Finding the right path: One funder network’s journey toward racial justice

Denise Shannon and Cynthia Steele

Almost three years ago, Funders for Reproductive Equity (FRE), a network of dozens of large, medium and small foundations, began a journey to place racial justice at the centre of our principles, programmes and practices. Despite work on race for nearly 20 years led by a Women of Color Working Group (WOCWG) involving numerous funders, events in 2014 – inside the network, in the ‘repro’ movement and in society at large, especially in the US – prompted uncomfortable conversations and serious soul-searching about what more FRE needed to do to make explicit cross-cutting commitments to racial justice, and help funders engage constructively on this vital issue.

Race is by no means a new topic for us. Women of colour have long faced the greatest barriers to reproductive equity and justice including coercive fertility control practices, denials of reproductive health care and targeted policing and punishment.

For the past 20 years our working group has been committed to strengthening the role and leadership of women of colour in reproductive health, rights and justice. It now includes nearly every US domestic funder in our membership.

Among the group’s successful efforts are:

 
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