The Leeway Foundation supports women & trans* artists and cultural producers working in communities at the intersection of art, culture, and social change in the Greater Philadelphia area. Over the last 15 years, Leeway has actively sought to recognize those whose work is often ignored, silenced, and marginalized (particularly by funders) because of what they create or who they are, such as people of color; immigrants; LGBTQIA communities; poor and working-class people; and people who take risks with art form and content. Leeway’s organizational shifts, we believe, serve as a powerful example of philanthropic disruption.
In this interactive session, using small group conversation and short video content from Leeway’s recent impact assessment, Leeway staff will offer the foundation’s history as a case study of a funder who transitioned from being a predominantly white organization – both in its leadership and its grantees – to one led by people of color focused on challenging the norms of traditional grantmaking. Short video content will serve as exploratory inspiration for philanthropic organizations who are currently on (or are considering) their own journeys to explore the power dynamics of their organizations and how they conduct their work, both internally and externally. Though we recognize that it’s unlikely people will wholesale adopt Leeway’s model, our intent for this session is to use Leeway’s history and experience as a case study to generate ideas amongst the participants, so that they leave the session having made a commitment to explore their own philanthropic power dynamics and tangible steps they can take within their own organizations in the next year to implement at least one idea generated by the session.