274 posts categorized "Social Justice"

Learning from trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking: A commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez

August 15, 2022

Women_high_fives_GettyImagesIn 2021, Justice Outside’s Rising Leaders Fellowship program brought together 20 early-career nonprofit professionals, most of them Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), to get hands-on experience with philanthropy. Fellows had the opportunity to design a $40,000 grantmaking program and decide to whom they would award grants and how they would distribute those funds across the selected grantees. They were invited to examine all the “rules” they knew about philanthropy.

Funded by the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative (EEFC), a network for Bay Area funders, the Rising Leaders Fellowship offered an opportunity for young people—who are often on the receiving end of grants—to reimagine and have agency in grantmaking. Supported by Justice Outside, they discussed wealth disparities generated by capitalism and white supremacy culture; and how trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking can be antidotes to inequities in philanthropy.

What’s more important than what they learned, however, is what they can teach us....

Read the full commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez, president and CEO and chief program officer, respectively, of Justice Outside.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Sustaining progressive change through community-based participatory research: A commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams

August 12, 2022

Doctor_woman_patient_GettyImages_croppedHow many of us have spent countless days producing exacting research reports informing the most salient social issues today—only to find a box of undistributed reports in the office storage closet a year later? Even the most impactful research aimed at influencing public policy makers and other targeted audiences has a short shelf-life. By contrast, participatory action research (PAR), also known as community-based participatory research, can make a far greater, longer-term impact—especially when the intended audience for the research includes communities that are the most marginalized and affected by the issues being studied.

Many marginalized communities have long and often sensitive histories of being “researched”—being the object of the research, while the job of identifying, defining, and assessing the issues is left to outside “experts.” Regrettably, excluding instead of centering the expertise of community members who are directly impacted by the issues not only leaves them feeling used but is a missed opportunity to catalyze and sustain progressive community change on many levels.

Those of us who have worked alongside communities have witnessed the consternation and dispiritedness felt by individuals when they are placed under the microscope without being given the opportunity to define challenges as they experience them. This omission also precludes the synergy and devotion that is often generated by problem solving from multiple perspectives. Conversely, community-based participatory research offers a collective, dialogic process for expression, reflection, perspective taking, and information sharing, and, ultimately, creative solution-based action among stakeholders. This process helps form a nexus of dynamic connections and relationships that can lead to sustained change over the long term....

Read the full commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams, a community-based participatory research consultant for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI).

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The sustainable nonprofit: An opportunity to take stock and reset

August 05, 2022

Setback_woman_head_down_with_laptop_GettyImages_PoikeBy inspiring large numbers of people to take sustained action, leaders can turn a cause into a social movement with everyone working in concert to achieve a specific change. Cultural and societal norms do not shift easily, however, so painstaking efforts are required to move them incrementally to a place where the desired change can actually take place–in policy, legislation, behavior, etc. But what happens to a social movement’s supporters when progress seems slow or when they think all their efforts have been undone?

I’m thinking, of course, of two currently high-profile social movements–one aimed at protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, the other seeking additional measures to control guns–that some social movement leaders see as having experienced setbacks. Though I won’t debate the merits of any strategies or positions related specifically to these issues, we can keep them in mind as examples when discussing how social movement leaders should respond to inevitable setbacks....

Social movement leaders should view any setback as a prime opportunity to take stock and reset in certain areas to strengthen community....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project and lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Poike)

Learning environments that prioritize trust building: A commentary by Cierra Kaler-Jones and Jaime T. Koppel

August 01, 2022

Female_teacher_middleschool_class_GettyImagesIn the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office moved more than $1 billion in grants for school policing, hardening, and militarization. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed quickly in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, is another effort that advances the illusion of “school safety” by increasing funding for police in schools, threat assessments, and school hardening—despite significant evidence that surveillance technologies and police presence undermine students’ trust. According to the U.S. Department of Education, millions of students attend schools where there are police officers but no counselors, nurses, psychologists, or social workers. Further, Black and brown students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities face the brunt of the harms of policing. Since investments in school policing have ballooned in recent years, many students and staff have never been in a school without police and policing infrastructure. This reinforces the myth that safety comes from police. Why keep investing in a strategy that’s never worked?

Philanthropy is too often complicit in these efforts. As a sector, we overwhelmingly invest in tidy policy wins that seem attainable within a grant cycle or two. We privilege groups with larger budgets, typically because we believe they have the greatest likelihood of “winning”....

Read the full commentary by Jaime T. Koppel and Cierra Kaler-Jones, co-director and director of storytelling at Communities for Just Schools Fund.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians: A commentary by Emily Jones

July 29, 2022

Black_womens_lives_matter_max-bender_unsplashAs the executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith, I think regularly about how to inspire our hundreds of thousands of members to make the world a more just and equitable place. United Women in Faith is committed to putting faith, hope, and love into action to improve the lives of women, children, and youth. There is no shortage of work for our members to do. There is no shortage of issues competing for our time and attention. But we have decided to focus on pushing back against the criminalization of communities of color—especially children of color. Every year, we work hard to inspire our members to do their part to disrupt the “school-to-prison pipeline.” We do this by aligning with and supporting the campaigns of groups such as Dignity in Schools and others who have been doing this work far longer than us. We also support our members to engage in advocacy work at the local, state, and federal levels.

We believe that advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians. It is not enough to be engaged in our churches if we are not also working to dismantle systems of oppression in our communities. United Women in Faith’s board of directors recently voted to grant $500,000 in funding to mission-aligned groups led by Indigenous and Black women: $250,000 to Brittany K. Barnett’s Girls Embracing Mothers and $250,000 to Tia Oros Peters’ Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. Girls Embracing Mothers helps girls with incarcerated mothers to fulfill their unique calling and break the cycle of incarceration. The Seventh Generation Fund is the oldest organization of its kind and is dedicated to Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and Native nations’ sovereignty....

Read the full commentary by Emily Jones, executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith.

(Photo credit: max bender via unsplash)

An open ecosystem for scientific research: A commentary by Greg Tananbaum

July 25, 2022

Census_gettyimagesPhilanthropies aspire to lofty goals—solving seemingly intractable problems, creating a more just society, curing diseases, and deepening our understanding of our place in the universe. But the success of these missions depends not only on what we fund but on how we pursue solutions. Will our resources and efforts essentially serve to reinforce the status quo? The scale of our ambitions—indeed, the magnitude of the challenges we face as a society and a species–demands that we identify better ways to include a diversity of voices and approaches in our work.

Our organization, the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG), is a collaborative of 25 philanthropies representing annual giving of $12 billion that is committed to the open sharing of research outputs. Our members aim to increase the impact of the work we support by creating an open ecosystem for scientific research—where data, analytics, methods, materials, and publications are openly available to all to access, test, and build upon. This approach closes information-sharing gaps, encourages innovation, and increases trust in the scientific process.  

In the wake of a tumultuous 2020—the inequity laid bare by the George Floyd killing and the rampant disinformation surrounding COVID-19—ORFG members realized that we needed to think even more expansively about our entire grantmaking processes and whether they reflect our values. To truly support open research, inclusivity, and equity, we understood we needed to rethink how we make decisions about where our money goes, from the way we build and socialize funding programs, to how we develop diverse applicant pools, all the way through how we support grantees and alumni....

Read the full commentary by Greg Tananbaum, director of the Open Research Funders Group

Immigrant justice is intersectional: A commentary by Birdie Soti

July 22, 2022

Immigration_law_lawyer_simpson33_GettyImages-850905664Every year, from all across the globe, tens of thousands of children migrate to the United States in search of safety. Their reasons for leaving home span all issues—from climate change to gender-based violence to racial injustice and religious persecution. Yet, far too often, their stories and experiences are reduced to their immigration journey and separated from all other aspects of their identities—which are affected by the same social issues that impact all of us.

Immigrant justice, like any social cause, is intersectional. For a child fleeing climate catastrophes, immigrant justice is also climate justice. For a pregnant teen held in immigration custody and in need of reproductive care, immigrant justice is also reproductive justice. For a trans migrant facing persecution for their identity, immigrant justice is also LGBTQ justice. And at the heart of each of these issues is also the fight for racial justice, as Black and brown communities remain disproportionately threatened by systemic racism, institutional barriers, and restrictive government policies our society is grappling with today.

For decades, the culture of fundraising and philanthropy has encouraged donors to select a well-defined cause and support it through ongoing monetary investments. Without question, these investments have been critical in deepening the work of nonprofits all over the world, and the impact of this financial support cannot be overstated. Yet, fundraising and philanthropy, like everything else, must adapt to meet the moment. The reality is that our safety and our rights are at stake. We must recognize ourselves as part of a global community and understand that whatever social cause we care about does not exist in isolation....

Read the full commentary by Birdie Soti, the philanthropy director for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

Racial justice at the forefront of impact investing: A commentary by Ian Fuller

July 15, 2022

Young woman_megaphone_protest_social_justice_GettyImages_LeoPatriziFollowing the racial reckoning of 2020, billions in corporate and individual donations to Black-serving and Black-led organizations changed the landscape of investment advising. If investment advisory firms are to keep up with this trend, they must adopt a community-centered, racial justice approach to business.

In response to calls for racial justice in the wake of the murders of countless Black Americans following brutal interactions with law enforcement, $50 billion in corporate and individual donations poured into Black-led or Black-serving nonprofits, civil rights groups, and historically Black colleges and universities. This disbursement of billions is creating one of the largest windfall events for beneficiaries directly impacting and serving Black communities in our country’s history. Many of these institutions have never received donations of this size, or scale, at one time.

Since 2020, Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm I co-founded, has seen eight times as many nonprofit clients experience windfall events from wealthy donors. We saw this with billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott publicly donating more than $12 billion as of March 2022. In working with these organizations to manage their expanded financial portfolios, we’ve learned that for investment advisory firms to have an impact in this new landscape, it is essential to adopt a community-centered approach—concentrating on community economic development, revitalization, growth, and sustainability—with racial justice at the forefront of impact investing. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity....

Read the full commentary by Ian Fuller, a co-founder and partner of Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Leo Patrizi)

Effective violence reduction strategies: A Q&A with Jocelyn Fontaine and Anita Ravishankar

July 01, 2022

Jocelyn_Fontaine_Anita_Ravishankar_Arnold_Ventures_credit_Todd SpothOn June 2, Arnold Ventures issued a research agenda and an RFP focused on violence reduction, including gun violence, citing an increase in violent crimes and incidents over the past two years across U.S. cities “regardless of their size, geographic location, or political leanings.”

Jocelyn Fontaine is Arnold Ventures’ vice president of criminal justice research; she previously served a senior researcher in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she directed projects focused on corrections and reentry issues, gun violence, violence reduction programs, and police-community trust-building efforts. Anita Ravishankar is director of criminal justice research; she was a founding member of The Lab @ DC and the research and innovation team within the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Philanthropy News Digest asked Fontaine and Ravishankar about the rise in gun violence, the priorities of the new research agenda and RFP, how violence reduction intersects with racial justice, and the role of philanthropy in driving solutions.

Philanthropy News Digest: Presumably the development of this research agenda and RFP on solutions for reducing violence was under way well before the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. What do you see as the main causes of the surge in violent crimes and incidents nationwide—many of which have targeted specific populations for their race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other marginalized identities?

Anita Ravishankar: Gun violence has long been at unacceptably high levels in the United States. The nearly 30 percent nationwide increase in homicides in 2020, on the heels of massive social disruptions due to the pandemic, brought that reality into sharp relief. As we noted in our materials, the increase in violence was widespread, affecting communities regardless of their size, location, political leadership, or policy environment....

But we do not have precise explanations, which is unsatisfying and hinders policy makers’ ability to address violence. So through this research agenda we are prioritizing studies that can help us understand both the immediate causes of violence—e.g., how do we understand what the particular problem of violence is in a given jurisdiction and respond in the near term—as well as the underlying or root causes of violence that require longer-term and more holistic strategies or solutions to address. Our work focuses on the people and places most at risk of involvement in violence, as perpetrators of violence and victims of violence, which has not changed much over time, and understanding what works to support police solutions.

PND: The research agenda comprises three pillars: address immediate crises of violence, identify and address the underlying causes of violence, and promote effective police investigations to solve violent crime. Did the most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde shift or sharpen your priorities for the research agenda in any way?

AR: Arnold Ventures has been making substantial investments to understand the efficacy of different gun policies and different violence reduction strategies for several years. The notable increase in community violence over the past few years made clear the need to increase our research efforts to match the urgency of the moment in needing answers on effective solutions, spurring our research agenda and RFP. The events in Buffalo and Uvalde are absolutely heart-wrenching, leading so many of us to want our elected leaders to “do something, anything” to prevent these tragedies from happening. Those leaders will need to understand what policies and practices are effective, however, and building the evidence is a critical contribution to ensuring that decision makers do have high-quality information to navigate these challenges. Identifying evidence-based policy solutions has been and continues to be a key driver of our research investments, across all of our areas of work.

PND: The announcement notes that “[t]he distribution of these violent incidents remains predominantly concentrated in communities that have been subject to chronic underinvestment”—which would suggest that violence reduction is a racial and social justice issue. How do you see the intersectionality of those issues?

Jocelyn Fontaine: Homicide remains the #1 cause of death for young Black men, and the second leading cause of death for young Hispanic men. These statistics are sobering and unacceptable. We must develop effective tools and responses—including policies, interventions, and resources–to address the problem of high levels of violence effectively to save lives and reduce victimization and harm. Yes, violence reduction is an issue of racial equity. Several studies have found that the majority of crimes often occur in a small number of specific streets or blocks and those trends are largely stable over time. Further, Black and Brown people are significantly more likely than white people to be victims of serious violence and homicide. As violent crime is concentrated in economically disadvantaged Black and Brown neighborhoods, which have been historically underserved and marginalized and where residents have a relationship with the police and the justice system that has been defined through a history of marginalization, oppression, surveillance, coercion, and control, effective violence reduction strategies is absolutely consistent with efforts to advance racial equity....

Read the full Q&A with Jocelyn Fontaine and Anita Ravishankar, Vice President and Director of Criminal Justice Research, Arnold Ventures.

(Photo credit: Todd Spoth)

It's time for philanthropy to invest in Black women: A commentary by Maria S. Johnson

June 19, 2022

African_American_woman_protest_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicMany of us are feeling disillusioned by the current state of affairs in the United States. This includes the rollback of reproductive rights, white supremacist mass shootings, rising costs for basic needs, and shortages of essential items like baby formula—which are occurring as we are still enduring a pandemic that has taken more than a million lives.

Reporting indicates that Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by these events. Black mothers have limited access to quality prenatal care and access to abortions. Black grandmothers who were community and charitable pillars were targeted and murdered at a supermarket, and low-income Black women are facing insurmountable rising costs and housing instability. All of this can feel overwhelming, insurmountable even. I get it. And yet, there is something we can do: fund Black women and girl leaders.

As a Black woman from the South, I have lived, worked, and been educated in racially hostile spaces, subjected to racist and sexist slurs, and doubted and thwarted throughout my life. I have also witnessed the power of Black women and girls to create beloved communities and alter the trajectories of their and others’ lives when offered resources and opportunities. Coming from that reality, I learned early on that we all need support to thrive. For as long as we have lived in this country, Black women and girls have been on the ground addressing many of society’s most pressing ills. Moreover, Black women and girls have bravely looked beyond societal problems to imagine and create new futures in which not only Black women and girls but everyone can live safe, happy, liberated lives.

This resourcefulness and visionary approach are hallmarks of Black women and girls, but philanthropy fails them....

Read the full commentary by Maria S. Johnson, founder and chair of the Black Women and Girls Fund in Baltimore.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

What support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world: A commentary by Kevin Beckford

June 16, 2022

Teacher_elementary_school_classroom_masks_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicWhile Teacher Appreciation Week lasts just five school days in early May, teachers give their all day in, day out, to ensure that the next generation of learners succeed. Unfortunately, the journey of a teacher is not an easy one. I am not the first person—and certainly won’t be the last—to point out the sobering realities of what many teachers experience in America. Teaching requires a lot from teachers—long work hours, certification and credentialing, continuous professional development, and the navigation of typically under-resourced and overstrained environments—and all of this for a barely livable wage. And as we consider how to improve conditions for teachers, we must acknowledge that we now live in a different world, a post-COVID world where existing challenges have been exacerbated and new practices and programs must be implemented to address the gross inequities illuminated by the pandemic.

As both a former educator and nonprofit leader, I encourage others in the philanthropic and nonprofit community to reevaluate what support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world. Now, more than ever, we must invest in teachers. We must take this unique opportunity to implement innovative programs and support structures that enable great teachers to stay in the classroom and thrive....

Read the full commentary by Kevin Beckford, senior director of partnerships, strategy and programs, at Honored.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

Review: There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women

June 14, 2022

Book_cover_There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion WomenDespite the large number of financial transactions that take place on a daily basis, nearly a billion women around the world are still excluded from the financial system—and opportunities to gain financial independence. Ensuring equality of access to financial services would offer life-changing prospects for women.

In There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women, Mary Ellen Iskenderian examines how financial inclusion could be instrumental to women’s financial independence and empowerment. The author uses her professional experience in the banking sector as well as academic research, case studies, and stories to illustrate the benefits of women’s financial inclusion and steps stakeholders need to take to eliminate gender-based barriers. Iskenderian points out that the advantages of closing the gender gap in financial services go beyond the life of the individual woman: It improves the lives of her family members and strengthens the community and the national economy. The author makes the case for women’s inclusion as a business strategy for financial service providers to add an underserved market to their portfolio.

Read the full book review by Mantin Diomande, a senior research analyst at Candid.

Fighting hate and racism, uplifiting our stories: A commentary by Anisha Singh

June 03, 2022

Sikh_family_GettyImages_kadmy-155656880As our nation continues to grieve for the victims of the May 14 terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York, we once again find ourselves painfully reminded of the ever-present threat that white supremacy poses to marginalized communities in the United States.

Our first responsibility is to center the pain the Black community is experiencing in this moment. At the same time, we must also recognize that the horrific ideology that underpinned this violence stems from a more expansive racism and anti-Semitism—the same toxic hate behind numerous deadly assaults in recent years, from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville and Oak Creek to El Paso. And as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws to a close, the recognition of this far-reaching threat comes with a challenge to all communities of color: How do we balance the urgent need to fight against the hate that plagues our communities and the need to take the time and space to uplift and celebrate our unique stories, identities, and contributions to our country?

This question is at the forefront of my mind as I join the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, as its new executive director. The Sikh Coalition was founded in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when Sikhs and other religious minorities found themselves facing unprecedented levels of hate violence in the wake of that national tragedy. Many Sikhs—members of the fifth largest organized faith tradition in the world—keep visible articles of faith, including turbans and unshorn beards, which some Americans began conflating with images of the Taliban. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, the Sikh Coalition emerged as a network of attorneys, advocates, and experts who stepped up to provide free aid to community members who had been subjected to hate crimes or workplace discrimination....

Read the full commentary by Anisha Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition

(Photo credit: Getty Images/kadmy)

What grassroots activism means: A commentary by Priscilla Enriquez

June 02, 2022

Census_gettyimagesWhen the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in early March 2020, the James B. McClatchy Foundation was in the midst of hosting roundtables to better understand our community in California’s Central Valley and the organizations serving it. While many foundations engage in this process, we believe these conversations are critical to the impact of our work, as it helps us understand what is happening in our community while building relationships and trust with key partners.

Even as COVID-19 case numbers began to rise and shutdowns were announced, our new chief impact officer, Misty Avila, was deep in the field, hosting meetings with community leaders. As the foundation’s CEO, I felt responsible for her safety in the face of this new public health threat; after a few moments of wrestling with what to do next, I called her and asked her to cancel her appointments and return home.

It soon became clear that this crisis would directly affect our work and our lives. We paused our community roundtables. Rather than just shifting in-person meetings to virtual ones and continuing with our plan, we took a moment to recognize how this global event was impacting the communities we cared about. At the end of March, we convened our community of grassroots leaders and sincerely asked the only question that really mattered: “How are you doing?” I look back at that defining moment as the cornerstone of our work.

At that meeting, one of the leaders shared that by standing in a food line with a client, he was also able to do some census outreach. This act of caring, combined with activism in that same moment, helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what “grassroots” activism means. It means acting on an unselfish drive to seek out opportunities, even in grim conditions, to improve people’s lives, because the future matters. While this leader was helping an elder navigate an unfathomable crisis, he also saw a future in which an accurate census count could help that elder.

And as funders, we need to act in a similar fashion....

Read the full commentary by Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of the James B. McClatchy Foundation.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The sustainable nonprofit: Three types of socially minded consumers

June 01, 2022

Small_business_latina_gorodenkoff_GettyImages-1293175094In a room packed with corporate marketing leaders and their respective brand marketing colleagues, I was up to talk about consumer interests and engagement in social issues. I opened with a key question: “How many of you think your consumers want your company/brand to address social issues?” Every person in the room raised their hand. One person even said, “Demand is a better word.”

Next question: “How many of you have consumers who actually have made decisions based on your position on social issues?” Fewer people raised their hands, and a lot of skeptical looks from the rest eventually forced the central question: “Do we really know consumers make choices because of our positions?”

The most likely answer is “No.” We know this from data we collect on social issue engagement with brands and their consumers. Consumers do have high expectations for companies to stand up and actively support issues, but—and this is a big “but”—not every consumer is acting with their wallet to drive home those expectations.

The data reveal three types of socially minded consumers that brands should be aware of as they navigate the social issue waters....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Leo Patrizi)

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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