What difference does it make to get close to the problem? “You really can’t solve the world’s problems from a distance. You have to get up close. You have to be proximate,” says New Profit Partner Marco Davis on this episode of Add Passion and Stir. He talks with Diane Gross, owner of Cork Wine Bar in Washington DC, and host Billy Shore about focusing on diversity, inclusion and equity. Davis describes how New Profit uses venture philanthropy to help nonprofit organizations scale up to maximize impact by focusing on organizational success instead of programmatic goals. They also use an explicit focus on diversity in leadership. “[Leaders from diverse backgrounds] have greater proximity to the issues that they’re working on, and therefore have some insight and added value that they bring to the table,” he explains. Gross likens it to the restaurant industry. “There’s a lot of diversity in the work force, but not in leadership roles,” she says. She believes that supports like health care and maternity leave would help women and people of color achieve leadership roles in the industry.

Gross also values proximity in her own philanthropic efforts. She and her husband decided to focus their efforts on food and education in the community where they live and work because both their staff and their customers are priorities. Outside of his work for New Profit, Davis – a veteran of the Obama White House – actively supports and engages candidates and policymakers at the state and local level because he believes that so many key decisions that affect people’s lives in a significant way happen at the state and local level. Shore calls this “a different version of the proximity point.”

Get informed and inspired by these two social justice activists who drive change by getting closer.

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