June 15, 2020

In the events of recent weeks, pre-existing fault lines between vulnerable communities and those of power and influence have been laid bare, once again, exposed for all to see. While it once may have been easy, even routine, for those of us who work in philanthropy to say we could be the bridge between poverty and privilege, that is no longer true. The hard truth is that much of what we have done has been ineffective. And now, George Floyd’s murder confronts us with the threats and insecurity that our brothers and sisters of color live with daily. 

East Tennessee Foundation’s vision is to create “thriving communities powered by thoughtful giving.” That is a tall order when things are going well. During this time, it is harder, but more important, than ever. We will not ignore our current circumstances, its hard lessons, our “can-do” East Tennessean attitude, and the formidable resources, both financial and with our own actions, that we can bring to bear on any challenge.

Clearly, it will not be easy. We have a lot of deep listening and learning ahead of us. Innovative solutions that dismantle racism, oppression, and injustice and provide a region where we can grow a more just, equitable, and inclusive future are absolutely necessary for thriving communities powered by thoughtful giving.

Similar to our response to the COVID-19 crisis, we highlight and rededicate ourselves today to East Tennessee Foundation’s Hope in Action Fund launched two years ago to support innovative programs and partnerships around protecting populations most likely to face discrimination and those that seed, support, and nurture hope and equality in our culture. We have already committed $50,000 as a matching grant and have posted a call for proposals that are encouraging collaboration on our website. We invite you to participate, check our updates, make a gift, or apply for a grant.

Together, and ONLY together, we can and we will create the thriving communities we all want to have.

Should you have questions, or need further information regarding grants, please contact:

  • Jan Elston, Vice President for Competitive Grant Programs, jelston@etf.org
  • Ashley Siferd Butler, Program Officer, abutler@etf.org
  • Jessica Renfro, Financial & Administrative Officer, jrenfro@etf.org                                       
           by phone (865) 524-1223 or toll-free (877) 524-1223