June 8, 2020

In Defense Of Black Lives — How NFG's Amplify Fund is Supporting Power Building in Black Communities

 

Black Lives Matter, today and every day.

The Amplify Fund, alongside our colleagues at NFG, stands in solidarity with Black communities as we again find ourselves anguished, angered, and compelled to action in response to the murders of George Floyd and Black people across the U.S. by police.

Today we are especially energized by mass protests around the country, and the concrete steps towards defunding the police and investing in community priorities.

Today, it is clearer than ever, that defending Black lives requires us all to take powerful action — including those of us in the philanthropic sector. The Amplify Fund calls on all grantmakers, from individuals to institutional funders, to actively challenge white supremacy, and follow the guidance of our NFG colleagues and members through Funders for Justice, by divesting from criminalization and investing in communities.

As NFG’s first grantmaking program, Amplify is proud to learn alongside the organizations that we support, the majority of which are run and staffed by Black leaders. These organizations, based in the eight places where Amplify works — Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and in California in partnership with the Fund for an Inclusive California - are all fighting to build power and influence decisions about the places where they live, including how public dollars are invested.

Supporting frontline organizations to build power in Black communities and communities of color is the heart of our purpose. We do this is by:

  • TAKING DIRECTION FROM BLACK-LED GROUPS, including those with women and gender non-conforming youth leadership, that are working at the intersection of power building and equitable development including:
    • The Close the Workhouse Campaign, a prison-abolition collaboration between Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders and Bail Project St. Louis that aims to close St Louis City’s (MO) Medium Security Institution which routinely incarcerates people due to their inability to afford unconstitutionally high cash bails and invest the millions of public dollars saved to promote equitable development through efforts like affordable housing and ensuring quality jobs.
    • Carolina Youth Action Project, an abolitionist organization that centers political education and community organizing to build power among girls, trans youth, and gender nonconforming youth aims to remove police officers from Charleston, SC schools to redirect the funding to hire compassionate social workers and counselors trained in restorative practices.
  • GIVING FLEXIBLE FUNDS including general operating grants so grantees can determine their own priorities.
  • SUPPORTING GRANTEES NEEDS beyond grant dollars.
  • ELIMINATING CUMBERSOME REPORTING REQUIREMENTS for grantees and instead learning about their work through conversations, attending events, following social media feeds.
  • NAMING RACE and examining how to apply a racial justice lens and action to every aspect of our work.
  • PUSHING OURSELVES TO SPEAK & ACT on hard truths to other funders that our grantees do not have the privilege to say or do.

We encourage you to get to know our grantees! They are all doing important racial justice work and many are engaged in critical actions in defense of Black lives and against police brutality today.

We also invite you to get to know us — our staff and eleven funder members! We welcome conversations about racial justice grantmaking, centering anti-racist practices and community power as the key driver of equitable development. Join our community of learning and action at the Amplify Fund.

Black Lives Matter, today and every day.

We say their names:

George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN
Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY
Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA
Tony McDade in Tallahassee, FL
Dion Johnson in Phoenix, AZ

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. 
 

Onwards,
Adriana

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