Multiethnic young friends enjoying together.


Our DEI Journey

Every community has unique challenges and opportunities. We know that complex problems can best be tackled through honest and committed partnerships with community members from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Together, we identify local priorities and create solutions to drive community transformation.

An image of teens gathered along a mountaintop for the World Relief Hike.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We have made an intentional commitment to advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in everything we do. In 2019, we designed our Strategic Framework with these three values in mind: Innovative, Inclusive and Collaborative. We seek and embrace the participation and perspective of people and communities that reflect who we are as a region. This is our journey, and we invite you to grow and learn with us. 

Our statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Our statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Innovia Foundation serves a 20-county region and six tribal communities with a vision to support vibrant and sustainable communities where every person has the opportunity to thrive. At the center of this vision lies our commitment to DEI work that will expand opportunities and reduce inequities. We recognize that persistent and systemic disparities create visible fractures in our communities. We will work to bridge that divide. We approach our work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion with both humility and determination, recognizing that our practice of anti-racism efforts must speak louder than well-written statements.

Our Ongoing Journey

Our journey to integrate DEI with community philanthropy began in 2017 when the board was faced with a donor advisor who made a grant recommendation to a 501 c (3) organization that is affiliated with white supremacy and white nationalism. The situation exposed the need to move beyond what had been common community foundation practice of simply processing donor wishes. To establish a new direction and implement necessary changes, the board sought out a new CEO who would be a strong leader and advocate for change in philanthropy. Shelly O’Quinn, a former Spokane County commissioner with a passion to bring people together for meaningful civic dialogue, was hired as the CEO of Innovia Foundation. She immediately set about creating an organizational culture and climate that elevates all voices. Her catalytic thinking and energetic spirit have allowed the Foundation not only to grow in assets but to also grow in ways that push the status quo of philanthropy. This new way of thinking set us on the path to begin a systematic transformation of the foundation that had served the community for nearly 50 years.

We adopted a new mission, vision and values that for the first time included diversity, equity and inclusion as stated priorities. We actively participated in shared trainings and retreats and facilitated conversation around racial justice and social inequities all of which continue today. In 2020, Innovia Foundation became one of only a handful among more than 800 community foundations across the country to adopt an anti-hate policy, providing the legal framework and clear proclamation that no funding will be directed to organizations that engage in hateful speech or activities.

Our hope at Innovia Foundation is that you will join us on this journey toward a more equitable and inclusive region where everyone can see themselves represented in the work we do together. Sometimes we stumble. But every time, we commit to picking ourselves back up, learning from our mistakes and moving forward.  

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Diversity is the inclusion within a community or organization where a variety of social and cultural characteristics and differences such as race, gender, ethnicity, personality, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, political perspective and more exist.

Equity, simply put, levels the playing field by promoting justice through practices that promote access, opportunity and fair treatment of all while working to identify and eliminate barriers within institutions or systems.
Inclusion ensures that everyone feels welcome and safe.

At Innovia Foundation we strive to weave DEI into the fabric of all of the work we do every day in our efforts to support vibrant and sustainable communities where every person has the opportunity to thrive. 

Our Anti-Hate Policy

Innovia Foundation will not make grants to organizations that Innovia knows or has reason to believe support or engage in hateful activities. Innovia will implement this policy through due diligence to ensure that hateful activities are identified, and steps are taken to avoid any Innovia support for them.

Hateful activities are defined to mean activities that incite or engage in violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, or defamation targeting an individual or group based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. These activities are contrary to Innovia’s mission and its charitable purpose. Innovia Foundation relies on data cross-checked from various sources to determine if a nonprofit falls into one of these categories. 

Our steps along the way

Our commitment is reflected in our actions and activities. Early on in this journey, it became clear that meaningful change is not the result of simply adopting a new policy. In order to do this work authentically, we knew we had to increase our cultural competency within our staff, board and volunteers. Visit the links below for just a few examples of steps along the way:

  • Acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted marginalized communities, Innovia prioritized our COVID-19 Response and CARES funding to support BIPOC communities across our region.
  • Our team participated in an Anti-Hate Policy Training with Horizon Forum.
  • Innovia was selected to participate in year-long national equity cohort of peer community foundations, sponsored by CFLeads. Staff members were joined by the Vice President of Innovia’s board and a community partner with a long history of equity work in our region.
  • Innovia hosted a series of Leadership Summit workshops focused on advancing community leadership, equity and inclusion in our region.  Sessions included:

○  Closing the Skills Gap in Workforce Development While Building Community Resiliency, Julian Thompson, Strategist for United Negro College Fund (UNCF)

○  Closing the Digital Divide: Expanding Community Broadband Access

○  Moving Towards Equity in Rural and Urban Communities, Erin Jones, Education and Systems Consultant

  • Innovia Board adopted a new anti-hate policy modeled after work from East Bay Community Foundation (Oakland, CA), Brooklyn Foundation (New York, NY) and other community foundations leading the field in promoting hate-free philanthropy.
  • Our team created an Anti-Racism toolkit to support staff members in growth and understanding of ways to actively advance equity and dismantle systemic racism.
  • Innovia launched a Racial Equity Grantmaking Fund to provide grants to organizations doing important work to dismantle racism and advance equity in our region.
  • Innovia worked with a local generous donor to launch a matching gift challenge that will fund a Racial Equity Reporter at the Spokesman Review and the Black Lens.
  • We developed a new Strategic Framework, adopted by Innovia’s board with updated mission, vision, values and strategic focus areas to guide the work of the foundation.
    Innovia was a partner and co-funder for two, seven-hour workshops entitled ‘Why Race Matters’ provided at no-cost to nonprofit and foundation leaders throughout this region.
    Innovia worked with Bearman Consulting to facilitate a review and redesign of our community grants program, in partnership with staff, board members and community volunteers. Addressing diversity, equity and inclusion was one of our areas of focus.
    Innovia held an all-day DEI board retreat and training, facilitated by Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation and Doug Stamm, former CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust.
  • We updated our internal policies to ensure they followed current state and federal laws, working with Associated Industries to conduct Harassment and Discrimination training for all staff to learn how to recognize harassment and discrimination and strategies on how to stop those behaviors. We repeat this training annually.
  • Innovia unveiled our new mission, vision and values that for the first time included Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as key priorities.
  • Innovia participated in a two-day workshop presented by Philanthropy Northwest at Russell Family Foundation focused on Grantmaking with an Equity Lens.
  • In 2018 and 2019, Innovia participated in the Community Foundation Lead’s Executive Leadership Institute where we worked alongside other leaders in community foundations on “How to introduce diversity, equity and inclusion into grantmaking practices.” The meetings included robust conversation with community foundation peers and thought leaders, and participants developed specific action steps to address the challenge within their organization.
  • Innovia participated in Effective Leadership training through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance with curriculum centered around cultural sensitivity and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in our community by learning compassionate communication skills and a cultural mindfulness.
  • Innovia Foundation examined our board structure, and intentionally restructured the board of directors to represent the communities we serve.
  • Innovia Foundation partnered with Greater Spokane Progress to deliver its racial equity curriculum to organizations in rural Eastern Washington, with the goal of developing a collective community understanding and common language around institutional and structural racism and addressing the importance of race matters and how we can advance racial equity.
  • In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Innovia participated in the Community Philanthropy (BCP) cohort at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen the capacity of the Foundation and to drive meaningful progress toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in areas of community engagement, capacity building, and/or public policy/advocacy.

Coming Soon!

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Stories

We’d like to highlight the stories of some of our donors whose generosity has advanced diversity, equity and inclusion across our region.

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