Part 1: Why We’re Updating the Language We Use To Talk About Our Work

a group of 5 people photographed in front of banners that read commemorating community

In the early days of transitioning from a public television station into a private philanthropic foundation, IPMF’s board, with the help of consultants and substantial community input, created a strategic framework that established our values, vision, mission, and focus areas for our grantmaking. When I joined the foundation as its first president, my early priorities were setting up the foundation’s systems, processes, and policies, hiring staff, and most importantly, starting to translate the strategic framework into action.

From 2019 to 2022, we grew from a staff of one to a staff of six, and from a six-member board to a twelve-member board. Together, we worked on our organization’s development, and we took that strategic framework for a serious road test. We explored, through conversations, grants, events, and other learning opportunities, the media and social justice landscape in the greater Philadelphia region. We listened, we learned, we adjusted.

We had a good understanding of how the strategic framework was and was not working for us by 2022. In a nutshell: we agreed that our values didn’t reflect the full group of board and staff we’d become since the original values were established; the language of our vision and mission did not reflect our commitment to racial equity; and our grantmaking focus areas, while in the right ballpark, needed to be more clearly defined in order to make more consistent decisions.

Starting with our values first, board and staff collaborated on a process through late 2022 and early 2023 to choose and define five values that we felt most strongly reflected who we are and who we aspire to be. We then drafted new versions of our vision and mission statements, as well as suggested refinements to our grantmaking goals + guidelines. Our friend and partner Wilfredo Hernandez of Communitas Arts + Culture led a community-centered process to get feedback about the proposed revisions, which we then worked hard to incorporate into a new draft. When we were satisfied with the results - that is, satisfied that the language reflected the feedback we received and also reflected who we are as an organization - we agreed to formally adopt it.

On behalf of the board and staff, I am sharing with you our new values, and our updated vision and mission statements, which you can read below. We are so excited to share them publicly for the first time. I will be sharing our modestly refined grantmaking goals + guidelines separately, in Part 2 of this series, along with a little more about the community feedback we received about them. And in Part 3, I will share details about our grantmaking intentions and deadlines for 2024 and beyond. We would love to hear your feedback on any or all of it.

Our Values

  • Courage - we lead with courage, by choosing to do what is right in partnership with our communities, over what is comfortable, fast, easy, or protects our own power and resources.
  • Equity - we seek to shift our power to communities by sharing our funds, time, and connections with them, amplifying their voices and knowledge, and supporting their self determination.
  • Justice - we commit to use our power to disrupt white supremacy and other systems of oppression and be accountable to our community partners while collectively building systems and support needed to achieve and sustain justice.
  • Belonging - we embrace everyone’s inherent worth and right to fully participate in society without fear or bias, and to have meaningful say in decisions that shape their lives. This value suffuses how we build and nurture relationships and co-create with communities.
  • Joy - we cultivate joy in our lives, our daily work, and our relationships by practicing celebration, gratitude, and imagination.

Our Vision

We see a future where media accurately represents the diverse, complex lived experiences and imaginations of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other communities harmed by systems of oppression and media erasure. We envision a local media ecosystem fueled by communities who produce and distribute their own media narratives. In this ecosystem, media technologies advance social justice movements and people over profit. We imagine a world where media are tools of liberation, joy, memory, and accountability.

Our Mission

We at IPMF are moving resources within the Philadelphia region toward community-owned media and internet, and catalyzing movements for justice through narratives that educate, inspire, and encourage action toward a more liberatory future.

Click here for the 2018 version of IPMF’s values, vision, and mission statement

Coming Next: Part 2: How Community Partners Guided Our Refined Grant Strategies

Photo Credit: PhillyCAM 2023 People Power Media Fest

Molly de Aguiar headshot

Molly de Aguiar

Molly leads the Independence Public Media Foundation with 18 years’ experience in thoughtful, responsive philanthropy, and expertise in supporting community-owned and community-driven local media. 

Before IPMF, Molly spent 12 years at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she launched and directed the Informed Communities program, which attracted partnerships with national funders and helped New Jersey become a model for local journalism innovation. She also served as the first Managing Director of the News Integrity Initiative, a globally-focused philanthropic project, at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. She co-founded the Local News Lab, sits on the board of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, and writes and speaks frequently about reimagining philanthropy.

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