Philanthropy Bridging Divides



Philanthropy Bridging Divides (PBD) was conceived through a collaboration between Mediators Foundation President Mark Gerzon,  Board Member John Steiner, Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz and Chris Gates, a veteran of the philanthropic and political reform fields. PBD proposes convening an initial three day, trans-partisan convening at RBF’s Pocantico Retreat Center in New York in November of 2017 to begin a conversation about philanthropy’s role during this contentious time. Together we are co-leading the effort to plan and execute this conversation.

Over the past year, the field of philanthropy has been deep in this conversation. The profession is asking itself: What role can we play in rebuilding civil discourse? Even as we advocate for and invest in what we believe, our field can also use its influence and resources to change our civic tone and remind people that we are one nation, indivisible?

For the past few years Mediators Foundation staff, President Mark Gerzon and Board Member John Steiner, have been in dialogue with RBF colleagues and others, including liberals such as Jonathan Soros and conservatives such as Adam Meyerson, about the possibility of convening a group of philanthropist from across the political spectrum meeting to discuss the role of philanthropy in bridging the growing civic and political divide. This specific initiative is a project intended to explore this idea and explore possible paths to move forward.

We have initial commitments from a diverse mix of philanthropic leaders from across the political spectrum to participate in this initial conversation/discussion. After we have issued all our invitations, we are confident that we will have a high-level and diverse group of 16-18 foundation executives and individual philanthropists join us in November. The agenda, focused on building a coherent, cross-spectrum group that generates next steps for the project, will be an open dialogue about how philanthropy might play a role in restoring civility to our discourse and bridging divides where possible.