Facilitator leading workshop centering community healing

Centering Community Healing

Guest Post – Jason Lacsamana, Director, Programs and Partnerships

Community healing isn’t a trending industry buzzword. It’s necessary work. The definition is fluid, but funders understand they can’t keep making investments and designing strategies using the same methodologies. Communities continue to struggle, even as SJF shifted to a power-building focus.

If we are committed to addressing the root causes of systemic inequities and building communities that are more hopeful and just, we must understand and heal individual and collective harm. Funding is an issue for many grassroots organizations doing this work, but restricted grants may only provide services. While helpful in the short term, this doesn’t address the generational hurt of individuals and communities.

In our work, we center community healing. Instead of throwing dollars into our partners’ general operating funds, we acknowledge the existing trauma and center that approach as we overlay capacity building. We work to recognize why we need capacity building in the first place – to heal from the harm that has existed for generations.

The term “community healing” is gaining traction, but not all grantmakers fully agree on its meaning. For us, it’s not clinical or service-oriented. It is tied directly to how we build power and capacity. Community healing doesn’t happen on a pre-determined timeline, which, as a funder, makes it more challenging and more rewarding. There may be instances where we can commit funds for a limited period. But our goal has always been to develop relationships as partners for the long term.

For example, SJF’s Healing Tides: NHPI Leadership + Renewal Initiative is funded for a specified time. We work with our partners to create definitions of healing and provide support for leaders through a dedicated coaching team who understand the unique challenges NHPI leaders face. Our partners’ healing work will continue long after the nine-month initiative period. As partners, SJF intends to continue our partnerships to build upon what we all have learned.

Traditional funders look for numbers and data points to measure success. We co-design success parameters. Together, we define what success looks like with them, not for them. From there, we elevate the transformation metrics that matter. Above all, we know that healed communities are hopeful. Individuals can have everything they need to be successful, but without healing their underlying trauma, they may be unable to do so.


We look forward to sharing the success of our community healing initiatives. You can read more about our partners and work on our website.