THRIVE Thomasville Heights: a shift in power

Mindy Kao Community 0 Comments

This year, I had my three-year work anniversary at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. It’s been a transformational journey throughout, but nothing has been more transformational than my most recent exploration of power in philanthropy and grantmaking: how we build and share power to advance equity and justice.

What do we mean by this? Early last year, our Spark Opportunity Giving Circle made a grant to launch a participatory grantmaking initiative in the Thomasville Heights community. Participatory grantmaking is the process by which funders cede decision-making power about funding to the communities that they aim to serve. The Community Foundation partnered with racial equity-centered consulting firm CommunityBuild Ventures to design and facilitate the initiative, and THRIVE Thomasville Heights was born.

THRIVE Thomasville Heights is a seven-member, resident-led advisory committee that has been tasked with directing funding (in the form of micro-grants) to community-led projects. Since June, the committee has participated in a series of trainings and workshops focused on leadership development, healing and grantmaking. As a part of its grantmaking work, the committee solicited grant proposals from fellow community members for projects that would help or strengthen the community. Later this month, they will make their first-ever round of grant awards.

Why do we do this? The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy said it best in its 2018 Power Moves guide: “As a grantmaker, you cannot truly strive for and advance equity until you understand your own power and privilege in society and in relation to your grantees. To make the world a better place, communities need to build power and funders need to share their power with these communities.”

To learn more about THRIVE Thomasville Heights, please contact Mindy Kao, program associate at