Edgar Villanueva


Edgar Villanueva

Edgar Landscape 1.jpg

about the book

Blaming banksters and capitalism for the awful mess that is 21st Century America has become a popular pastime among academics, activists and economists, whose bestsellers propose their signature solutions. Yet one place where solutions are never sought is Native America. With Decolonizing Wealth, a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance, the award-winning Native funder Edgar Villanueva steps into that space, with a prescription for restoring balance and healing our divides.

With 2016’s Standing Rock protests, the largest Native American action in at least a century, the world was reminded of Indigenous power and resilience. Now Decolonizing Wealth proposes that Native ways and worldviews offer not just valuable but essential guidance in transforming the institutions that control access to money.

After 14 years in philanthropy, Edgar Villanueva has seen past the field’s glamorous, altruistic façade, into its shadows: the old boy networks, the savior complexes, and the internalized oppression among the “house slaves,” those select few people of color who gain access. He widens the analysis to address all the institutions along what he terms the loans-to-gifts spectrum, including banks, investment funds, and aid organizations. All these funders reflect and perpetuate the same underlying dynamics that divide Us from Them and Haves from Have-Nots. Decolonizing funding processes, argues Villanueva, is key to healing.

Because the Native way is to bring the oppressor into the circle of healing -- understanding that healing cannot occur unless everyone is part of the process -- Villanueva diagnoses the fatal flaws in funders with great compassion while unflinchingly drilling down to the core of colonialism and White supremacy. In the third and final section of Decolonizing Wealth, he offers radical provocations to funders and outlines his Seven Steps for Healing.

In partnership with leading philanthropic and racial justice leaders, author Edgar Villanueva will launch a national engagement tour to coincide with the book’s global release in October 2018. The multi-city engagement tour will reach an estimated 10,000 individuals through the power of storytelling and advocacy. Community events are an opportunity to have lively and candid conversations about the concepts of Decolonizing Wealth and to strategize about the changes needed in our culture and approach to philanthropy, finance and banking.

Through the book and its tools, the Decolonizing Wealth Project will gather and share stories that illustrate how money can be used money as a tool to facilitate healing. We will also provide event participants with safe and open spaces to share their own deep, personal reflections on how funders move and control money.


Watch Edgar discuss Decolonizing Wealth at the Strand in NYC with Piper Perabo.

praise for Decolonizing Wealth

Edgar reinserts purpose and humanity into a philanthropic industry that has too often been driven by wealth accumulation, grant cycles,
portfolios, and metrics.
— John H. Jackson President and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education
“By anchoring the solutions to America’s ills in the wisdom and knowledge of its original people, Edgar challenges all of us to analyze how our nation’s history of racism and disenfranchisement has infected its financial and giving institutions.”
— Heather McGhee, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos
“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, co-creator of Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Principal, Black Futures Lab
“Edgar outlines with compassion and clarity thoughtful and practical steps toward aligning our money with our values. There are important lessons here for anyone working in finance or philanthropy.”
— Keith Mestrich, President and CEO, Amalgamated Bank
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 create a world in which 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 VP and Director of US Programs, Open Society Foundations

the decolonizer(tm) shirt


Racial and economic justice shouldn't be ideals we hope to attain in the future.

The time is now.



Who is Edgar?

Edgar Villanueva is the author of the book, “Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance”. Edgar is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Chair of the Board of Native Americans in Philanthropy and the Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education.



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