Tracy Gary says she starts every day as a “grateful activist.” That’s a good way to approach the morning, and an attitude that infuses the 66-year old Gary’s now 40-year career as philanthropy advisor, non-profit leader, donor and consultant.
A founder of nearly two dozen non-profits, Gary heads Unleashing Generosity and Inspired Legacies, and is on the road 40 days per year working with non-profits, foundations, and donors. That’s down from the 200 days away from home she used to log, but in the last few years she has reduced her workload (which used to run to 60-80 hours per week) and dropped 100 pounds. It’s a matter of staying healthy, and staying on the planet, so that she can continue mentoring the next generation of inheritors and philanthropy professionals.
As every day brings new questions regarding the rights and protections of marginalized populations in the U.S., word of an additional fund that will support progressive rights for women of color and transgender folks is heartening news.
Today, Groundswell Fund announced the funding of a new grassroots organizing effort that will be led by women of color and transgender people of color.
The new funding stream, dubbed the Liberation Fund, will “aim to ensure reproductive and gender justice by supporting women of color,” according to a press release announcing its launch.
Groundswell describes itself as the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement. Headquartered in Oakland, CA, the organization provides leadership in the effort to hold public officials accountable at the local level for their responsibility to protect the rights of all people. In the age of Trump, this kind of accountability is more important than ever.
Two marginalized groups that face the greatest danger from a government enacting white supremacist and misogynist policies are women of color and transgender people of color. With an initial deployment of $500,000 in funding, the Liberation Fund will begin the process of identifying its first grantees. A panel of 15 advisors, all prominent women of color leaders coming from a broad array of sectors, will guide the fund.
“Millions of Americans are hungry for leadership that ignites our political imagination and offers clear, concrete pathways forward,” said Fund Advisor Linda Sarsour and CEO of MPower Change. Sarsour called on funders and donors to “meet that level of boldness in their giving strategies” by further empowering women of color and LGBTQ people.
Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and another of the fund’s advisors added, “To elevate women of color and trans people of color at a time when our communities are under extreme duress is not only smart, but essential for our survival. There’s never been a better time for donors and funders to put their money directly where change is happening.”
Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Fund’s Executive Director, put it this way: “The greatest force in any fight against fascism is solidarity. The Trump Administration is trying to divide us. If there is one thing that grassroots organizing efforts run by women of color and trans people of color understand better than anyone else, it’s that, as Audre Lorde once said, none of us live single-issue lives. Our fates are intertwined.”
The first grants from the new Liberation Fund are scheduled to be awarded in summer 2017.
Full list of the Fund’s Advisors:
Ai-Jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Alicia Garza, National Domestic Workers Alliance & Black Lives Matter
Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Bamby Salcedo, The TransLatin@ Coalition
Charlene Sinclair, Center for Community Change
Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Chrissie Castro, Native Voice Network
Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
Elle Hearns, Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Isa Noyola, Transgender Law Center
Linda Sarsour, Mpower Change
Mary Hooks, Southerners On New Ground
Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Sarita Gupta, Jobs With Justice
Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) United
“The more that philanthropy can do to encourage and support women in running for office, the better,” says Kate Coyne-McCoy, CEO of The Campaign Fixer, who has spent much of her career trying to bring more women into American politics. Coyne-McCoy has trained over 9,000 women to run for office, and she has a message for philanthropy.
“Do more politically, period,” she said in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women, when asked what her message would be to progressive women donors and their allies. “Until you make an investment in the electoral and political process, you’re never going to see the change you want.”
While the Trump Administration’s attacks against women, immigrants, LGBT, and people of color continue, foundations and nonprofits are coming together to fund the resistance. The latest batch of grantmaking in this department: the Emergent Fund recently granted $330,000 to community-based organizations at the front lines of the resistance.
A project of Women Donors Network (WDN), Solidaire Network, and Threshold Foundation, the Emergent Fund is a way for donors to increase their ability to strategically collaborate, coordinate, and act quickly to support the movement. The fund seeks to supply communities and their allies with the resources they need to create the change our country needs to fight back against the dangerous policy goals of the Trump Administration.
“Unconditional love for people is what’s needed,” says Justine Bevilacqua. She speaks with a calmness that somehow also conveys how strongly she feels about this. “Of course, you have to draw the line sometimes,” she adds, “and there are bad people in the world, but just seeing people as humans, I definitely think the world needs more of that.”
Bevilacqua was 3 years old when her maternal grandmother Dorothy Jungels and several of Dorothy’s children acquired the carriage house that would become a place dedicated to the arts and social justice in Providence, Rhode Island. Doing most of the renovation themselves, they turned the neglected building into a studio and theater and named it Everett, after Everett Weeden, a fellow artist and family friend.