Portrait of James W. Head

Dear EBCF Community,

The East Bay Community Foundation extends its deepest sympathies to the families and communities affected by the tragic mass shootings this week in three American cities — Gilroy, CA, El Paso TX, and Dayton, OH; the second of which is being described as “domestic terrorism.” All communities are entitled to a sense of well-being, security, and safety but when senseless violence strikes — motivated by racial or religious hatred – that sense of safety, well-being and security is shaken to its core.

As Americans, we share a common history and a future that is tied to one another – one that requires we fight back against injustice and dismantle systems that perpetuate beliefs of racial superiority and xenophobia. This work is hard — it demands that every day, we engage in actions both big and small to combat an anti-immigrant sentiment or the demonization of groups on the basis of skin color, gender, sexuality or religious practices. In response to these events, we encourage everyone to express your thoughts and feelings, and to discuss our individual and collective responsibility to condemn racial hatred, violence, and bigotry wherever it may appear.

As your community foundation, EBCF is committed to using philanthropy to advance the cause of racial equity and social justice to bring about the health and well-being of communities. We have taken the view that addressing structural inequities requires directing resources to support community-led social movements to build civic engagement that advances political and legislative solutions. By developing community agency and local leadership, communities are equipped with the ability to engage on a range of issues; ensuring they have the essentials necessary to thrive in our region.

Our excitement about EBCF’s first batch of Just East Bay grants has certainly been tempered by this week’s news. However, it is also important that we continue to create the conditions that enable the kind of equitable future to which we aspire. These partner grantee organizations reflect the foundation’s commitment to building community power by partnering with social movements. Our Just East Bay grant partners are focused on several cores areas: 1.) Organizing in marginalized communities; 2.) Deepening the leadership of their members; and 3.) Engaging in an intersectional social justice analysis to build power that enacts community-led systems change at the regional, state, and national levels.

This represents a new way of working for the foundation, but it is one that allows us to continue to support the interests of our donor partners and the immediate needs of the community, while also investing the necessary resources to transform long-term outcomes for this East Bay region that we all care so deeply about.

Your partnership in collectively defining a better future for the East Bay is greatly appreciated. As we march forward in this direction, we will continue to celebrate our success, learn from our failures and make adjustments to ensure that we are steadily moving toward a just East Bay.

James W. Head
President and Chief Executive Officer
East Bay Community Foundation