We were honored, inspired and thrilled to engage over a hundred philanthropic leaders on October 22 in a deep-dive workshop to explore how their funding investments can foster greater equity and positive social impact. The workshop was offered as part of the Council of Michigan Foundations‘ 48th Annual Conference Building Inclusive Environments: Together on the Journey. We partnered with the Governors Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL), a unique organization housed in Michigan state government that develops strategic partnerships between philanthropy and the executive branch of state government to create better outcomes for all Michigan citizens. This session was part of OFL’s safety network, now focused on COVID while setting the ground work for long-term systems change.

The core of the workshop was our newly-launched virtual Social Determinants Empathy-to-Action Workshop. The workshop is grounded in a short simulation that offers participants an opportunity to experience the perspective of a family as they deal with common conditions faced by people living in poverty.  The group engaged in focused discussion to share insights and ways to prevent or mitigate social barriers that drive inequities. 

After this experience, three funders from urban and rural areas in Michigan with long histories addressing social barriers shared their reflections and wisdom. Their thoughts, and those offered by many other participants, explored opportunities for funders to translate empathy-informed insights into more impactful action.

Hats off the leaders and participants at the Council of Michigan Foundations and Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison for their courage and commitment in exploring transformational change!