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.”

What Joseph’s Reading – Summer 2021

I feel like 2021 has gone really fast and really slow at the same time. With the year being halfway through, it’s a bit sad how little reading I’ve been able to get done.  Summer’s really here now though, so I finally have some time to catch up on the stuff accumulating on my nightstand.

I’m currently reading Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown.  This book was sitting on my bookshelf unread until our equity consultant suggested it and reminded me that I had it.  I’ve been struggling with seeing the same old strategies being employed and wanted to find something new, which I think this book does.  It suggests a radically different way of conceptualizing how to be in connection to one another, our community, and the planet; presenting a different way to look at change and going about it.

Also on my nightstand is Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements.  This is an anthology of short stories inspired by the work of Octavia Butler.  adrienne maree brown is also one of the editors.  The stories themselves are attempting to envision a new and liberated future.  I pick the book up and read one of the pieces whenever I have time, so I’m only halfway through it, but it’s been really enjoyable so far.  I think it’s an important reminder that imagination is a requirement in our work towards liberation.

A giant nerd at heart, I spend a lot of reading comic books.  The American comic book industry has been a white, male-dominated space for most of its history, so I’ve been intentionally seeking out diverse characters, plots, and writers.  For Pride Month, I started reading Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer.  It’s a sci-fi story about a “ragtag band of space gays” fighting the patriarchy.  To further diversify the stories I’m reading, I picked up the first issue of Shang-chi vs the Marvel Universe, written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Dike Ruan (two Asian men).  I’m also revisiting the Black Panther series by Ta Nehisi Coates.

I’m always interested in book, podcast and comic recommendations so email me if you think there’s anything I’d like or if you just want to talk about some of the works listed here.

Racism: Individual to Systemic

Doing anti-racist work requires an understanding of how racism is manifested and multiple levels. Check out this video featuring Tribble Consulting and see how Maddox board and staff understand racism from an individual to systemic level.

Tools to build our equitable future

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

I spent the better part of the first two decades of my professional life as the Executive Director of direct service organizations. During that time I witnessed a commitment to improving services, often returning from trainings with a new best practice or working to make program adjustments based on client feedback. The nonprofit community has often been ready to interrogate its assumptions, adapt and move into action—we lean into change.

Not surprisingly, as we wake up to how systemic racism functions in our organizations, nonprofits are responding with a determination to tear down oppressive structures and to build new, liberating systems in their place.

2020 Anti-racism Series

Over the past several weeks we have witnessed the violent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Closer to home Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick are remembered, along with the disproportionate number of our black and brown neighbors who have died from COVID-19. These are the individual faces reflecting the oppressive systems that envelop everyone in their path—no one escapes; the only way forward is together.

Believing each of us wants to be liberated individually and to advance racial justice in our organizations, the Maddox Fund is sharing resources that we have used in our racial justice learning.