Shoulder to Shoulder: A Message to Our Community

Dear Pioneer Valley Community,

Like many of you, we find ourselves reeling from the horrific racism, injustice and deaths we are witnessing, and it leaves us in anguish. We hear the cries of pain and anger of the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and of thousands of protestors. We at the Community Foundation see you, and we stand with you.

We are also asking how we can do more. How will we, as a charitable foundation, shoulder our full responsibility to our community—and to everyone in our community? We don’t have all the answers, but we know we must start where we are, recommit to that work every day, and do this work with others.

The Foundation has set its sights on creating equity and opportunity for all people in our region. We will do so in ways where we have a high level of skill and in new ways where we will need practice and expert assistance. Most importantly, we are committed to listening and deepening our understanding of the experiences of people of color.

We are focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in organizations and businesses throughout the region, starting with ourselves. We are launching a year-long deep dive into this work next week for Foundation staff and Trustees. As an organization, we are at the very start of our learning journey. We will be writing about this work in a blog series that will share our approach, the challenges and opportunities we face, and the progress we make. We plan to share the first post next week.

We will continue to use an equity lens for our COVID response and recovery grantmaking, in our Valley Creates initiative, and in our scholarship program. Katie will also continue to speak up and share her thinking on her Twitter feed, the Community Foundation’s blog and other communications.

Please be in conversation with us on any of our social media accounts. We will continue to seek partners in this work, and we will keep finding new ways to advance our vision of equity and opportunity for all.

We hope you will join us, shoulder to shoulder, in this effort to create a better future.

In unity,

Elizabeth Sillin, Trustee Chair

Paul Murphy, Distribution Committee Chair and Trustee Vice Chair

Katie Allan Zobel, President and CEO