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December 18, 2015

Opinion: Ford Foundation Head on a New 'Gospel of Wealth'

Ford Foundation President Darren Walker writes in a New York Times opinion column that the current age of economic disparity demands philanthropy that doesn't just seek to ameliorate inequality but addresses its root causes.

While the generosity of wealthy families from the Carnegies to the Gateses has "been indisputably for the good," reducing poverty and curbing disease, "the world may need a reimagined charter of philanthropy — a 'Gospel of Wealth' for the 21st century," Mr. Walker says, referring to Andrew Carnegie's famous 1889 statement of philanthropic purpose.

That document argued for "ameliorating the afflictions of the market without altering the market system itself," Mr. Walker writes. "This new gospel might begin where the previous one fell short: addressing the underlying causes that perpetuate human suffering," he explains. "In other words, philanthropy can no longer grapple simply with what is happening in the world, but also with how and why."

Listen to a Chronicle of Philanthropy audio interview with Darren Walker about the Ford Foundation's strategic shift to focus fully on inequality and social justice.