Exploring Cross-Sector Partnerships to Achieve True Inclusivity
(By Dominica Navarro, Healthy People and Communities Program Coordinator)
As a recent McKenzie River Gathering Foundation grantee, NCAP staff had the pleasure of joining the MRG Foundation’s Learning Day Panel last month. On the panel, we met with MRG Foundation staff, board members, grant reviewers, as well as fellow grant recipient organizations. Grantees included Beyond These Walls and HAKI Community Organization. The convening also allowed for us to share NCAP’s current programming and explore intersectional commonalities and ideas for creating “non-traditional” partnerships. To achieve true inclusivity, we must expand our minds and relationships to include all organizations working toward systems level change.
MRG grantee Beyond These Walls is a Trans led organization with an exclusively LGBTQ staff and advisory committee working to support LGBTQ prisoners in the Pacific Northwest. Beyond These Walls welcomes and embraces those trying to be a part of our community, even if they’ve made mistakes, and works in the program areas of case management, activism, leadership and writing cards to those living behind bars during the holidays. Beyond These Walls is working to deconstruct the stigma around imprisoned folks and promotes leadership opportunities, such as positions on their advisory committee which is composed completely by those currently in prison. While it was my first time learning of this organization, I was immediately drawn to the mission and the ways in which Beyond These Walls is fostering inclusivity through leadership, compassion and a pipeline of opportunity for positive reintegration.
Another MRG grantee that we heard from was HAKI Community Organization. HAKI was created “in the spirit of a welcoming smile, open heart and helping hand; a home of support, camaraderie and multicultural acceptance” that works to support the rights of East African immigrants who seek their individual destiny. Programs include language classes, housing services, youth programs and so much more. HAKI Director, Mohamed Bahamadi, spoke about the importance of cultural relevance and support for accessing basic right resources, such as culturally relevant food, translation services and help maneuvering the ropes of housing and legal processes.
Creating Lasting Change
As we learned from one another and shared innovative ideas for cross collaboration, it became clear that to make true systems level change, we must change our patterns of thinking. We must build cross-sector relationships that expand our organizations while simultaneously deconstructing the modern day segregation we see in organizations siloed by sector. NCAP will explore how we might work with other nonprofits to advance alternatives to pesticides in conjunction with advancing their missions. Instead of perpetuating the lack of inclusion, so commonly seen in today's nonprofits, let this reflection be a reminder that no matter the differences, there is always commonality.
The MRG Foundation works to ignite social change and advance social justice with the mission to inspire people to work together and mobilize resources for Oregon communities as they build collective power to change the world. Since its founding in 1976, “MRG Foundation’s grantmaking has been led by Grantmaking Committees comprised of individuals directly involved in developing genuine solutions to the difficult issues facing their communities; community organizers and changemakers who are rooted in the communities we serve, who come from all parts of the state, and who reflect the rich diversity of Oregon.”