Nothing About Us Without Us: AFF Welcomes Movement Partner Advisory Council

“Nothing about us without us.”
James Charlton, Disability Rights Movement Author

Dear Community,

After 20 years of philanthropic work, AFF is excited to announce the launch of the inaugural cohort of Movement Partner Advisory Council (MPAC). AFF welcomes 2021 with the goal of entering into a more accountable philanthropic practice, deeply grounded in collaborative relationship with movement organizations, following their lead and transferring power to frontline communities.

Our staff is an all-women-of-color team, and we are deeply aware that accountability to frontline, directly impacted communities must be more than a soapbox talking point. The absence of a dedicated structure to bring community to the table is a promise — not an actionable plan.

The AFF board seeks to change that. As a result, we decided to formally create the MPAC. The Council is an intergenerational, geographically diverse table of movement partners from across youth justice, child welfare, immigrant rights and gender justice organizations. MPAC members are also intermediaries, organizing policy and/or advocacy partners. They all have deep expertise and proven track records building power in communities, changing policy and practices that impact the youth and communities AFF serves.

The goal of the MPAC is to serve as a strategic partner that will provide guidance to the AFF staff and board in how we meet the AFF mission, vision and strategic plan. The MPAC will also inform our grantmaking, capacity-building and philanthropic organizing endeavors. As AFF continues to strengthen our accountability to the field and deepen our commitment to sharing power with frontline communities, we’re very excited about formalizing a vehicle to deepen relationships and commit to the regular practice of following the lead of movements.

Our vision is that the MPAC serve as a council of wise movement building experts who can inform our philanthropic strategy and practice, ensure staff and board are in lockstep with movements and maximize our resources, efforts, and time to improve outcomes for the youth we serve and the organizations we partner with.

In 2021, MPAC members will sit at the table alongside the AFF board in our strategic planning process, providing valuable insight into the revamping of our application and reporting processes, capacity building programing, communications and grantmaking strategies, and philanthropic organizing efforts. Together, we will articulate a collective vision and plan for how to better serve the young people we serve.

Please welcome the outstanding members of the inaugural MPAC — all AFF grantee partner leaders on the frontlines of fighting for Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth impacted by youth justice, child welfare and other disruptive systems. We are beyond honored to work together with our brilliant grantee leaders to deepen authentic, collaborative partnerships between philanthropy and movements.

Together,
Manuela Arciniegas
Director
Andrus Family Fund

CC Gardner-Gleser
Chair of the Board
Andrus Family Fund

A Letter to Foundation Trustees: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Show Up For Racial Justice

The year 2020 holds challenges for us all — a triple-layered challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the police killings and resulting uprisings calling out racial injustice and an economic recession. The upcoming shift in the political landscape provides hope, but the election also highlighted a known rift in a country that has not reckoned with its racist history. Arguably, the work and organizations funded by the Andrus Family Fund (AFF) are more critical than ever.  

This year also marks AFF’s 20th anniversary, which provided an opportunity for reflection and radical visioning. Our grantee partners have shown incredible resilience and serve as a source of inspiration in building power among like-minded groups, with an urgency that philanthropy isn’t used to. We understand that philanthropy is steeped in dominant culture and centers itself over the needs of community. We can no longer operate at this slower pace; we must be responsive. It is essential that change at the board level follows the pace of movement building or we will lose this moment. The building of this moment has happened over time; now is the time to trust community, listen to community and lean in. 

As we reflect on our role as a learning board and family fund, we commit to the hard work of organizing our peers — trustees. AFF board members, comprised of both family and community board members ages 25-45, have put together five recommendations to fellow trustees in family philanthropy to meet the current moment, all of which are rooted in action. These ideas are not new, but we want to lift them up resoundingly because we are on the journey to committing to bringing these recommendations to life.

We center two commitments above all else in our work as board members: (i) to create just and sustainable change rooted in a commitment to racial and social justice and (ii) to learn and commit to using our knowledge to bring about change — in ourselves, in our board rooms and in our communities. These values are reflected in the recommendations below:

1. Practice Trust-Based Philanthropy

  • The brilliance lives in the field and with the practice of our partners, not within foundation walls. Directly impacted communities hold the ideas and need resources to carry them out. 
  • Trustees are to trust in staff, and in turn, staff are to trust in grantee partners. Forgo the need to understand all strategies before trusting partners on-the-ground to experiment, innovate and lead with action.  
  • Shift the focus from transactional grant-making to deep, authentic relationship-building. Ask yourselves: how are we in service to our partners? Re-assess both strategic and operational aspects of the grant-making process to make sure it leads with deep care for movement organizations and their staff. 
  • Be careful not to center board members in this process. Ask not what board members want or need and instead center community. An explicit focus on social and racial justice will continue to shift the focus back to community.

 

2. Commit Long Term to Becoming Anti-Racist and Eradicating Anti-Blackness in our Institutions

  • AFF and Surdna recently made a commitment to become a fully inclusive, anti-racist organization. Our vision is an institution within a wider community that has overcome systemic racism and all other forms of oppression, with full participation and shared power from diverse racial, cultural and economic groups. We are humbly at the beginning of this journey.
  • Require both institutional and personal commitments. Individual commitments are necessary to examine internal bias, as well as to sit in the discomfort and do the work.
  • Work to build anti-racist cultures and processes across all levels of the institution. Learn about anti-racist practices and implement these practices throughout all corners of your foundation.  
  • Break up all-white spaces and ensure members across all identity groups are participants in decisions that shape an institution. Recognize where, why and how all-white spaces appear. In family philanthropy, this may be across all levels of an organization, or at the board and senior leadership level.  
  • Recognize that much of this work rests on the shoulders of white people. Without a commitment to anti-racism and fighting anti-blackness from white people, we become the barriers to progress.

 

3. Fight Complacency and Transcend Fatigue

  • Silence is violence — speak up about racism and anti-blackness on every level to hold both people and systems accountable. As Ibram X. Kendi has taught us, one must be actively anti-racist and not complacent to counter the forces of racism. Center anti-racism and social justice in your personal life and family relationships. Lean into vulnerability; there will be discomfort in this process — find your support team, regroup and keep at it!  
  • Cultivate a learning culture. Learning has been central to AFF’s evolution — from topics such as power, privilege and white supremacy to abolitionist strategies. Education with historical context is key, and helps prevent claims of ignorance or unawareness.  
  • Do not rely on staff — particularly BIPOC professionals — to “teach” board members; there is a balance between leveraging resources and expertise versus consuming the time and energy of staff.  
  • Reframe the concept of risk to promote action. What does it mean for a young, Black person on the front lines to bear risk? What does it mean for a white person close to resources, power and privilege to bear risk?

 

4. Take Bold Action

  • Ask questions and push for bold action as board members, including diversifying boards and exploring increased spending. 
  • Building on several of the themes listed above, family foundation boards should be encouraged to diversify boards by bringing on non-family and/or community board members. AFF embarked on this journey several years ago, recognizing the importance of living our values by extending the opportunity for board service to the broader community and bringing professionals with expertise and lived experience into decision-making roles. Today, AFF proudly has a community member serving as Chair of the board and a standing commitment to have three community board members. 
  • Institutions should also wrestle with the question of further supporting a well-funded endowment versus supporting communities in need. If not now, then when? Throughout 2020, AFF advocated for more dollars to flow to grantee partners. In the words of Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Highlander Research and Education Center, “fund us like you want us to win.” Grantees are on the frontlines and we want more dollars to be directed more quickly to critical movements supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. We want them to win!

 

5. Leverage Relationships and Power

  • Educate and organize within your own communities. Have conversations with family members, friends and acquaintances. Make a personal commitment to do so long-term.  
  • Explore fundraising ideas and ask people you have relationships with for money. Look to partner organizations and directly impacted communities to inform how resources should be allocated, and follow their lead. Build on the themes around trust-based philanthropy, quickly removing barriers to access grants. Make it as easy and labor-free as possible to move resources.

 

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather highlight areas where a family foundation board has uncovered small wins in responding to the current moment. Grounded in our commitment to learning, we welcome continued conversation around what other family foundation trustees are doing to advance social and racial justice. If you’d like to sign on to this pledge, or request support in holding conversations around these ideas to your board, please reach out to us at info@affund.org.

Onward,
The AFF Board

The Andrus Family Fund Announces New Board Leadership

The Andrus Family Fund, a program and sub fund of the Surdna Foundation,  is pleased to announce our new board chair: C’Ardiss “CC” Gardner Gleser. CC is the first community member to serve as Chair of the AFF Board, and continues to make visible the influential leadership of Black women in social justice philanthropy. 

CCCC is currently the inaugural Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the Satterberg Foundation, where she has resourced a number of BIPOC-led organizations advancing racial and environmental justice. She was a recipient of the YaleWomen Award for Excellence in 2019, the highest award bestowed to Yale alumni who are exceptional advocates for justice, equality and access for women. CC was also a Connecting Leaders Fellow at the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE). Her deep commitment to elevating and centering the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color led her to establish the first-of-its-kind Seattle Equity Summit, which is an annual cross-sector dialogue (bringing together community, non-profit, philanthropy, corporate, government and education) designed to solve some of the most pressing issues plaguing Seattle through a racial justice lens.  

Under CC’s leadership as board chair, AFF family and community board members will continue to advance trust-based philanthropic practices, racial equity and social justice grantmaking led by youth impacted by the Child Welfare, Youth Justice and other systems. “The time is now. It’s more critical than ever for philanthropy to show up as a partner that trusts the communities it serves rather than continuing to apply traditional and outdated models of philanthropy,” said CC. “I commit to modeling what it looks like for philanthropy to listen and learn from young people and allied adults with direct lived experiences of racial discrimination, economic and social exclusion, and systemic barriers.” 

KaitlinAs board chair, CC will partner closely with Kaitlin Miles, newly appointed Vice Chair, based in Austin, TX.  Kaitlin is currently an Investment Manager at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, helping provide pension benefits to over 1.6 million public school teachers and public education employees and retirees. “My goal is to be a great support system for our staff and board chair. In this role I pledge to champion the impactful work of our grantee partner leaders. Together, we will continue to push AFF and philanthropy to give even more support to youth, invest in Black leadership, and make bolder moves to center the voices of community,” said Kaitlin. Both CC and Kaitlin, in partnership with the Surdna Foundation, look forward to creating more opportunities for building power in communities by following the leadership of directly impacted young people.

Joining CC and Kaitlin on the AFF Executive Board are Emily Klass as Secretary and Julia Voorhees as Treasurer.

We say her name: BREONNA TAYLOR

The following is a statement co-signed by our Director, Manuela Arciniegas, who serves as the co-chair of Funders for Justice.

There is no accountability in the same system that murdered Breonna. It will not give her justice, and it will not get us free.

We are enraged at the verdict that has been issued in Louisville, KY in the aftermath of 120 days of protest following the murder of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman (and nurse) who was killed by 3 police officers while she lay in her bed, in her apartment, asleep.

The fact that only one officer was charged, and that the charge was endangerment to property and neighbors, but not to Breonna Taylor, is not accountability. It does nothing to build the public trust in elected officials or public servants, in the justice system, in the law. The announcement is yet another reminder that the justice system was never meant to protect us or to give us justice. The people of Louisville are rising up against well-funded systems of state violence, risking their lives in the streets. We must fund local organizers like we want them to win. Fund them like you believe their safety is dependent on abolishing the police. Because it is. #DefundThePolice

As philanthropy, we must support the community power-building and transformative work to abolish the systems that killed Breonna Taylor. That is where justice will be found. We urge all funders to mobilize resources to support on the ground efforts and uplift the demands of BLM Louisville / Invest/Divest Louisville. These demands are critical policy changes that would immediately hold police and elected officials accountable to the public — especially to Black people rising up in protest; these are real policy demands that are designed in an abolitionist vision.

Support the on-the-ground organizers building power and demanding accountability.

And support your grantee partners and communities with advancing the healing justice approaches needed to weather the grief and sorrow at the fact that Black women’s lives are taken with impunity. Countless mothers have never received justice, but the organizers won’t stop until the community does. Not one more Black Life.

We’re gathering information from local movement folks and will follow up soon with recommendations on where to donate.

In Struggle,
Funders for Justice

Rest in Power: Remembering the Legacy of Allison Brown

Allison

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our beloved colleague and friend Allison Brown, the founder and executive director of Communities for Just Schools Fund, an AFF grantee partner and co-convener for our biennial grantee conference, Education Anew: Shifting Justice. Allison passed away from cancer on Saturday night after a long battle, leaving behind two children — Zora (14) and Massai (17) — and many movement leaders who will eternally remember her legacy as deeply compassionate, kind, regal and no nonsense.

Allison worked consistently for education justice, starting her career defending children’s rights in the deep South. She also worked tirelessly to move philanthropic resources to education organizing groups nationwide. Among her many moments of triumph was the recent plenary she facilitated focusing on education and youth justice in Jackson, Mississippi as part of our 2020 EASJ convening. Team AFF salutes our co-conspirator and comrade Allison, and wishes our sister fund CJSF (Jaime Koppel, Thena Robinson Mock, Alexis Smith, Allie McCullen, Cierra Kaler-Jones and the crew) our deepest sympathies and condolences.

The Andrus Family Fund is committed to the fight for education justice and ensuring that we continue to support the work Allison started. Please consider making a donation in her name to the Education Anew Fund, housed within CJSF and New Venture Fund here.

Rest in power and light beloved warrior.

AFF Statement on Racial Justice

The Andrus Family Fund (AFF) stands in solidarity with our grantee partners and the movement for Black lives—a movement recently pushed forward by the gruesome murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. We recognize the countless other Black and Brown lives taken by systemic racism and discrimination leading up to—and since—this current moment. We also work to shine a spotlight on the especially targeted members of the Black, Brown, Native, Women/Girls and Trans communities who experience extreme violence and erasure—people like Breonna Taylor, whose experiences are readily forgotten, not centered, and to whom justice is not delivered.  We are committed to dismantling white supremacy in order to promote and uphold racial equity. We will not forget. 

As a social justice philanthropy, with a focus on racial justice and the liberation of youth, we recognize elements of power and privilege at play, notably in relationships with trusted grantee partners. It is these partners who have been leading on-the-ground organizing, advocacy and service work. Partners such as Youth First, aiming to close youth prisons which disproportionately impact Black youth, The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), mobilizing individuals and Black organizations to create a shared vision and agenda that defends Black lives, and Dream Defenders, an organization founded after the killing of Trayvon Martin to promote the organizing of Black and Brown youth and restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people. We support you and stand in solidarity with our resources and connections to help you continue to build power for directly impacted youth in this current moment and for the long haul.  

Now is the time to collectively re-imagine a just society—a society where the work of AFF and its partners would not be necessary. Our mere existence as a foundation is evidence enough that justice is not a lived experience for many of the communities we aim to support. In order for this vision of justice—a vision that so many of our movement partners hold—to become reality, this moment is requiring more from all of us.  

Given the need for immediate action and response, AFF has shifted various grantmaking practices toward trust-based philanthropy models in order to move increased dollars more quickly to the field. We are also organizing with other funders and internally to educate family members about the systems, policies and biases upholding racial injustice that are pervasive in today’s society.  

In this critical moment, we invite other foundation boards to respond to the moral imperative presented by this moment. This is not a time to center white fragility and turn away from the sorrow, maintain status quo practices and funding levels, or ignore the urgent demands and needs of grantee partners. Instead, this is a time to commit to funding Black-led organizations, engage in deep education to undo racism at the levels of boards and senior leadership across foundations, diversify foundation boards, lean into trust-based philanthropic practices by removing barriers to funding, and organize other foundations to robustly fund groups at a level and scale “like we want them to win” (in the words of Ash-lee Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Center). This is a time to explore what accountability to social justice movements can look like. Foundation boards unilaterally have the power to vote and implement these powerful changes immediately. Bold, courageous action, like the actions being taken by frontline Black and Brown communities. 

We recognize the need to do more—that this moment requires more from us—and ask ourselves “if not now, then when?” This is our moment. We must act now. 

The AFF board resoundingly supports following the lead of our grantee partners and our nation’s young people committed to racial and social justice, and urges us all to stand behind them.  

In Solidarity,

The AFF Board & Staff

Black Lives Matter, today and every day

The following is a statement co-signed by our Director, Manuela Arciniegas, who serves as the co-chair of Funders for Justice.

We say their names: Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY, George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA, Tony McDade in Tallahassee, FL.

We Stand in Solidarity: Funders for Justice stands in solidarity with protestors in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and in cities across the country, fighting for the lives and freedom for all Black people. We know that communities are powerful, and will dream and fight for the transformative justice in which together we create the new world we all need. As funders, our mandate is to fund communities rising up against state violence, and to continue to fund as communities build the power and momentum for long-term change.  

We Must Continue to Challenge White Supremacy: While police killed unarmed Black people over and over again, we witnessed no police response to armed white nationalists posted in front of state capital buildings and yelling in the faces of security guards, demanding an end to shelter in place because they wanted to get a haircut and go out in public without a mask.   

Stand with Black Women Essential Workers: Breonna Taylor was a young Black woman who was an EMT – an essential worker already risking her life during a pandemic. Yet we repeatedly witness evidence that the state does not protect or respect the people, especially Black women, risking their lives to save others. Essential workers are already facing dangerous conditions, with extremely limited protection equipment, low pay, often dangerous commutes to work, and then in turn endangering their families. That Breonna was one of the latest casualties of state violence is profoundly painful.   

How to Support Protestors: We encourage you to fund communities directly, including at times when groups are not able to fill out even a short proposal or form because they are leading protests in the streets. We encourage you to give now however your foundation is able – including getting creative in mobilizing resources – perhaps to use your foundation’s expense account to send money for needed supplies like water and food. And, we encourage everyone reading this to make a personal donation, because as FFJ members we all come to the work we do as the full people that we are: part of communities fighting in resistance, part of communities fighting for survival, part of communities taking action in solidarity.

Invest/ Divest Now: While millions of local dollars are cut from city budgets – in youth programs, health services, and education, among others – due to shortfalls, the police unions/associations continue to push for more money and more police. Yet police are not saving people in this pandemic – they are policing, fining, and sending people to jail – mostly Black people. The federal administration has refused to send more supplies and funding to medical workers and other frontline workers, while increasing funding to police-related spending and private security guards.  

We All Have A Mandate: Philanthropy’s mandate to support communities in living healthy and free lives means funding both the public infrastructure that keeps communities safe – like health care, housing, and education –  and funding the people, organizations, and the movements rising up against police violence and building power to defund the police, prisons, ICE, and detention centers. Philanthropy must support divest/invest campaigns and other abolitionist strategies, because nothing the police do is meant to ever keep communities of color safe. Now is the time to divest from the police, when cities are cutting budgets and need the funding for community wellness more than any other time. (Check out FFJ’s divest/invest resource for funders and consider how you want to support community safety and justice.) 

Where to donate to support protestors and Black folks organizing for Black Lives in Minneapolis:

This post originally appeared on the Neighborhood Funders Group site here. Funders For Justice is a program of NFG.