By Kate Keller
President, The Harvest Foundation
Over the past several months, I referenced Harvest’s equity journey. Our board and staff undertook an intensive learning experience in the Fall of 2020. The conclusion of that process was the creation of our Equity Roadmap- the plan for us to integrate and institutionalize equity into our work. Equity can be a hard concept to get your head around, so here are some practical applications we are doing to become a more equitable organization.
Our first overhaul was diving into our grantmaking process.
Previously, Harvest accepted, reviewed and awarded grants one time per year. This process creates less flexibility for grantees and prevents Harvest from being open to opportunities all year long. This year, Harvest started accepting applications quarterly and we hope this will support our partners by aligning with their timelines, not ours.
The Grant Application was the next effort. Our team reviewed the application and looked for ways to make it simpler, more user friendly and more accessible to organizations of all sizes.
We added equity questions. Equity questions challenge our partners to really think about the dynamics of power, and who is benefiting from the work and who is not. Just by asking the questions, it changes the perspective and creates an opportunity to look down the road and see unintended consequences.
The questions also underscore the importance of including the population of focus in the creation of the work and the operation of the organization. These questions challenge the idea that experts know everything. It invites the voice and ideas of the population served, creating an opportunity to do something that is desired by the community and that might be more sustainable.
We shortened our grants process, making it easier for nonprofits to connect with us and discuss ideas, which helps us better understand their project while also giving us an opportunity to work together on any potential barriers. This is especially important for new or smaller organizations that may need more support but could be serving a community that needs resources.
In addition to reviewing our grantmaking protocols, we made some adjustments to our hiring practices. We recently posted a new position at Harvest and made three significant changes to our process and requirements.
Typically, Harvest would require an advanced degree for a position. We removed this requirement and replaced it with a degree or years of experience. Secondly, we were transparent about the rate of pay. This transparency allows us to ensure that employees are paid a salary that reflects the compensation they deserve. Past practice hid the organization by posting a blind job listing. This new practice creates an open and transparent relationship with potential applicants and makes it clear that all are encouraged to apply.
These are the beginning steps of our Equity Roadmap. Creating an equitable organization doesn’t happen overnight. We are taking the time to be thoughtful, but also feel the urgency to build the best possible organization to serve our community.