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Areas of Exploration

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We allocate a portion of our budget for learning and exploration grants within our Empathy Building initiative.
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What We Fund

We approach Areas of Exploration as opportunities for empathy building and learning that may or may not expand into formal program areas in the future. Our current areas include Shared Experiences, Reading Books, Dialogue and Discourse, and Research and Fieldwork. As our ongoing exploratory giving, these areas will continue to evolve. We gravitate towards grantmaking that complements the missions of our sister philanthropic entities. Descriptions of and funding priorities for each area are included below.  

Shared Experiences

This area seeks to build empathy through lived experience. It includes historical and cultural museums, exhibitions, and other shared spaces that facilitate meaningful engagement with new concepts, communities, and contested histories. We support places and spaces that:

go far beyond displaying memorabilia and instead leverage it to tell a story, talk about cultural issues, spark dialogue, and lead us down paths of reflection

provide thought-provoking opportunities to engage through perspective-taking

prompt us to confront personal biases and viewpoints

explore how we’ve moved forward as a collective humanity (and how we haven’t)

examples of organizations we have funded: Lower East Side Tenement Museum, National Civil Rights Museum

Reading Books

Reading books builds empathy by allowing us to live lives we can’t otherwise experience ourselves. Books leave room for imagination, turning us into active co-creators, extending our own experiences and perspectives to fill in the gaps of characters’ inner worlds. This area of exploration seeks out organizations that inspire a love of reading. We support organizations that:

allow us to explore worlds other than our own in a nonjudgmental way

encourage us to exercise our imagination by practicing making the leap into someone else’s perspective

help us go beyond briefly standing in someone else’s shoes, and instead step into them and accompany characters on entire journeys

ensure access to diverse stories that reflect our diverse world

examples of organizations we have funded: We Need Diverse Books, American Library Association

Dialogue and Discourse

How does engaging in conversation bridge divides to help us understand and respect each other? We support organizations that:

create spaces (physical or virtual) for people to escape echo chambers and connect on a personal level with people from different backgrounds, identities, orientations, and worldviews

facilitate sharing one’s own and, importantly, listening to other people’s experiences and points of view

set the stage for courageous conversations and civil discourse

examples of organizations we have funded: Living Room Conversations, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

Research and Fieldwork

This area focuses on research into the practice and evaluation of empathy. It serves to both further our learning in the field and express gratitude to the researchers and organizations that have informed our empathy building work. We support organizations that:

continue to further the field of empathy research, practice, and real-world application

developed resources that meaningfully informed our understanding of and approach toward building empathy

do not emphasize individual mindfulness practices, empathy as a lens for consumer research, or empathy in artificial intelligence systems. At this time, we don’t commission research or partner with organizations with this focus. 

Areas of Exploration