July 19, 2016

Backing Protests: Funders for Justice Members Answer Activist Movements' Call

Groups that emerged after Ferguson are mobilizing thousands of people for protests that develop with lightning speed and have dramatic impact. Their approach appeals to some grant makers.

(The following is an excerpt from The Chronicle of Philanthropy's article "Police Shootings Since Ferguson Put Foundations to the Test". Published on July 19, 2016 and written by Drew Lindsey.) 

Backing Protests

If helping design police reform represents one philanthropic response to the shootings, activist movements that swelled following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., offer another. Groups that emerged after Ferguson are mobilizing thousands of people for protests that develop with lightning speed and have dramatic impact. Their approach appeals to some grant makers.

"I’ve never seen the level of organizing and activism in Chicago in the 25 years that I’ve lived here," says Alysia Tate, director of programs at the Chicago Foundation for Women, which is funding several activist groups.

Funders for Justice was launched during the Ferguson crisis to support this form of activism. Neighborhood Funders Group and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock — two organizations backing grass-roots social-justice efforts — joined with the Ford Foundation to start the network, which has grown to 300 members, according to organizers. They provide general and program support to grass-roots activists but also "rapid response" dollars that pay for protest essentials — food, unifying T-shirts, legal support, and bail money when demonstrators are jailed.

Funders for Justice members include the NoVo Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and small alliances of high-wealth individual donors such as Solidaire,whose leaders include Leah Hunt-Hendrix, granddaughter of the oil and gas tycoon H.L. Hunt.

Ford was moved to act by the Ferguson shooting and what it saw as a highly militarized response to legitimate civil protests, says Eric Ward, a program officer at the foundation. Through Funders for Justice, Ford can strengthen smaller, more nimble grant makers and donor networks that can ramp up quickly to support fast-developing protests. "They provide an innovative approach in this moment where philanthropy is having to respond to new forms of organizing," he says.

The 40-year-old MRG Foundation, which is focused on social and racial justice in Portland, Ore., recently began funding Don’t Shoot Portland, which has organized multiple protests over police shootings, at times closing roads and bridges.

"They’re bold, controversial, and political, but racism is controversial," says Sharon Gary-Smith, the foundation’s executive director.

February 28, 2020

NFG Newsletter - February 2020

February is Black History Month and, in this newsletter, NFG honors Black resistance. Given the persistence of structural racism and the legacies of segregation, NFG has mobilized philanthropy to support POC-led organizing for equitable development since our start 40 years ago. Through our member-led and local advisor-led programming, we are lifting up how Black communities are reclaiming land ownership and addressing the racial wealth gap through grassroots power building.

At the beginning of the month, NFG’s Amplify Fund staff and steering committee spent a day with local organizers, non-profit leaders, and organizations in Charleston and Edisto Island, South Carolina — one of Amplify’s eight sites. Both national and local grantmakers learned alongside some of Amplify’s grantees, including the Center for Heirs’ Property PreservationLow Country Alliance for Model CommunitiesCarolina Youth Action Project, and South Carolina Association for Community and Economic Development, which are bringing together Black, Latinx communities and youth in the region to fight for community power, land rights, and environmental justice in the face of corporate power, criminalization of communities of color due to gentrification, and land theft.

This week, NFG’s Democratizing Development Program (DDP) hosted a two-day Health, Housing, Race, Equity and Power Funders Convening in Oakland, California. Over 100 participants grappled with how anti-Blackness and xenophobia fuel the complex housing & health crisis and community trauma, and heard examples of concrete organizing wins led by Black women from Moms 4 Housing and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Organizers from around the country urged grantmakers to significantly invest in long-term general operating support, community ownership models, POC leadership, and 501(c)4 funding for Black, Indigenous, and POC communities engaging in policy and systems change around housing affordability and justice. 

From Amplify’s funder collaborative to the DDP convening’s planning committee, funders organizing other funders has been a key part of our work. Funder members: how are you stepping up as an organizer and moving more resources for power building in Black, Indigenous, and POC communities? We invite you to connect with NFG staffprograms, and upcoming events — including our National Convening — and be part of our community where we bring funders together to learn, connect, and mobilize resources with an intersectional and place-based focus. 

The NFG team

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January 23, 2020

NFG Newsletter - January 2020

Animated fireworks with the text "40 Years Strong"

This year marks NFG's 40th anniversary. During our early years, NFG was one of the few spaces in philanthropy specifically focused on people of color-led, grassroots organizing, and power building as the key to effective social change strategies. Today, NFG continues to be many funders' political home at a time when moving resources to struggles for justice is critically important: communities of color are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, growing wealth and income inequality, and climate change; white nationalist backlash is rising; and our democracy is profoundly threatened. NFG is a space to draw support, deepen relationships, and find co-conspirators as we propel philanthropy to shift power and money towards justice and equity.

In 2020, the NFG network is continuing to explore structural racism in health and housing, racial capitalism, migrant worker justice in rural areas, reimagining community safety and justice, and more. We will also return ‘home’ to NFG’s founding city — Washington, D.C. — for our 2020 National Convening.

As we celebrate 40 years, our dynamic community of grantmakers and grassroots leaders is what makes us strong. This newsletter spotlights The Libra Foundation, an NFG member that shares our commitment to organizing funders in moving more resources to frontline communities and movements.

Keep reading below for more opportunities to engage with NFG. Whether you are new to NFG or a long-time member, we look forward to collaborating with you to accelerate racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.
The NFG team

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