Racial Equity Commitment and Goals

Recognizing that we can only achieve our mission of enhancing economic vitality and quality of life for the
Buffalo Niagara region if all people are afforded opportunities for success, The John R. Oishei Foundation is
strongly committed to better understanding and addressing issues of racial equity to create greater
opportunities for all.

For too long, Buffalo has been a city divided by race and socioeconomic status. While the region has begun
to enjoy revitalization and an improved economy after decades of decline, it continues to grapple with racial
inequities that thwart our ability to become the dynamic city we strive to be.

We believe that:

  • Our region can better prosper if all residents have opportunities that allow them to achieve to the best of
    their ability by breaking down structural and attitudinal racial barriers.
  • We must intentionally address issues of race as an economic and moral imperative. While we have
    historically worked with diverse groups throughout our community, we have not considered issues of
    race in an intentional way until now. 
  • As a convener and civic leader, we must first examine ourselves to determine how we can assess and
    intentionally address issues of conscious or unconscious bias and other practices that contribute to
    inequity in our work.

We are committed to:

  • A thorough review and assessment of our own practices and biases;
  • Setting specific goals, evaluating our progress, and focusing on continuous and intentional improvement
    and learning in order to become a more racially conscious and equitable organization;
  • Working with our partners to consider racial equity in their own practices and program delivery.
    This work is a long-term, continuous journey that can be both personal and painful and we look forward to
    working with and learning from our partners along the way.

Our Goals

Embrace and infuse racial equity into the Foundation’s culture.
  • Engage our staff and Trustees and establish a shared mission and specific goals regarding racial equity
  • Dedicate Board and staff time and resources to improving racial equity practices
  • Provide for continuous learning for Board, staff, and partners through all available resources including local, regional and national organizations
  • Review current practices related to staff hiring, board appointments and vendor choices, (including investment firms); adopt practices and develop relationships that will create a pipeline of future candidates that promote racial equity
In partnership with our grantees, strategically focus on and work to eliminate racial equity gaps.
  • Collect and document diversity-related information about grantees and their work;
  • Encourage and support racial equity practices in our grantee’s work
  • Share our learning and guidance and that of local, regional and national organizations
  • Identify tools and work to build grantee capacity in integrating racial equity into their work
  • Identify grantmaking opportunities to address racial equity
Establish the Foundation as a leader and encourage others to adopt practices that will deepen our collective commitment to racial equity for the betterment of our community.
  • Establish a peer learning community to communicate and share learning
  • Encourage and support racial equity work among peers and in collaborative and collective action efforts.
  • Ensure all work is collaborative and transparent
Track our progress and share with the community.
  • Establish baseline efforts and regularly audit our progress
  • Share progress publicly and transparently
  • Learn from our experiences and share with others


Racial Equity Audit Report (as of November 2018)

As part of our commitment to addressing racial equity issues, we believe measurement is critical. We have outlined specific goals and assessed where the Foundation stands today in relation to those goals. It is our intention to continually assess our work and to report back to our community on our progress in an intentional and transparent way. To learn more, click below to view our first racial equity report.

Racial Equity Audit Report