Recognizing that we can only achieve our mission of enhancing economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region if all people are afforded opportunities for success, The John R. Oishei Foundation is strongly committed to better understanding and addressing issues of racial equity to create greater opportunities for all.
For too long, Buffalo has been a city divided by race and socioeconomic status. While the region has begun to enjoy revitalization and an improved economy after decades of decline, it continues to grapple with racial inequities that thwart our ability to become the dynamic city we strive to be.
We believe that:
Our region can better prosper if all residents have opportunities that allow them to achieve to the best of their ability by breaking down structural and attitudinal racial barriers.
We must intentionally address issues of race as an economic and moral imperative. While we have historically worked with diverse groups throughout our community, we have not considered issues of race in an intentional way until now.
As a convener and civic leader, we must first examine ourselves to determine how we can assess and intentionally address issues of conscious or unconscious bias and other practices that contribute to inequity in our work.
We are committed to:
A thorough review and assessment of our own practices and biases;
Setting specific goals, evaluating our progress, and focusing on continuous and intentional improvement and learning in order to become a more racially conscious and equitable organization;
Working with our partners to consider racial equity in their own practices and program delivery. This work is a long-term, continuous journey that can be both personal and painful and we look forward to working with and learning from our partners along the way.
GOAL 1 — Embrace and infuse racial equity into the Foundation’s culture.
Engage our staff and Trustees and establish a shared mission and specific goals regarding racial equity
Dedicate Board and staff time and resources to improving racial equity practices
Provide for continuous learning for Board, staff, and partners through all available resources including local, regional and national organizations
Review current practices related to staff hiring, board appointments and vendor choices, (including investment firms); adopt practices and develop relationships that will create a pipeline of future candidates that promote racial equity
GOAL 2 — In partnership with our grantees, strategically focus on and work to eliminate racial equity gaps.
Collect and document diversity-related information about grantees and their work;
Encourage and support racial equity practices in our grantee’s work
Share our learning and guidance and that of local, regional and national organizations
Identify tools and work to build grantee capacity in integrating racial equity into their work
Identify grantmaking opportunities to address racial equity
GOAL 3 — Establish the Foundation as a leader and encourage others to adopt practices that will deepen our collective commitment to racial equity for the betterment of our community.
Establish a peer learning community to communicate and share learning
Encourage and support racial equity work among peers and in collaborative and collective action efforts.
Ensure all work is collaborative and transparent
GOAL 4 — Track our progress and share with the community.
Establish baseline efforts and regularly audit our progress