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How to Make Real Change: Philanthropy & Nonprofit

Learning from Meyer Foundation Program Officer Julian A. Haynes

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Julian A. Haynes with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Sept. 6 – How is it that income for Wisconsin’s wealthiest one percent grew by 120 percent between 1979 and 2013, while the income for the remaining 99 percent grew by just 4 percent? Why is it that 12.8 percent, twice the national average of 6.7 percent, of Wisconsin’s African-American men are incarcerated in state prison or local jails while only 1.24 percent of white men are imprisoned? More importantly, how can I help solve these problems of inequality?

Julian A. Haynes speaking to RespectAbility Fellows seated around a large brown table

Julian A. Haynes speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

The courage to ask these uncomfortable questions is what led Julian A. Haynes, a passionate advocate from Madison, Wisconsin, to pursue work focused on addressing the unfortunate reality of racial and economic disparities.

Haynes began his work in the nonprofit sector as a project coordinator with the United Way of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin where he worked to ensure county residents had ready access to a variety of social services and programming. He later continued his career as a program associate on the education team at the Kresge Foundation, and then as an associate director of programs and policy at Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college student success and completion. He is currently a program officer at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation.

Julian Haynes and D.H. Lee posed standing and smiling for the camera

Julian A. Haynes with RespectAbility Fellow D.H. Lee

With his extensive experience, Haynes spoke to the RespectAbility Fellows on Tuesday, June 27 about his role at the Meyer Foundation and what he considers to be effective ways to create positive change. Haynes emphasized the importance of developing and successfully implementing a strategic plan that is informed and supported by the communities it seeks to serve. He also emphasized that creating real and lasting change will not be achieved through the deployment of philanthropic dollars alone, but rather a combination of financial and human capital focused on such efforts as communications, advocacy, and movement building. Haynes also discussed the following: 

  • Balance—achieving real and lasting change is often the result of a healthy combination of direct services and advocacy
  • Collective action—identify where your organization’s expertise ends, and another organization’s expertise begins and be proactive about making that connection for clients to prevent gaps in needed services
  • Racial equity and justice—be consistently aware of the extent to which institutional and systemic racism contribute to segregation and increasing disparities in our communities
  • Innovation—pursue innovative ways to challenge the status quo, lead by example, galvanize support from partners, and begin creating a new narrative around important issues
  • Evaluation—identify the right criteria and metrics (using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data) to assess short-term, intermediate, and longer-term progress—use this information to effectively communicate progress and impact to a variety of audiences
  • Momentum—take advantage of unique moments in time, locally and nationally, to advance your agenda in collaboration with others

I and the other RespectAbility Fellows hope to incorporate the tools and ideas that Haynes provided us to continue our work in making real changes for people with disabilities!


RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact [email protected] for more information.



Meet the Author

D.H. Lee

D.H. Lee is a Program Development and Fundraising Fellow. He is a rising senior at Boston College, where he serves as the Director of Programming for the Council for Students with Disabilities in the University Government of Boston College. He has advocated for increased dorm accessibility.

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