NACC Black Lives Matter Statement

The recent murders of African-Americans at the hands of the police and others in the USA have yet again brought the issue of race relations and the long history of injustice to the fore. If anything good is to come of this, we – as individuals and as an organization – must take this opportunity to reflect on where we stand and what we can do to address racism, bias and inequities.

NACC, an international membership association of academic centers, urges all members in the USA and elsewhere to use the months and years ahead to investigate our research and teaching to better understand where our biases are and where we have failed. The nonprofit organizations we serve and study are critical to the development and strengthening of democracy and civil society. Universities are central institutions for understanding and promoting the structures essential for democratic life. However, universities and the sector mirror society and contain the same endemic inequities. Our research continues to emphasize white, male philanthropy.

NACC itself has a decidedly mixed record. We only have to look at our membership and at the attendees at our meetings and conferences to see the evident truth. We are overwhelmingly white. We are primarily female. Almost exclusively, white males hold the senior positions in our own organization and in our member organizations.

One “excuse” we use is that we reflect the biases and inequities of the field we work in. We cannot hide behind that anymore. Another “excuse” is that we are going through a generational change, as the newer generation of emerging leaders better reflects the wide range of our society. If that is true, how can we push that change to occur faster?

As an organization, we commit to incorporating new content into the NACC Curricular Guidelines that will help nonprofit academic programs institute anti-racist curricula on their campuses.  We must remember that our students look to us for guidance on how to make the world a better place. The world is calling our graduates to fix the systemic problem of racism with protest, policy, programming, and with compassion.

But it’s not just about the curriculum content we recommend to member colleges and universities ; it’s about faculty members, administrators, and NACC itself. We commit to being an anti-racist organization. Over the last year, the NACC board went through a much-needed inclusion and diversity training. From this we created a series of working groups for improving NACC. These working groups have defined a number of important objectives including: revamping our communications to ensure greater participation by all members; instituting a new system of committee and board member recruitment that pushes us to incorporate a more diverse leadership; and, establishing a bias check function for our meetings and conferences.

The horrific incidents in Minnesota and elsewhere have placed an even greater sense of urgency on NACC to implement these and other improvements. Like many institutions in academia, NACC is a work in progress and there is much work to be done.

We welcome your suggestions and experiences in this journey forward.

Yours in solidarity,

The Nonprofit Academic Centers Council Board of Directors