September 1, 2017

Reflections on Labor Day from Funders for a Just Economy

Alejandra L. Ibañez, Chair of NFG's Funders for a Just Economy and Lead Program Officer at Woods Fund Chicago, urges colleagues to defend the past achievements for workers' rights that are now being threatened by unprecedented attacks, and to be bold in pushing towards a more just economy.

As we prepare for the Labor Day weekend, which celebrates the strength, resilience, and achievements of workers in this country, I am reminded of the history of organized labor in shaping progressive social movements. And where organized labor has not gone, we see a flourishing of worker centers and the development of cooperatives and small businesses that provide a path towards the economic self-determination for communities of color.

As a Chicagoan, I would be remiss to not recognize the historic role of Chicago workers and activists with such critically important events as the Haymarket Tragedy of 1886 and the Pullman Strike of 1894 in making Labor Day a national holiday. Today our region’s worker centers continue the fight for labor reform and worker’s protections and recently passed the Responsible Job Creations Act, providing protections for our most precarious workers in the Temp industry. This was only possible because Black and Immigrant workers have come together to make unified demands for better conditions.

As an immigrant who grew up in a working class family, with an undocumented mother at the helm forced to work multiple minimum wage jobs, sometimes history can sound like a faint hum against the tireless drum beat of the day-to-day survival for many workers like my mother. Workers today are facing unprecedented attacks we could not have predicted a little more than a year ago and now we have no choice but to do more. This Administration’s current policies are perpetuating economic discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, criminal history, and immigration status and eroding job quality, benefits, and health and safety regulations.

In the face of these harrowing challenges, we must articulate and create the economic structures needed to push forward and continue building a more just economy. Since 1996, the Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) has engaged and organized funders around strategies that improve access to quality employment for working families with living wages, comprehensive benefits, improved health and safety conditions, with the aim of economic stability for low-wage workers. First as a community organizer in Chicago’s near south side, and now as a program officer, I have witnessed the power and success of collective efforts by workers, parents and youth demanding what they need for better living and working conditions.

Now more than ever, our understanding of and ability to support the field in addressing systemic racism, structural poverty, criminalization, and gender-based discrimination is critical to resisting economic conservatism, dismantling white supremacy, and shifting power. We must be bold and strong in our strategies and programs to meet the challenges of today.

As a first step, I am inviting you to this year’s learning tour in the state of Alabama. The people of Alabama are on the frontlines of these challenges, as they face pre-emption laws, mass incarceration of young African American males, blatant racism against undocumented workers and social conservatism that permeates local and statewide lawmaking. On this tour, you will learn how communities are organizing for change with migrants, farmers, and people of color leading the charge.

A more detailed agenda for the tour will be available soon. If you would like to learn more about the learning tour or get involved with Funders for a Just Economy, please contact Senior Program Manager Manisha Vaze at

February 28, 2020

NFG Newsletter - February 2020

February is Black History Month and, in this newsletter, NFG honors Black resistance. Given the persistence of structural racism and the legacies of segregation, NFG has mobilized philanthropy to support POC-led organizing for equitable development since our start 40 years ago. Through our member-led and local advisor-led programming, we are lifting up how Black communities are reclaiming land ownership and addressing the racial wealth gap through grassroots power building.

At the beginning of the month, NFG’s Amplify Fund staff and steering committee spent a day with local organizers, non-profit leaders, and organizations in Charleston and Edisto Island, South Carolina — one of Amplify’s eight sites. Both national and local grantmakers learned alongside some of Amplify’s grantees, including the Center for Heirs’ Property PreservationLow Country Alliance for Model CommunitiesCarolina Youth Action Project, and South Carolina Association for Community and Economic Development, which are bringing together Black, Latinx communities and youth in the region to fight for community power, land rights, and environmental justice in the face of corporate power, criminalization of communities of color due to gentrification, and land theft.

This week, NFG’s Democratizing Development Program (DDP) hosted a two-day Health, Housing, Race, Equity and Power Funders Convening in Oakland, California. Over 100 participants grappled with how anti-Blackness and xenophobia fuel the complex housing & health crisis and community trauma, and heard examples of concrete organizing wins led by Black women from Moms 4 Housing and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Organizers from around the country urged grantmakers to significantly invest in long-term general operating support, community ownership models, POC leadership, and 501(c)4 funding for Black, Indigenous, and POC communities engaging in policy and systems change around housing affordability and justice. 

From Amplify’s funder collaborative to the DDP convening’s planning committee, funders organizing other funders has been a key part of our work. Funder members: how are you stepping up as an organizer and moving more resources for power building in Black, Indigenous, and POC communities? We invite you to connect with NFG staffprograms, and upcoming events — including our National Convening — and be part of our community where we bring funders together to learn, connect, and mobilize resources with an intersectional and place-based focus. 

The NFG team

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January 23, 2020

NFG Newsletter - January 2020

Animated fireworks with the text "40 Years Strong"

This year marks NFG's 40th anniversary. During our early years, NFG was one of the few spaces in philanthropy specifically focused on people of color-led, grassroots organizing, and power building as the key to effective social change strategies. Today, NFG continues to be many funders' political home at a time when moving resources to struggles for justice is critically important: communities of color are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, growing wealth and income inequality, and climate change; white nationalist backlash is rising; and our democracy is profoundly threatened. NFG is a space to draw support, deepen relationships, and find co-conspirators as we propel philanthropy to shift power and money towards justice and equity.

In 2020, the NFG network is continuing to explore structural racism in health and housing, racial capitalism, migrant worker justice in rural areas, reimagining community safety and justice, and more. We will also return ‘home’ to NFG’s founding city — Washington, D.C. — for our 2020 National Convening.

As we celebrate 40 years, our dynamic community of grantmakers and grassroots leaders is what makes us strong. This newsletter spotlights The Libra Foundation, an NFG member that shares our commitment to organizing funders in moving more resources to frontline communities and movements.

Keep reading below for more opportunities to engage with NFG. Whether you are new to NFG or a long-time member, we look forward to collaborating with you to accelerate racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.
The NFG team

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