The Council on Foundations is thrilled to co-host the first-ever North American Community Foundations Summit in Mexico City. I am excited to think creatively and collaboratively with philanthropy peers from across North America to ensure that our changing communities leave no one behind.
There are three big reasons why I hope you’ll join us in Mexico City:
The Sustainable Development Goals are relevant for North American philanthropy
We are framing our convening in Mexico City around critical issues that impact all our communities. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the world (and each of us) with a to-do list for improving the quality of life for everyone. These goals were agreed by more than 190 countries, including the United States, Canada and Mexico and outline the core issues we must tackle to build a more equitable and sustainable future – from ending extreme poverty and hunger, to improving gender equality, strengthening cities, and reducing the impacts of climate change.
The Council has worked since 2015 to engage American foundations around the SDGs, exploring the goals’ relevance and potential to help foundations address critical issues in the United States. To date, we’ve convened more than 350 foundations in six cities across the country, exploring American challenges that are reflected in the global goals. We are excited by the work our partners have done in Mexico and Canada to explore how these goals are also relevant and catalytic for change in their communities.
Community foundations are critical leaders in ensuring no one is left behind
I believe philanthropy has the potential to drive the cross-sector collaboration and innovation needed to achieve the big targets within these goals. Community foundations are unique philanthropic actors who can be important leaders for achieving ambitious goals locally. In each of the US cities where we have held convenings about the SDGs since 2015, community foundations have been key partners. As local anchor institutions, community foundations can provide critical local leadership needed to drive change, collaboration, and innovation within American communities.
We have also started to see US community foundations utilizing the SDG framework in their work: the Silicon Valley Community Foundation mapped their work with companies to the SDGs while the Seattle Foundation considered the SDGs when developing a new strategic plan for enhancing their community impact in order to ensure equity and opportunity for all.
From Albuquerque and Jacksonville to Little Rock and Minneapolis, we’ve seen and heard how these goals can galvanize energy for local coalitions to influence complex community challenges. The SDGs provide a platform for leadership locally on the issues that matter most to communities across North America.
There is a lot community foundations can learn and share across borders
We know that the challenges American communities face are not unique. Community foundations in Canada, Mexico, and around the world are working to address similar issues, whether reducing economic and social inequality or strengthening governance. The diversity of experience and perspectives on issues will strengthen all of our understanding on how community foundations can lead around issues like immigration and workforce development.
By taking time to come together and learn across borders, we hope innovative solutions, stories of success and failure, and shared tools will enable us all to return home with new ideas and approaches to the issues we care about most.
As a sector, we must seek to seize the potential and promise goals like the SDGs hold to improve the quality of life for all. I look forward to seeing you all in Mexico City as we lead together to build stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient local communities, in North America and around the world.