HARMONY INITIATIVE



The Harmony Initiative was launched in 2015 to support professional grantmakers in strengthening their philanthropic practice. Designed by and for grantmakers, the program provides in-depth training on the art and science of making grants. The Harmony Initiative provides cutting edge tools, training and knowledge needed to partner with grassroots communities, select impactful grantees, evaluate social change work, and collaborate in philanthropy.

What is The Harmony Initiative?

The Harmony Initiative is an intense and selective program that offers an engaging, customized and supportive learning experience. With five multi-day, in-person trainings supported by professional coaching and independent study, the ten-month program is designed for steady application and practice in participants’ day-to-day work.


The program’s curricula follows six common steps in the grantmaking cycle (strategy development; outreach and application; due diligence; making the case; award and implementation; and evaluation and learning) and investigates the competencies needed at each step.


Guest speakers and faculty bring on-the-ground expertise and knowledge from years in the field. The speakers for the Class of 2016-2017 included:

Holly Bartling, General Service Foundation
Carol Cantwell, Fun With Financials
Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Fund
Aja Duncan, Management Assistance Group
Kathryn Gilje, Ceres Trust
Meerim Ilyas, Urgent Action Fund
Taj James, Movement Strategy Center
Kellea Miller, consultant and researcher
Susan Misra, Management Assistance Group
Dewey Schott, Leadership That Works
Eveline Shen, Forward Together
Kenji Treanor, Sobrato Family Foundation


What do I get out of The Harmony Initiative?

The program is appropriate for philanthropic professionals of all levels who are directly responsible for grantmaking and seek an opportunity for reflection and learning in community. The Harmony Initiative is equally applicable for those looking to improve on current philanthropic practice as those looking to innovate how philanthropy is done. Core components include:

  • 130+ hours over ten-months allows for practice and integration into day-to-day work.
  • A cohort of 15-20 grantmakers provides a close community of practice and support.
  • Case study method encourages nuanced problem solving and offers real-world lessons from esteemed guest faculty members’ experience.
  • Individual coaching provides support and accountability in pursuing individual goals.

Here are the words of some past participants:

“Being part of the Harmony Initiative helped me feel grounded and connected to other progressive people in philanthropy. Each gathering built on the next, and before long I understood how grant making can happen in more transformational ways."
          Esperanza Tervalon Garrett, Groundswell Fund

"The Harmony Initiative helped me to understand my place in philanthropy, and what I can bring to the field to help advance equity and social justice.”
          Padmini Parthasarathy, The California Wellness Foundation

“If you seek strengthened professional capacity and deep relationships to leverage your investments and work for powerful social change, this program is for you!”
          Katherine Gilje, Ceres Trust

Program Logistics

The retreat dates for the 2017-2018 cohort are:

  • September 11, 12, 13 2017: Opening Retreat
  • November 13-14 2017: Strategy; Outreach and Application
  • January 22-23 2018: Due Diligence; Making the Case
  • March 12-13 2018: Award and Implementation; Evaluation and Learning
  • May 21-22 2018: Closing Retreat

As a small, cohort based program, 100% active participation is required. To enable participation from grantmaking institutions of all sizes, tuition fees are sliding scale, based on annual organizational grantmaking budget.

I am interested, and now what?

For more information about costs, what to expect from the program, and how to begin the application process, please complete this interest form or contact Rachel Humphrey, Program Director, to set up an initial call.

Download Information on The Harmony Initiative

Class of 2016-2017

Galina Angarova, Swift Foundation
Diana Chao, Xelay Foundation
Masha Chernyak, Latino Community Foundation
Katie Fahey, Kenneth Rainin Foundation
Kailyn FitzGerald, Sobrato Family Foundation
Iris Garcia, Akonadi Foundation
Heather Masaki, Thousand Currents (formerly IDEX)
Jake Mogan, The 11th Hour Project
Elaine Mui, General Service Foundation
Lorraine Ramirez, Neighborhood Funders Group
Jennifer Root, SEIU Local 2015
Jazmin Segura, The San Francisco Foundation
Elizabeth Wampler, The San Francisco Foundation
Cassandra Zawilski, McKenzie Foudation

Class of 2015-2016

Alexandra Desautels, The California Endowment
Bessma Mourad, Skoll Global Threats Fund
Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett, Groundswell Fund
Jose Carmona, The Energy Foundation
Kathryn Gilje, Ceres Trust
Marissa Tirona, Blue Shield of California Foundation
Michael Roberts, The 11th Hour Project
Padmini Parthasarathy, The California Wellness Foundation
Shalini Iyer, Metta Fund
Valeria Velazquez, Neighborhood Funders Group
Zach McRae, The San Francisco Foundation







436 - 14th Street, Suite 700; Oakland, CA 94612 |  T: 510.545.3638 | E: justicefunders@gmail.com

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