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Conrad Prebys Foundation Launches Leaders in Belonging Initiative

Awardees will receive $100,000 for their leadership working to eliminate societal barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable San Diego

Today, more than 400 individuals gathered at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center for a “Conversation on Belonging” with UC Berkeley Professor john a. powell. At the event, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the largest private foundation in the region, announced its new Leaders In Belonging initiative. The effort will provide unrestricted awards of $100,000 each to five "fierce community advocates" working to identify, transform, and eliminate barriers to inclusion, justice, and sustainability in the greater San Diego region. This annual award is designed to provide leaders with vital support that will allow them to continue their work and help them build movements for change.

“We believe that the future of San Diego – and for that matter, of our country and planet – hinges on our collective capacity to create a community and world in which all of us are genuinely valued, needed, and affirmed,” said Grant Oliphant, CEO of The Conrad Prebys Foundation. “The Leaders In Belonging Initiative will lift up the dedicated but often undercelebrated heroes in our community who make that their mission every day. That type of leadership exists all across the greater San Diego region, and we believe it deserves to be supported and celebrated.”

The foundation hopes to be guided and inspired by these leaders who are shaping the narrative around the type of leadership the region will need to meet the challenges of the next decade. Additionally, the initiative will help connect the foundation to a larger network of community expertise and knowledge.

The Leaders In Belonging award will be conferred for past achievements in supporting belonging and the funds will go to the individual recipients to use as they see fit.

“We know true leaders are going above and beyond their job description to address the challenges they see. We want to extend this as a thank you for all the unseen (and often unpaid) labor that has gone into identifying and naming unjust systems, creating actionable solutions and plans to build belonging, and galvanizing the community and ecosystem around them,” said Kaberi Banerjee Murthy, Chief Impact Officer of The Conrad Prebys Foundation. “In lifting up these stellar examples of Leaders in Belonging, we hope to recognize those doing the work and inspire more folks to take risks and be courageous. We hope as a foundation to push ourselves to tackle core challenges by following those who lead with community wisdom and chart solutions.”

Nominators from across San Diego will submit recommendations for the initiative’s inaugural class of five recipients through June. Awardees will be announced in the Fall of 2023.

The Conrad Prebys Foundation is dedicated to helping create an inclusive, equitable, and dynamic future for all San Diegans. The foundation believes that investing in and celebrating these leaders will further grow and protect their efforts and their community networks and contribute to a more connected and welcoming region.

The foundation is eager to learn from and celebrate leaders as they work to transform structural marginalization and inequity across its program areas and issue areas.

About the Leaders in Belonging Initiative

The initiative will be funded by an initial $1 million commitment for the inaugural two years. Grants will be awarded annually to five leaders. The awards are meant to be as flexible as possible and can be made to individuals or 501c3 organizations. The grants are unrestricted and recipients can use the funds in any way they choose.


The foundation has selected nominators from across the county and across sectors who will make recommendations for awardees to a selection committee made up of foundation staff.

Criteria for nominees will include people who:

  1. Actively identify and name unjust systems, create actionable solutions and plans to build belonging, and galvanize the community and ecosystem around them

  2. Have expertise in at least one program or issue area of the foundation

  3. Demonstrate leadership in their work

  4. Have credibility with and lived experience in communities across San Diego

  5. Have demonstrated a commitment to racial, gender, and economic justice

  6. Are committed to collaboration and have deep relationships and networks across San Diego

Announcement and celebration event

Recipients will be announced on August 28 and will be invited to participate in a panel discussion and celebration event on October 3.

You can learn more about this initiative here.

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