representation

Toward the Future of Arts Philanthropy: 5 Recommendations for Action

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It’s not about you, “Philanthropy.” Philanthropic work is not about showing how smart you are, it is about empowering and liberating the people. Those who seek to help must respect the community as experts in order to drive solutions that work for the world that they know best. Whether it’s musicians, neighborhood leaders, youth or teachers, […]

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Three life lessons I learned while working in juvenile justice

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by Desiree Coleman Long before I had the pleasure of reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, I understood firsthand what disproportionate minority contact meant.  I spent close to 10 years working in the nation’s capital, with some of the most vulnerable communities, including incarcerated youth.  I worked in a juvenile justice system that was […]

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Return on investment

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by Kiesha Davis I’ve been pondering over a challenge posed by Susan Taylor Batten during the opening plenary of this past ABFE Annual Conference – The Fierce Urgency of Now, held here in Memphis a few weeks ago. When detailing the themes for the conference, she made reference to “investing in the leadership versus the labor […]

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Five strategies for advancing racial equity in public education

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by Sam O’Bryant When I began working in Memphis in 2012, I arrived during the halfway point of a major investment in teacher effectiveness. While the work was worthy and victories were won, the focus was on making teachers the absolute best they could be. Like most education reform, there was an absence of specific […]

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Don’t talk to me about diversity

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by Denise St. Omer I’m tired of talking about diversity. You heard me right. I’m a black woman in philanthropy and I’m done engaging in conversations about diversity. Conversations about diversity create spaces for people to engage in activities that make them feel like they’re doing something, but don’t actually move forward toward creating inclusive […]

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A view of value

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by Tawanna Brown Detroit, Michigan reminds me a lot of Memphis. As a first-time attendee of this year’s Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference, there were aspects of the convening, held in Detroit, that felt very familiar. Both cities hug mighty rivers, entrenched in histories muddied with issues of race and class. Though world-renowned transportation operations are […]

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Bringing students into the field

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by Heather Trussell At The Soulsville Charter School, Dr. Dennis Leoni and I have been working to create a classroom culture in the high school orchestras of orchestral etiquette, work ethic, and respect for colleagues and instruments. We consistently emphasize the fact that proper technique and posture informs the quality of music-making, as well as […]

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Equity and inclusion ain’t easy – but it needs to happen

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by Sam O’Bryant  Since 2011, I have worked on projects and initiatives that have deliberately and intentionally discussed the role of race and equity in America. My work has included planning regional conferences on racial healing in the American South, hosting community conversations on race in the Delta, and even promoting black male achievement within […]

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Work in progress: the in-school strategy in action

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by Lecolion Washington The last few years have been an amazing time for the MMI in-schools team as our work has grown by leaps and bounds. One of the key attributes that MMI brings to the table is that we have created an environment in which the tail doesn’t wag the dog. The level of […]

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Power

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 by Anasa Troutman Last summer, I made public a dream that I had held close to my heart for over 10 years. In a vintage theater on Martha’s Vineyard with no air conditioning, in front of a modest audience of 100 people, I shared my vision of building Shelectricity, a space where black and brown […]

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