Many of us were watching the protests at the University of Missouri closely and could not be more proud of the student leadership there. Once again, as it has been the case throughout our history, students took a stand against bias and inequity. They were able to gain the support of allied staff and faculty and were successful in meeting their goal.
I cannot help but think about the implications of the Mizzo protests on our sector. It may not be well known, but similar actions are happening inside of foundations here in the U.S. The movements of grantmaking board and staff are not captured on cell phone cameras and spread via social media but we have been called into help organize days of action and candid conversations about addressing inequity and promoting responsive philanthropy in Black communities. In short, we are busier than ever in cities like Chicago; Seattle; St. Louis; Kansas City; Baltimore; Buffalo, Milwaukee/Madison and Washington, D.C.; invited in by foundation leaders and champions to bring our message and technical assistance on grantmaking with an equity lens. Our framework on Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities calls on foundations to support community organizing and civic engagement to build power in our community. A CNN article published in June, How to Fund #BlackLivesMatter shared my thoughts and those of others on investing in the movement for Black lives. So what’s up next for ABFE? It is time to take this work to another level.
This month, we will host the first of several meetings around the country of Black foundation professionals and Black-led organizing groups to discuss ways in which we can work better together (thanks to our host partner Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy!). In December, in partnership with the Hill-Snowden Foundation we will convene the first meeting of a new network in the field of philanthropy designed to strengthen the infrastructure for social, institutional and political power in Black communities. Only when we do so can we ensure that public and private institutions in this country (the likes of Mizzo) advance opportunities for all people.
Throughout our work, we hope to convene as many funders as possible to align existing resources and increase investments in Black-led organizing and social change. Let us know if you want in.