Using WRAG’s Voice on Issues That Matter
By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
On March 14, 2017, the WRAG Board of Directors voted to sign on as a supporter of the New Social Compact, a statement of values, practices, and actions being promulgated by professor john a. powell of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley and the first speaker in WRAG’s “Putting Racism on the Table” lecture series. The preface to the document states,
There are certain times in which we are called upon to rethink, reclaim, and boldly articulate what we stand for, and to act, and we believe we are in one of those times today.
By signing on to this document, WRAG as an organization is stating our commitment to the following core values:
- A belief in the dignity and humanity of all people.
- A recognition that all people are connected to each other and to our living planet.
- A belief in the rights of all people to fairly and freely participate in the democratic governing structures that impact their lives.
- A belief in the responsibility of government, markets, and a civil society that work to serve the wellbeing of people, including the right to health care, education, food and shelter.
- A belief that it is untenable to enact policies that suppress opportunity.
- A belief in the rights of free expression under the protection of the government.
The public expression of an organizational commitment to such values is not something that WRAG often does.
Under the leadership of Yanique Redwood, head of the Consumer Health Foundation and vice chair of the WRAG Board, WRAG’s Program and Policy Committee has been considering how WRAG might have more of a voice. WRAG’s strategic plan lifts up our role as a voice for philanthropy as part of our lasting value. The Committee, comprised of representatives of the convening groups under WRAG as well as members at large, believes that as an association of funders, WRAG is uniquely positioned to influence public discourse, public policy and to alert public officials to policy alternatives. With the guidance of this committee, WRAG will seek to:
- Advocate for policies that benefit the social profit sector;
- Utilize the expertise of the working groups, in particular, to promote issue-based polices that foster equity in the region; and,
- Educate WRAG members about their own ability to engage in and fund policy advocacy.
WRAG shares the belief of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We believe that in the past we have not used our voice as powerfully as we could have. Look to WRAG to use our platform to speak out on many more issues that matter.