May 15, 2018

Funders for Justice Announces 2nd Cohort of Field Advisors

FFJ is proud to announce our 2nd cohort of FFJ Advisors – 12 powerhouse leaders from cities across the US. These leaders organize in multiple racial and gender justice movements to end criminalization of communities of color, including: organizing in Native nations, Latinx migrant justice, transgender rights, youth and multi-generational organizing, South Asian migrant and worker justice, power-building in the South, bail reform, Black organizing and power-building, community-determined safetyand a world without prisons, an end to the public health crisis of incarceration, and an end to sexual assault and gender-based violence. FFJ looks forward to deepening our own understanding of these movements, and to stepping up our commitment to mobilize resources to support transformative social change. FFJ Field Advisors are selected in recognition of their expertise and leadership in movements for racial and gender justice, anti-criminalization movements, and efforts to inform more impactful grantmaking for community power-building.

The Funders for Justice Advisors for 2018-2019 are:

In their role as advisors, they will guide FFJ’s work in lifting up community safety and justice models, join FFJ for national panels and workshops, and share their visions for change and what’s needed from philanthropy in this moment. We hope you will look to them as thought leaders and partners in your own work as well. Funders for Justice is a national organizing platform of grantmakers, donor networks, and funder affinity groups increasing resources to grassroots organizations at the intersection of racial justice, gender justice, community safety, and policing. If you would like to get involved with NFG’s ongoing conversations about these issues, email us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org 


 

Fahd Ahmed

DRUM - Desis Rising Up and Moving

Fahd Ahmed came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Pakistan in 1991. He has been a grassroots organizer on the issues of racial profiling, immigrant justice, police accountability, national security, surveillance, workers’ rights, and educational justice over the last 18 years. Fahd has been involved with DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving in various capacities since 2000, when he had family members facing deportation, and entrapment as part of the War on Drugs. Within DRUM, Fahd co-led the work with Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrant detainees before, and immediately after 9/11, by coordinating the detainee visitation program. As the Legal and Policy Director at DRUM (2011-2014), Fahd ran the End Racial Profiling Campaign and brought together the coalitions working on Muslim surveillance, and stop and frisk, to work together to pass the landmark Community Safety Act.

For the last 3 years, Fahd has been the Executive Director of DRUM. Fahd was a recipient of the Haywood Burns Fellowship from the National Lawyers Guild, and served as an Ella Baker intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights. In addition to DRUM, Fahd worked as a legal consultant with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana on documenting and reforming policies of juvenile detention center in Louisiana. Fahd also worked as a lecturer and researcher on Islamophobia, national security, and social movements at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative at the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. He was also a Human Rights and National Security Reform Fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute, and a Fellow with the American Muslim Civil Leadership Institute.


 

Jenny Arwade

Communities United 

Jenny Arwade is Co-Executive Director of Chicago-based Communities United (CU), a racial justice organization which brings together young people and adult allies to advance social change and systems transformation. CU’s approach is centered on the creation of intentional healing and justice spaces, transformative civic engagement and leadership development approaches, and the development of broad-based alliances. Jenny has 16 years of organizing experience during which time she has sumepported young people and adult allies in creating the nation’s most comprehensive statewide school discipline reform, advancing strategies through an invest/divest framework to shift resources from police in schools and incarceration into school and community supports, and more. Jenny is a graduate of Princeton University, serves as Vice Chair of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, and is a field representative on the Board of Advisors for the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing.


 

Tarana Burke

#MeToo Founder and Girls for Gender Equity 

Tarana has worked in social justice and Black arts and culture for more than twenty-five years. Her long and varied professional career started in Selma, AL where, over the span of a decade, she worked with: the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement helping to develop hundreds of youth leaders across the country; at the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute serving as a curatorial consultant and special projects director helping to organize the annual commemoration and celebration of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle known as the Bridge Crossing Jubilee; and as Executive Director of the Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center where she created and oversaw cultural community programs designed for underserved youth. Tarana’s work in Selma earned her a consulting position with the production of the 2014, Oscar nominated film, SELMA directed by the incomparable Ava DuVernay whom she met while serving as Managing Director of Art Sanctuary, a Black arts organization based in Philadelphia.

Tarana is passionate about social justice and has made a lifelong commitment to serving the causes of people of color and marginalized groups with a particular focus on young women and girls. She has done organizing work from the deep South the the East Coast dealing with issues ranging from economic justice to police brutality. Her passion for justice has taken her around the country and the world where she has been invited to speak and present at various conferences and gatherings in multiple states and countries, including: Senegal, Cuba, Mali, and Tunisia as a UN Delegate for the World Summit on Information Systems. In 2003 she turned her focus to young women of color and co-founded Jendayi Aza an African-centered Rites of Passage program for girls. That program eventually evolved into the creation of her non-profit Just Be, Inc. Since its inception, Just Be has served hundreds of girls around the country through unique programming and workshops. Through the work of Just Be, Tarana started the ‘me too.’ Movement, a campaign using the idea of “empowerment through empathy” to help young women of color who are survivors of sexual abuse, assault and exploitation. The campaign is designed to, among other things, train women who are survivors to work in communities of color and fringe communities where there is less access to resources.

Tarana continues her work in service of young women of color as Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity, a youth leadership development organization working to actualize racial and gender justice in partnership with the young people we serve. Often sought out for social commentary, Tarana has been published and quoted in Colorlines, Mic, BK Nation, Glamour, Ebony, Essence, The Source and The Root among others. Tarana also runs the blog SheSlays.com - a personal style diary. She currently resides in New York City and has daughter who is made of magic.


 

Charlene Carruthers

BYP100 

Charlene A. Carruthers is a Black, queer feminist community organizer and writer with over 10 years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work. She currently serves as the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), an activist development movement work. She currently serves as the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), an activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Her passion for developing young leaders to build capacity within marginalized communities has led her to work on immigrant rights, economic justice and civil rights campaigns nationwide.

She has led grassroots and digital strategy campaigns for national organizations including the Center for Community Change, the Women's Media Center, ColorOfChange.org and National People's Action, as well as being a member of a historic delegation of young activists in Palestine in 2015 to build solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements.

Charlene is the winner of the "New Organizing Institute 2015 Organizer of the Year Award" and has served as a featured speaker at various institutions including Wellesley College, Northwestern University and her alma mater Illinois Wesleyan University. Charlene also received a Master of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Charlene was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago where she currently resides and continues to lead and partake in social justice movements. Her work has been covered several publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Reader, The Nation, Ebony and Essence Magazines. She has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, BBC and MSNBC. Charlene has also written for theRoot.com, Colorlines and the Boston Review. She was recently recognized as one of the top 10 most influential African Americans in The Root 100. Her inspirations include a range of Black women, including Ella Baker, Cathy Cohen, and Barbara Ransby. In her free time, Charlene loves to cook and believes the best way to learn about people is through their food.


 

Marisa Franco

Mijente 

Marisa Franco is a Phoenix-based organizer, writer and strategist. She is the Director and co-Founder of Mijente, a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. In her more than 15 years of work, Marisa has helped lead key campaigns rooted in low-income and communities of color, characterized by their innovation and effectiveness. Most recently she led the #Not1More Deportation campaign and co-authored How We Make Change is Changing. She is a trusted collaborator with grassroots leaders across the country spanning immigrant rights, racial justice, feminist, LGBTQ and labor movements.


 

Morning Star Gali

Native Justice Now 

Morning Star Gali, a member of the Ajumawi band of Pit River located in Northeastern California, is a Leading Edge Fellow focusing on the disproportionate impact of the criminal and juvenile justice systems on Native Americans. She has worked as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pit River Tribe, and with several Indigenous-led grassroots organizations in the Bay Area. She continues to lead large-scale actions while helping organize Native cultural, spiritual, scholarly, and political gatherings throughout California. Since 2008 she has been a host on KPFA’s “Bay Native Circle” and is the proud mother of four children.


 

Stephanie Guilloud

Project South 

Stephanie Guilloud is originally from Houston, Texas with roots in Alabama. Stephanie is an organizer with 17 years of experience and leadership in global justice work and community organizing. At Project South, Stephanie works closely with Southeast regional organizing projects, the Southern Movement Assembly, and membership programs. Stephanie worked as the National Co-Chair of the Peoples Movement Assembly Working Group of the US Social Forum from 2008-2013. She served on the board of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), a multiracial queer organization, from 2005-2014. Stephanie is the editor of two anthologies: Through the Eyes of the Judged; Autobiographical Sketches from Incarcerated Young Men and Voices from the WTO; First-person Narratives from the People who Shut Down the World Trade Organization. 


 

Kris Hayashi

Transgender Law Center 

Kris Hayashi has over 20 years of movement building, leadership and organizing experience. As a public transgender person of color, Kris has been a leader in movements for justice and rights for transgender and gender nonconforming communities for over 13 years.

Kris became Executive Director at Transgender Law Center, one of the largest organizations in the country advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people, in February 2015. Prior to that, he had served over a year in the role of Deputy Director at the organization. Kris took on his first Executive Director position at the age of 23 at Youth United for Community Action in California (YUCA). YUCA is a grassroots community organization created, led, and run by young people of color, to provide a safe space for young people to empower themselves and work on environmental and social justice issues to establish positive systemic change through grassroots community organizing.

Kris took on his second Executive Director position five years later at the age of 28 at the Audre Lorde Project (ALP) in New York City. ALP is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender nonconforming people of color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Kris served as Executive Director at ALP for over ten years. During his tenure at ALP, ALP launched one of the first organizing and advocacy projects in the country led by trans and gender nonconforming people of color, the annual NYC Trans Day of Action now in its 11th year, and won a monumental campaign getting NYC’s welfare agency to adopt community developed policies on serving trans and gender nonconforming people.


 

Mary Hooks

Southerners On New Ground 

Mary Hooks joined the SONG team as a field organizer for the state of Alabama in March 2011. Her passion for helping people is reflected in her years of community service and mentoring. Mary’s background is in Human Resources and holds a Master of Business Administration with a focus in Human Resources Management and recently obtained her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification.

Though Mary is new to organizing, her personal story has prepared her for such a time as this. The chapters of her life begin with a life of poverty, being parentless, and shy. Eventually the story unfolds of a rebellious teenager who converts to a devoted Christian in Pentecostal church, who comes out as a lesbian and left without the support of her foster or church family and stricken with tons of Christian guilt. The climax of this story occurs when, in undergrad at a private Lutheran college, Mary begins to redefine her self and discovered a radical desire to be a catalyst for change in the world.

Since then Mary has relocated to the hot shades of Atlanta, GA, and has found her niche in organizing with SONG, throwing dope parties and singing with the Juicebox Jubilees, a queer choir, created to provide a safe space for folks to gather their voices together, sip a little wine, and sing songs that uplift, inspire, and liberate. As she continues to navigate through movement work, she hopes that the folks she connects with are inspired to write their stories of self-determination, liberation, and love.


 

Mark-Anthony Johnson

Frontline Wellness Project 

Mark-Anthony Johnson is an organizer, licensed acupuncturist, and a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow. He is the Founder of Frontline Wellness Network, a California statewide network of health care providers working to end the public health crisis of incarceration. Mark-Anthony formerly served as the Director of Health and Wellness at Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization based in Los Angeles that fights for the dignity and power of incarcerated people, their families, and communities.


 

Zach Norris

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights 

Zachary Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and a former director of our Books Not Bars campaign. Prior to rejoining the organization, Zachary co-founded and co-directed Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic.

During the seven years he led the campaign, Books Not Bars built California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth, led the effort to close five youth prisons in the state, passed legislation to enable families to stay in contact with their loved ones, and defeated Prop 6—a destructive and ineffective criminal justice ballot measure.

In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zachary is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California and was a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow. He is a former board member at Witness for Peace and Just Cause Oakland and is currently serving on the Justice for Families board. Zachary was a recipient of the American Constitution Society's David Carliner Public Interest Award in 2015, and is a member of the 2016 class of the Levi Strauss Foundation's Pioneers of Justice. Zachary is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.


 

Marbre Stahly-Butts

Law for Black Lives 

Marbre Stahly-Butts, Co-Director of Law for Black Lives, works closely with organizers and communities across the country to advance and actualize radical policy. She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table and helped develop the Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform. Since graduating from Yale Law School four years Marbre has supported local and national organizations from across the country in their policy development and advocacy. 

She joined the Center for Popular Democracy as a Soros Justice Fellow in Fall 2013. Her Soros Justice work focused on organizing and working with families affected by aggressive policing and criminal justice policies in New York City in order to develop meaningful bottom up policy reforms. After the end of her Soros fellowship Marbre served as Deputy Director of Racial Justice at Center for Popular Democracy for two years. While in law school, Marbre focused on the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights and gained legal experience with the Bronx Defenders, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Prison Policy Initiative. Before law school Marbre received her Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and worked in Zimbabwe organizing communities impacted by violence and then in South Africa teaching at Nelson Mandela’s alma mater. Marbre graduated from Columbia University, with a BA in African-American History and Human Rights.

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September 3, 2019

Capitalism and Racism: Conjoined Twins

By Marjona Jones, Co-Chair of Funders for a Just Economy and Senior Program Officer at Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Marjona Jones speaking at a podium.

A few weeks ago, Democracy Now! aired a segment with Ibram X. Kendi, author and founding director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University, where he discussed white supremacy, anti-racism, and the increase in mass shootings. What struck me about the segment was his illuminating statement about the origins of capitalism. Kendi views capitalism and racism as "conjoined twins" and that “…the origins of racism cannot be separated from the origins of capitalism… the life of capitalism cannot be separated from the life of racism.”

Kendi continued by discussing how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade allowed for the massive accumulation of wealth in Europe and the Americas. Centuries of wage theft, trading in human bondage, insurance claims on "lost" cargo, and reparations for slave owners after emancipation entrenched this capitalist system with inequities based on race built into it. Slave owners protected their concentrated wealth by shaping our socio-economic and legal systems to benefit themselves and the industry of slavery, as well as limit democracy.

As I celebrate the worker movement’s victories on Labor Day this year, this segment and past conversations with grantees has triggered an important question for me: What does the notion that capitalism and racism are inextricably linked mean for our work as funders of racial and economic justice? Our grantee partners tell us how workers are implicated in the entangled web of these “conjoined twins” of racism and capitalism. Many worker-based organizations state that the best vehicle this country has in pursuit of economic justice is through organizing workers, but traditional labor hasn’t always been the best vehicle for racial justice. As Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin discuss in Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, while many unions integrated in the 1920s, some unionists decided to resist integration to ensure wins and job quality for white workers. These traditionalists understood the idea of “conjoined twins.”

Racial and economic justice movements have exposed exploitative and extractive practices within capitalism, making it less secure to accumulate wealth through those means. However, as Michelle Alexander points out in her book, The New Jim Crow, exposing capitalism for what it is forces it to transform and evolve. For example, following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, agriculture was still the main economic engine, and free exploited labor was needed for this industry to survive. Capitalism evolved while maintaining its racist and exploitative roots through policymakers passing the Black Codes of 1865 and 1866, making it easier to imprison recently freed slaves to continue that supply of free labor.

We are catching up to the fact that capitalism was never meant to work for everyone. What will the next evolution in capitalism bring as our movements fight even harder for racial and economic justice in the face of harm to workers and marginalized communities?

Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) has created an intentional space to begin discussing what these questions mean for our work and the grantees we support. Capitalism’s origin story is a critical part of analyzing how this system operates. By acknowledging the “conjoined twins,” we acknowledge the role of race and the legacy of slavery. FJE believes that there is a renewed opportunity to support a working-class movement that builds the power of all workers, especially Black, Trans and LGBQ workers, women, and immigrants—and lift their role as the main strategists to change the system. If we believe another world is possible, then so is another system that bakes in justice, equity, and respect.


  

Join FJE for these conversations and more at the upcoming Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance event on October 17 & 18 in Brooklyn, NY. More information and registration link here.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Power Building Study Group for Neighborhood Funders Group members, and the Disrupt the System: How Labor and Philanthropy can Build Worker Power in a New Era event co-convened by the AFL-CIO, the LIFT Fund, and FJE on December 11 in Washington, DC. More information coming soon!

 
August 15, 2019

Beyond Outrage: A Clarity of Purpose

Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director of the General Service Foundation, urges grantmakers and the philanthropic sector to take concrete actions to defend democracy and speak out against racist attacks on people of color. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Dimple was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. General Service Foundation, which partners with grassroots organizations to bring about a more just and sustainable world, is a member of NFG.


  

Dimple AbichandaniWe live in dangerous times, and every passing news cycle contains another outrage, another violation of norms, another threat to our democracy, another threat to our planet.  

In the face of escalating racial attacks, (be it imprisonment of kids on the border or the racist rhetoric being tweeted from the white house) many have noted, rightly, that philanthropy as a sector has been too cautious and too quiet.  The Communications Network, in it’s recent piece, Silence Speaks Volumes, calls on foundations to use their voices in this moment.

Yes, it’s meaningful for people from all sectors of our society to condemn the Administration’s attacks on people of color.  And, for those of us working in the philanthropic sector, these times call on us to use all of our tools in defense of our inclusive, multi-racial democracy.  We are more than commentators or observers– as funders, our role is to resource a more just and equitable future. What we do in this moment will be far more important than what we say.  

As painful as this moment is, it is also a time in which the work to be done has become more clear. The vulnerability of our democracy has become more clear.  Racial anxiety and social divisions are being stoked in order to prop up a reckless system that benefits only the wealthiest. As we condemn the most recent of a long list of outrages, can we also use this moment to deepen our own clarity of purpose, and ensure that our funding will bring about a more just future? 

As funders, we can not only speak out but also take action to bolster our inclusive democracy.

  1. Support those most directly impacted by injustice. Instead of wielding of our own voice and power as a foundation, we can support those most directly impacted by injustice to build their voice, power, and leadership. They must lead the way to a more just world; it is our job to uplift and resource their visions and voices. National organizations such as Color of Change, New American Leaders, and National Domestic Workers Alliance, regional and state-based organizations such as Western States Center, Black Voters Matter and Workers Defense Project and so many others are seeding a future in which racial, gender and economic justice will be the norm.
  2. Invest in the creation and dissemination of narratives that reshape cultural attitudes around belonging in our country.  The recent escalation in the use of racist and sexist rhetoric is not happening in a vacuum– rather it builds on broader public narratives shaped by white supremacy and male dominance.  We need to normalize new narratives that humanize all of us, that value all of us. Organizations such as the Pop Culture CollaborativeReFrame, and the Culture Change Fund, for example, build capacity for narrative equity and culture shift.
  3. Question the default funding habits and practices that limit us from making a bigger impact in this moment. As funders, we sometimes have a blind spot for how our internal practices create unnecessary burdens and barriers for organizations that do the important work we support. This moment calls on us to question our practices, shift to ways of working that account for the gravity of the problems we face, and center the people who are leading the social change efforts we support. Could your foundation increase its payout, provide more general operating support, increase the length of grants, and minimize busywork for grantees? Could you shift your grant strategy to more boldly meet the moment or more directly address the imbalances of power in our society? The Trust Based Philanthropy Network has tools and stories of inspiration from foundations who have increased their impact by changing their practices.

So many of us in philanthropy are eager to do something meaningful in this tumultuous time.  Let’s challenge ourselves to use this moment to put our institutional values into practice. Let’s walk the walk as boldly as we talk the talk.