News

A Message from the Chair, Board of Directors and President & CEO

Our beloved nation and community of Los Angeles are responding to the overlapping and interconnected traumas of COVID-19 and structural racism. While one crisis came into view within recent months, the other has plagued us for centuries. COVID-19 has devastated communities and laid bare the deep inequities within our society, while the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others have highlighted our nation’s sustained legacy of racial injustice. We as a community must do better. We at The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation can do more.

Over the past few weeks, we have been listening and learning. We have watched the outpouring of Angelenos coming together to peacefully protest racism. We have read the communications from our nonprofit partners standing firmly in solidarity with African American communities. We have considered the statements from our philanthropic peers and organizations across the nation asking us to collectively use this movement to create real, lasting change. We have absorbed these lessons, and we will carry them with us as we continue in partnership with you to implement our mission.

Long term efforts are necessary as well as immediate next steps, which is where we turn to you. We know the nonprofit sector represents the best in all of us. We need you to thrive. Through your work, we can create a better tomorrow and build a better Los Angeles. In response to what we have learned from you and others, we have made some changes to our responsive grantmaking and strategic initiatives, including:

  • Increased Funding – Our Board has authorized a 10% increase of our payout – bringing our 2020 grantmaking budget to $20 million, and a similar approach is likely in 2021. This increased funding will allow the Foundation to continue responding to what Los Angeles needs today and in the future.
  • Focused Leadership Development – We are focusing our leadership development and capacity building efforts on nonprofits led by people of color, and African American leaders in particular.

One of our earliest Parsons Board members Alex Haley wrote in his 1965 book The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “Raw, naked truth exchanged between the black man and the white man is what a whole lot more is needed in this country – to clear the air of the racial mirages, clichés, and lies that this country’s very atmosphere has been filled with for four hundred years.” These words were written over fifty years ago, yet the message is germane for us today.

We invite you to help us. We encourage you to reach out with ideas. As is our nature, we stand ready to listen, learn, invest, and support.

In solidarity,

 wg_sig  pt_sig
Wendy Garen
President & CEO
Peter J. Taylor
Chair, Board of Directors