Raikes Foundation 2020 Annual Report

A note from Dennis Quirin, Executive Director, Raikes Foundation

When I left Oakland in late 2019 to move to Seattle with my family to become the new executive director of the Raikes Foundation, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. Not only did I need to get up to speed on the organization I was now leading, but my kids needed new schools, my family needed a home, and we needed to get to know Seattle. I had barely worked out my dog walking routine when COVID-19 hit.

One of the reasons I was excited to take on this new challenge is that Tricia and Jeff Raikes seemed open. They and their foundation had reached a place in their learning about systemic oppression and racial equity where they were actively incorporating new ways of working and were eager to go deeper.

My roots are in community organizing, and true to those roots, I offered this to Tricia and Jeff: I believe that philanthropy’s next chapter should focus on mending a society riven with individualism. Finding our way out of these acrimonious and chaotic times requires building back a real sense of community and responsibility for one another, and philanthropy has a role to play in both mending the rifts it has created and creating a new, just world. I struck a chord.

If we look around it’s easy to see how the crises set in motion last year are each exacerbated by an increasingly individualized society whose belief in a common cause has dangerously eroded. A global pandemic requires mutual sacrifice and a strong safety net to combat; advancing racial justice requires a shared understanding of our history and the inequities it produces; a healthy democracy requires the collective will to build a more perfect union for everyone, not just a privileged few. In 2020, the shortcomings of an overly individualistic worldview were exposed for all to see.

That exposure is the silver lining of a tough year. Crisis has sharpened our vision. In response to George Floyd’s murder, millions took to the streets to demand justice, many for the first time. In response to a corrupt and racist president who refused to fight the pandemic, more people than ever made their voices heard at the ballot box, despite multiple hurdles put in their way. Crisis has momentarily jolted all of us out of our comfortable reality and forced us all to adapt, including our foundation.

The Raikes Foundation has always believed in long-term systems change work versus short-term emergency response. But last year required something different from philanthropy, and we’re fortunate our trustees and our grantee partners see the value in adapting to the moment. We have deep relationships with our partners and the trust we’ve built over the years allowed us to get the kind of candid feedback we needed to make shifts, like converting much of our 2020 funding into general operating support. We tried out new ways of working, which you’ll read about in this report.

In 2020, we saw both how challenging it will be and how possible it is to begin to transform America into a more equitable nation. We saw a country capable of mass demonstrations and civic engagement that demanded responses from elected officials, corporations, and yes, philanthropists. At times we managed to break through a fractured media environment and create the shared experiences essential to believe in a shared destiny. In ways big and small, we all connected with our friends, neighbors, and strangers through kindness. Those acts of humanity point us in the right direction. If we follow this path together, if we can build the kind of resilient communities and connections that renew our belief in a common fate, we can turn this momentary adaptation into enduring change.


Washington State Student & Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund

In early March, as Washington’s schools shuttered to slow the spread of COVID-19, alarm bells were going off for those of us working with homeless young people across the state. For all students, school provides the daily stability they need to grow and learn, but for students experiencing homelessness, schools also provide essential services like meals, hygiene, and safety, as well as emotional support. Couple those losses with the challenges of online learning without a stable home, a computer, or internet access, the barriers to education for students experiencing homelessness are immense.

As we grappled with how we would respond to COVID-19, it was clear to us that students and young people experiencing homelessness must be a top priority, and that our usual systems-focused approach may not meet the needs of the moment.

“We’ve always worked to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness through a long-term, systems-focused lens, but the pandemic forced us to acknowledge that our community needed help now. They needed housing and access to proper sanitation to avoid infection. They needed financial support to ensure housing stability, regular meals, electricity, and internet access. For students, staying connected to school was critical.” – Paula Carvalho, Program Officer

Working with our longtime partners at Building Changes, we quickly established the Washington State Student and Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund. Within weeks, Building Changes was able to establish a streamlined process for frontline service organizations and schools across Washington State to receive flexible grant dollars which could be used on anything from housing to personal protective equipment (PPE), internet access, or healthcare.

“Due to COVID, I lost my job for two months and drained all of my savings to take care of my two children. Once I got a job again, I was starting from negatives. I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep internet access going for my daughter who is in school or keep clothes on my growing 8-month-old. This help has made all the difference.” – Young adult, sharing about her experience with Unkitawa, a grantee of the fund

After consulting directly with young people who had previously experienced homelessness, the fund incorporated a focus on racial and LGBTQ+ equity into its approach, as well as geographic diversity. Youth advocates stressed the importance of ensuring young people in rural areas of the state had equitable access to vital services like shelter. Youth advocates also stressed the importance of making funding as flexible as possible so that recipients could respond quickly to their most urgent needs.

“The things that Building Changes is paying for are things that nobody else is paying for – diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products… we’ve been able to have tents for both sun and rain and hand out everything that people need and pay [staff] to be there when we wouldn’t usually be open.” – Leslie Van Leishout, North Thurston Public Schools, sharing about their drive-through resource center

To date the fund has awarded more than $4.1 million in grants to frontline organizations and schools in more than 20 counties across the state. More than 75 percent of the funding has gone to support BIPOC youth and students.

Key Lessons Learned

  • “This fund helped us put a lot of things we talk about, like centering the voices of young people and breaking down complicated grantmaking processes, into practice. For us, this process further solidified how critical it is to include communities and young people from the very beginning of the process so that those being impacted have a voice in decisions each step of the way. We wanted this response fund to make a real difference in people’s lives, and it did, because the people most impacted by COVID-19 had a seat at the table.” – Paula Carvalho, Program Officer, Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Strategy
  • “By centering young people and community and ensuring the fund was responsive and easy, the results ended up being far more impactful and equitable. More young Black, Indigenous, and people of color were served. Funding went out to many organizations who didn’t previously have a connection to us, but who were deeply grounded in their communities. Hopefully, the enduring results will be that these organizations will continue to receive public and private funding, the field of student and youth homelessness providers will diversify, and more BIPOC young people and families will get the support they need and deserve.” - Casey Trupin, Director, Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Strategy
  • “Supporting our partners in the field to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on young people experiencing homelessness has helped us build new muscle as a team. We learned how to move with the urgency based on the need in our community, how to follow the lead of young people with lived experience of homelessness, and how to work across our internal teams to advance the systems change that we hope will ultimately prepare our communities to support all young people through the next crisis.” – Zoe Stemm-Calderon, Director, National Education Strategy


Black Leadership & Power Fund

In the summer of 2020, we watched and participated in the unprecedented racial justice demonstrations that swept across the country in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. In support of the Black-led, multiracial, and intergenerational movements rising up in every corner of our country, we launched the Black Leadership & Power Fund. Conceived of and led by Black staff and staff of color, the Black Leadership & Power Fund was explicitly unconstrained by existing programmatic work. Black staff and staff of color deployed more than $1 million for Black-led organizations dedicated to power building, civic participation, and anti-racist policy change. With the freedom to think creatively about the most impactful ways to bring about change, staff deployed capital within weeks to new and existing partners.

Representative partners in the Black Leadership & Power Fund include:

“The Black Leadership & Power Fund has put us in relationship with Black-led organizations at the forefront of the fight for racial justice. Supporting their work in this moment of promise and opportunity was a moral imperative for the foundation. As a foundation that believes in systems change, it was important for us to better understand how social change is happening now. This fund has allowed us to put our resources where our learning edge is in ways that will be helpful for our work moving forward. ” – Dennis Quirin, Executive Director

We’ve already taken a number of lessons from this fund. Most critical among them is the importance of diversity and proximity for philanthropic staff. Black staff and staff of color sparked the idea for the fund and leveraged existing relationships and lived experience to arrive at funding decisions quickly.

"One of the superpowers of the Raikes Foundation is that the staff are experts in their respective fields, and they remain intimate and proximate in those fields beyond their specific roles. We have a diverse staff at the table who can elevate not only their professional expertise, but also their experience of being Black or a person of color in America. That allowed us to act, rather than being stymied.” – Gisele Shorter, Program Officer, National Education Strategy

Our hope is that the Black Leadership & Power Fund and the relationships and lessons we are working to develop will inform our work for years to come. No one fund is going to end systemic racism or build the political power necessary to change the laws and institutions in this country that have oppressed Black people for generations. But through the Black Leadership & Power Fund, we joined a movement in a new way for our organization.

“Getting to ‘yes’ on this fund started years ago with the hiring of more BIPOC team members and our first staff and trustee conversations about systemic oppression. It took every learning session, every hard conversation, and every act of bravery, big and small, by our Black staff members especially, to get our foundation to a place where it was ready and able to commit resources to organizations well outside our established strategy areas.” – Lindsay Hill, former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Key Lessons Learned

  • Proximity and diversity are crucial to successful rapid response efforts. Black staff and staff of color were able to leverage existing relationships and lived experience to quickly get resources to grantee partners having real impact in communities.
  • There are multiple tools we can deploy in service of impact. The strategy for the Black Leadership & Power Fund was co-developed between the foundation and the Raikes family office. The family office was positioned to deploy other types of capital, thereby expanding the types of organizations and activities supported under the larger umbrella fund.

2020 Strategy Summaries

National Education Strategy

Our national education strategy is focused on redesigning our country’s inequitable education system so that all young people have access to rich, challenging educational environments that instill a sense of belonging and supports them to thrive.

In 2020, education leaders navigated a sea of intersecting national crises, all of which disproportionately impacted BIPOC students, low-income students, and students experiencing homelessness. The emergence of COVID-19 left students, families, and educators scrambling to adapt to online learning. At the same time, a deep economic crisis caused millions of students to experience housing instability, food insecurity and a host of mental health issues, while further exacerbating resource inequities in schools. The racial and social reckoning caused by the murder of George Floyd spurred nationwide protests that dovetailed with local and national organizing for safe and equitable schools. Together, these overlapping crises laid bare the urgent need to redesign schools and systems in service of equity and highlighted the need to create environments where all students feel a sense of belonging.

Last year we adapted our work in three key ways.

First, we moved to meet our grantee partners’ immediate needs. We shifted a number of our grants from program-specific funding to general operating grants to allow for maximum flexibility, provided additional strategic support to aid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, and connected our grantees to new funders to help organizations weather an uncertain funding environment.

Next, we adapted our existing strategies to meet the emergent needs of educators and systems leaders. The pandemic, as well as a growing awareness of structural racism by education leaders, created an acute demand for rapid response guidance and implementation tools. We met that demand by supporting our partners in the BELE Network to develop and disseminate the BELE Framework, a guide for educators, system leaders, and communities to ensure schools have the tools to build learning environments that foster positive student experiences and reliably produce equitable student outcomes. Our partners in the Student Experience Project developed tools and resources to help post-secondary students and educators adapt to the pandemic. The Student Experience Project also launched Copilot/Ascend, a data-driven professional learning program that enables college instructors and administrators to learn how their students are experiencing courses and what they can do to make those experiences more equitable, more engaging, and more supportive of student success.

COVID-19 also brought resource equity to the forefront in all 50 states. Through our partnership with the Resource Equity Funders Collaborative (REFC), we accelerated our timeline for grants to grasstops and grassroot coalitions in eight states, moving critical resources to support education and awareness around the equitable distribution of CARES Act funding, defense against inequitable budget cuts, and efforts to expand funding to meet students’ needs. We also continued to support the field of research, advocacy, legal, organizing, and technical assistance organizations to work together toward the goal of equitable funding and resources for schools.

And finally, we sustained our work with partners to align the education field around the importance of centering equity, youth and community leadership, and the science of learning and development. Partners like the Student Experience Research Network, SOLD Alliance, Center for the Developing Adolescent, BELE Network all offered perspectives on drivers of inequity and evidence-based methods for addressing them. Communities for Just Schools Fund released their report, "Reclaiming Social-Emotional Learning", with the perspectives from dozens of youth organizing leaders on what makes schools holistically safe. In a white paper, Transcend explored how schools and systems can address near-term challenges from 2020’s crises in ways that set the stage for more equitable approaches to recovery and reinvention. And in an address to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Jeff Raikes highlighted the need for higher education to attend to student experience as a lever for equity.

Key Lessons Learned

  • Strong relationships are essential to moving quickly during crisis. As COVID-19 upended the education field, deep relationships with our grantee and funder partners allowed us to respond rapidly to urgent needs. We are grateful for the strength of our partnerships.
  • Our country’s inequitable education system is held in place by an inequitable democracy, and vice versa. It is essential that we continue to learn about power and practice shifting, ceding, and sharing power with the community to support and sustain transformational change.
  • This year demonstrated the importance of strong narratives to support equitable change. As we look to 2021, we will work with our partners to build stronger narratives to advance equity-focused analyses and strategies across diverse audiences.
  • The most promising paths forward for the education system lie at the intersection of the science of learning and human development, equity, and community leadership.

Youth and Young Adult Homelessness

Our goal is to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness throughout the United States. We envision a future where every community has a coordinated strategy and the resources it needs to prevent young people from ever experiencing homelessness and to quickly respond if a young person does find themselves without shelter.

The COVID-19 pandemic was uniquely challenging for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. As public health officials pleaded with the public to stay home and practice rigorous hygiene, young people experiencing homelessness lacked stable shelter and access to basic sanitation. As schools closed, students lost access to regular meals, critical services, and stable relationships with caring adults. The economic fallout of the virus has very likely increased the number of young people experiencing homelessness, though the impacts of the crisis are still unfolding.

Last year we worked to balance the urgent needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, their families, and our grantee partners, while also advancing key systemic changes to prevent and end homelessness.

In response to COVID-19, our team collaborated with the foundation’s national education strategy team and with our long-time grantee partner Building Changes to launch the Washington State Student and Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund, detailed in the spotlight above.

At the national level, our close grantee partner A Way Home America continued to make strides with the Grand Challenge, a project to end homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color in 10 communities around the country. Four communities in the cohort have created by-name lists of young people experiencing homeless, a key milestone for ensuring a community can quickly house those young people, and a critical step to ensure every community will be pushing toward quality, reliable data on youth experiencing homelessness in 2021.

In Washington State, A Way Home Washington’s Anchor Communities Initiative has helped four communities achieve both by-name lists and quality data, and those communities are beginning to leverage that data to increase the rate of housing placements for young people and preventing young people from becoming homeless. The state’s Office of Homeless Youth also issued a plan detailing the efforts to stem the tide of young people moving from public systems of care (like child welfare, criminal justice, and behavioral health) into homelessness.

In King County, Washington, the number of young people experiencing homelessness has been steadily declining since 2017, however as of this writing, it is not yet clear what impact COVID-19 will have on that trend. Fortunately, the community is receiving more than $2.7 million annually from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to continue the interventions originally developed through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, an initiative to pilot and implement solutions to end youth homelessness.

Key Lessons Learned

  • Racial equity and youth empowerment are essential for justice and impact. When we give young people with lived experience decision-making power, solutions are more effective and equitable. In 2020, 17 of our grants (totaling more than $1.2 million) centered youth voice and leadership and/or race and LGBTQ+ equity.
  • We cannot equitably address youth homelessness without focusing on preventing homelessness. Youth have advocated for increased focus on upstream systems for years, but the sector has been slow to respond. That must change if we’re going to end youth homelessness.
  • When community and government take collective responsibility for ending youth homelessness, center the lived experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth, and have the data they need to advance solutions, they can begin to reduce the number of young people experiencing homelessness.

Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative

The goal of the Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative is to support more donors to focus on equity, effectiveness, and systems change, and to give in ways that are aligned with impact-driven philanthropy principles and practices. Individual donors contribute 80 percent of the funding that flows to nonprofit organizations, and the Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative seeks support those donors to give as effectively as possible.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice protests, Americans were more generous than ever. Record contributions flowed to nonprofits via Giving Tuesday, from donor-advised funds, and through major gifts. Foundations and individual donors continued to recognize the importance of applying a racial equity lens to their giving and many loosened restrictions on funding, as exemplified by MacKenzie Scott’s $6 billion in giving last year. In partnership with the National Center for Family Philanthropy, Giving Compass aggregated more than 600 pooled giving funds serving communities across the country.

While 2020’s giving set records, challenges remain as we work to shift donors toward equity, effectiveness, and systems change. An analysis by Giving Compass showed that less than 5 percent of COVID-19 community response funds had an explicit focus on equity and systemic change, and only 14 percent even mentioned BIPOC communities in their framework. Roughly 30 percent of all giving is directed by individuals who are among the top 1 percent of income and wealth, most of whom are white. And, prior to 2020, the number of Americans who give had reached an all-time low. It remains to be seen whether the generosity we saw in 2020 is a momentary blip or can be sustained in ways which support a more just world.

In 2020, we worked to build a more equitable, accessible, coordinated, and diverse system of donor support. We also worked with BIPOC-led donor-support organizations and supported new models while sharing examples of donors who live into the core tenets to influence others.

Through the Impact-Driven Philanthropy Collaborative (IDPC), we helped more donor-support organizations strengthen their connections to one another, as well as deepen their understanding of power, privilege, and equity. Some organizations reported that through their work with the IDPC, they were able to not only influence their members’ thinking around racial equity, but also shift their organization’s strategy and practices. To help further our work to understand the field of donor-support, the IDPC completed a landscape scan of donor education organizations, which showed a rapidly growing sector. We also funded market research on those with significant wealth to guide the ecosystem’s efforts to reach and engage more donors.

Through our grantmaking, we deepened our partnership with BIPOC-led donor support organizations, like the Donors of Color Network and Camelback Ventures, as well as organizations advancing innovative approaches to giving and sharing power, like Just Fund and Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Key Lessons Learned

  • Our hypothesis has been that there are barriers of “will” (e.g. psychology of wealth accumulation, racism and implicit bias) and barriers of “way” (e.g. access to knowledge, time, difficulty, etc.) that get in the way of more dollars being given in ways that promote equity, effectiveness, and systems change. In 2020, we saw significant shifts in “will” primarily driven by leaders of color, and some progress on “way” barriers (for example, an increase in the number of pooled funds that put decision-making in the hands of those with lived experience). We want to continue to focus on more solutions to “way” while sustaining “will.”
  • We can serve as a unique connecting mechanism between mainstream donor support organizations and those leading on equity and social justice, while keeping in mind the importance of ensuring these leaders’ time is valued and properly compensated.
  • Transparency about our work and objectives is crucial as we work to deepen connections with our current partners and build new partnerships.

2020 By The Numbers

Raikes Foundation Total Expenditures

Grantmaking by Strategy

Statement of Financial Position

As of Dec. 31, 2019 (unaudited)

Reflections on 2020

A Note from Tricia Raikes

The past year’s events placed a mirror in front of our national identity. The reflection was, all at once, frightening, dispiriting, hopeful, and galvanizing. COVID-19 demonstrated what anyone who was paying attention already knew – our safety net was threadbare and that BIPOC people suffered the most. People we relied on every day were put in harm’s way just by doing their jobs, often without adequate healthcare, childcare, and income security.

The overt racial violence we witnessed was finally at an apex that America could no longer ignore. During this terrifying lockdown, a renewed movement for racial justice began, with a multiracial and intergenerational coalition making their voices heard in large numbers. Just when we had hoped to turn a corner to start 2021, our country withstood a violent assault on the Capitol. Our democracy, much like our health, economic, and social fabric, proved vulnerable and in need of reinforcement.

Through it all, the courage and resilience on display pushed our country forward. From the sacrifices we made to keep one another safe through the pandemic, the nationwide marches for Black Lives, and the record-breaking turnout in the election, we proved that we could rise to any challenge when we work together. Now it’s time to ask a different question: How do we turn this momentum into transformative change for those who have been denied a fair shot for so long?

We must set our ambitions higher as a nation. Our goal should not be to return to "normal." Because normal means Black, Indigenous, and people of color continue to be at a much higher risk of death – not just from COVID-19, but at the hands of police, in the delivery room, and from chronic disease. Normal means we accept a weak democracy that advantages those who are white and wealthy over everyone else and fails to address our most urgent challenges. Normal means an education system that has, since its founding, failed students who are not white. Normal means an economy that perpetuates homelessness and food insecurity. Going back to normal would be a failure of imagination, aspiration, and our moral duty to our neighbors and young people.

A good place to start is to listen to young people who have been leading movements to fight for Black lives, protect transgender youth, stand up for environmental justice, end senseless gun violence, and more. I participated in a children’s march for Black lives in Seattle with my daughter last summer. That day, I saw the world I want to live in and help build: One where young people effortlessly center the voices of those who are the most marginalized and honor people’s identities to create a sense of belonging and possibility.

Philanthropy’s role is to listen to and support these youth-led movements – to support building communities where your identity does not impose limits on your potential, health, or safety. Well-intentioned though philanthropy may be, the old way of doing things will not deliver overdue transformation. White people designing solutions for communities need to give way to supporting solutions designed by communities.

Jeff and I and our colleagues at the Raikes Foundation have been on a learning journey for several years. We have made meaningful progress. We spent the better part of the past year expanding who we talk to, who we fund, and how we invest. While young people have always been our focus, we are also exploring how we can support building a more resilient and inclusive democracy. We’ve encouraged other philanthropists to give differently: To step away from an emphasis on technical solutions and impact metrics and lean in more to support organizations focused on taking on adaptive challenges with a human-centered approach.

What gives me the most hope at this unsettled moment is that there are no longer any illusions about the enormity of the task at hand. Enduring transformation is within reach. We’ll need to be clear-eyed about the choices that move us forward, and we’ll have to overcome fears of loss. We collectively must strengthen our “inescapable network of mutuality.”

With vaccines rolling out rapidly across the country, I can almost feel the collective rolling up of the sleeves among our outstanding grantees and partners, and I can’t wait to be back in the community with everyone, doing this hard work together. We should hold each other accountable along the way. As Ibram X. Kendi has written, “We are surrounded by racial inequity, as visible as the law, as hidden as our private thoughts. The question for each of us is: what side of history will you stand on?”

For Jeff and me, we strive to answer this question with intention each day through the words we speak, the communities we work with, and the work we support. We are grateful to be in this work alongside you.

Tricia Raikes, Co-Founder, Raikes Foundation