January 5, 2015

A Pivotal Moment for Racial Justice

Eric Ward, Program Officer of Ford Foundation's Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice program, reflects on emerging opportunities for the racial organizing movement. 

This post originally appeared on Ford Foundation’s Equals Change Blog, which you can find here.

On December 3, a New York grand jury announced that no indictment would be delivered in the police killing of Eric Garner. Following the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who shot another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri in August, this news set off protests across the country. But these deaths weren’t isolated incidents: On November 22 in Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police who mistook his toy gun for a real one; on December 2 in Phoenix, police shot Rumain Brisbon when they thought he was grasping for a weapon instead of the medication he was actually reaching for. And on December 8, 22-year-old Cedric Bartee was shot by police officers in Florida. Witnesses report that Bartee had his hands up at the time of the shooting.

While the relentless pace and intensity of this violence can leave us feeling discouraged and hopeless, there is room for significant optimism. We are in a pivotal moment, one filled with opportunity for the racial justice field. In ways we haven’t seen before, these killings are being brought to public attention and generating significant outcry. Cultural figures including country star Garth Brooks, comedian Chris Rock and players from the St. Louis Rams and Brooklyn Nets are making public statements in opposition to police violence, making the issue increasingly hard to ignore. We’re seeing broad-based coalitions coalesce around racism targeting blacks. And we’re seeing emerging leadership that is young, multiracial and national in scope, exercising tactics and strategies that are grounded in a deep analysis of systemic racism and prioritize people-centered democracy.

In this movement, there is no single charismatic leader and no single anchor institution. National organizations are not driving the agenda but instead playing support roles that amplify on-the-ground organizing. By creating social tension through non-violent direct actions (mainly targeting commerce and transportation), young leaders have effectively nationalized the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Their incredible energy has produced significant of pressure that has compelled the White House and the Department of Justice to announce federal changes to policing practices, the creation of a commission to study police violence, and federal review of racial profiling guidelines. As I write, protests have entered their 124th consecutive day.

Now is a moment where each of us should seriously consider what role we play in supporting these emerging leaders and their growing network. The Neighborhood Funders Group has launched a new tool for philanthropists and others looking for more information and ways to engage in this movement moment. (You can learn more by visiting Funders for Justice.) The site serves as a virtual information hub to help philanthropists and donors support efforts in Ferguson, related organizing across the country and community-based efforts to strengthen inclusive democracy. The new online space includes news and events, opportunities for funders and analysis, case studies and reports.

What’s happening today is an Ella Baker moment. Baker was a leading civil rights strategist committed to youth-centered local action as a means of change. Her commitment to non-violent direct action, locally organized, provided the momentum that was needed to nationalize the 1960s civil rights movement in the South. Like Ella, this emerging leadership is also conceptualizing an inclusive democracy—one that is people-centered, locally supported, transparent and accountable. They need and deserve our support.

October 24, 2019

Reflections from Philanthropy Forward's First Cohort

Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change is a CEO fellowship program created by Neighborhood Funders Group and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The program's first cohort started in October 2018 in furtherance of building and advancing a shared vision for the future of philanthropy.

Hear perspectives from members of the first cohort as they reflect in this video on their work together as strategic thought partners, addressing philanthropy's most challenging issues and aligning to build a financial engine for social change.

2018 - 2019 Philanthropy Forward Cohort

A grid with individual photos of each of the 20 members of Philanthropy Forward's 2018-2918 cohort..

Click here for participant bios

  • Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation
  • Sharon Alpert, Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, Solidago Foundation
  • Ned Calonge, The Colorado Trust
  • Irene Cooper-Basch, Victoria Foundation
  • Farhad A. Ebrahimi, The Chorus Foundation
  • Nicky Goren, Meyer Foundation
  • Justin Maxson, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Joan Minieri, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Maria Mottola, New York Foundation
  • Mike Pratt, Scherman Foundation
  • Jocelyn Sargent, Hyams Foundation
  • Pamela Shifman, NoVo Foundation
  • Starsky D. Wilson, Deaconess Foundation
  • Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community solutions
  • Dennis Quirin, Raikes Foundation
September 10, 2019

For Love of Humankind: A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Justin Maxson, Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, calls on fellow funding organizations based in the South to respond to the federal government's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies with three concrete actions. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Justin was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, which strives to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice, is a member of NFG.


 

Justin MaxsonWe are issuing a clarion call to Southern philanthropic organizations to respond to the manic drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric and cruelty coming from the White House. This month began with a mass shooting targeting the Latinx community. Days later, massive raids tore apart hundreds of families and destabilized Mississippi communities but levied no consequences for the corporate leadership that lures vulnerable people to work in grueling, dangerous conditions. It is astounding that since those events, with the resulting fear and trauma still reverberating through immigrant communities across America, the administration has: 

  • repeated its intention to end birthright citizenship, a 14th Amendment guarantee that babies born on American soil are citizens. 
  • attempted to terminate the Flores Agreement, which sets standards for the care of children in custody. This would allow the administration to detain migrant families indefinitely in facilities where children are dying of influenza, yet flu shots are not administrated, where children are sexually assaulted, where soap, toothbrushes, human contact and play are not standard, and where breastfeeding babies are taken from their mothers. Child separation is known to cause permanent psychological trauma and brain damage.
  • announced changes to the so-called “public charge rule” to make it harder for legal immigrants to secure citizenship if they use public assistance. As our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue, this change would cause many to “forgo assistance altogether, resulting in more economic insecurity and hardship, with long-term negative consequences, particularly for children.” Further, the decision “rests on the erroneous assumption that immigrants currently of modest means are harmful to our nation and our economy, devaluing their work and contributions and discounting the upward mobility immigrant families demonstrate.”

There was also a recent effort to effectively end asylum altogether at the southern border. And despite the Supreme Court ruling blocking the citizenship question from the 2020 census, advocates believe the debate will depress response rates. As we wrote earlier this month, this administration’s animus against immigrants and increasingly aggressive ICE actions are compounding the devastating effects on communities across the country. 

Why Southern philanthropy? 

An analysis of recent grantmaking by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found our region has deportation rates five times higher than the rest of the country, yet Southern pro-immigrant organizations receive paltry philanthropic funding. Barely one percent of all money granted by the 1,000 largest foundations benefits immigrants and refugees, and even that money doesn’t go to state and local groups that are accountable to grassroots and immigrant communities. Organizations in Southern states receive less than half of the state and local funding of California, New York and Illinois. 

Where to begin? 

Speak up. As Desmund Tutu taught us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Use your institutional voice to influence decisionmakers.

Examine your foundation’s policies. Find out if your endowment is invested in private detention centers. Consider how supporting organizing, power building and policy advocacy could advance your mission. NCRP has more recommendations in its report.

Give generously. Our partners at Hispanics in Philanthropy have curated a list of organizations helping the families affected by the raids across Mississippi. Our partners at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have compiled a list of ways to help, from rapid response grants to long-term strategies. 

Many of the Babcock Foundation’s grantee partners are doing more and more immediate protection work, stretching themselves thin and often putting themselves at risk. They are keeping families intact in the short term while building power for the long term, so history will stop repeating: 

If you know of more resources, please share them. If you’d like to learn more about the organizations on the ground across the South – or think about ways we can do more together – contact us. We are always looking to learn and act in alignment with our fellow funders toward a shared vision of a strong, safe, welcoming and equitable region. 

Activist Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.” Regardless of a foundation’s mission, abject cruelty surely undermines it. It also undermines the most basic tenet of philanthropy, which literally means “love for humankind.” We see no love in this administration. It’s up to all of us to spread it.