Shifting Gears for Racial Justice

A funder’s tale in re-envisioning grantmaking strategy and developing innovative programming to meet the needs of the current moment. 

by Lindsay Ryder
Program Officer, Security & Rights Collaborative

What does “acting in solidarity” mean to you?

“Understanding and acting on the connections between our common struggles.”
“Creating space in our field meetings, calls and events to address anti-black racism in our spaces.”
“Joining direct action with other communities of color to demand reform, accountability and awareness.”

These are a few of the answer that leaders of national civil rights organizations provided in response to this question, and their statements embody the intersectional and cross-community dialogue we have been working to foster over the past year.

In 2014, the Security & Rights Collaborative (SRC) undertook a field landscape study and strategy review process. The SRC is a donor collaborative — a grantmaking initiative that pools the funds of foundation and individual donors — and is the only national funding collaborative specifically supporting Muslim, Arab and South Asian (MASA) communities. 

Following five years of targeted grantmaking designed to build the capacity of a field of MASA organizations and strengthen civil rights protections in a national security context, the SRC is now moving forward with a renewed strategy — one that is more directly aligned with the natural trajectory of the field and serves to integrate these issues and communities into the broader rights movement. Our timing could not have been better, considering the immense shift in the field, culture, and conversation around issues of race and justice we have witnessed in the past year and a half. I encourage funders to consider looking at their strategy with a similarly critical eye — the moment almost demands it!

Our goals in undertaking this review process were multiple. Namely, we desired to 1) re-envision our grantmaking strategy to meet the growing capacities and shifting needs within the field; 2) develop innovative programming designed to support diverse movements; and 3) inform our strategy for engaging other donors — whether foundations or individuals — in supporting this critical yet often overlooked set of issues and communities we support.

The results of this process have revolutionized our engagement both with the field and with other donors. And again, our timing was ideal.

The process concluded right around the time that Neighborhood Funders Group started convening a group of funders who wanted to learn more, connect, and act collectively to support the groundswell of organizing and activism in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere around the country.

This group, which came together under the name Funders for Justice, continues to meet regularly in person and on calls, and the SRC entered the space in order to connect with other funders working on issues of police accountability, racial justice and criminalization in order to learn, coordinate and amplify our efforts.

The dialogue, information sharing, and inspiration provided by Funders for Justice and its members have served to inform and reaffirm our revised strategy, and the new relationships and capacities the SRC has developed through Funders for Justice and other avenues have helped us develop an informed, coordinated response to this critical moment.

Read the full article here.