Dear Letters Foundation Community,
Over the past year, we, Letters Foundation staff, have been on a challenging and reflective journey to define the values that guide our work. We started with the questions: “What do we care about? What do we hold ourselves accountable to?” Over a series of spirited group discussions, the 18 of us took up an effort to better understand and articulate our core beliefs. After much discussion, debate, and soul-searching, we emerged with our four core organizational values and definitions below.
We share them with you–our volunteers, partners, constituents, and the broader community–for a simple reason: because you are an integral part of our work. We hope you can hear, see, and feel these values in every interaction with the Letters Foundation. We did not come to these values lightly, and upholding them is not always easy. Yet we strive to commit to these words because doing so honors the trust and collaboration that you all share with us.
To be able to do this work every day is a privilege. As funders, it is easy to simply give resources and dictate how they will be used. It takes a unique perspective to understand that people fundamentally know what is best for them. At Letters Foundation, we work closely with constituents to listen to their stories and respond to their concerns. Our values now reflect the driving forces behind how we interact with constituents, as well as with each other and you all.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts.
With humble appreciation,
Amy, Harriet, Kathiana, Kim, Kurt, Leah, Liz, Marie, Mary, Michele, Omaira, Pat, Peggy, Sarah, Sharon, Sherri, Tyra, and Val
We aim to honor the thousands of stories bravely shared with us by encouraging others to listen closely to the voices of individuals and to give more directly.
We acknowledge the larger institutional and societal forces at play that place many of our constituents at a disadvantage with respect to equity, financial stability and opportunity, systemic bias, racism, ableism, intergenerational trauma, and injustice. We honor the dignity and courage of those who write to us by embodying and holding ourselves accountable to our core organizational values.
Cultivating a culture of accountability and respect:
We honor every letter writer by reading and responding to each letter. We provide a platform for people to share their stories in their own words, and receive a respectful response. Through this process, we hope people take steps toward continued personal, professional, and financial growth.
Being strengths-based and promoting collaborative problem solving:
We recognize that each team member, constituent, and partner brings specific strengths, areas of expertise, and personal experiences to the work. We encourage everyone, regardless of their position, to contribute their ideas. We provide a forum for identifying issues and defining problems, all while showing empathy, with the goal of reaching a collaborative solution.
Embracing diversity, equity and cultural humility:
We recognize that embracing the diversity of cultures and experiences is an ongoing practice that is critical to effective grantmaking. We strive to increase awareness of our privilege as funders, educate our points of view, and respect the constituents we serve by meeting them where they are.
Fostering integrity and continuous learning:
We are committed to open and honest interactions throughout every level of the organization to ensure that all are listened to, heard, respected, and valued. We seek out learning opportunities and see continuous learning as a powerful tool to make us more impactful in our roles, with one another, and in our communities.