From tragedies to transformation: Using a racial justice lens in global grantmaking

Lori Villarosa

Systemic inequities, a global pandemic, and violence from both state and private actors have created the perfect storm. Black, Asian, Indigenous, migrant, Roma and racialised communities around the world have responded to the present moment with determination, hope and in concert, fighting not just to survive the public health and economic crises, but rising en masse in solidarity protests following the leadership of young Black activists in the U.S.

The challenges of addressing structural racialisation[1] vary by the cultural, historical, legal and philanthropic dynamics of each region. Yet, right now, slow-moving efforts to shift philanthropy toward racial justice can advance significantly. Burgeoning efforts can also flourish with greater support.

Although our racial justice movements have faced obstacles and backlash, escalating since 2016, they have also generated consciousness, action and institutional change in a few weeks that would have been unthinkable a year ago. U.S. funders working with a racial justice lens have helped to support a sustained and effective racial justice movement that has been developing for decades but which has grown exponentially larger and more sophisticated in the seven years since Black Lives Matter was founded. According to data from Candid, within the month since protests began, as well as responding to needs elevated by the pandemic, pledges of racial equity grantmaking from major foundations in the U.S. exceeded $3.7 billion, which in one month is roughly 20 times the total in all of 2019.

...there cannot be a one-size-fits-all path to move funders to increase racial justice support.

 
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