Dear Movement Partners:
I have two pieces of exciting news to share with you. The first is about the Andrus Family Fund’s strategic refresh, and the second is about my next role in this movement.
Sharpening our Focus
In 2021, we embarked on a year-long journey to refresh AFF’s grantmaking strategies to meet the rising needs of the youth and communities we serve. From the outset, we were clear that the uprisings against police brutality and Black lives coupled with the compounding effects of pandemic and economic crisis disproportionately impacted the communities we support. We were also clear that our refreshed strategies must rely on our grantees’ and movement partners’ up-to-date analysis of the challenges and opportunities their communities face.
Alongside a Movement Partner Advisory Council composed of current grantees working across a range of issues, we took stock of our eight years of grantmaking—and the lessons we learned—to support systems change work that improves the lives of the youth we serve.
We analyzed the state of our communities, the political and socio-economic climate at local and national levels, and the challenges and opportunities for transformative systems change. And most importantly, we listened to the needs and aspirations of youth-serving organizations and the broader movement. We collectively charted a future vision for AFF’s work that sharpens our focus through these efforts.
I’m thrilled to announce that the AFF Board just approved a strategy refresh that will double down on youth organizing, abolition of prisons, policing and family separation systems, builds movement infrastructure and capacity, and seeds alternative models to local systems meant to serve youth and communities.
This refreshed strategy builds on the knowledge, experience, and lessons learned through our work together as funders, movement partners, and the broader field. It clarifies our funding strategy in the work we’ve already supported for years.
Leaning into our Values
As part of this strategy, we have refreshed our mission to reflect our sharpened focus and values of racial equity, inclusion and justice.
Mission: We envision a just society in which Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth are thriving in empowered and supportive communities, free from state violence and family separation.
Organizing to Build Power
Our primary partners towards advancing our mission will be organizations led by directly impacted youth who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Asian Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA, queer, disabled and undocumented–those youth often pushed to the margins. By investing in their power building and supporting them to advance the alternative systems and policy changes needed to bring about a more just society, we commit to moving money to BIPOC-led organizations that have historically gotten the short end of the stick from philanthropy.
While we see the critical need for direct services in the communities AFF prioritizes, we are focusing our effort to resource those leaders and initiatives who are actively pushing to transform those systems and build community power. Prioritizing the organizing strategy (which sometimes also incorporates the provision of direct care for youth as they organize) is prioritizing the power of young people to construct something new that better serves and works for them.
Nyoka, Zaira and I are in conversation with the handful of grantee partners whose funding is affected by our strategy refresh. We are committed to strengthening their sustainability with a final grant and to being as direct, transparent, respectful and thoughtful as possible.
My New Chapter
February 4th was my last day at Andrus Family Fund, and I will soon join the Ford Foundation as a Program Officer in a national program that focuses on civic engagement, government and movement building. While I’m thrilled about the opportunity to continue serving youth from this national perch, this is a bittersweet moment for me. It has been an absolute honor to partner with you by investing in the leadership and brilliance of our nation’s most marginalized young people.
I know the news of my transition coupled with our strategy refresh may be disconcerting to some of you, but please be assured that the work and partnership approach of the Andrus Family Fund will continue. Our strategic refresh will be at the core of the work going forward, and I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made in centering our commitment to building power for youth on the margins and to sharing power with communities. This perspective will be at the heart of the search for my replacement.
Nyoka Acevedo, our Program Officer, will serve as Interim Director, as we begin a national search for my successor. Please be on the lookout for the job posting on the AFF website in mid-February.
The future of AFF is bright. We have clarity in our mission and grantmaking focus and a terrific, dedicated team, board, movement advisory council and movement partners to make it happen. Individually and collectively, there is so much to be proud of.
Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for being the burning ember that made my purpose unequivocal during this recent foray into family philanthropy. Your dedication to racial justice and movement building has been nothing short of astounding, especially in these difficult times.
I look forward to the next decade of serving our nation’s youth and, as always, wish you ease, joy, victory and enduring racial and social justice.