The purpose of this equity framework is to articulate the Heising-Simons Foundation’s commitment and orientation toward equity in our work. This document is not intended to dictate a uniform approach across our program areas and departments. Specific activities and priorities will be described elsewhere to help keep this document evergreen. The Equity Framework itself is also a living document that we will revisit over time as we learn and evolve.
The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation located in Northern California, charged with unlocking knowledge, opportunity, and possibilities in the areas our Board believes are most vital to our society. Our priorities include improving educational outcomes for young children, pushing the frontiers of science research, dismantling mass incarceration and immigrant detention, and the criminalization that underlies both, curbing climate change, and improving the lives of those in our local community. Our programs fund at the local, state, and federal level, with a small proportion distributed internationally.
The inequities we see today are a product of discriminatory policies and practices enacted and designed to preserve historical power structures. We cannot ignore our country’s history of identity-based marginalization, exclusion, and exploitation if we want to achieve equity. As a grantmaking institution that is responsible for allocating significant resources for the public good and desires to contribute to a more equitable future, we have an obligation to ensure our Board, leadership, and staff cultivate self-awareness, understand the complicated power dynamics we must balance as funders, and consider the history of racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination in the United States and in each of the fields in which we fund.
Our core values of integrity, humility, courage, innovation, justice, opportunity, sustainability, and relationships are a solid foundation for an organizational culture that centers equity. We strive to demonstrate these values when we work with one another inside our Foundation and with people outside of our Foundation.
We commit to applying an equity lens to how we approach our work, including how we analyze problems, how we engage a diversity of perspectives and partners, how we develop strategies, and how we structure our grantmaking processes to be most accessible. We are working toward developing internal practices and decision-making processes that center equity and promote a culture of inclusion and belonging where all staff can thrive and do their best work.
We recognize that committing to equity requires a process of ongoing learning to continuously examine our choices and their impacts. As we embark on aligning our actions with our commitment to equity, we are holding ourselves accountable to changing and evolving with specific goals, training and support, and opportunities to reflect on our progress.
Because our decisions can unlock opportunity or perpetuate inequity, we have an obligation to consider the consequences of our choices to ensure our intent aligns with our impact. Our guiding questions don’t have right and wrong answers, but are intended to help us slow down, consider those affected by our decisions, and sharpen our focus on the implications of our choices.
In our partnerships with grantees, funding partners, and beneficiaries, we are working to:
In our internal operations, we are working to: