Reflections From the Tower Staff On Our DEI Progress

Author: Megan MacDavey

Equity is a critical piece of our work at the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation. For the last few years, we have worked to pay closer attention to the convergence of our focus areas (intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health, and substance use disorders) with systemic issues of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and more.  In … Continued

Reflections from our 2023 DEI Learning Network Retreat

Author: Megan MacDavey and Chuck Colston

For two days this November, we had the privilege of joining seven nonprofit leaders at an equity focused retreat in Beverly, Massachusetts. This retreat was the culmination of years of partnership, via a learning network, with leaders from grant partner organizations who are advancing equity within their organizations and communities.  Like any good retreat, this … Continued

Testing Another Form of Participatory Philanthropy

Author: Megan MacDavey

Participatory philanthropy, according to the new Participatory Philanthropy Toolkit from the Fund for Shared Insight is defined as:  A philanthropy practice that explicitly includes the participation of community members with lived expertise in a relevant issue area (non-funders) and shifts power from traditional foundation decision makers to participants during any part of the philanthropy process … Continued

Capacity Building Spotlight: Catchafire

Author: Megan MacDavey, Program Officer

At the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation, strengthening organizational capacity is a central tenant in our grantmaking. We recognize that our communities need strong organizations, leaders, and teams in order to deliver the best services to the populations we are interested in supporting. We also know that organizations are dealing with significant challenges in the … Continued

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Learning Network Meets In-Person for First Time

Author: Megan MacDavey

Since November 2020, representatives from several grant partner organizations have met monthly to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in their work. This group, convened by Program Officers Chuck Colston and Megan MacDavey, has blossomed into a network that supports and learns from one another.  After many months of meeting by Zoom, this group finally … Continued

Sunsetting our COVID-19 Funding

Author: Megan MacDavey

After three cycles and over $1.6 million dollars awarded to 120 agencies, we are sunsetting our COVID-19 grants. Even though the pandemic is not yet over, a new day is dawning for nonprofits that requires our funding to change too. We are moving on from our COVID-19 funding category and embedding the lessons learned throughout our … Continued

Advisory Team Second Edition: Lessons Learned from a Participatory Design Process

Author: Megan MacDavey

For the past couple of years, the Tower Foundation has been exploring ways to bring one of our values to life: diverse voices. The Foundation describes what valuing diverse voices looks like as: We listen to and learn from those with different points of view and perspectives. More than that, we seek to be proximate … Continued

Take 1: Introducing a Diversity Form to our Application

Author: Megan MacDavey

A little over a year ago, the Tower Foundation began to use a racial equity lens to reflect on our work: How can we be a more equitable grantmaker? (You can read more about this journey here.) While we focus on young people living with intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, learning disabilities, and mental health … Continued

Published! Sharing our Adventures in Human-Centered Design and Inclusive Grantmaking

Author: Nick Randell & Megan MacDavey

Last October, we wrote a blog about the Advisory Team of young people with intellectual disabilities that helped us review grants from the fall 2019 grant cycle. In that blog, we focused on the creation of the team, the process of coming together to review grants, and the great feedback that we got.  The Advisory Team … Continued

We get by with a little help from our friends: Tower Foundation Advisory Team

Author: Megan MacDavey and Nick Randell

Staff post guidelines. Organizations apply. Staff review requests. Staff ask clarifying questions. Staff invite full proposals from organizations. Board approves or declines proposals. Repeat. We are a well-oiled grantmaking machine. We’ve switched things up here and there over the years (e.g., reduced the number of questions we ask, added a clarification call, tightened the timeline), … Continued