We've published another episode of our Presidential Podcast, where we talk to Dana K. Bezerra about what Heron is doing, thinking, and learning. In this blog post, we outline the key takeaways.
This episode is 30 minutes long and full of details on our aspirations for our work in communities. Here are some of the main takeaways:
In 2016, Heron’s main goal was to pivot our portfolio to be 100% invested for impact. But we always knew that the next frontier for us would be moving the portfolio from invested for impact to invested for mission. And, since our mission is helping people and communities to help themselves, it became clear that we needed to revisit and rebuild our work in communities, both as an end, and as a means to making more mission aligned investments.
We’re a private foundation, and that inherently makes us privileged. But we don’t have the same depth of knowledge as our community partners, so why do we make funding decisions on their behalf? With that dynamic in mind, we’re trying to upend the history of foundations and other power players telling people and places what they need to do and return to a place of listening to wisdom in communities.
We have an intention and an aspiration to work with communities who have a shared vision for their future, and let that vision inform how we make deployment decisions. For now, Heron will continue to preserve its deployment authority but will start to work with a partnership of locals to inform local deployment decisions. Over time, Heron will cede deployment authority to a local partnership, but will keep the assets that they deploy as a sub-account on Heron’s balance sheet. Ultimately, Heron hopes to cede the sub-account altogether, along with some dry powder to a local partnership, which will ensure local ownership and governance.
Some of our partners in the field may ask if this shift in strategy means that we’re spending down. We’ve historically refused to engage in this discussion, and that remains true today. Instead, we plan to be led by the opportunities we find in communities. And, if we find communities where a diverse group of motivated citizens are ready, willing and able to make better deployment decisions than our team, we want to provide them with the appropriate resources. This work is messy, challenging, and uncharted, and therefore we are prepared to make mistakes in our journey. Ultimately, we are committed to working with communities who are daring to change.
If you want to hear the full podcast, you can find it here. Do you have thoughts on the next phase of our work? Have you undertaken similar efforts? Are we missing a piece of the puzzle? Let us know in the comments.