SAN FRANCISCO -- Today a group of Northern California foundations launched the Youth Power Fund, which supports nonprofits that organize young people in the region and advocate for social change. In the current political climate in our nation, the fund recognizes that this is a critical time to invest in the power of youth organizing.
All children deserve to have access to a quality education. They deserve to feel safe and supported in a place that exists to prepare them for their futures. Yet, for Black youth and other youth of color, this is far from the reality. Every day, Black children and other youth of color, some as young as six are being pushed out of classrooms and schools because of deep racial profiling. Across the country, Black high school students are twice as likely to be suspended as white students. In Oakland, while Black youth made up 26 percent of the Oakland Unified School District’s enrollment, they represented 73 percent of arrests. This vicious cycle continues to fuel pathways to prison and confinement, where Black youth are consistently over-represented, which creates additional barriers for our young people to realize and achieve their full potential.
November kicked off with the end of daylight savings time and an election, both of which signify change in our lives. The articles this month lift up questions of power, self-determination, interdependence, and curiosity.
What role can philanthropy now play to restore some guardrails and resource these movements? We offer some reflections on the current moment as well as a few recommendations to guide social justice, human rights, and democracy funders.
One message stood out: we must stretch beyond what we’ve tried before. Just aligning corporate philanthropy with a company’s business interests will no longer suffice. With our nation’s health, climate, race relations, economy, and democracy under assault, our social order is quite squarely in the balance. The brand that invests in communities' own systems for survival, leverages its voice and influence to advance change, and stands up to be counted, will resonate most.
Niki Martinez, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison, was recently granted early parole, however, she still faces the stigma of being implicated with the criminal justice system. Despite her leadership in building community within the prison system and, when released, being a community advocate for alternatives to incarceration and simultaneously juggling four jobs, she still has no right to vote. Through Proposition 17, California’s practice of extending punishment for people have completed their sentences can end, and instead, focus resources
Despite the historical inattention to the needs of trans communities from mainstream philanthropy, I am grateful to a small group of plucky, pioneering transgender-led funders like the Trans Justice Funding Project (TJFP), the Third Wave Fund, and Borealis Philanthropy’s Fund for Trans Generations, who have charted a path for many more funders can learn from today.
These past months, we've found ourselves returning to the same question: are our plans still serving their purpose, or is there a greater opportunity made possible by the crises in which we find ourselves? We asked NCG's board, staff, and membership to weigh-in on how they're balancing this question. Pedro Arista, Director at Hirsch Philanthropy Partners, joined us to share what inspires him to do this work and what's exciting him about the sector.
By Alice Y.