Responding to the FREA racial justice audit – using data to hold ourselves to account and to recognise progress
Ruth Pryce, Head and Programme – Young People, and Sarah Eberhardt, Evidence and Learning Analyst, reflect on the results of our latest racial justice audit.
As a member of the Funders for Race Equality Alliance (FREA), we are committed to the alliance’s aims of driving change to funder practice and transforming UK racial justice grant-making. FREA’s racial justice audit is a key part of this work. It is intended as a tool for change, to ultimately help increase sustainable and flexible funding to organisations led by and for communities experiencing racial inequity. At PHF, participating in the audit has enabled us to better understand where our funding is going, identify discrepancies and trends we were unaware of, and to evidence the impact of some of the steps we have taken to address these issues.
We have now completed the audit for three years. One clear measure of progress shown in our latest racial justice audit is the increase in the overall proportion of PHF funding to projects led by and for people experiencing racial inequity, which has grown from 9% of our funding in 2020/21 to 20% of our funding in 2022/23. In our first audit we identified a disparity in our racial justice funding, with grants to race equity sector organisations* on average 30% smaller and two months shorter than those to non-sector organisations. This year, for the first time, the average grant size for race equity sector organisations compared to non-sector organisations was larger – by 10%.
Last year we reported that improvements in our open funds suggest that we are heading in the right direction in terms of racial justice funding, but we were concerned about our invitation-only funds. While the proportion of our open funding that went to by and for projects or race equity sector organisations this year remained similar to last year, there was a notable increase in the proportion of our invitation-only funding (from 9% to 26%). As a result, our invitation-only funding is now considerably more likely than open funding to support by and for projects or race equity sector organisations.
Focusing on Investing in Young People portfolio
This positive increase in racial justice funding reflects considerable changes in our Investing in Young People portfolio, where over the last year funding to by and for projects and race equity sector organisations rose from 6% to 33%, and to projects to benefit communities experiencing racial inequity rose from 20% to 40%. Analysing this portfolio in more detail reveals an increase in racial justice funding across its funds, but a particularly dramatic increase (from 0% to 46%) for invitation-only funding to by and for projects and race equity sector organisations, suggesting that ‘intentionality’ is a key factor in this change.
Ruth Pryce, Head of Programme – Young People, reflects:
After seeing the first FREA report results in November 2021 it was clear that we needed to take action. The team had already embraced a move to be actively anti-racist in our funding approach but the audit provided a clear benchmark from which to improve. We decided to set a 40% target for the percentage of ‘by and for’ organisations we wanted to support through our funding – which had a very low representation of only 6% in the initial audit. Since then we have actively been prioritising funding for organisations classified as ‘by and for’ communities experiencing racial inequity. This targeted action has resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of our portfolio that is classified as by and for – to 33%, and to projects to benefit communities experiencing racial inequity to 40%. Examples include Integrate UK, Girl Grind and Intercultural Youth Scotland.
Whilst we have met and passed our target since the latest audit we have not stopped considering what further action we need to take or prioritising this work. There is more to do. Most of the organisations we have funded to rebalance our investment and address historic underfunding were already known to us, and we focused on ensuring we continued to support them through longer term grants. The challenge moving forward is to make sure we are accessible to organisations who are new to us – who may not be aware of the type of funding we offer – or who may not think PHF is ‘for them’. We want to make sure we find and fund more ‘by and for’ organisations focused on supporting racialised young people who meet our fund criteria – and ensure that those same organisations see PHF as accessible to them. We have recently funded Babassa, Anima Youth and Sister System through our Youth Fund for example.
We will continue to take active steps to do things differently to address historic underfunding and enact the shift in power that we know is needed. This includes advancing equitable practice and racial justice within the wider youth sector and youth work. For example supporting TRIUMPH (Tackling Racism and Inequality with Underrepresented and Marginalised People with Honesty) to build confidence and competence to embed equitable approaches and solutions, to diversify leadership, and to develop a standard of anti-oppressive practise in the youth sector.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at PHF
At PHF, we are committed to centring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) across our grant-making and our organisation. The example from Investing in Young People and the FREA audit is part of much wider activity to build on our modest progress so far. This forms part of our DEI action plan which we report on annually.
*In the context of the audit, a ‘race equity sector organisation’ is an organisation that is both led by and has a mission to benefit communities experiencing racial inequity.