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April 28, 2021

Taking Lessons Learned into 2021

As promised, we took some time to look back on a year that fundamentally challenged how we do our work. 2020 taught all of us that we can only plan so far ahead, which further strengthens Barra’s commitment to remain flexible and open to new approaches and ideas. Though it’s easy to feel like hope is on the horizon, as more people become vaccinated and greater action is being taken to combat systemic racism, we can’t forget how far we’ve come together, including the ways in which philanthropy – and Barra’s work in particular – has adapted.

FROM 2020…

  • As we move further into the year, many institutions are sharing how they responded to COVID-19 shaking the world. Our shift in grantmaking enabled grantees to continue strengthening communities throughout Greater Philadelphia and taught Barra some lessons along the way, too. In the same spirit of learning, this story reflects on our 2020 grantmaking to consider how to move forward throughout 2021 and beyond.
  • In January, we let you know we were working on a summary of our 2020 efforts to summarize what our role has been in our grantmaking and support of nonprofit partners. Please see our new webpage that highlights our responses to COVID-19 and the fight against racial injustice to-date, and more importantly, showcases the organizations on the frontlines.

…INTO 2021

  • In terms of our grantmaking, we are continuing our Recovery and Response Efforts, with the Board recently approving $50,000 to Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund and $200,000 to the Philadelphia Foundation’s Black Leaders/Black Communities Fund. To be more responsive to emerging and evolving needs, our Barra Awards remain on hold. We have maintained our Catalyst Fund as well and its focus on risk capital for novel approaches that have a far-reaching ripple effect. For folks who think they have an idea that could be a good fit, we encourage you to fill out a very brief LOI here.
  • For Beyond the Money, ImpactED will continue engaging our grantees’ leaders throughout the year, as they work together to think in new ways and reimagine what the future looks like, while prioritizing their work as they look toward recovery of the sector. We will also keep building on our conversations about race with a series of workshops, titled, Voice Lessons, designed to bring forward stories that reflect grantee experiences with race in their lives and in their work. Additionally, we will keep connecting our network with opportunities to problem solve and build greater racial awareness through a smaller monthly learning community facilitated by Dr. Kenneth Hardy.

As always, we thank our partners for their work and dedication to making the region a more equitable and just place for all people. We wish you a happy spring and positive thoughts as we move through 2021 to better days.