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
April 27, 2021

Building rural power for racial, economic, gender, & climate justice: NFG's April 2021 Newsletter

At Neighborhood Funders Group, we know that local grassroots organizing is key to Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities building power to influence decision-making about the places where they live, work, learn, and play. It’s how we can make sure our communities have access to clean water, stable housing, and economies that sustain people and planet. Power building is also how we will achieve community safety models that do not perpetuate violence against and criminalize Indigenous women and girls, migrants, those living in poverty, and Black and Brown people living in rural communities.

With nearly 1 of every 5 people in the U.S. living in a rural area, the trajectory of rural America is tied to the entire country’s future regarding democracy, healthcare, workers’ rights, food systems, climate change, immigration, and more. We have seen the influence and impact that rural communities have in designing and implementing progressive policy solutions that benefit all communities, regardless of their zip code. And yet, rural communities receive a sliver of philanthropic resources, with very little of this funding going to support community organizing and power building work — particularly that led by and serving Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities in rural areas.

NFG launched the Integrated Rural Strategies Group (IRSG) four years ago in partnership with funders who needed a space to learn, connect, strategize, and move resources in support of multiracial community power building in rural places. As part of our commitment to building power in place, IRSG partnered with Engage New York to commission a landscape scan of the community organizing infrastructure in New York State. Rural organizers in New York contributed to the recent passage of statewide policies, which provide critical support and solutions to BIPOC and low-income communities — in both rural and urban places. These successes were accomplished in the face of significant challenges — challenges that can be addressed if philanthropy recognized and fully resourced the power and potential of rural communities.

The community organizers and advocates interviewed for the scan have called for funders to support transformative movements to build rural power, instead of transactional models that perpetuate the status quo. The scan offers three overarching recommendations for grantmakers to take action and resource multiracial rural organizing infrastructure.

read the report!

We invite you to take a look at the report and at our launch event on May 20, explore with us how your foundation can invest in a future for rural communities and the rest of the country that is grounded in a multiracial democracy, sustainable agroecology and economies, decriminalization, and the abolition of the prison industrial complex. This new stage for IRSG's work parallels an exciting era for investments in rural communities coming from the federal level. Connect with me and IRSG funder members and sign up for IRSG’s newsletter to learn more about how your grantmaking can support rural communities to build power and thrive.

In solidarity,

Lindsay Ryder
Senior Program Manager
Integrated Rural Strategies Group

Domenico Romero
IRSG Co-Chair
Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Allistair Mallillan
IRSG Co-Chair
Common Counsel Foundation

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.