January 13, 2020

Announcing FFJ’s Latest Field Advisor Cohort

Funders for Justice is excited to share the latest cohort of FFJ Field Advisors. FFJ looks forward to expanding our own understanding to support organizing toward racial and gender justice, and to growing our commitment to mobilize resources toward transformative social change. As this dynamic group continues to build momentum with their leadership and organizing in racial justice, gender justice, and anti-criminalization movements, they will also work together with FFJ to continue to envision a new way forward for philanthropy.

FFJ hosted its third national funder organizing meeting in October 2019. Joining the participants were FFJ’s third cohort of advisors, including four new advisors. Advisors met with staff the day before the FFJ national meeting, to identify key needs in a new approach in funding and how FFJ can best support the field. The next day, advisors joined FFJ members and leaders in conversations throughout the day, painting a picture of challenges that lie ahead in the current political climate as well as the historical context to current struggles.

 

2019-2021 Cohort of FFJ Field Advisors

 

FFJ Field Advisors are thought leaders and partners in the work to support and sustain grassroots movements. Their visions for justice and what is needed from philanthropy provide invaluable insights to guide our efforts. In their commitment, the FFJ Field Advisors are ready to organize with philanthropy and deepen their relationship with FFJ and its members. They will continue to lead profound conversations and offer strategic guidance toward practices that lift up community safety and justice models.

We are excited for the FFJ membership to learn from their leadership and experience, and hope you will join us to strategize together on how we can best support movements organizing for social justice.

Here are the 2019-2021 FFJ Field Advisors:

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Highlander Research Center
Celeste Faison, ‘me too.’
Charlene Carruthers, Chicago Center for Leadership and Transformation
Fahd Ahmed, Desis Rising Up and Moving
Jenny Arwade, Communities United
Marbre Stahly-Butts, Law for Black Lives
Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, Resilient Strategies
Mary Hooks, Southerners on New Ground
Morning Star Gali, Restoring Justice for Indigenous Peoples
Ola Osaze, Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project
Priscilla Gonzalez, Mijente
Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

 


 

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 34 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. Ash-Lee is the first black woman Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center founded in 1932. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, they help create spaces — at Highlander and in communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. Ash-Lee is a long-time activist working against environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has fought for workers rights, racial justice, women and LGBTQUIA+ rights, reproductive justice, international human rights, and led-intergenerational social movements across the South. She serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly and is a nationally recognized leader in the Movement for Black Lives.

Celeste Faison is a strategist and trainer who cut her teeth organizing in the Blackbelt, with 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement. She's been active ever since, working around issues of labor, electoral justice and policing. She is currently the NDWA Director of Black Organizing, where she launched “We Dream in Black,” a multi-state initiative that increases the leadership capacity of Black workers organizing for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections. Piloted in New York and Georgia, the program has since expanded to seven states. Celeste oversees chapter development, leadership development, and the campaign strategy. She recently co-published a multimedia report "Pay, Professionalism and Respect" focused on Black domestic workers in the South, in partnership with IPS. Before joining NDWA Celeste was the lead organizer at Youth Together, in the Bay Area, CA, managing director of the Black Arts and Cultural Center in Selma, AL and national assistant trainer director at the League of Young Voters. 

Currently, Celeste serves as a founding director of the Blackout Collective, a training organization with a mission to train 20,000 Black direct-action strategist and practitioners by 2021. She is a strategic Advisor to Me Too, where she is designing the field program, in partnership with her long-time mentor Tarana Burke. She is a Public Allies Alumni and the 2010 Tides Foundation Racial Justice Fellow. A nomadic New Yorker, she spends a majority of her free time on the road facilitating and building movement infrastructure as an active member of Movement for Black Lives. When she's not on the road you'll find her nestled in her NYC apartment, creating art while on conference calls.

Charlene Carruthers is a strategist, author and a leading organizer in today’s Black liberation movement.  As the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), she has worked alongside hundreds of young Black activists to build a national base of activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. 

Charlene is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and founder of the Chicago Center for Leadership and Transformation, a locally rooted and nationally connected learning community for political education, grassroots organizing, language and strategic communications capacity building. 

As a Black queer feminist with over a dozen years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work, Charlene applies her political commitments and expertise through intellectual, cultural and grassroots organizing labor across today’s movements for collective liberation.  She was recognized as one of the top 10 most influential African Americans in The Root 100, one of Ebony Magazine's "Woke 100," an Emerging Power Player in Chicago Magazine and is the 2017 recipient of the YWCA's Dr. Dorothy I. Height Award.

A believer in telling more complete stories about the Black Radical Tradition, Charlene provides critical analysis, political education and leadership development training for activists across the globe. Major media outlets from BBC and MSNBC to legacy Black media institutions including Ebony Magazine and Essence Magazine have highlighted her work and perspective on current events and issues impacting marginalized communities. Charlene is author of the bestselling book, Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.

Fahd Ahmed came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Pakistan in 1991. He has been a grassroots organizer on the issues of racial profiling, immigrant justice, police accountability, national security, surveillance, workers’ rights, and educational justice over the last 18 years. Fahd has been involved with DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving in various capacities since 2000, when he had family members facing deportation, and entrapment as part of the War on Drugs.  Within DRUM, Fahd co-led the work with Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrant detainees before, and immediately after 9/11, by coordinating the detainee visitation program. As the Legal and Policy Director at DRUM (2011-2014), Fahd ran the End Racial Profiling Campaign and brought together the coalitions working on Muslim surveillance, and stop and frisk, to work together to pass the landmark Community Safety Act. For the last 3 years, Fahd has been the Executive Director of DRUM.

Fahd was a recipient of the Haywood Burns Fellowship from the National Lawyers Guild, and served as an Ella Baker intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights. In addition to DRUM, Fahd worked as a legal consultant with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana on documenting and reforming policies of juvenile detention center in Louisiana. Fahd also worked as a lecturer and researcher on Islamophobia, national security, and social movements at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative at the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. He was also a Human Rights and National Security Reform Fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute, and a Fellow with the American Muslim Civil Leadership Institute.

Jenny Arwade is Co-Executive Director of Chicago-based Communities United (CU), a racial justice organization that builds community power to advance social change through a healing justice approach. Jenny has provided leadership to achieve groundbreaking reforms to expand health access for the undocumented, preserve long-term affordable rental housing and prevent displacement of families, and recently create a new Rethinking Safety Initiative in Illinois, furthering policies that address an invest/divest framework and center approaches focused on healing and transformation. Jenny is a graduate of Princeton University, a Field Advisor for Funders for Justice and the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing, and serves a Trustee of the health-focused Blowitz Ridgeway Foundation in Chicago.

Marbre Stahly-Butts, Director of Law for Black Lives works closely with organizers and communities across the country to advance and actualize radical policy. Marbre is currently a member of the National Bail Out Collective. She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table and helped develop the Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform. Since graduating from Yale Law School four years ago, Marbre has  supported local and national organizations from across the country in their policy development and advocacy. She joined the Center for Popular Democracy as a Soros Justice Fellow in Fall 2013. Her Soros Justice work focused on organizing and working with families affected by aggressive policing and criminal justice policies in New York City in order to develop meaningful bottom up policy reforms. While in law school, Marbre focused on the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights and gained legal experience with the Bronx Defenders, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Prison Policy Initiative.  Before law school Marbre received her Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and worked in Zimbabwe organizing communities impacted by violence and then in South Africa teaching at Nelson Mandela’s alma mater. Marbre graduated from Columbia University, with a BA in African-American History and Human Rights.

As a licensed acupuncturist and an experienced organizer, Mark-Anthony Johnson served as the Director of Health and Wellness at Dignity and Power Now. In this capacity, he provided strategic support for DPN’s two member-led campaigns for a legally empowered and independent civilian oversight commission of the sheriff’s department and to stop Los Angeles’ proposed $4 billion jail construction plan. He also led the Building Resilience project of DPN, a collaboration of formerly incarcerated people, organizers, health care providers and academics whose goal is to decarcerate the county jails via the diversion of incarcerated people into community-based treatment and the creation of community-based spaces to address the trauma of state violence. As a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow, Mark-Anthony founded the Frontline Wellness Network, a network of health care providers working to end the public health crisis of incarceration through action-oriented political education and bridging relationships between providers and grassroots campaigns against state violence. The Frontline Wellness Network is an Executive Committee member of JusticeLA, a broad based Los Angeles Coalition that recently stopped the county’s multi-billion jail plan while winning county wide investment in alternatives to incarceration.

Mary Hooks is a 36 year old, Black, lesbian, feminist, mother, organizer and co-director of SONG. Southerners on New Ground is a political home for LGBTQ liberation across all lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the South. They build, sustain, and connect a southern regional base of LGBTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns developed in response to the current conditions in their communities. SONG builds this movement through leadership development, coalition and alliance building, intersectional analysis, and organizing. Mary joined SONG as a member in 2009 and begin organizing with SONG in 2010. Mary’s commitment to Black liberation, which is encompasses the liberation of LGBTQ liberation, is rooted in her experiences growing up under the impacts of the War on Drugs. Her people are migrants of the Great Migration, factory workers, church folks, Black women, hustlers and addicts, dykes, studs, femmes, queens and all people fighting for the liberation of oppressed people. “The mandate; to avenge the suffering of our ancestors, to earn the respect of future generations, and to be transformed in the service of the work. Let’s get free ya’ll!” - Mary Hooks

Morning Star Gali is a member of the Ajumawi band of Pit River located in Northeastern California. Ms. Gali serves as the California Tribal and Community Liaison for the International Indian Treaty Council, working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. She is a Tribal water policy organizer for Save California Salmon and has worked as the Regional Network Weaver for Native Americans in Philanthropy. Ms. Gali is also a graduate of Native Americans in Philanthropy's Circle of Leadership Academy in 2013. She is a 2019 Open Society Institute Racial Equity fellow, Funders for Justice fellow 2018-2021 and a 2016-2018 Rosenberg Foundation Leading Edge Fellow, focusing on the disproportionate impact of the criminal and juvenile justice systems on Native Americans. Between 2012-2016, Ms.Gali previously worked as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pit River Tribe and continues to lead large-scale actions while helping organize Native cultural, spiritual, scholarly, and political gatherings throughout California.

Morning Star serves as a board member for the Sovereign Bodies Institute, California Indian Heritage Center Foundation and Women's Health Specialists of California along with serving on a number of advisory committees that advocate for the sovereignty and self-determination of California’s indigenous peoples and protection of sacred lands.

Ola Osifo Osaze is a trans masculine queer of Edo and Yoruba descent, who was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and now resides in Houston, Texas. Ola is the Project Director for the Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project and has been a community organizer for many years, including working with Transgender Law Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Uhuru Wazobia (one of the first LGBT groups for African immigrants in the US), Queers for Economic Justice and Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Ola is a 2015 Voices of Our Nation Arts workshop (VONA) fellow, and has writings published in Apogee, Qzine, Black Girl Dangerous, Black Looks, and the anthologies Queer African Reader and Queer Africa II.

Priscilla González is Campaigns Director at Mijente, the leading digital and grassroots hub for Latinx/Chicanx organizing and movement building. Born and raised in New York City, she has been an organizer for nearly two decades. From working to pass the nation’s first Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights to helping to drive the largest unprecedented campaign/coalition for police accountability in NYC, she has experienced time and again how grassroots-led organizing always gets the goods when you've got a bold vision, clear and coordinated strategies, and a porous movement for everyday folks to put their "granito de arena" (do their part) to make change happen.

Zach Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and co-founder of Restore Oakland, a community advocacy and training center that will empower Bay Area community members to transform local economic and justice systems and make a safe and secure future possible for themselves and for their families.  Zach is also a co-founder of Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic.

Zach helped build California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth which led the effort to close five youth prisons in the state, passed legislation to enable families to stay in contact with their loved ones, and defeated Prop 6—a destructive and ineffective criminal justice ballot measure. In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zach is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California and was a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow. He is a former board member at Witness for Peace and Just Cause Oakland and is currently serving on the Justice for Families board. Zach was a recipient of the American Constitution Society's David Carliner Public Interest Award in 2015, and is a member of the 2016 class of the Levi Strauss Foundation's Pioneers of Justice.

Zach is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.

 


 

Funders for Justice is a national organizing platform of grantmakers, donor networks, and funder affinity groups increasing resources to grassroots organizations at the intersection of racial justice, gender justice, community safety, and policing. Is there a conversation you’d like to have? Email us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org

 
 
May 4, 2021

Introducing Philanthropy Foward: Cohort 3

 

We are excited to announce the launch of Philanthropy Forward's Cohort 3 in partnership with The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions!

Philanthropy Forward is a CEO fellowship community for visionary leaders who center racial and gender justice and community power building to disrupt and transform the future of philanthropy. This fellowship brings together CEOs of foundations who are supporting racial & gender justice and community power building to make deeper change at the individual, organizational, and philanthropic field levels.

  • ALEYAMMA MATHEW, she/her — Collective Future Fund
  • AMORETTA MORRIS, she/her — Borealis Philanthropy
  • ANA CONNER, they/she — Third Wave Fund
  • CARLA FREDERICKS, she/her — The Christensen Fund
  • CRAIG DRINKARD, he/him — Victoria Foundation
  • JENNIFER CHING, she/her — North Star Fund
  • JOHN BROTHERS, he/him — T. Rowe Price Foundation
  • KIYOMI FUJIKAWA, she/her — Third Wave Fund
  • LISA OWENS, she/her — Hyams Foundation
  • MOLLY SCHULTZ HAFID, she/her — Butler Family Fund
  • NICK DONOHUE, he/him — Nellie Mae Education Foundation
  • NICOLE PITTMAN, she/her — Just Beginnings Collaborative
  • PHILIP LI, he/him — Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
  • RAJASVINI BHANSALI, she/they — Solidaire Network & Solidaire Action Fund
  • RINI BANERJEE, she/her — Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
  • TANUJA DEHNE, she/her — Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
  • YANIQUE REDWOOD, she/her — Consumer Health Foundation

learn more about each Fellow!

With a framework focused on liberated gatekeeping, accountability practices, and strategic risk taking, Philanthropy Forward is a dedicated space for leaders to organize together and boldly advance the transformed future of the sector. This growing fellowship of visionary CEOs from progressive philanthropic institutions is aligning to to disrupt and transform the future of philanthropy.

Philanthropy Forward is a joint initiative started in 2018 by Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. Learn more about the fellowship here.

March 17, 2021

How Philanthropy Can Move from Crisis to Transformation

Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director of the General Service Foundation, urges grantmakers and the philanthropic sector to take concrete actions to defend democracy and speak out against racist attacks on people of color. This post was originally published here by the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project.

Dimple 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. General Service Foundation, which partners with grassroots organizations to bring about a more just and sustainable world, is a member of NFG.


  

Dimple AbichandaniIt was just a year ago, and yet it feels like a lifetime.

Last March, I was dreading a hectic month packed with too much work travel. Long before we had heard of Covid-19, many of us had been preparing for 2020 to be a consequential year, one in which our democracy was on the line.

My mother had generously traveled from Houston to help with childcare during my travels. Her two-week visit turned into three months, and our worlds as we knew them changed.

Covid happened.  

Then the racial justice uprisings happened.

The wildfires happened.

The election happened. 

And then an armed insurrection to overturn the democratic election results happened.

Every turn in this tumultuous year reaffirmed the reality that justice is a matter of life and death. 

Our democracy survived, though barely. But more than half a million Americans did not, and this unfathomable loss, borne disproportionately by communities of color, is still growing.

Across the philanthropic sector, funders stepped up to meet the moment. We saw payouts increase, the removal of unnecessary bureaucracy, and commitments to flexible support from not only public and private foundations but also individual philanthropists who gave unrestricted billions.

A year ago, we all faced a rapidly changing reality — one that it made it hard to know what the next month, or next year might hold.  Now, we have turned a corner in a most consequential time in American democracy, a time that has been defined by the leadership of Black women and grassroots movements for social justice that are building the power of people — and these movements are just getting started. There is momentum for change, leadership that is solidly poised to make that change, and broad-based support for the bold solutions that will move us towards a more just and equitable society.  We are in a dramatically different time that continues to call for a dramatically different kind of philanthropy.

As we look back on this year of crisis, and see the opportunities before us now more clearly, how are funders being called to contribute to the change we know is needed?  To answer these questions, I point to the truths that remained when everything else fell away.

We have the power to change the rules.

In the early days of the pandemic, close to 800 foundations came together and pledged to provide their grantees with flexible funding and to remove burdens and barriers that divert them from their work. Restrictions on funding were waived, and additional funds were released. These changes were not the result of years-long strategic planning; instead, this was a rare example of strategic action. These quick shifts allowed movement leaders to be responsive to rapidly shifting needs. Grantees were more free to act holistically, to mobilize collectively, make shared demands, and achieve staggering change.

Today, our grantees are coping with the exhaustion, burnout, and trauma from this last year, the last four years, and even the last four hundred years. Recently, many of us have begun to invest more intentionally in the healing, sustainability, and wellness of our grantees. Systemic injustice takes a toll on a very individual human level, and as funders, we can and should resource our grantees to thrive.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, has urged philanthropy to, “Fund us like you want us to win.” Last year, we learned that we are capable of doing just that — and doing it without delay. Let’s build on funding practices that center relationships and shift power to our grantees.

White supremacy got us into this mess; racial justice will get us out.

Racial justice went mainstream in 2020 as the multiple crises exposed deep inequities and injustices in our midst. In the months after the world witnessed a police officer brutally murder George Floyd, many funders responded with explicit new commitments to fund Black-led racial justice work. These standalone funding commitments have been hailed as a turning point in philanthropy — a recognition of the importance of resourcing racial justice movements.

As we move forward, we must ensure that these newly made commitments are durable and not just crisis-driven. Movements should not have to rely on heartbreaking headlines to drive the flow of future resources. We can build on new funding commitments by centering racial justice in all our grantmaking. As resources begin to flow, let’s ensure that our frameworks are intersectional and include a gender analysis. To demonstrate a true desire to repair, heal, and build a multiracial democracy, philanthropy must do meaningful work in our institutions so that, at all levels, there is an understanding of the root causes of inequality and the importance of investing in racial justice.  Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change, captured the centrality of this when he said, “We don’t get racial justice out of a true democracy. We get a true democracy out of racial justice.”

We know how to be “all in” when it's important. In this next period, it’s important.

With crisis as the rationalization, many endowed foundations were inspired to suspend a practice that our sector has long taken for granted: the 5% minimum distribution rule. In the face of compounding threats to our lives and our democracy, 64 individuals and foundations pledged to increase spending to 10% of the value of their endowment in 2020. And for the first time in years, the philanthropic sector is giving meaningful attention to the topic of spending decisions and the problem of treating the payout floor as though it is the ceiling.

To take full advantage of this once-in-a-generation opening for transformation, funders must put all the tools in our toolbox behind our ambitious missions. Social justice philanthropy can build new spending models that are not only more responsive to the moment, but also set our institutions up to better fulfill our missions — today and in the long-term.

This past summer, 26 million people marched in the streets of their small and large cities to proclaim that Black lives matter. It was the largest mobilization in our country’s history. Last fall, despite numerous efforts to suppress voters, social justice organizers mobilized the largest voter turnout we’ve ever seen. Now, as a result, we are in a moment that holds immense possibility. 

In big and small ways, we are all changed by this year. 

Our sector and our practice of philanthropy has changed too.  Let’s claim the opportunity that is before us by reimagining our norms and adopting practices that will continue to catalyze transformation.  The old philanthropy has been exposed as unfit. The new philanthropy is ours to create.