Below are frequently asked questions about our Equity Framework. 


What is the Equity Framework?

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation program staff developed the Equity Framework to be transparent about what the Foundation means in its strategic program goal of shifting “a majority of our resources in our program areas to benefit under-resourced and under-represented communities.” The Equity Framework is designed to help deepen conversations and track progress within organizations to understand where organizations are in their equity journey. You can learn more from the Dodge program staff in Introduction to Dodge’s Equity Framework, a webinar recorded on Oct. 7, 2020.

Where can I find a PDF of the Equity Framework?

You can view and download the full, printable Equity Framework here.

How does the Dodge Foundation define equity?

For Dodge, equity means aligning our resources to address historical, institutional, and structural impediments so that New Jerseyans of all races and communities have what is needed to realize a quality life.

The Foundation supports achieving equity in its many different forms, including but not limited to income, race, gender, disability, and neighborhood. This phase of our work places an emphasis on people and communities of color, and yet equity requires the inclusion of all people and organizations. Therefore, our strategies and processes will include and benefit all of New Jersey and will change and evolve over time.

Why does the Foundation’s Equity Framework name race and center racial equity?

In its strategic plan, Dodge made a commitment to investing a majority of our resources to support under-resourced and under-represented communities in our home state. One of the findings in our strategic planning work was that people of color are disproportionately under-represented in the leadership of our grantee portfolio and under-resourced in the state in terms of income, housing, employment, educational success, and other factors. The process of selection of grantee partners as its own way of helping make New Jersey more equitable and thus, inspired by the disability rights movement mantra of “Nothing About Us Without Us,” we have increased our investment in the idea that those most affected by and experienced in working on a problem are the best at creating solutions.

For whom is the Equity Framework tool developed?

While developed by and for the Dodge Foundation, the Equity Framework is applicable and useful to any organization doing racial equity work so that any leader and change agent can see their organization in the tool, use it to assess where their organization is in their own equity journey, and enact actionable steps toward change.

How did the Foundation develop the Equity Framework tool?

Dodge’s program staff worked with consultants to develop the Equity Framework after developing racial equity-focused theories of change for each of our programs, which articulate strategies and outcomes to advance the Foundation’s strategic plan program goals. Building on lessons learned while reviewing Critical Race Theory and Leverage Points in a System, the staff worked collaboratively to define the framework’s seven focus areas, which go increasingly deeper into systems change levers. With the goal of creating qualitative assessment rubrics inspired by David Grant to identify what matters most and be as clear as possible about what success looks like in these areas, each program team created metrics across three parts of the equity continuum specific to their program, and then together lifted up the most important, clear, and universal metrics for a framework from which all the Foundation’s grantmaking could be viewed.

Who were the consultants the Foundation worked with to develop the Equity Framework?

The Foundation was supported by Hillombo LLC and Dragonfly Partners in its strategic planning and in the specific development of this framework and our internal self-assessment tool. Social Impact Studios provided communications support and helped bring to life this framework through visual storytelling. We are also grateful to Interactive Institute for Social Change and Beth Zemsky and Associates, which helped guide our strategic planning process.

What are the seven focus areas of the Equity Framework?

As a practical tool, the framework connects the dots between the attitudes and actions that are critical to achieving equity and change. Areas of focus include internal elements, such as leadership and staff diversity, equity goals, and equity mindset. External elements include place strategy, community outcomes, and systems impact. Together they all contribute to a journey to increase equity.

Where does an organization’s equity journey begin?

As the Equity Framework infographic shows, there is no start or finish. Every organization’s equity journey is unique. A change in one area has the potential to impact changes in other areas. There is no “right” way.

How did the Foundation incorporate feedback in the development of this tool?

The Foundation has had several different intervention points from which feedback was incorporated throughout its equity journey and in the development of equity-focused theories of change from fellow Dodge staff and board members, grantee organizations, thought leaders in the field, and other key stakeholders. The Equity Framework reflects the Foundation’s point of view about how to assess how organizations embody the value of equity, and is not the only measure.

How will the Equity Framework be used?

One of the Equity Framework’s primary goals is to spark conversations between Dodge program staff and our partners, and within organizations and the field. The Equity Framework is not a score sheet or a way to predict likelihood of funding. It is a guide to better understand what program staff will be looking for from organizations that we fund or partner with going forward.

Why is the Foundation sharing the Equity Framework?

While we are proud of the progress we have made, we also know we have much work to do ourselves and offer this work to the field as a colleague working to improve its own practice. Through tools like the framework, conversation, and the sharing of information and best practices, the Foundation is committed to making the equity vision a reality.

Where is Dodge along its equity journey, and how is Dodge working to advance equity beyond its grantmaking?

Over the last four-plus years, the Foundation has worked to embed a culture of equity in its organization through its strategic vision of an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, sustainable communities. It has made progress on internal and external equity goals, including advancing the organization’s equity mindset and creating interdisciplinary action learning teams to review internal policies and practices. In 2019, as we worked to develop our program theories of change, we named race explicitly for the first time. That brings us to 2020 and our new commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization. We're asking new questions about how we can think creatively about our impact, not just our grants budget but all of our resources.

Will Dodge be providing Technical Assistance programming or grants to help organizations embed a culture of racial equity?

The Dodge Foundation is a learning organization and recognizes that it is critical for every organization to do its part to achieve an equitable New Jersey. That’s why we have been adapting our Technical Assistance offerings to reflect our commitment to racial equity. Last year we launched the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective and our latest Technical Assistance offering is the Dodge Anti-Racism Training Series: Applied Learning to Action, a partnership with Yancey Consulting. While we could devote all of our resources to DEI learning, we recognize that such a strategy would not lead to lasting system change.

Are you concerned about white-led organizations changing the language on their applications but not their actions? How will you be ensuring accountability, so the Foundation is not perpetuating fake equity?

Racial equity work requires an authentic change in mindset, and we know it takes years of devoted work to transform organizational culture. We also know there are many organizations that have been doing this work over time. We do not want organizations twisting themselves in a pretzel to receive funding because we say so. We hope tools like the Equity Framework inspire organizations to ask challenging questions and take action.

Is Dodge accepting letters of inquiry or new proposals?

In 2021, Dodge is not accepting letters of inquiry or unsolicited proposals for the Foundation’s current program areas of Arts, Education, Environment, and Informed Communities, although program staff may invite new proposals in alignment with new strategies.

However, the Foundation may issue specific calls for proposals or invite new proposals in alignment with its vision of an equitable New Jersey.

How can I be notified of Foundation news and information?

You can sign up for The Dodge Digest, Dodge’s quarterly newsletter, here.

I have a question about the Equity Framework that is not answered here. Who can I contact?

Please send additional questions to If you represent a current grantee organization and have a specific question, you may contact your program director or officer.