Janiece Evans-Page: Daring to Double Down on Racial Equity

With racial justice programs and DEI initiatives under threat, philanthropic organizations face an important decision – double down in the fight for justice or back down. Janiece Evans-Page, the CEO of Tides, is taking the harder road. She won’t back down, and she won’t let others shut her down. As the leader of an organization managing as much as $1.25 billion in assets at any given time, Evans-Page is carrying out a critical mission that other funders might want to emulate: upholding the American values of racial and gender equality.

Janiece Evans-Page, the CEO of Tides. (Image credit: Tides)

We were fortunate enough that Janiece Evans-Page was willing to share her time and her thoughts on the attacks on organizations like the Fearless Fund. Janiece shares her insights here on how philanthropy can prioritize racial and gender justice, and use core values as the building blocks to a healthier democracy.

Philanthropy Women: Most of us who are reading this probably have the intrinsic sense that these lawsuits against the Fearless Fund and other organizations–and there are a number of them–are morally wrong. What was behind your decision to fight back? Were there practical issues, hurdles that had to be overcome? What was your thought process? 

Janiece Evans-Page: After the SCOTUS decision on affirmative action in higher education in June 2023, we braced ourselves for the legal attacks we knew would follow in the philanthropic sector. These lawsuits against the Fearless Fund and other organizations are part of a broader effort to roll back social justice progress and perpetuate inequitable systems that harm Black communities and other groups historically denied power.

As a social justice organization that works to shift power to communities of color and other historically marginalized groups, Tides is unwavering in its commitment to racial equity. We’re actively engaged in conversations with partners throughout the ecosystem that are similarly concerned about these attacks—including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which wrote an amicus brief in the Fearless Fund case alongside several civil rights organizations. The Lawyers’ Committee made the compelling argument that the plaintiff’s claims that the grant program for Black women entrepreneurs is racially discriminatory under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 are contrary to the purpose and intent of Section 1981, which was designed as a remedial measure to afford Black citizens the same right as white citizens to fully participate in the economy.

PW: Are there any steps that donors and activists can take to help move the suit along and perhaps help guide it to a beneficial outcome? 

Janiece Evans-Page: Black female entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of venture capital funding. Donors and activists should continue to fund and champion initiatives like the Fearless Fund’s grant program that shift power to Black women leaders and other changemakers of color. As we navigate an increasingly hostile landscape, we must not retreat or give in to fear and intimidation. We have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that economic and other opportunities are available to the communities who have been denied them. 

PW: So do you have any advice for the donor community that could help them maintain the kind of targeted giving that is now under attack?  

Janiece Evans-Page: At a time when charitable giving is down and grassroots leaders are struggling to keep their organizations afloat, I encourage donors who are committed to justice and equity to continue to prioritize giving in alignment with their values, to provide unrestricted grants, and to trust the leadership of the proximate changemakers they are funding. Ensuring that Black and Brown leaders are reflected and respected in a manner commensurate with the impact they’re making is a collective charge that we must continue to advance. 

PW: Where do you see the status of social justice ten years from now?   

Janiece Evans-Page: From attacks on democracy to the climate crisis to anti-DEI efforts, the urgent challenges we are facing require a new approach from the social sector, one that centers the leadership of communities who have historically been denied power. As we work to shift the traditional power dynamics in philanthropy, I’m looking forward to seeing more collaboration between doers and donors committed to advancing justice and equity. I’m also paying attention to how we can harness impact investing and technological innovation to drive systemic change for communities of color and other marginalized groups. 

PW: What experiences from your own life inform your views on social justice?

Janiece Evans-Page: As a Black woman in the U.S., I operate within systems that were not designed to include me.  Throughout my career, I have always been intentional about leveraging my position to represent, champion, and celebrate the voices of those from underserved communities – whether I was supporting the recruitment of people of color, leading an e-inclusion project at HP, or launching Fossil’s global philanthropy practice. Today, as the CEO of Tides, I am deeply committed to shifting power to communities of color, women and girls, and other groups who face systemic barriers.


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