Sankofa Summer

Sankofa is a West African concept that invites us to reach back to gather the best of what our past has taught us in order to reach our fullest potential as we move forward. In July and August 2020, EPIP held a series of virtual events that used the principles of Sankofa to meet this moment in history with a focus on Decolonizing Stories, Disrupting the Status Quo, and Embracing Collective Approaches to Healing


Opening Plenary

Sessions: Sankofa!! Paving the Way for Women of Color Leaders in Philanthropy, a discussion between the women of color who have helped to shape and build the EPIP we see today. Listen in as EPIP ED Storme Gray, EPIP Board of Advisors Treasurer Michelle Jaramillo, former EPIP Board Chairs Jasmine Hall Ratliff and Melissa Hewitt, and EPIP's initial angel funder Linetta Gilbert have a wide-ranging conversation that includes the following gems:

  • "Everything you do in philanthropy takes good research and courage."- Linetta Gilbert
  • "I believe we are all powerful in our own ways, whatever our titles may be. It's what we do with that power that matters." - Storme Gray

Learn More: 


Decolonizing Stories

Elevating the forgotten histories of giving and philanthropy in communities of color.

Sessions included:

  • Abolition: Re-defining Free & Safe for Communities of Color By Those Most Impacted - "Abolition is not just what you tear down. It's what you build up." An in-depth conversation from the organizers and movement leaders who have been re-imagining safety without law enforcement and helping people live free from the carceral state.
  • Reimagining Evaluation and Research in Service of Racial Equity - Evaluation and research in the social sector have often been used, consciously or unconsciously, as a tool to perpetuate systemic oppression and reinforce power dynamics between those with resources and those in need. In this talk, Efraín Gutiérrez of the Obama Foundation shared how they can instead be used as tools to drive equity and justice.
  • Reframing Philanthropy: Time-Talent-Treasure - "No building bears their names. No boardroom displays their portraits. No foundation sustains their legacy. And yet, the philanthropists best known to me are the ones in my family, church, and hometown." Valaida Fullwood, and those working with her on the Soul of Philanthropy project, are working to uplift Black-led social change models and tell the story of Black giving. In this conversation, they discussed their work, insights, and what the philanthropic sector can learn from Black philanthropy.

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Disrupting the Status Quo

Highlighting those who are pushing forward transformative work in the sector which is rooted in the knowledge and wisdom of communities of color.

Sessions included:

  • Can't Change What You Can't See: Demographic Data Learning Lab - An in-depth session on how philanthropy can gather better demographic information from grantees, beneficiaries, and institutions - and why that data is so important as a tool for understanding grantmaking and holding the sector accountable.
  • Grounding in Our Truths for More Effective, Genuine and Humanizing Racial Justice Conversations - Conversations about racial justice can be fraught - this session covered how to make those conversations more genuine and effective with hands-on tools for humanizing conversation.
  • Navigating Entrenched Philanthropic Systems from Within - A talk from philanthrofolk who have created change within their institutions about how they created important shifts from inside and outside philanthropy and how others can move the needle no matter your title or level of formal authority.
  • People's Orientation to Grantmaking for a Just Transition: A Talk by It Takes Roots -"Transition is inevitable, justice is not." A deeper look at the Just Transition framework (and how philanthropy can help move Just Transition forward) from those who are working on the ground to make it a reality.
  • Transforming philanthropy and building grassroots power through 501(C)(4) resources - A talk delving into the 501(c)(4) organizational structure and how it can be used to help activists and social movements achieve their goals of change in new transformative ways.

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Embracing Collective Approaches to Healing

Viewing healing as an integral part of self-care to ensure one's longevity and sustainability to continue in this work.

Sessions included:

  • Creating a Culture of Healing and Emotional Self Care to Disrupt White Supremacy - An introduction to Brave Space Building as a way to create a work culture that confronts and disrupts white supremacy cultural norms to encourage healing and better prepare for the work ahead. 
  • Collective Challenges, Communal Solutions: Perspectives from the US-Mexico Border - Organizations working at the US - Mexico border shared their efforts to support the long-term resilience and well-being of their local communities.

Learn More:


We hope you enjoyed Sankofa Summer as much as we did - we'll see you at the next virtual event!


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  • Erin Roberts
    published this page in Events 2020-10-01 15:34:38 -0400