As a grant-making  foundation focused on racial and social justice, we have a unique responsibility rooted in our privilege and power. We engage in challenging conversations and build partnerships that confront institutional oppression to build communities where people, cultures, and ecosystems thrive.

A little over a year ago, we started the journey of bringing Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy, Reframed and Exhibited to Portland the Pacific Northwest. MRG understood the importance of this exhibit – one which celebrates the stories and values of African American philanthropists.

After much searching, Concordia University stepped up to host the exhibit. Concordia, a university in the historically diverse neighborhood of NE Portland, was committed to engaging their networks as well as sharing and celebrating the exhibit and its stories. With all of the joys of this partnership, we were also aware of Concordia’s fraught history on LGBTQ issues. In our initial meetings, we openly named past hurt and shared our commitment to making the Soul of Philanthropy space safe for all members of our community. We saw this as an opportunity to have important conversations and to support Concordia in its journey to address institutional oppression.

Current events at Concordia are providing us another opportunity to create space for difficult conversations. MRG is committed to identifying the best ways to engage and to help put systems in place for our continued partnership to thrive. Only through these efforts can we break down oppressive regulations and cultures inherent in many of our universities, and especially universities of faith. As we celebrate the close of the exhibit, and a successful first partnership with Concordia University, we invite you to join us at the Closing Celebration on Thursday, March 23, to celebrate philanthropy and to engage in the difficult work necessary to make systemic change possible.