March 30, 2020

A Call for Social Solidarity: COVID-19 Response from NFG's Programs

In the midst of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, NFG stands with our communities and workers who are in crisis. As we help organize with frontline leaders and philanthropy to meet the immediate needs of our communities at this time, NFG also remains committed to long-term transformation towards a just and equitable society.

Funders must listen and move resources to organizations that are accountable to the communities that disproportionately bear the brunt of this public health and economic disaster, now and into the future. These communities include Asian Americans and Asian immigrants who are experiencing violent attacks and scapegoating based on race in addition to all the other impacts of the pandemic. 

While the pandemic has created a broader sense of national crisis and urgency, such crises are the everyday reality of many people in our communities. As movement leaders Cara Kindred and Eesha Pandit have written, “many of our communities live in crisis and economic disparities constantly. These crises, such as lack of access to dignified and quality health care and housing, a living wage, electricity, running water and freedom from state, communal, and interpersonal violence, are created and sustained by institutions and social structures that are working as intended…

This moment asks us to consider how we will pivot and adapt in a way that centers collective care, safety, and protection for each other.”  Read the full essay here. 

NFG is doing just that in our programming and grantmaking. Keep reading to hear from each of our programs how philanthropy should be pivoting and adapting:

Amplify Fund 

At Amplify we are stretching from our core! We maintain our central belief that community power drives just and equitable development and in the face of COVID-19, a just and equitable recovery. We share 3 ways to take action with us below: 

  • Give more than you ever thought possible. As a time-limited pooled fund, we are reallocating budget items so we can distribute as much in direct support as possible. We hope you give at the maximum level possible even if that’s above the 5% minimum endowment payout or your current averages. 

  • Root in racial justice now more than ever. We are continuing to resource local organizations led by directly impacted people in our 8 places across the country, and encourage you to support communities as decision-makers, follow local expertise and prioritize local leaders and leaders of color. 

  • Do what works for grantees. We are steadfast in our commitment to listen to grantees first and then act quickly, and, collaboratively, with philanthropic partners. When distributing resources, consider using JustFund, an online “one-stop shop” application portal to reduce redundancy and burden for grantees.

Democratizing Development Program 

Across the country, we are seeing health and housing justice leaders push for COVID-19 Housing and Homeless community demands that temporarily or permanently put moratoriums on evictions, rents and utility shutoffs for residential and commercial tenants. We are seeing homeless communities, having no other choice but to seize state and private properties for shelter.

Rent is due on April 1. Millions won’t be able to pay their rent due to layoffs or illness. Others don't have a home at all, or haven’t had an affordable and safe place to call home for a long time. Congress will try to respond. Today’s public health emergency exacerbates our existing housing and public health needs that already disproportionately impact low-income and communities of color. 

All philanthropic institutions should continue to partner to break out of our silos to further support housing needs and groups working at the local, state and national level. Community and family foundations should look at how they can support local groups to engage in People’s Action and others working on the national Homes Guarantee campaign. Right to the City (RTTC) is also launching a National Campaign for Rent, Utility, and Mortgage Suspension. From their experiences of enduring the long-term impacts of the 2007-2008 foreclosure crisis, RTTC is also launching a $5 million dollar emergency fund for its local, state and national grassroots members. We are grateful that philanthropy is “rapidly” responding to the health and housing crisis, but what is needed is a deeper, sustained, and longer-term commitment for program and investment dollars to support the housing needs of all.

To continue our collective response on health and housing, we are organizing a Democratizing Development funders strategy discussion to lift up examples on where funders can respond and to further support nonprofit leaders and grantmakers on short-term and longer-term strategies to build community power during this growing health crisis.

Funders for a Just Economy

On March 23 and 24, FJE hosted emergency calls with funders and its annual two-day Policy Briefing. We surveyed funders and community organizations to learn more about the immediate needs and actions groups are taking to protect workers and their families amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

Through these events and data, FJE created the following calls to action for funders:  

  • Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate. Coordinate with Grantees - Listen! Minimize the work and burden on them and support the resilience of grantees with increased funds. And support grantees to build a ground game for broader change that combats austerity policies and builds power for the long term. Coordinate with Labor and Worker Centers - Support the current worker organizing happening in high-demand and vulnerable industries, such as healthcare and other care work, grocery, farmwork, warehousing, shipping, construction, cleaning services, rideshare, public transit, and delivery. Coordinate with your Funder Colleagues - Let’s fight hard for more money! Don’t let fears of dwindling endowments and trusts determine your grant making budgets. The time is now to liberate your accumulated wealth. Advocate with your peers to allow grants to become flexible, general operating support grants.

  • Fund the immediate needs, emergency supports for all workers, their families, and their communities, and new ways of organizing. Ask: How do we find connection during isolation? How do we bring in more people into our movements in this moment? How can we build new technology infrastructure to support new organizing tactics? Support demands on corporations benefiting from relief that will increase worker power. Support policies that provided resources to people who are undocumented, incarcerated, unhoused. Support movements to decarcerate and release people in jails and detention centers now and in the longer term abolish these facilities.

  • Use resources now to support and promote longer term structural change. While immediate and emergency relief is important in the short term, we need to promote the need for structural and permanent reforms. Fund now and fund later. And with this funding, support the communications and research capacity of organizing and power building groups. They have the best strategies and knowledge of how to utilize this moment to support longer term systemic change.

Funders for Justice 

Folks of color, particularly those folks with service or contract jobs with little or no access to health care, savings, and/or housing, will see an increase in policing and criminalization. We urge you to move money directly to the field (see list of resources), in far greater amounts than you ever have before, faster and with as little burden as possible to organizations. We especially ecourage you to fund organizing and relief work led by and for communities of color and low-income communities working at the intersections of racial justice, gender justice, criminalization, and models for community safety and justice. Consider the following when making grants: 

  • Mass decarceration is a demand that is gaining traction and victories across the country. Movement bail funds are also bailing people out and migrant rights groups are getting folks out of detention. How does this change your previous belief that jail, prison, and detention are necessary? 

  • Rates of domestic violence are increasing during the shelter in place and quarantine requirements, and police are being called on to intervene in this violence. Yet, more police has never beeen an effective pathway to ending domestic and gender-based violence. Police unions are using this as a moment to advocate for larger deparment budgets, at the same time that folks need. goverrnment-funded free and easy access to health care, food, and housing - all of which support survivors in getting free from abusers. What are ways to support the safety of survivors?  Who are gender justice funders and organizations that you can partner with to support survivors?

  • The police are being called on to enforce shelter-in-place orders and quarentines. This brings an increased police presence into communities hardest hit by the pandemic - low-income communities of color. What are the dangers in this? What’s possible and necessary for reduced or no policing? 

  • How are Asian communities in the US being targeted for racist, xenophobic attacks? What does a community safety response to hate violence look like, rooted in racial justice and without involving police?   

Integrated Rural Strategies Group

We know that the demographics of rural America are changing, that folks may need to drive 3-4 hours to access a hospital, and other services — including access to remote schooling and telehealth services — might be limited or might not exist. We are organizing with funders that support work in rural regions and having important discourse around critical infrastructure. 

We’re considering how food shortages will impact rural areas, how broadband internet could become a national utility, and how philanthropy can strengthen the national social safety net for all. 

While uncertainty surrounds us all in this unprecedented moment, let’s practice social solidarity together. NFG offers you a political home: a place to connect, strategize, and take action. 

January 27, 2021

Be vigilant and move the money: NFG's January 2021 Newsletter

In NFG’s final Strike Watch blog of 2020, Manisha Vaze — Director of our Funders for a Just Economy Program — issued this call to action:

“The organizer in me is asking you to stay vigilant and move resources to where movements are directing us: to organizing, power building, and movements calling to defund the police as a pathway to community and worker justice. We have an enormous opportunity in philanthropy to truly support, through solidarity and resources, the visionary movements that are building power for systemic change.”

As we wrap up this first month of 2021 and continue to celebrate — and fund! — the Black women, women of color, Indigenous activists, and queer and trans organizers who made possible the many progressive electoral wins across the country, we at NFG are asking our community of grantmakers to heed this call to stay vigilant and resource the movements that are building power for systemic change.

The moment that we are now facing is part of the trajectory toward justice set by Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities who have been working to dismantle deliberately oppressive systems that have existed for generations. BIPOC leaders and communities have fueled long-term, power building movements and created the critical organizing infrastructure to win elections up and down ballots, defund the police, and change the predominant narratives and policies of racial capitalism — all too often at significant risk of violence, with little media attention or notice, and inadequate funding.

Philanthropy has the power and resources to fund the boldest movements for liberation, justice, and systemic change. Grantmakers can shed onerous funding practices and trust grassroots leaders to use grant funds as they see fit for the health of their organizers and movements. Funders must be more than reactive and fully lean into a vision of what is possible now that uprisings for racial justice and electoral victories led by Black organizers have opened up more opportunities for change than ever.

And NFG is here to support grantmakers with joy, creativity, and community as you remain vigilant and do this necessary work to move resources and shift power. Below are highlights from our programs for how you can keep co-conspiring with NFG this year to propel racial, economic, gender, and climate justice.

Onwards,
The NFG team


 

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2021

 
Amplify Fund

Amplify Fund is a funder collaborative that supports Black, Indigenous, people of color and low-income communities to build power and to influence decisions about the places they live and work.

“As a Senior Program Officer, I really spend a lot of time speaking with powerful leaders across the country who are working on issues related to development and building power in their communities. They are truth tellers, all working in their respective places to challenge harmful policies and politics and fighting with their communities and their bases for just and equitable development,” says Amplify's Melody Baker.

In 2021, Amplify will continue to focus on 2 key outcomes from our Theory of Change, while reconsidering the current time limitations and distribution of decision-making power.

Video thumbnail with silhouettes of protestors and text that says, "95% of Amplify grantees are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) led. Many of the leaders are women or gender non-binary.

Keep up with Amplify through our quarterly newsletter, photos and videos on social media, and "live" events with Amplify staff, steering committee members, local funder partners and grantees.

To learn more about some of our 54 grantees, watch (and share) our newly released 7 minute video. And follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
 

Democratizing Development Program (DDP)

Across the country, millions of Americans are facing eviction or on the cliff to potential homelessness. The call for short-term eviction moratoriums is not enough to heal and repair our communities and to stop homelessness. We need a housing overhaul.

In 2021, DDP will continue to bring together community voices and philanthropic leaders moving forward BIPOC organizing and policy solutions for land, housing, community ownership and power. We will further showcase intersectional frameworks and tools of the future of community development, philanthropy, and issues of gentrification, policing, evictions, and future solutions like #LandBack, community land trusts, and others.

We are starting off the year by partnering with philanthropic, health, and housing justice leaders linking the current health and housing crises to racial justice and power building. We will highlight leaders that are moving forward with land, power, and reparations strategies to advance a future of philanthropy leveraging more its assets to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. Join us to:

  • Strategize around intersectional approaches that protect tenants, preserve communities, and produce affordable housing solutions that build community power and community needs
  • Engage a broader range of funders at the intersections of housing, community safety and justice, education, health, jobs, climate, gender, and racial justice to center the needs of how housing is inextricably linked to a broad range of needs
  • Advance conversations on community development and ownership models that allow residents to influence local decisions and create longer-term benefits for themselves
  • Deepen philanthropic partnerships and alignment with the broader housing justice movement
     

Integrated Rural Strategies Group (IRSG)

IRSG holds a core assertion that multiracial rural organizing is a cornerstone to a multiracial democracy, and that philanthropy has a critical role to play in building a strong participatory democracy that engages all communities.

In 2021, IRSG will offer a variety of ways for funders to connect, learn, and mobilize resources to support rural equity work — particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color led multiracial rural organizing infrastructure — in an urgent effort to strengthen our democracy. We welcome you to co-conspire with IRSG as we:

  • Launch a committee of Movement Advisors to deepen our accountability to rural community-led work
  • Offer a curated set of resources, calls to action, and timely updates from rural organizers and funders supporting rural equity in a regular newsletter
  • Share out actionable research in the form of rural infrastructure scans and funder recommendations, including a report and accompanying toolkits based on rural New York infrastructure, with actionable resources for funders across the country
  • Provide programming featuring multiracial rural organizing work on issues ranging from rural infrastructure (broadband, electric cooperatives) to agroecology (opportunities to organize and build power in rural communities based on their role in food systems), and how to sustain and build power coming out of the census and election work
     

Funders for a Just Economy (FJE)

FJE has been on a learning journey to increase consciousness around how movements and communities and workers build power, focused particularly on movements led by people of color toward racial, gender, and economic justice. FJE has begun to align our network around a common agenda, understanding new ways to liberate philanthropy’s accumulated wealth, diving deep into supporting worker and community power, and deepening our understanding of racial capitalism.

Last year, at the onset of the crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, FJE broadened its work to discuss how we can redefine safety through an exploration of the police power, police unions, and defunding the police, developing a fuller picture of workplace violence and health, and learning from experts about how proto-fascist, white nationalist, and white power groups are building towards their vision of authoritarianism and white supremacy that undergirds conservative ideology.

FJE continues the drumbeat to fund and sustain a longer-term path to power, so Black, Indigenous, and people of color, low-income communities and workers, rural communities, LGBTQIA and gender non-conforming people, women, and immigrants can realize and attain justice and build power toward a true democracy.

Coming up, FJE will be hosting our annual Policy Briefing in March to discuss how movement partners are continuing to build a powerful movement for inclusive worker power, considering both rising fascism and the new federal administration, and to share how funders can support multi-racial, multi-gender movements toward policy wins that build community and worker power, combat austerity policies, and support transformational and longer-term strategies toward racial, gender, climate and economic justice. Stay tuned for a save the date and an invitation to the 2021 FJE kick-off call for NFG members.
 

Philanthropy Forward

Fellows from Philanthropy Forward's two cohorts have been continuing to organize together as a community of visionary leaders who center racial and gender justice and community power building to disrupt and transform the future of philanthropy. Check out highlights from Philanthropy Forward's fellows here.
 

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February 4, 2021

Philanthropy Moving Forward a Bolder Approach to America’s Housing Crisis

This blog was written by Nile Malloy, Director of NFG's Democratizing Development Program to urge philanthropy to propel a bold approach to the housing crisis. 

Housing advocates and grassroots groups from across the country continue to organize elected officials at the local, state, and federal level for another eviction moratorium, rental assistance, and foreclosure delay relief to slow the rate of some families from being pushed towards the cliff of homelessness. National groups like Right to the City Housing is the Cure; People’s Action Home Guarantee, National Low-income Housing Coalition, and the recently launched New Deal for Housing Justice by Community Change all seek to influence the federal government to move forward a bolder housing agenda for low-income and communities of color most impacted by the triple pandemic: our economy, health, and the fight for racial justice.

Based on the U.S. Census, nearly one in five households are behind their rent or mortgage and according to the Aspen Institute, the US could be on the verge of “the most severe housing crisis in its history” , with an estimated 30 to 40 million people at risk of eviction.  With the Biden-Harris administration on the verge of initiating America’s third jolt of resources to temporarily stem the bleeding of evictions which will extend the federal eviction moratorium through at least March 31. This may only delay the inevitable for renters who have fallen far behind on their payments and are still waiting for aid that’s been promised. Moratoriums and short-term relief are just like filling a pothole on the road to housing justice. It’s insufficient, problematic and systematically not enough. The pandemic has shown us that housing is intersectional and is just as important as work in the South and countless others winning democratic seats in Georgia. Housing is the backbone of our economy and families, as well as where we now teach our kids, work, pray, play and manage our mental health needs. The broader housing movement agrees that America needs a complete housing overhaul, and more philanthropic institutions are welcome to participate more in this critical moment. Philanthropy has to boldly align, partner and move resources to support the growing progressive and bold housing solutions at the local, state and federal levels. 

Communities Can't Wait: Immediate Actions for Housing Solutions

Despite flawed eviction moratoriums and the growing pandemic, powerful housing actions continue to happen in cities across the country. Near the place where George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, multi-racial tenants organized by United Renters for Justice /Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia are working towards community ownership of five buildings for 40 families. With long-term support from the McKnight Foundation they were able to stabilize community organizing, build a tenant union and chart a vision of hope, joy and prosperity together.  

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Housing Action engaged three homeless camps in Philly that announced the city has tentatively agreed to turn over 50 vacant city-owned homes that activists plan to convert into affordable low-income housing. In Oakland, California, Moms 4 Housing and ACCE were fighting against homelessness, gentrification and institutional poverty and reclaimed a vacant house that is now in a community land trust instead of speculators and profitters. One of the community organizers, Carrol Fife, Director of Oakland, ACCE chapter, won a seat on Oakland’s city council beating a two-term incumbent, overseeing the same district where she worked to occupy the property. In Asheville, North Carolina, community groups moved the City Council to pass a reparations resolution that seeks funding for Black people who have been denied housing through racist practices, including redlining, denial of mortgages and gentrification.

These above examples and countless others are the tips of the iceberg of how organizing seeds amazing brilliance to move resources for housing justice in the face of despair. 

Philanthropy Grounding a Racial and Housing Justice Agenda

Philanthropy's unwavering support of groups working to demand that Congress, states, and city leadership respond and support housing needs — including rent moratoriums, canceling rent demands, local bans on evictions, public, and private rental assistance programs — is even more critical while people are still being evicted during eviction “moratoriums.” We believe funders must contribute to the housing, economic, and community needs sweeping the country by: 

  1. Investing deeper and longer towards grassroots and community-based organizing: The fight for our democracy in Georgia once again demonstrated the power of organizing. Housing advocates, tenant unions, community groups and grassroots leadership are at the frontlines of change demanding short-term relief strategies to keep their communities safe, healthy and housed. Philanthropy can continue to support these valiant organizing efforts, with general operating funds, grant increases, and wellness/COVID 19 grants.

  2. Building leadership within your philanthropic institutions: Last fall, Lisa Owens, the Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana, and core partner of the Right to the City will head the Hyams Foundation. The Wieboldt Foundation announced that Jawanza Malone, former Executive Director at Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), one of the oldest Black-led grassroots membership-based community-organizing groups in Chicago will be the new Executive Director of the foundation. Described as one of the country’s most exciting “next generation” political leaders, Gloria Walton, former Executive Director of SCOPE in Los Angeles is committed to creating equitable climate solutions that center the people closest to the problem. Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund. These examples and countless others demonstrate the power of hiring long-term racial justice, economic justice leaders in your institution to help pivot resources to build, repair, and win in this political moment.

  3. Supporting housing and economic justice funder collaboratives: If your institution wants to manage risks or is newer to the housing justice space, fund directly or join a funder collaborative. The Neighborhood Funders Group Democratizing Development Program has been committed to supporting funders to move resources to community organizing, policy change, and powerbuilding efforts at the city, state, and federal level. Our members sparked the development of Fund for Inclusive California and NFG's Amplify Fund, which have moved millions of dollars to grassroots organizations supporting Black, Latino, and multi-racial organizing in eight states. Additional examples include the Neighborhood First Fund and Funders for Housing Opportunity.

  4. Affirming that housing for all is intersectional: Before the pandemic, NFG held a powerful convening with over 120 participants focused on health and housing. Several health funders were already advancing health and housing strategies like The California Endowment, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Grantmakers In Health, Colorado Health Foundation, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Shelterforce, Northwest Health Foundation, New York Health Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, Kresge Foundation and others. Knowing that most foundations need to do another study with high-paid consultants, consider Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity; Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE); analysis of the power of organizing, health, and power building. He highlighted key health and organizing principles from the “How Community Organizing Promotes Health Equity, And How Health Equity Affects Organizing.” With a new administration and growing health and housing crisis, it’s even more critical for health funders to dive deeper into moving resources to support the ecosystem of housing, equitable development, multi-racial organizing and community power-building strategies. 

  5. Keeping an eye on federal housing policy & deepen resources in places: Several leading housing organizations are focused on the first 100-days and beyond for the Biden-Harris Administration to influence federal housing policy. As mentioned, groups like Right to the City Housing is the Cure; People’s Action Home Guarantee, National Low-income Housing Coalition, National Fair Housing Alliance, Policylink, Urban Institute, the recently launched New Deal for Housing Justice from Community Change, and countless others are moving a range of housing policies to benefit the lives of low-income and communities. Despite different approaches and tactics, the ongoing call from housing leaders for the national, community and placed-based foundations to partner better together is critical. In this political moment, investing in the ecosystem of strategies to address housing and community needs demands bolder intersectional strategies and reframing the “housing crisis” debate to a holistic response of linking education, immigration, abolition, systemic racism, housing discrimination, land theft, speculation and impacts of community disinvestment. 

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