Freedom Side Open Letter

To Whom It May Concern;

This is an open letter from frontline leaders engaged in the struggle for justice in Ferguson and the larger fight against police brutality and Black dehumanization, to request real solidarity. This is a moment recorded for the future and we are writing this letter to open up ways for people to stand in solidarity.

This is a historical moment that young people are leading, but that should come as no surprise because young people have always been the fuel of social movements. Youth leaders recruiting, planning, living and creating the change we want to see and the world we want to live in–and we are doing that now in Ferguson and New York and Los Angeles and Cleveland and beyond.

For all of our lives, people of color have been fighting to breathe. Our country has the world record of incarcerations and deportations. Black women, girls, men, boys and LGBTQ folks have had their lives taken by the hands of law enforcement. We are part of communities directly impacted by this violence, family separation, degradation, and pain. We stand strongly against the institutional systems and policies put in place that excuses murder by law enforcement, including within the institutions who would seek to be our partners in this work.

We know that our leaders are listening. President Obama has met with some of us, and the Department of Justice has announced its investigations in respective cities. There is no doubt Congress and the Supreme Court will have a side to choose in this discussion in the near future, but the work that we are doing is focused on building local strength. We are educating our communities, recruiting spokespeople, and building up our organizations. And whether or not our elected officials do their part, we will continue this work. We are not waiting for institutions to determine our path forward. Our solutions and demands are tailored to the unique needs of our communities and the people in them. There is no one prescription for change, and we believe the people in those communities are the ones who can best create that change.

We want you–yes, you–to join us in this struggle. To create big change, everyone needs to fight together. Here is what you can do right now to build a strategic vision with us that prevents the next murder by the rule of the law:

Endorse our demands. These demands are born of our lived experiences in our communities, and born of our desperate need to dismantle the status quo. There is no one demand, because there is no one-way to fix this problem. Respect our work and our expertise and embrace our demands. Push for them with our elected officials and make them part of your demands.

Donating to our work. This is a labor of necessary work for us, and it costs money. We are scrappy, entrepreneurial, and efficient with our resources, but we don’t have very much. Your money or other in-kind contributions are urgently needed and greatly appreciated. To donate please click here https://donate.advancementproject.org/page/contribute/make-a-donation-to-freedom-side

Uplifting our leaders. Our movement is full of leaders, both new and experienced organizers, artists, business leaders, policy wonks, and frontline community members. We do not need the leaders of the past telling us what to do, we need the leaders of the past to be a resource to help support us. Media outlets can amplify our leaders, friendly organizations can consult our leaders, funders can sponsor our leaders. We are eager for partners and friends to stand with us and behind us in this struggle.

We are marching for the lives of the fallen and the lives of the future. Join the Freedom Side.

In unity,

Freedom Side

February 12, 2019

FFJ Advisor Discussion Series: Marisa Franco

Marisa Franco, FFJ Field Advisor and Director and Co-founder of of Mijente, a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building, speaks on the current political moment and how funders can contribute to movement work.

Tell us about the particular moment you are in with your work and place in the movement.

Entering into our fourth year, we are doing our best to be a vehicle to both respond to the real-time challenges our communities face and a place to find respite, connection, and replenished meaning. Given what the Latinx and Chicanx community faces, we’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time (and hop on one leg, juggle, and balance something on our head!) but we believe that through the continued growth where organizers, healers, change-makers, designers, and disrupters feel Mijente is a place to meaningfully contribute to collective liberation means we are going in the right direction. It is my view that our most critical task at this time is growth and recruitment - millions of people are becoming exposed to the injustice and summarily wrong direction we are heading in - our organizations must be open and accessible entry points for people to contribute to moving us in the right direction.

How do you understand the political moment that we’re in? What do you think we need to do differently right now?

Ultimately I think that lots of what we reference as threats that are coming are largely here - crisis as a result of climate change is here, it’s being felt across the planet. The extreme backlash and attempt to re-entrench power due to demographic change is here, occurring in localities across the United States. Authoritarianism is a growing threat beyond Donald Trump and within the domestic United States. Given all of this, at the very least I think it’s critical we start to widen our panorama of political understanding to include outside of the United States and make the connections internationally. Rest assured, our adversaries are in coordination - we ignore our movement siblings and the struggle outside of the United States to our own detriment.

What should funders be understanding in this political moment? What should funders be doing to support organizations and movements?

What’s important to understand in this political moment is how the volatility impacts the plans, perspective, and morale of people in organizations and social movements. It has become more and more difficult to lay out plans that feel real given how normal it's become for so much to turn upside down pretty regularly. Some understanding and support of this from funders, particularly when it means proposed work is not carried out in the way it was initially described, is very helpful.

Continued support for rapid response tactics is critical, as well as funds that help convene key groups and/or leaders in this time goes a long way. In times like these, those that are able to adapt and move quickly are well positioned to make impactful changes. These folks have got to be able to do so with enough support and not too many hurdles, hoops, and paper to be able to move. So some of these existing practices around simplifying processes, making funds available for rapid response activities, and pop up convenings is something that has been helpful thus far and is important to continue.

December 10, 2018

Welcome to the new NFG website!

Thank you for visiting Neighborhood Funders Group's new website! We've completely redesigned and improved how it works to make it easier than ever for our members to use as an online resource.

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