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PEAK Grantmaking

Program News

PEAK’s First Mentoring Program 

This July, a pilot mentorship program will launch in collaboration with the PEAK Northeast Chapter in the memory of Orneata Prawl, one of PEAK’s beloved founding members and an early chapter volunteer leader. This program seeks to connect mentors with mentees based on their skill sets, preferences, and lived experiences both within and beyond the workplace. The pilot program will run through June 2022. We approach this pilot from a learner mindset and are already exploring creative ideas to bring mentorship to our broader community later this year. Special thanks to the PEAK Northeast leadership team and our dedicated selection and planning committee volunteers for co-creating this program with us.

Email Altinay Cortes with questions.


Nine Peer Groups Launched This Spring

In 2020, a group of PEAK members came forward with an interest in co-creating communities within our broader network around race and racial equity, the type of funders they work for, the type of learnings they’d like to share—and the changes they’d like to lead—at their organizations.

This year, PEAK created new opportunities for peer connection, learning, and support based on the topics and identities that were lifted up by our community. The response from our community was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 500 members signing on. Meeting up for the first time at PEAK2021 Online were six affinity groups centered on networking and peer learning and three communities of practice to support our members who are committed to moving the field forward through transforming grantmaking practice.

We are grateful for the leadership of our 23 volunteer co-chairs and we look forward to seeing the many ways in which they continue to build up our community.

Click here to learn more.


PEAK2021 Online is in the past, but those eight days of thought leadership around the themes of community and equity remain as vivid as ever.

Black Voters Matter founder LaTosha Brown opened the conference by asking attendees to consider what possibilities would exist if racism was eliminated. In order to make this happen, funders need to invest in change, lean in to difficult conversations, and radically reimagine the systems and structures that underpin our society. “Philanthropy, you have an opportunity,” Brown said. “This is our moment. We don’t have to be transactional or continue the way we’ve been continuing. Part of the paradigm of change is changing ourselves.”

A panel discussion delved into how Justice Funders’ Resonance Framework can be used by institutions to take a close look at their practices and identify what could be adopted, adapted, or eliminated so that an organization can live its values and be a more effective funder. Maria Nakae, senior engagement director at Justice Funders, offered this key piece of advice: “Shift from extractive to regenerative practices that minimize work on the part of the organization so that they can get the resources they need to do their work, such as making multi-year general operating grants.”

A discussion led by PolicyLink’s Michael McAfee and Amanda Navarro emphasized the need for grantmaking professionals to leverage their position and help funders craft strategies that align actions with professed values and build trust between funders and communities. “Put the power in the hands of BIPOC leaders on who gets funding, who gets money and what gets done,” Navarro said. “Funders no longer should be in the driver’s seat deciding what work gets funded—the community should decide that.”

According to journalist and scholar Pamela Newkirk ensuring equal and equitable opportunity instead requires leadership and intention to identify and break down professional barriers. “Race doesn’t determine whether or not one will win or lose,” Newkirk said. “If all of us have opportunity, we’ll all benefit from that opportunity. It is not a zero-sum game.”

A panel discussion led by Fluxx chief development officer Kerrin Mitchell explored the idea of transcendent philanthropy, the practice of attuning ourselves to others and contributing to benefit all parties. “Get people back in relationship with each other,” panelist Tim Robinson, vice president of administration and partnerships at Lumina Foundation, advised. “If you can’t see each other as humans, you can’t get over those barriers.”

PEAK2021 online wrapped with a candid conversation among four dynamic leaders who are also women of color: Satonya Fair, Crystal Hayling, Carmen Rojas, and Sherece West-Scantlebury. They spoke about how they each are reimagining how they are working to fulfill the missions of their organizations. “Change starts with you and it starts with your org,” Fair said. “You have to do it inside before you can do it outside.”

Cultural events

Restrictions around enjoying live performances in person didn’t stop us from appreciating the talents of Norma’s Academy of Dance, Latin Flamenco band Kimera, and the “Black Girl Magic” of singer/songwriter Mayyada. In addition, attendees were treated to a virtual tour of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which featured the original Woolworth lunch counter where in 1960 four Black college students led a sit-in to protest racist policies and launched a larger movement to fight inequity.

Looking ahead to New Orleans

Brass jazz band Parigi played us out as we wound down our 2021 conference. But we are already looking forward to seeing our community in person at PEAK 2022 in New Orleans. Look for our call for speakers this summer and registration to open this fall.


Grants Management 101—Class of 2021

In April, our inaugural cohort of 75 grants professionals convened for the first installment of a seven-part virtual learning series to build community with peers, learn more about philanthropy and the role of grants management, and gain the context, support, and resources needed to succeed in their careers. A second Grants Management 101 cohort launched in June.

In the opening session, a virtual white-board exercise and small-group breakouts engaged participants in sharing about their career journey and their aspirations. Here’s what we heard, in brief:

  • They sought careers in philanthropy seeking purpose-driven work and professional development opportunities.
  • They entered philanthropy work via previous nonprofit work or by happenstance.
  • They aspire to build their knowledge of philanthropy, develop technical skills, be a resource for others, and drive positive change.