reach for most business owners of color, who already lacked access to financial institutions in their communities. Few black farmers were able to access agricultural relief programs.

We now have the opportunity to leverage these hard lessons as the Office of Management and Budget, and other authorizing federal agencies, move to identify clear goals, objectives and measurable outcomes for the allocation and distribution of federal funds. Now is the time to engage affected communities in decision-making and distribution processes; ensure data is collected on funding allocations; develop strategies to mitigate uneven or inequitable distribution; and ensure evaluation of impact by program.

Your administration has moved quickly to respond to the scale of challenges with the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. As philanthropies, we can contribute by bringing people together to inform critical decision making. Drawing on our relationships with grantees and our sector’s convening power, we can help to accelerate an equitable recovery.

We stand ready to work with your team on behalf of all of our communities.

Respectfully,

La June Montgomery Tabron
President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Lisa Hamilton
President and CEO, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Jim Canales
President, Barr Foundation

Patricia Harris
CEO, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Robert Ross, MD
President and CEO, California Endowment

Judy Belk
President and CEO, California Wellness Foundation

Vartan Gregorian
President, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Ridgway White
President and CEO, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Helene Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust

Nancy Lindborg
President and CEO, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Ed Henry
President and CEO, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation

John Palfrey
President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Richard “Rip” Rapson
President and CEO, Kresge Foundation

Tonya Allen
President, McKnight Foundation

Michelle J. DePass
President and CEO, Meyer Memorial Trust

Kevin F. Walker
President and CEO, Northwest Areas Foundation

Max Williams
President and CEO, Oregon Community Foundation

Diane Kaplan
President and CEO, Rasmuson Foundation

Rajiv “Raj” Shah
President, Rockefeller Foundation

Stephen Heintz
President and CEO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Caryl Stern
Executive Director, Walton Family Foundation

Larry Kramer
President, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Maurice “Mo” Green
Executive Director, The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

[Download the letter: ARPA – Philanthropy – Equitable Implementation]