A provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance

Product Code: 6894
ISBN: 9781523097890
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler
Published Date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 216
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Price: $19.95

Award-winning philanthropy executive Edgar Villanueva draws from the traditions from the Native way to prescribe the medicine for restoring balance and healing our divides.

Though it seems counterintuitive, the philanthropic industry has evolved to mirror colonial structures and reproduces hierarchy, ultimately doing more harm than good. After 14 years in philanthropy, Edgar Villanueva has seen past the field's glamorous, altruistic façade, and into its shadows: the old boy networks, the savior complexes, and the internalized oppression among the “house slaves,” and those select few people of color who gain access. All these funders reflect and perpetuate the same underlying dynamics that divide Us from Them and the haves from have-nots. In equal measure, he denounces the reproduction of systems of oppression while also advocating for an orientation towards justice to open the floodgates for a rising tide that lifts all boats. In the third and final section, Villanueva offers radical provocations to funders and outlines his Seven Steps for Healing.

With great compassion—because the Native way is to bring the oppressor into the circle of healing—Villanueva is able to both diagnose the fatal flaws in philanthropy and provide thoughtful solutions to these systemic imbalances. Decolonizing Wealth is a timely and critical book that preaches for mutually assured liberation in which we are all inter-connected.


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Decolonizing Wealth is a must-read for philanthropists and donors looking to achieve the change we want to see in the world. Compelling, honest, and kind, Edgar is clear that we must free funding resources and the philanthropic sector itself from frameworks that further exacerbate the problems rather than bring us closer to identifying and activating the solutions.” —Alicia Garza, cocreator of Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Principal, Black Futures Lab

“Edgar has broken through the tired jargon of philanthropy-speak and written a fresh, honest, painful, and hopeful book, grounded in his own truths and Native traditions. He offers some radical thinking about what it would take to bring about a world where power and accountability shifted and communities controlled the resources vital to their strength and futures.” —Gara LaMarche, President, Democracy Alliance; former President, Atlantic Philanthropies; and former Vice President and Director of US Programs, Open Society Foundations

“Due to years of detrimental federal Indian policy and discriminatory economic systems, Native American communities have been marginalized and left out of the economic opportunity experienced by other Americans. Edgar offers a new vision and an Indigenous perspective that can put us on a better path. Everyone should read Decolonizing Wealth, especially those who control the flow of resources in government, philanthropy, and finance.” —LaDonna Harris (Comanche), politician, activist, and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity

“Finally, a Native perspective on how to heal internal systemic challenges. Decolonizing Wealth not only is an unflinching examination of today's philanthropic institutions and the foundations upon which they were built but also offers critical wisdom applicable to many sectors.” —Sarah Eagle Heart (Lakota), CEO, Native Americans in Philanthropy

“With Decolonizing Wealth, Edgar offers a much-needed and timely gift to help funders listen, learn, and act in a different and better way by thinking and giving indigenously.” —Michael E. Roberts (Tlingit), President and CEO, First Nations Development Institute

Decolonizing Wealth offers an arrow to pierce the status quo. While the heart of the revolution for justice is not dependent on philanthropic support, there can be a powerfully effective role for mindful philanthropy to respectfully contribute to the reimagining and actualization of a more just world for future generations.” —Tia Oros Peters (Shiwi), Executive Director, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples

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