Where We’re Headed: Learning and Unlearning

As we pilot our re-designed grant program, it is tempting to recount the Maddox racial equity journey with you—charting our work from 2017 to now, both our learning and unlearning. But instead, I’ll point you to the timeline on our website and the series of blog links that appear below. Suffice it to say, change has come through intentional and ongoing struggle.

What will remain the same going forward is our mission—to make Middle Tennessee a better place through partnerships that improve the lives of young people and protect the natural environment. What will change are our grant strategies and practices in hopes of contributing to a more equitable, just and liberating tomorrow.

Sharing June 2022 Partner Meeting Feedback

2022 is a year of rethinking, reimagining and redesigning the Maddox Fund’s grant program.

Input from the community was essential. During the month of June, we heard from our partners through in-person design meetings, virtual gatherings and an online survey. More than 75% of our nonprofit partners participated in this crucial process. Thank you in advance for your generosity and guidance.

Maddox welcomed feedback on how we should conceptualize our grantmaking areas, youth and wildlife conservation, going forward. Participants were asked to review a draft document and rank priorities. Below are those priorities in community rank order.

Youth

  1. Youth Services
  2. Post-secondary Access
  3. Youth & Education Advocacy
  4. Out-of-School Learning
  5. Education Leadership Pipeline Programs

Wildlife Conservation

  1. Community-based Nature Programs
  2. Conservation Advocacy
  3. Environmental Leadership Pipeline Programs
  4. Hunting and Fishing

We also asked our partners what Maddox should be asking itself. Three themes emerged:

  • How does Maddox understand its leadership role in relationship to other foundations, donors and the overall nonprofit well-being?
  • How can we create connections among our partners?
  • How does class analysis play into our grantmaking?

Partners also asked Maddox to:

  • Offer clarifying language (i.e., clarify that the interest in leadership programs is to diversify conservation and education leadership pipelines)
  • Offer specific input on what we do and do not support

The work now returns to the Maddox Grant Committee to integrate community input into the 2023 grant program. We anticipate the following schedule:

  • Fall 2022—Grant redesign presentation to community
  • December 2022—Application goes live
  • March 1, 2023—Applications due
  • May 8, 2023—Grants approved
  • July 1, 2023—Grant payments made

If you would like to share your thoughts or provide any additional feedback, you can email Maddox staff or call the office at 615-385-1006. You may leave feedback anonymously at anytime by using this link.  

Seeking Input from Partners

Over the past few weeks, we have heard from 50 nonprofit partners with input on our redesigned 2023 grant process and priorities. You have made us think, asked essential questions and ranked our future focus areas. Thank you.

Before the Maddox Grant Committee meets to put the final touches on the 2023 grant program, we are inviting your final thoughts and input.  All input before June 30 will be part of the Grant Committee’s conversation.

You can access the slides from the recent partner meetings here.  You can also use the Mentimeter survey to share your thoughts and to rank the sub-categories under Youth and Conservation.  All input before June 30 will be part of the Grant Committee’s conversation.

As always, if you have questions, please reach out to Kaki or Joseph directly:

  • kaki@maddoxfund.org
  • joseph@maddoxfund.org

As a reminder, we have also created a permanent feedback button on our website so you can share your thoughts anonymously at any time.

Transformation Toward Liberation

As an attorney, so much of my work is seeking justice for past wrongs—who was hurt, what restoration can be offered, what sort of punishment fits the crime, etc.  At Maddox, I’m inspired by our shared commitment to making justice a future reality by dismantling historical systems that have marginalized our neighbors and creating new liberating systems to take their place.  Understanding how we put diversity, equity, inclusion, justice – and now, liberation (DEIJL) – into organizational practice has occupied much of the energy of the Maddox board and staff in 2021.

The Maddox Fund promised to keep our partners informed as we continued our DEIJL journey.  We are committed to transparency and want you to know about our discernment and struggles along the way.  Your questions – and challenges – are welcome as we learn and grow together.

Youth Philanthropic Advisory Board Application Open!

The Dan and Margaret Fund is pleased to announce the Youth Philanthropic Advisory Board applications are open! This participatory grantmaking initiative is an effort to share power and integrate the voices of the community in processes. We are currently accepting applications for youth (ages 16-19) to be a part of the inaugural class of advisory board members.  The Youth Philanthropic Advisory Board will also receive a $1,000 stipend for participating.

Public Comment on Draft Rule, Prohibited Concepts in Public Instruction

The Maddox Fund has submitted a public comment on the Tennessee Department of Education’s draft rule related to the implementation of Section 51 of Chapter 493 of the Tennessee Public Acts of 2021. We believe that an understanding of our violent history is necessary for envisioning new and liberating systems and that these punitive measures create hostile work environments for educators and place undue burden on school districts. The full statement can be read below.

Needing More Than a Fresh Coat of Paint

For more than 25 years, I worked with nonprofits providing affordable housing. We were always on the hunt for a house or an available apartment building. I learned to love the smell of fresh paint but also knew to bring an experienced inspector with me.  New paint looks good but frequently covers a myriad of structural issues.  Only by looking beneath the veneer of fresh paint could we know the integrity of the house’s foundation and framing.

On the surface, Maddox has made progress living into our racial equity imperative. Our 2021 grant analysis reveals that we are supporting partners with more diverse boards and more organizations led by and for BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous and People of Color).  We have added partners committed to the movement building essential to systemic change.  Even our Opportunity (out-of-cycle) Grants have grown to be more responsive to the unique challenges faced by Black and diverse leaders.  Our 2021 Young Professional Scholarships at CNM will focus on BIPOC leadership development.

But upon deeper inspection, the Maddox Fund’s policies and practices have perpetuated racial inequity. Examining our most recent 5-year comparison, we found that:

  • The 5 organizations that have received the largest cumulative levels of funding since inception are all white-led organizations
  • Out of the 9 organizations receiving more than $200,000 in total funding, none are BIPOC-led*
  • Out of the 33 organizations receiving more than $100,000 in total funding, only 3 of them are BIPOC-led

2021 Maddox Grant Announcement

Maddox is pleased to partner with 70 nonprofits to continue our mission of improving the lives of young people and furthering wildlife conservation.  Over the past 13 years, the Maddox Fund has granted $28 million dollars in programs and organizations that better the Middle Tennessee community.

“Our philanthropic work is shaped by trust-based culture. Funder-grantee relationships built on trust are stronger and more to responsive to community,“ said Melissa Gordon, chair of the Maddox Grant Committee. “We are re-envisioning grantmaking to ensure we are connected to partners who have the greatest proximity to community needs.”