Building Strong, Healthy, and Resilient Communities in Ferguson and Beyond

The recent shooting death of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is a painful reminder of the deeply entrenched divisions and tensions that plague too many American communities fractured by decades of racial discrimination, poverty, and disinvestment. As in Ferguson, tensions often simmer just below the surface until starkly revealed by some precipitating incident.

As the nation continues to grapple with the tough questions raised by the events in Ferguson, it is encouraging to recognize that philanthropy has a role to play. Michael Brown’s death and the local and national reactions to it are an opportunity to advance meaningful social change. Health philanthropy, in particular, is uniquely positioned to address the issues that underscore the turmoil in Ferguson.

The complex challenges facing this community and others like it are deep and multilayered—social marginalization, crumbling schools, unaffordable housing, high unemployment, and an eroding social safety net. All of these challenges point to the underlying social, economic, and environmental forces that shape the health of communities. Violence, poor living conditions, and weakened social cohesion threaten the safety and well-being of neighborhoods. African-American men, in particular, bear the brunt of unequal treatment and diminished opportunities. They have the shortest life expectancy of all groups in the United States, and many die of homicide while still young.

While these problems may seem intractable, philanthropy offers multiple pathways to building strong, healthy, and resilient communities in Ferguson and beyond. Funders can bring their resources, innovative thinking, convening power, and broad influence to bear to create transformative change. Addressing underlying conditions in Ferguson and other communities will require long-term investments to improve education, housing, jobs, health care, and mental health services; to expand opportunities for young men and boys of color; and to reduce social marginalization.

This work will not be easy. It will require bold cross-sectoral solutions. It is critical that health funders partner with and learn from others, including racial equity funders, civil rights activists, police reform advocates, and social justice organizers.

Looking ahead, Grantmakers In Health will continue to lift up ways funders can respond to the needs of communities like Ferguson. We also hope to foster more funder conversations about social justice and health equity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.36.27 AM                        Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.36.38 AM           President and CEO                                                  Program Director
 Grantmakers In Health                                          Grantmakers In Health

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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