Halfway through this strategic plan, LIIF is reflecting not only on our work, but on the external environment. These past few years are marked by the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme political turmoil and highly publicized murders of Black Americans by police. While these compounded inequities already faced by Black, Latino, and other people and communities of color, they also prompted a national reckoning on social injustice and racial inequity. As an organization committed to communities of opportunity, equity and well-being for all, in many ways this reckoning enabled our work.
This reckoning created a new window of opportunity where racial equity was normalized in our discourse, there are significantly increased public, private and philanthropic resources available, and policymakers are committed to the cause.
We have been doing this work long enough to anticipate that, unfortunately, these commitments would begin to regress with changing news and political cycles. As LIIF continues our work to redefine how we achieve racial equity, our commitments will not regress. We have redefined racial equity not just as a lens or a perspective, but as a state of being we are working toward. We are more steadfast than ever in utilizing capital, our greatest vehicle for impact, as well as our influence platforms to get there.
LIIF’s new Impact-Risk-Profitability Framework (IRP) defines the state of racial equity as power and agency existing for Black, Latino, and other people and communities of color. To us, this means that these historically excluded communities have access and are decision-makers on capital, development and policy. We see our highest goal as being an ally to support the execution of community-led solutions. The IRP is institutionalizing this across our lending and guiding us to expand this to all our work. A key tool we developed to navigate this process is the Equitable Decision-making Framework. This framework has begun to serve as a “rules of the road” for LIIF products and programs, and we will expand this as the basis for decision-making across our organization. This framework should be used when introducing new ideas, reimagining current work, addressing and resolving conflicts, and when diverse perspectives need to be incorporated. Specifically, these protocols are designed to account for cultural differences, mitigate power imbalances and support accountability for all. We are doing this because we know that our work to achieve racial equity must be grounded from within our organization as well.
As we look ahead, in line with our anti-racism commitments, we are committed to ensuring that we are deeply in tune with and are accountable to Black, Latino, and other people and communities of color. For the first time in LIIF history, we are developing a learning and evaluation function. This will move us from a historical place of outputs to a focus on outcomes. We will work in community to craft our learning agendas, evaluate our work quantitatively and qualitatively, and utilize our findings to inform strategic decision-making. We will further assess and interrogate our policies and practices, products and initiatives. This will enable us to drive deeper impact, including by strengthening existing partnerships and strategically developing new ones. We are redefining success beyond capital deployed, or units created, but to whether we are supporting power and agency building for Black, Latino, and other people and communities of color. Only then will we reach a state of racial equity.
Lucy Arellano Baglieri
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer