Edgar Villanueva Author, Decolonizing Wealth

“Edgar outlines with compassion and clarity thoughtful and practical steps toward aligning our money with our values. There are important lessons here for anyone working in finance or philanthropy.” —Keith Mestrich, President and CEO, Amalgamated Bank


Edgar Villanueva is a nationally-recognized expert on social justice philanthropy and author of Decolonizing Wealth, a new book released on October 16, 2018 by Berrett-Koehler Publishing which offers hopeful and compelling alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the philanthropic and social finance sectors.

Edgar currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Native Americans in Philanthropy; a Board Member of the Andrus Family Fund; and Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education. In addition to working in philanthropy for many years, he has consulted with numerous nonprofit organizations and national and global philanthropies on advancing racial equity inside of their institutions and through their investment strategies.


“What if we could use wealth to heal rather than cause further harm? What if money was spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market?” - NoVo Foundation Presidents Jennifer and Peter Buffett (Foreword, Decolonizing Wealth)

Blaming banksters and capitalism for the awful mess that is 21st Century America has become a popular pastime among academics, activists and economists, whose bestsellers propose their signature solutions. Yet one place where solutions are never sought is Native America. With Decolonizing Wealth, a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance, the award-winning Native funder Edgar Villanueva steps into that space, with a prescription for restoring balance and healing our divides.

With 2016’s Standing Rock protests, the largest Native American action in at least a century, the world was reminded of Indigenous power and resilience. In Decolonizing Wealth, Villanueva proposes that Native ways and worldviews offer not just valuable but essential guidance in transforming the institutions that control access to money.

America has never before seen an analysis of philanthropic and financial institutions like Decolonizing Wealth.


“Decolonizing Wealth is a must-read for philanthropists and donors looking to achieve the change we want to see in the world. Compelling, honest, and kind, Edgar is clear that we must free funding resources and the philanthropic sector itself from frameworks that further exacerbate the problems rather than bring us closer to identifying and activating the solutions.” —Alicia Garza, Co-Creator of Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Principal, Black Futures Lab
“Due to years of detrimental federal Indian policy and discriminatory economic systems, Native American communities have been marginalized and left out of the economic opportunity experienced by other Americans. Edgar offers a new vision and an Indigenous perspective that can put us on a better path. Everyone should read Decolonizing Wealth, especially those who control the flow of resources in government, philanthropy, and finance.” —LaDonna Harris (Comanche), politician, activist, and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity
“By anchoring the solutions to America’s ills in the wisdom and knowledge of its original people, Edgar challenges all of us to analyze how our nation’s history of racism and disenfranchisement has infected its financial and giving institutions.”—Heather McGhee, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos
“Having been both grant-seeker and grant-maker, I welcome any wisdom that can release us from a relationship of paternalism and enable true partnership. Nothing is more important to decolonize than money -- without it, change is slower and harder, and comes too late for too many people. Edgar Villanueva is a fresh voice in the money scene, one we should all heed.” —Rinku Sen, author and strategist



Edgar Villanueva's May 2018 Op-Ed in the Stanford Social Innovation Review:

"The system of capitalism, by its nature, uses wealth as a tool to divide, control, and exploit us. And unfortunately, even the white knights of the money world—the institutions of philanthropy and ethical investing—can perpetuate trauma and spread what I call the “colonizer virus..."
"With few exceptions, funders reinforce the colonial division of us versus them, haves versus have-nots, and mostly white saviors and white experts versus poor, needy, urban, disadvantaged, marginalized, at-risk people (take your pick of euphemisms for people of color). I know this because I’ve spent the past 14 years working in foundations and advising high-net-worth individuals, but the statistics also speak for themselves: Ninety-two percent of foundation CEOs and 89 percent of foundation boards are white, and only 7-8 percent of foundation funding goes specifically to people of color."


Looking to build out a conference or social sector engagement? Decolonizing Wealth is currently accepting inquiries for Edgar to present or speak at conferences and events in late 2018 and 2019!

Please direct all media requests to interview Edgar and/or to be sent a review copy of Decolonizing Wealth to Janet Dickerson at janet@humanimpactsolutions.com.

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