March 2, 2017

Welcome Manisha Vaze, Sr. Program Manager of Funders for a Just Economy

Manisha Vaze has joined NFG’s staff as new Senior Program Manager for our Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) program. She comes to NFG with more than 12 years’ experience in grassroots organizing. Most recently, she was the Director of Organizing at Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) in Los Angeles to help advance an agenda to eliminate structural barriers to social and economic barriers for residents of South L.A. There, Manisha helped build replicable job training and workforce models that have regional and national impact.  

Manisha joins Funders for a Just Economy (FJE)— formerly known as the Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships (WGLCP)— to help steer the program as it reframes its strategies to reimagine a strong labor movement; build a “just economy;” and develop a framework for intersectionality around racial, gender and economic justice.

The co-chairs for FJE are Will Cordery (Surdna Foundation) and Aditi Vaidya (Solidago Foundation and See Forward Fund). FJE works with its members and partners to develop analysis and promote proactive solutions among funders around the future of work, with a focus on the social movements engaging and organizing workers, low-income communities, communities of color and other progressive organizations.

To learn more about how to get involved with FJE, please contact Manisha at manisha@nfg.org.

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January 15, 2020

Racial Capitalism, Power & Resistance: Keynote Videos & Highlights for 2020

In October 2019, NFG's Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) held a breakthrough Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance Convening, an unprecedented conversation with more than 70 funder participants on the racial and gendered inequality defining US and global capitalism — and the role of philanthropy within these structures. FJE is moving this conversation into action in 2020. Towards that goal, we are recapping the convening and providing video from the seminal keynote talks by Dr. Ananya Roy and Dr. Barbara Ransby that grounded our meeting.  

Nine speakers who were at the convening.

Top (L-R): Dr. Barbara Ransby, Mónica Ramírez, Dr. Ananya Roy
Middle (L-R): Cindy Weisner, Alicia Garza, Aaron Tanaka
Bottom (L-R): Dimple Abichandani, Farhad Ebrahimi, Pamela Shifman

FJE’s Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance Convening was about asking hard questions and opening a conversation about the underlying history of the US economy and the origins of philanthropy as a way to ground us in how to support powerful resistance movements. Through this piece, we wanted to bring you some of the critical questions that stuck with us — and ways to move forward the themes and ideas generously offered by our activist-academic, movement, and philanthropic speakers and participants.

Who are we in alliance with? And how does that shape the real choices funders make?

Dr. Ananya Roy started off our conversation with a powerful question: Can we decolonize philanthropy in a real way? She also offered a proposition: We can’t do so without facing the way foundations are based in “twice-stolen wealth” — profit extracted via exploitative racialized capitalist means and through evading public taxation. [1]

Dr. Roy offered the example of her work with the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA, working to “turn the university inside out” through co-creation of knowledge alongside movement leaders; simplifying funding opportunities for community organizations; and paid, unfettered residency programs for activists. She pushed us to reflect on “what additional work we create for communities” through our grantmaking practices and the “difficult choices we must make on who we are in alliance with” — including standing up when foundations undermine community-led liberation movements.

You can hear Dr. Roy's keynote, Decolonizing Philanthropy? A View from The Public University, in the video below.

How do we define and confront the deep histories of racialized capitalism?

FJE presented a portion of the Action Center on Race & the Economy and Grassroots Collaborative’s popular education workshop on racial capitalism. The material examined how core institutions of US capitalism — like banking — built wealth directly off the slave economy and indigenous genocide. Grappling with the inextricable connection between racism, patriarchy, and capitalism raised the fact that Black women and other people of color also face these traumas every day in philanthropy. How can funders collectively support healing among philanthropic staff as they find ways to fund movements genuinely addressing the genocidal histories of greed?

“What happens when we put life [and sustaining it] at the center of our work?” — Cindy Wiesner

To bring us into how contemporary movements are confronting racial and gendered capitalism, Alicia Garza of the Black Futures Lab led a conversation with Mónica Ramírez of Justice for Migrant Women, Aaron Tanaka of the Center for Economic Democracy and Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice. These leaders shared that grassroots, collaborative, feminist, and anti-capitalist social justice movements serve as “kryptonite” (in Cindy Wiesner’s words) to racial capitalism and neo-fascism. These movements range from organizing for a Green New Deal to local democratic investment structures, to migrant women-led sexual harassment activism. Speakers challenged funders to work alongside communities to resource experimentation and “freedom dreaming” — and to understand the solutions won’t come quickly or easily. They also asked foundations to use their own power — as investors and public figures — to take on racial capitalism.

What power do we have in our institutions? And how do we shift power with communities?

Pamela Shifman, formerly of Novo Foundation; Dimple Abichandani of General Service Foundation; and Farhad Ebrahimi of Chorus Foundation shared how as Executive Directors and alumni of NFG's Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship, they recognized and acted on their power to shift their institutions and the sector. As Dimple Abichandani noted, “These rules and practices that we work in come out of racial capitalism and corporate compliance frameworks. We can decide to change those.”

The speakers raised the fact that while education programs are plenty, actively organizing foundations towards collective goals through leadership development — like Philanthropy Forward — is rarer but necessary. Foundation staff also rarely hold other funders publicly accountable – perhaps because feel that they cannot tell others what to do with their money. Yet recent campaigns to discourage the Gates Foundation in awarding the fascist, Hindu-nationalist aligned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggest insurgent philanthropy is percolating.

What are the projects we fund to undo racial capitalism, and what logics are the projects based on?

On Day 2 of the Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance Convening, Dr. Barbara Ransby offered three key elements to understand racial capitalism today: First, the irreconcilable relationship between capitalism's “infinite growth model on a finite planet;” second, financialization and the global “ponzi scheme;” and third, automation’s influence on worker's lives and consumption. She urged us to hold these contemporary capitalist crises with their roots in slavery and empire.

Dr. Ransby offered that dealing with this past and present means actively confronting white supremacy and nationalism; “building as we undo” through solidarity economies and other alternatives; and thoughtfully advancing abolition and reparations. Such ongoing processes require reckoning with anti-Blackness and asking: “How do you relinquish some of the power [that you have over organizations] and see yourself with a greater sense of humility?”

You can watch Dr. Ransby's keynote, Racial Capitalism, Power and Black Radical Tradition, in the video below.

“How do we show up, use our collective assets, and stand behind our grantees?” — Marjona Jones

Marjona Jones of the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, José García of the Ford Foundation, Emma Oppenhiem of Open Society Foundations, and Shona Chakravartty of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, in conversation with Anna Quinn of NoVo Foundation, brought the meeting home with a dialogue on how we could take tangible action, including through the Funders for a Just Economy.

Participants then honed in on key work areas to follow-up on after the event including: building accountability mechanisms in philanthropy; transforming partnerships with our grantees; healing and strategizing together as co-conspirators; remaking tax structures and philanthropic asset management.

Stay tuned for more from FJE as we work together to provide the space and tools for philanthropy to take these ideas into action into 2020 — and into a more just tomorrow.

 

[1] Roy was quoting Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2009). “In the Shadow of the Shadow State” in The Revolution Will Not be Funded (edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Boston: South End Press, 2009). http://sfonline.barnard.edu/navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonp...

January 13, 2020

Announcing FFJ’s Latest Field Advisor Cohort

Funders for Justice is excited to share the latest cohort of FFJ Field Advisors. FFJ looks forward to expanding our own understanding to support organizing toward racial and gender justice, and to growing our commitment to mobilize resources toward transformative social change. As this dynamic group continues to build momentum with their leadership and organizing in racial justice, gender justice, and anti-criminalization movements, they will also work together with FFJ to continue to envision a new way forward for philanthropy.

FFJ hosted its third national funder organizing meeting in October 2019. Joining the participants were FFJ’s third cohort of advisors, including four new advisors. Advisors met with staff the day before the FFJ national meeting, to identify key needs in a new approach in funding and how FFJ can best support the field. The next day, advisors joined FFJ members and leaders in conversations throughout the day, painting a picture of challenges that lie ahead in the current political climate as well as the historical context to current struggles.

 

2019-2021 Cohort of FFJ Field Advisors

 

FFJ Field Advisors are thought leaders and partners in the work to support and sustain grassroots movements. Their visions for justice and what is needed from philanthropy provide invaluable insights to guide our efforts. In their commitment, the FFJ Field Advisors are ready to organize with philanthropy and deepen their relationship with FFJ and its members. They will continue to lead profound conversations and offer strategic guidance toward practices that lift up community safety and justice models.

We are excited for the FFJ membership to learn from their leadership and experience, and hope you will join us to strategize together on how we can best support movements organizing for social justice.

Here are the 2019-2021 FFJ Field Advisors:

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Highlander Research Center
Celeste Faison, ‘me too.’
Charlene Carruthers, Chicago Center for Leadership and Transformation
Fahd Ahmed, Desis Rising Up and Moving
Jenny Arwade, Communities United
Marbre Stahly-Butts, Law for Black Lives
Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, Resilient Strategies
Mary Hooks, Southerners on New Ground
Morning Star Gali, Restoring Justice for Indigenous Peoples
Ola Osaze, Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project
Priscilla Gonzalez, Mijente
Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

 


 

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 34 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. Ash-Lee is the first black woman Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center founded in 1932. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, they help create spaces — at Highlander and in communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. Ash-Lee is a long-time activist working against environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has fought for workers rights, racial justice, women and LGBTQUIA+ rights, reproductive justice, international human rights, and led-intergenerational social movements across the South. She serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly and is a nationally recognized leader in the Movement for Black Lives.

Celeste Faison is a strategist and trainer who cut her teeth organizing in the Blackbelt, with 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement. She's been active ever since, working around issues of labor, electoral justice and policing. She is currently the NDWA Director of Black Organizing, where she launched “We Dream in Black,” a multi-state initiative that increases the leadership capacity of Black workers organizing for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections. Piloted in New York and Georgia, the program has since expanded to seven states. Celeste oversees chapter development, leadership development, and the campaign strategy. She recently co-published a multimedia report "Pay, Professionalism and Respect" focused on Black domestic workers in the South, in partnership with IPS. Before joining NDWA Celeste was the lead organizer at Youth Together, in the Bay Area, CA, managing director of the Black Arts and Cultural Center in Selma, AL and national assistant trainer director at the League of Young Voters. 

Currently, Celeste serves as a founding director of the Blackout Collective, a training organization with a mission to train 20,000 Black direct-action strategist and practitioners by 2021. She is a strategic Advisor to Me Too, where she is designing the field program, in partnership with her long-time mentor Tarana Burke. She is a Public Allies Alumni and the 2010 Tides Foundation Racial Justice Fellow. A nomadic New Yorker, she spends a majority of her free time on the road facilitating and building movement infrastructure as an active member of Movement for Black Lives. When she's not on the road you'll find her nestled in her NYC apartment, creating art while on conference calls.

Charlene Carruthers is a strategist, author and a leading organizer in today’s Black liberation movement.  As the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), she has worked alongside hundreds of young Black activists to build a national base of activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. 

Charlene is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and founder of the Chicago Center for Leadership and Transformation, a locally rooted and nationally connected learning community for political education, grassroots organizing, language and strategic communications capacity building. 

As a Black queer feminist with over a dozen years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work, Charlene applies her political commitments and expertise through intellectual, cultural and grassroots organizing labor across today’s movements for collective liberation.  She was recognized as one of the top 10 most influential African Americans in The Root 100, one of Ebony Magazine's "Woke 100," an Emerging Power Player in Chicago Magazine and is the 2017 recipient of the YWCA's Dr. Dorothy I. Height Award.

A believer in telling more complete stories about the Black Radical Tradition, Charlene provides critical analysis, political education and leadership development training for activists across the globe. Major media outlets from BBC and MSNBC to legacy Black media institutions including Ebony Magazine and Essence Magazine have highlighted her work and perspective on current events and issues impacting marginalized communities. Charlene is author of the bestselling book, Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.

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 is Co-Executive Director of Chicago-based Communities United (CU), a racial justice organization that builds community power to advance social change through a healing justice approach. Jenny has provided leadership to achieve groundbreaking reforms to expand health access for the undocumented, preserve long-term affordable rental housing and prevent displacement of families, and recently create a new Rethinking Safety Initiative in Illinois, furthering policies that address an invest/divest framework and center approaches focused on healing and transformation. Jenny is a graduate of Princeton University, a Field Advisor for Funders for Justice and the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing, and serves a Trustee of the health-focused Blowitz Ridgeway Foundation in Chicago.

Marbre Stahly-Butts, Director of Law for Black Lives works closely with organizers and communities across the country to advance and actualize radical policy. Marbre is currently a member of the National Bail Out Collective. 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 ago, 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. 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.

As a licensed acupuncturist and an experienced organizer, Mark-Anthony Johnson served as the Director of Health and Wellness at Dignity and Power Now. In this capacity, he provided strategic support for DPN’s two member-led campaigns for a legally empowered and independent civilian oversight commission of the sheriff’s department and to stop Los Angeles’ proposed $4 billion jail construction plan. He also led the Building Resilience project of DPN, a collaboration of formerly incarcerated people, organizers, health care providers and academics whose goal is to decarcerate the county jails via the diversion of incarcerated people into community-based treatment and the creation of community-based spaces to address the trauma of state violence. As a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow, Mark-Anthony founded the Frontline Wellness Network, a network of health care providers working to end the public health crisis of incarceration through action-oriented political education and bridging relationships between providers and grassroots campaigns against state violence. The Frontline Wellness Network is an Executive Committee member of JusticeLA, a broad based Los Angeles Coalition that recently stopped the county’s multi-billion jail plan while winning county wide investment in alternatives to incarceration.

Mary Hooks is a 36 year old, Black, lesbian, feminist, mother, organizer and co-director of SONG. Southerners on New Ground is a political home for LGBTQ liberation across all lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the South. They build, sustain, and connect a southern regional base of LGBTQ people in order to transform the region through strategic projects and campaigns developed in response to the current conditions in their communities. SONG builds this movement through leadership development, coalition and alliance building, intersectional analysis, and organizing. Mary joined SONG as a member in 2009 and begin organizing with SONG in 2010. Mary’s commitment to Black liberation, which is encompasses the liberation of LGBTQ liberation, is rooted in her experiences growing up under the impacts of the War on Drugs. Her people are migrants of the Great Migration, factory workers, church folks, Black women, hustlers and addicts, dykes, studs, femmes, queens and all people fighting for the liberation of oppressed people. “The mandate; to avenge the suffering of our ancestors, to earn the respect of future generations, and to be transformed in the service of the work. Let’s get free ya’ll!” - Mary Hooks

Morning Star Gali is a member of the Ajumawi band of Pit River located in Northeastern California. Ms. Gali serves as the California Tribal and Community Liaison for the International Indian Treaty Council, working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. She is a Tribal water policy organizer for Save California Salmon and has worked as the Regional Network Weaver for Native Americans in Philanthropy. Ms. Gali is also a graduate of Native Americans in Philanthropy's Circle of Leadership Academy in 2013. She is a 2019 Open Society Institute Racial Equity fellow, Funders for Justice fellow 2018-2021 and a 2016-2018 Rosenberg Foundation Leading Edge Fellow, focusing on the disproportionate impact of the criminal and juvenile justice systems on Native Americans. Between 2012-2016, Ms.Gali previously worked as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pit River Tribe and continues to lead large-scale actions while helping organize Native cultural, spiritual, scholarly, and political gatherings throughout California.

Morning Star serves as a board member for the Sovereign Bodies Institute, California Indian Heritage Center Foundation and Women's Health Specialists of California along with serving on a number of advisory committees that advocate for the sovereignty and self-determination of California’s indigenous peoples and protection of sacred lands.

Ola Osifo Osaze is a trans masculine queer of Edo and Yoruba descent, who was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and now resides in Houston, Texas. Ola is the Project Director for the Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project and has been a community organizer for many years, including working with Transgender Law Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Uhuru Wazobia (one of the first LGBT groups for African immigrants in the US), Queers for Economic Justice and Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Ola is a 2015 Voices of Our Nation Arts workshop (VONA) fellow, and has writings published in Apogee, Qzine, Black Girl Dangerous, Black Looks, and the anthologies Queer African Reader and Queer Africa II.

Priscilla González is Campaigns Director at Mijente, the leading digital and grassroots hub for Latinx/Chicanx organizing and movement building. Born and raised in New York City, she has been an organizer for nearly two decades. From working to pass the nation’s first Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights to helping to drive the largest unprecedented campaign/coalition for police accountability in NYC, she has experienced time and again how grassroots-led organizing always gets the goods when you've got a bold vision, clear and coordinated strategies, and a porous movement for everyday folks to put their "granito de arena" (do their part) to make change happen.

Zach Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and co-founder of Restore Oakland, a community advocacy and training center that will empower Bay Area community members to transform local economic and justice systems and make a safe and secure future possible for themselves and for their families.  Zach is also a co-founder of Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic.

Zach helped build California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth which 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, Zach 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. Zach 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.

Zach is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.

 


 

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. Is there a conversation you’d like to have? Email us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org