December 9, 2021

Campaign to Support Black Farmers

Photos courtesy of Black Oaks Center.

Neighborhood Funders Group and Wieboldt Foundation invite you to support racial justice and reparations for Black farmers who are crucial to our fight for just food systems, economic justice, and climate justice.

We have launched a campaign to support the farmers of Pembroke Township, Illinois and Black Oaks Center, in an effort to preserve and protect their land ownership and economic opportunity that are threatened by decades of systemic racism in food systems, practices within federal agencies, and land ownership laws.

What is happening?

In 1910, Black farmers owned more than 16 million acres of land and made up about 14% of farmers in the US. Today, Black farmers own less than 4.6 million acres and make up about 4% of farmers. This significant land loss is in part due to systemic racism in federal support to farmers, including historic racism in the USDA (most notably their discriminatory lending and aid practices), the Heirs' Property Law which has served as a legal pathway to take land away from Black families, corporate monopolies in the food chain, and racist tax laws. Despite more recent shifts and efforts by the USDA and other federal agencies, these structural inequities have compounded for the farmers of Pembroke, resulting in loss of farmland ownership and economic opportunity, along with the ability to support an equitable food system for the region.

Due to these compounding injustices, approximately $100,000 is currently owed in delinquent land taxes on Black farm land in Pembroke Township, Illinois, which has the largest concentration of Black farmers in the Northern US. What does this mean for a Black family farming in Pembroke for generations? For as little as $2,000 in delinquent taxes, a family can experience the loss of more than a dozen acres of farmland that has the potential to yield $500,000 per crop cycle. 


A Solution for Justice

In October 2021, NFG and Wieboldt Foundation each granted $10,000 to Black Oaks Center in support of a campaign to ensure Pembroke farmers are able to maintain ownership of their farmlands. 

We invite you to contribute to this effort, with a goal of raising an initial $150,000.

Black Oaks Center, based in Pembroke Township, Illinois, has a deep history of supporting and organizing in the community. Through this campaign, Black Oaks Center is able to receive funding which will be coordinated to relieve farmers’ back taxes and other financial land ownership burdens. Black Oaks Center will also:

  • Protect against future forfeiture of the land by offering farm lease agreements to help farmers and their families monetize their land. Farmers will no longer experience the devastation of losing 20 acres of land over a mere $2,000 of back taxes - land that would then likely transfer ownership to developers or for extractive use.
  • Generate economic opportunity for these farmers. With a single acre, there are a plethora of options available to them (e.g. seed production, chickens, vine fruits). As an example, one acre of blueberries can yield $32,000 per year.
  • Foster equitable food systems by supporting a resilient food system that has multiple small local suppliers, high biological diversity, high diversity of products, and sufficient redundancy.
  • Continue historic land stewardship. The farmers in Pembroke Township are stewards of the Kankakee Lands, one of the most prized ecosystems in Illinois and home to the endangered dwarfed black oaks. These farmers are honored to carry forward this tradition of stewardship, which dates back to the people indigenous to this land, the Potawatomi.

An Invitation and Call to Action for Funders

Step 1:
Immediate Support to Black Farmers in Pembroke, Illinois

NFG and Wieboldt Foundation are seeking to raise $150,000 to support the immediate land loss amongst Pembroke farmers. Black Oaks Center will provide farm lease agreements to prevent future land forfeiture. We invite you to contribute to a pool of contributions that NFG will administer and disburse to Black Oaks Center. 

Step 2:
Deepening Support and Learning for Continued Community Power Building

In early 2022, NFG will be offering programming for funders to learn more and engage in further action. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in a funder strategy session as well as programming to connect with and learn from Pembroke Township farmers around the impacts of structural racism on their land sovereignty and economic opportunity, and the need for philanthropic resources to support organizing and power building within and beyond this community.

Racial justice and reparations for Black farmers are crucial to our fight for just food systems, economic justice, and climate justice. Ensuring the land ownership of Black farmers helps all communities - rural and urban - to thrive. 

Please contact Lindsay Ryder to make a contribution or learn more. 

We hope you will join us. 

April 21, 2022

(Re)Sharing NFG's National Convening update + more events: NFG's April 2022 Newsletter

Neighborhood Funders Group is re-sharing the announcement about our National Convening that we made earlier this month.  

We are shifting the timing of our National Convening in Wilmington, North Carolina from June 2022 to Spring 2023.

Convening is NFG’s ‘superpower,’ and the most frequently named reason for why we are many funders’ political home in philanthropy. Many of us are feeling more open to in-person connection with funder colleagues and grantee partners; excitement about the post-session hallway scheming that happens at NFG convenings; and ready for the impromptu fun that comes from in-person time together, including late night (Covid-safe!) karaoke sessions with both new and long-time friends and colleagues. And, we're continuing to be mindful that we have not been at a moment like this ever before in our lifetimes.

The decision to shift our convening to 2023 was informed by ongoing, thoughtful conversations with NFG’s staff & board of directors, our convening co-chairs who are grantmakers in the region, our Amplify Fund grantee partners that are building power in Eastern North Carolina, and our event planners (Girl Friday Events) about Covid considerations and how & when we want to intentionally regather in-person.

How we regather and build community as safely and accessibly as possible during an ongoing pandemic — where there are no known/clear solutions — requires all of us to think as adaptive leaders. How we come back together as a community requires more conversations, time, and co-created paths forward.

Over the next months, we will continue our convening program planning. When we come back together for this National Convening in 2023, we’re committed to creating a convening space that is rooted in joy, camaraderie, care, and fun; showcases how groups in Eastern North Carolina are building power locally; and moves money to BIPOC communities. Our first convening back together in-person after more than two years will be nothing short of a spectacular reunion. 

Stay tuned for more convening announcements to come! And keep reading for our robust list of upcoming events hosted by NFG and our partners, including:

In community,
The NFG Team

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March 24, 2022

Sharing NFG's refreshed theory of change: NFG's March 2022 Newsletter

Neighborhood Funders Group has shared snippets of our new theory of change in each of our newsletters so far this year. 

In January, we unveiled our long-term outcome: Philanthropic assets are liberated so that BIPOC communities and low-income communities have power to self-determine. In February, we applied this outcome to NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy program — which organizes funders committed to supporting economic justice and worker power to rebuild an economy and democracy that works for all, ensures good quality jobs, and promotes prosperity and health. 

Now, we’re excited to share our full theory of change! This process started in 2021 when we revisited our initial strategic framework that was developed three years prior. A board and staff committee came together for this work. We spoke to co-chairs of NFG programs. And we worked with the phenomenal Luminare Group who also partnered with us in 2018 on our initial strategic framework.

We began by affirming what we still held as true and core in our strategic framework while also naming our curiosities. What we found (and still find) unique and powerful in the process of developing our theory of change are the conversations and connections, the clarity named, and the commitments made. Over the course of 2021, we affirmed and refined these elements of our theory of change: the problem we seek to address, our guiding principles and values, assumptions, context, strategies and our outcomes. We also identified the evidence (empirical and experiential) that informs us. We did this so that we can be clear on our commitments, push ourselves and our work, learn from what we try on, and be accountable to you and each other.

As I shared in my January message: We know that this is a critical time for philanthropy. More people are amassing wealth, leading to more billionaires entering philanthropy and the creation of more DAFs and private foundations. There continues to be wealth hoarding among individual and foundation donors. Many foundations persist in adhering to a minimum 5% payout while endowments continue to grow. And we are seeing some positive shifts with foundations spending down the assets they’ve been holding and shifting their investment practices. Many more funders are centering trust, community power building, and decentralized decision-making in their grantmaking.

Given this context, we named key assumptions to inform our work going forward:

  • Philanthropy is at a choice point. The sector has an opportunity to shift and transform, and some grantmakers are making that choice. Others continue to pull back and maintain the status quo. 

  • Different practices are possible in philanthropy when guided by an analysis that centers root causes and intersectional analysis.

  • It will take examples and stories of how to increase spend out, transform investments, and change philanthropic practices to show the way.

  • Progress toward our theory of change outcomes will take a broad base of funders: those interested in racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice beginning their journey and those leading the way who are funder organizers and leaders.

  • All of us in philanthropy — Black, Indigenous, people of color, and white people — can transform our understanding to be greater leaders for justice. Even though all of us are implicated, who leads matters! Who is leading will shape how and what we fund.  

Our refreshed theory of change document is a commitment, an aspiration, and a blueprint for how NFG wants to be in our work and in our relationships with our community.

This theory of change will move us toward the following outcomes:

  • Philanthropy is led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color leaders who have experience in building community power 

  • Philanthropic practices shift power to BIPOC communities and are grounded in trust 

  • Racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice is funded with all philanthropic assets 

And it will guide how we partner, plan programming, and co-conspire with our community of grantmakers to liberate philanthropic assets so that BIPOC and low-income communities have power to self-determine.

We look forward to being in community with you to make this transformation together. 


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