When I started at Hirsch Philanthropy Partners, I had a few impressions. First, I was sensing a desire for big change in Bay Area philanthropy that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I was engaging in conversations about race, power and decision making, which were the kinds of conversations I was having previously in the nonprofit space. I also discovered that several Bay Area grantmakers were already doing grantmaking differently, bringing diverse communities closer to the center of their work and challenging power dynamics. It felt like a ripe time for change.
Thanks, Marcus and Dwayne, for your inspiring words and your leadership. As good discussions go, you’ve both got me thinking. And thanks to Marcus for tagging me and inviting me to jump into the conversation. Marcus’s “meet the moment” question for me is a good one: How does philanthropy need to work differently in these complex and turbulent times?
Recently, Dwayne Marsh, CEO of Northern California Grantmakers, and I were reflecting on how many foundations in our memberships are looking to change direction and move toward racial equity. In an ice-bucket-style challenge, Dwayne posted his thoughts and then tagged me with the question, “How best does philanthropy choose courage in the face of the unprecedented complexity the moment offers?"
The Libra Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to funding grassroots justice movements led by and for marginalized communities of color. The Libra Foundation’s guiding principle is that those who are closest to the issues understand those issues best. Impacted communities are not only the most equipped to build solutions, they are the most effective at implementing those solutions. We fund frontline organizations led by and for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) transforming the criminal justice system and advancing environmental and climate justice and gender justice.
2020 has truly tested our resolve. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people in prison cannot be understated. As rates of infection rose inside prisons throughout the state, we witnessed our movement partners quickly and efficiently organize in response to this crisis. We witnessed the same tenacity and steadfastness this summer, as organizers led uprisings worldwide to protest racist state violence after the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others—violence that is all too familiar for incarcerated people and their families.
To the NCG Community, March 31st will be my final day at NCG. It has been a remarkable 10 years filled with endless stories, laughter, joy, some tears, and enormous growth. Later this spring, I will be joining NPAG, a national talent search firm focused on leadership in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. It has been a true gift to be a part of this community and to have the opportunity to work with all of you. As I reflect back on my time, I’ve considered some key life and career lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Philanthropy California, Environmental Grantmakers Association, and Smart Growth California organized the Grounded Action: Grassroots Movements and Climate Justice dialogue series in partnership with the CLIMA Fund in April 2021. This two-part series aimed to unpack different forms of grassroots climate action and hear from funders and movement leaders on how to support climate movements. The authors had the opportunity to share their experiences in the second dialogue of the series and get into the nitty-gritty of funding grassroots movements.