Through funding by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) under the management of Susan Batten, Program Manager for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, development of the Race Matters Toolkit was coordinated by Paula Dressel PhD, now Vice President of Just Partners Inc., with extensive input from Foundation staff, the late Ben Butler of Community Development Associates, and the late Barbara Sugland of CARTA.
The original toolkit was published in 2004 and was initially designed to support the foundation’s program officers in carrying out their own system reform work in the areas of child welfare, juvenile justice, health, economic success and education. The tools efficacy became increasingly apparent as the tools were introduced to the foundation’s network of national partners, such as United Way and children’s advocacy organizations, Voices for America’s Children, where Vice President of Policy and Equity Programs Joanna-Shoffner- Scott PhD championed training on the use of the tools throughout the Voices network. In 2007 with the development of a training curriculum and additional tools being added to the toolkit thereby increasing its utility to an even broader target audience of policy makers, government agency heads and community-change partners pushing each to become more intentional about examining ways to close the gaps and disparities that are experienced by children and families of colors across multiple domains.
JPI’s Paula Dressel was engaged a second time along with support from Arvenita Washington-Cherry PhD , CEO Phoenix Cultural Resources by AECF’s newly appointed Associate Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Delia Carmen to help design and develop a second toolkit Advancing the Mission published in 2009 which chronicled the foundation’s own evolution in being more intentional about racial/ethnic equity in its own organizational policies and practices thus inviting other funders and organizations an opportunity to learn from AECF’s experiences.
In 2010, as the dissemination of the Race Matters Toolkit continued to expand, the late Ben Butler and Greg Hodge of Community Development Associates were engaged to assist with the growing demand for training to funder driven community-change initiatives in communities of color spawning the development of a derivative of the Race Matters Toolkit, Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities produced by CDA under the direction and guidance of now CEO and President Susan Batten of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE).
Batten, Butler, Carmen, Dressel, Shoffner-Scott and Washington-Cherry who had for the preceding seven years routinely collaborated on the development and ongoing enhancements to the Race Matters toolkit and having shared a long-standing commitment to the value proposition that through intentional targeted strategies that racial/ethnic disparities in institutions and structures can be reduced and ultimately eliminated was the basis for these founding members to form the Race Matters Institute with generous support from the Annie E. Casey foundation on January 1, 2011.