I Wonder What This Will Be Like


What do our potential futures hold? That’s where our grantees are focused as the Kendeda Fund makes its exit and sends out this final email.

Fortunately for all of us, these strategic, wise, and passionate leaders know what they want the future to embody related to justice, equity, peace, and the role of community in getting there. They also know what they want and need from funding partners.

You can find much of this wisdom in a series of reports published on our new website – reflections in which our grantees future-cast about their respective and intersecting fields.

Greg Jackson, the former executive director of Community Justice who now serves as deputy director in the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, makes the case to increase funding for Black and Latinx leadership and voice in gun violence prevention advocacy work. He’s calling out the need for a lot more allies. “I want to keep running, but I need a bigger team, and there needs to be more people running alongside me for this to be sustained,” he says.

Our Girls’ Rights collective shares their long view. “Having ‘girls’ rights met’ won’t ever be a ‘done’ thing; or at least not ‘by 2033,’” said an interviewee in the report. “I say this not to be discouraging, but to instead urge donors to understand the struggles for rights as a long-long-long haul effort and to be prepared to stay in it as long as possible.” You’ll find lots more in the report Girls’ Rights: Reflection Journey.

Doug Ammar, executive director of the Georgia Justice Project, has these thoughts on the future of mass incarceration, equity, and philanthropy in Atlanta and the South: “The Civil Rights movement was about pointing out what was wrong and trying to change it, but it was also a generative notion of the beloved community. It was about removing barriers so that we can be together. That’s part of the equation a lot of people forget. We’ve got to keep remembering what it is we’re trying to achieve – and not just the barrier that’s in front of us.” Learn more about how Doug and his peers are building a more equitable future in our Pathmakers report.

Hearing these and the other inspiring grantee voices that fill our website inevitably brings me to reflect on my mom, Kendeda's founder Diana Blank, and how she showed up as a person and a philanthropist over all these years. 

In our ninth and final podcast episode, the Kendeda staff shares memories of what it’s meant to work with Diana. We titled it “I Wonder What This Will Be Like” in tribute to the way my mom moves through the world, propelled by a spirit of curiosity, discovery, and openness to learn. Thanks to her sense of wonder, Kendeda’s approach has been rooted in continual learning from grantees and everyone in our orbit. Curiosity led, and funding followed. In this way, Diana pushed and inspired people to take their work and ideas further while being similarly pushed and inspired herself. 

Diana is a hard figure to emulate (and I’m fairly certain I’d feel that way even if she wasn’t my mom!). Her 30-year philanthropic journey has left a mark on more individuals, organizations, and communities than we will ever know. But as our team ends the work and prepares to shutter the Kendeda Fund forever, we do so full of the hope and optimism Diana instilled in us, as was recently demonstrated by a young Kendeda grantee named Claire Vlases. 

Years ago, when she was in 7th grade, Claire raised the funds needed to put solar panels on her middle school in Bozeman, Montana. The project was supported, in part, by a grant from Kendeda, made after Diana and our fund advisor Tim Stevens read about it in the local paper. Fast forward to 2023, and 20-year-old Claire was among the plaintiffs in Held v. Montana, a landmark lawsuit in which 16 young Montanans successfully sued the state, arguing that lawmakers had consciously prioritized the development of fossil fuels over the well-being of residents and the protection of natural resources. The case marked the first time a U.S. court declared it a government’s constitutional duty to protect people from climate change. Last week, Claire received TIME Magazine’s Earth Award.  

“To those who are tirelessly advocating for a safer future, this award is validation,” Claire told TIME. “Our voices matter; our passions and actions result in justice. Change is happening.” 

Indeed, it is. May our wonder never wane. May we always make room for next-generation leaders. And may our belief in a better tomorrow never cease. 

On behalf of Diana and the entire Kendeda team, thank you and farewell. 

Dena Kimball