July 12, 2018

Answering the Call from Movement Leaders

In June 2018, Neighborhood Funders Group convened hundreds of local, regional, and national funders for the NFG 2018 National Convening, Raise Up: Moving Money for Justice. Here, Julia Beatty, Program Officer for the Black-Led Movement Fund and the Communities Transforming Policing Fund at Borealis Philanthropy, reflects on philanthropy's accountability to grassroots movements.


 

“Uprising creates the authorization for funding movements.”

These words, spoken by Reverend Starsky Wilson, Executive Director of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis, are some of the many insights that I’ve been reflecting on since I left the Neighborhood Funders Group’s 2018 Convening, Raise Up: Moving Money for Justice.

This year, the convening surfaced good, hard questions about what our responsibility as funders is to grassroots movements—how are we holding ourselves and each other accountable?

This question was especially on my mind given that the conference was held in in St. Louis, Missouri where Mike Brown was killed by a police officer almost four years ago. Reverend Wilson’s words reminded me that it was the protests in the streets of St. Louis in 2014 that ultimately pushed funders to respond to the needs of Black communities.

During the Funding the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) session, organizers showed a video from the 2015 national M4BL convening. As I watched clips of family members remembering their loved ones whose lives had been taken by police and state violence, I asked myself: what is our responsibility to these family members and to the incredible organizations that do so much with so little to amplify their voices and call for transformative social change?

922.jpgIn philanthropy, we are finally having some open conversations about race and racism. Talking about white supremacy happens more frequently (though still not frequently enough) in philanthropic spaces. These cultural shifts have happened in large part because of how the movement has pushed us all—not just funders—to acknowledge this country’s long and sordid history of structural racism and injustice.

Throughout the conference, I learned so much from Black and Brown organizers doing critical, powerful work in their communities. I heard the leaders of the Movement for Black Lives articulate an inspiring 5-year strategy for how to work towards a fundamentally different world where Black lives, and their organizations, are valued and supported and where institutions that have been harmful to our communities are abolished and replaced with those that will value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives. During the Native Voices Rising panel I learned about the important, yet vastly under resourced work being led by Native communities to address the structural conditions that stem from a legacy of genocide and which drive the continued marginalization of indigenous people today. I also learned that only 0.5% of foundation money goes towards Native organizing. A shameful half of one percent.

We say knowledge is power, but that’s only true if we do something with that knowledge. The farther out we get from Ferguson, are we doing enough to support the people and organizations that have brought us this far? The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity will share a report later this year showing that there were gains in funding for Black communities after Ferguson, the emergence of the Movement for Black Lives, and other movement activity in 2014. In fact, after almost a decade of relatively limited growth, giving to communities of color overall went up by 36% immediately after 2014—though this growth is uneven between communities of color. However, for these increases in funding to mean something, they must be not only sustained, but deepened. Funding for Black communities cannot just be a trend that we abandon.

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Reverend Starsky reminded us that local movements can change philanthropy. How can we be accountable to the progress those movements have created?

As I reflected on this question, more questions surfaced:

  • Am I working in authentic alignment with leaders in the field?
  • How can I better advocate for new policies within philanthropy that address how we marginalize already marginalized groups with our restrictive grantmaking practices and change-averse culture?
  • Am I doing what I can to resource groups with less burdensome and more flexible grants and capacity building resources?
  • Am I getting money to the field as quickly and efficiently as possible?
  • How am I supporting grantees to eventually become self-sufficient and not need to rely so heavily on foundation funding, so that they no longer must to ask funders for permission to do the work that their communities know is most important?

I am also reflecting on what it means to fund a movement. In order to strengthen the Movement for Black Lives as an ecosystem, we need to get creative in our grantmaking. Strengthening the infrastructure of organizations that are a part of the M4BL, investing in its leaders, and offering rapid response funding are all critically important, but we also need to think about how we are supporting their nationally coordinated organizing. At the NFG conference, we were invited by the M4BL to provide critical funding support to the national coordinating bodies which drive the movement on a national level. Supporting the movement means resourcing those tables to continue to build power and win victories for Black communities, which ultimately benefit us all.

As funders, we are being called in this moment—the question for us is how will we answer?


Follow Borealis Philanthropy at @BorealisPhil.

Find more posts about the NFG 2018 National Convening on the NFG blog.

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January 14, 2019

FFJ Advisor Discussion Series: Kris Hayashi

Photo of Kris sitting on brick steps, hands clasped.

Hear from Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center and FFJ Field Advisor, about the efforts to seek #JusticeforRoxsana and the horrific conditions trans migrants face, particularly in ICE custody. Click here to participate in a matching gift challenge.

#JusticeforRoxsana

Six months ago, our government murdered Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman and asylum-seeker from Honduras. Last month we put ICE on notice.

On November 26th, 2018 Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the Law Office of Andrew R. Free announced that we have filed a Notice of Wrongful Death Tort Claim in New Mexico, the first step in holding all parties responsible for Roxsana Hernandez’s death accountable. We were joined by Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP) and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (Familia), who have advocated for an end to detention for trans and queer migrants.

Transgender Law Center, Familia: TQLM, BLMP, and our co-counsel Andrew Free are joining in a national campaign calling for Justice for Roxsana and for all trans migrants.

It will be a long and difficult fight, but we must and we will get justice for Roxsana and for all trans migrants.

What Happened to Roxsana?

An independent autopsy report reveals that Roxsana was shackled for a long time and very tightly, enough to cause deep bruising on her wrists,said Lynly Egyes, TLC’s Director of Litigation. “She also had deep bruising and injuries consistent with physical abuse with a baton or asp while she was handcuffed, according to an examination of the tissue by an independent expert board-certified forensic pathologist. In the final days of her life, she was transferred from California to Washington to New Mexico, shackled for days on end. If she was lucky, she was given a bottle of water to drink. Her cause of death was dehydration and complications related to HIV. Her death was entirely preventable.”

Roxsana Hernandez was a Honduran transgender woman and an asylum seeker who arrived with a caravan organized by Diversidad Sin Fronteras. She arrived in Tijuana and sought asylum by presenting herself at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (SYPOE) in May. What followed was a hellish ordeal of being held in U.S. Customs & Border Protection custody in the notoriously cold holding areas, known as “hieleras,” growing increasingly ill as a result of the inhumane conditions. She was repeatedly denied access to medical care she begged for, only able to see a doctor after days of vomiting and diarrhea.

“We will continue to uplift Roxsana’s story and to continue to hold immigration enforcement accountable for her death,” said Jennicet Gutierrez, community organizer and advocate with Familia. “We will continue to organize to protect the lives of all trans and queer migrants because what our community needs is asylum not detention. Familia will continue to organize and demand for the abolishment of ICE, CBP, police, and all prisons.”

Currently there are dozens of LGBTQ migrants in Tijuana whose lives are being held hostage by a morally reprehensible and punitive presidential administration that would have them wait in a country that has openly shown violence and hostility towards migrants, and pointed cruelty towards LGBTQ people.

Horrific Conditions for Trans Migrants

“This last week, as many people across the country enjoyed a warm dinner with their family, the Trump Administration is considering basically signing execution orders for the LGBTQ migrants in Tijuana awaiting their opportunity to seek asylum, commented BLMP representatives Dora King and Jerome Jones in November 2018. “Among those waiting for their opportunity to ask for asylum are Black LGBTQ migrants who are particularly vulnerable to violence, including detention and deportation, while in immigration proceedings. The Trump administration’s immigration policy is purely racist.”

Advocates point to the conditions Udoka Nweke faced when he presented himself for asylum also at SYPOE in December 2016. He was detained for nearly two years before being released in September after being held in solitary confinement and attempting suicide. His testimony upon being released from Adelanto Detention Facility corroborated a scathing report by Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General that points towards a drastic overhaul necessary in Adelanto. The report listed as areas of concern:  Nooses in Detainee Cells; Improper and Overly Restrictive Segregation and Untimely and Inadequate Detainee Medical Care.

“Immigration prisons are teeming with human rights violations,” said civil rights attorney Andrew Free. “From forced labor to inadequate access to medical care, they are horrific places to lock people up. We have requested records from the relevant federal agencies regarding  the conditions Roxsana was kept in under the Freedom for Information Act. In the next few weeks, if they do not turn over those files we will be filing a suit against them. We will not rest until those responsible for Roxsana’s suffering are held to account, and until the systems of oppression that gave rise to her suffering are abolished.”

TLC, BLMP, Familia, and the Law Offices of Andrew Free have been working with Roxsana’s family in seeking justice. Roxsana’s sisters shared the following statement with TLC:

“Roxsana Hernandez was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did. They cut her life short and she was not able to fulfill her dreams. For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with. She left with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out. She fled Honduras because here transgender people are discriminated against. She left with hopes of living a better life. It has not been easy for us to accept that she is gone, we were very close. It’s difficult to accept that she was taken from us because of negligence, because of not giving her support and medication that she needed, because they treated her like an animal. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that she fled Honduras looking for a better life and instead she was murdered. Now all we have left with is the hope that we can see justice for her. Justice for Roxsana.”

WATCH THE TLC PRESS CONFERENCE IN SAN DIEGO HERE.

Time to Take Action

We know this will be a long and hard fight. After the press conference in San Diego, INTO reported, “On Monday, ICE attempted to discredit the autopsy by emailing media outlets off-the-record tips that Dr. Sperry resigned from his position as Georgia’s chief medical examiner in disgrace. Sperry retired in 2015 after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a scathing report on Sperry’s time moonlighting as a paid forensic consultant. Sperry did not face legal action and has continued to practice in Georgia. INTO was among the outlets to receive the off-the-record tip from ICE on Sperry. INTO is taking the exceedingly rare step of not honoring the off-the-record because the information was sent without prior agreement between INTO and ICE, and the agency has refused to corroborate its assertions.”

As our government terrorizes asylum-seekers at the border, TLC remains committed to holding ICE accountable and defending our trans communities, including those seeking asylum within our borders. We're committed to ending the abusive and inhumane detention of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) migrants, experienced by Roxsana who was cruelly beaten before she died, and Udoka Nweke, a Black gay migrant who recently won release from immigration detention after almost two years of torture. Despite the government's attempts to attack trans bodies or erase our existence, we're still here- and we're still suing- for our right to thrive, free from discrimination.

To ensure we win #JusticeforRoxsana, generous donors Liz and Elly Fong-Jones have pledged to a matching donation of $50,000. Together, if we can raise $50,000 for our work to bring justice for Roxsana, our generous donors will double your donation this new year. Make your gift to support the fight for justice here.

For more information or to get involved in the campaign please contact kris@transgenderlawcenter.org.

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.

We're currently in soft launch mode before we publicly announce the new site in 2019, so thanks for taking an initial sneak peek! Please excuse our digital dust as we finish testing all of the features of our new website. You can find a temporary archive of our old site at old.nfg.org.

What new features can you find on the site?

  • Search the entire website for news, events, and resources using the search bar at the top of every page
  • See where all of the members of our national network are based, right on our member map 
  • Discover more related content, tagged by topic and format, at the bottom of every page
  • Look up NFG member organizations in our member directory
  • Log in to view individual contacts in the member directory and register for events in the future

If your organization is an NFG member, first check to see if your account has already been created for you. Click "Forgot Password" on the log in page and try entering your work email address to activate your account and set your password.

Let us know at support@nfg.org if you come across any issues logging in, or anywhere else on the site. Stay tuned for our official launch announcement, and thanks for visiting!

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