In my current role, I have the pleasure of leading our new focus giving portfolio called "Inclusive Communities and Culture (ICC)." This portfolio is aimed at enhancing access and equity in our communities through our diversity and inclusion, arts and culture and basic human needs philanthropic investments. We don't pretend we know it all – we are looking for proven effective partners who are impactful in the work that they do and care about the responsibility efforts we want to focus on. Although many of these community partners aren't necessarily new, creation of this new combined portfolio allows us to deepen existing partnerships, explore new ones and collaborate in new and different ways.
Part of what we want to do in the ICC portfolio is expand access and equity to community members that have not been able to participate in some of these rich cultural experiences because they're just worried about the basics – putting food on the table, clothing, shelter, etc. A lot of our partners have begun to understand that it's important that they begin to diversify their programming, exhibitions and staffs – turning these institutions into places everyone wants to visit because they are welcoming and reflect the diversity of the community.
One way we've seen our aim for this portfolio come to life is through our partnership with the Richmond Symphony. As they were recently seeking their new conductor, they interviewed the most diverse candidate slate they have ever had in the history of the organization. As part of the interview process, each candidate conducted a concert. We collaborated with the Symphony and found an innovative way to provide free access to more diverse audiences from the community. We connected our own diversity-focused employee resource groups, non-profits and youth serving organizations who could see themselves reflected in those conductors, to experience the Symphony, and many for the first time. This is a perfect example of a successful partnership that resulted in exposing new audiences to some of Richmond’s vibrant cultural assets.