Ford Foundation commits $15 million to Black Feminist Fund


Elika Roohi


The Ford Foundation has announced a commitment of $15 million to launch a new philanthropic fund focused on efforts to address key issues impacting Black women.

Developed and led by a core group of Black feminists at the who work in feminist organising, advocacy, and philanthropy, the Black Feminist Fund will work to increase the resources available to grassroots feminist organisations that serve Black women and girls and transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals in Africa, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The co-founders of the fund are Hakima Abbas, Tynesha McHarris, and Amina Doherty.

‘Globally, Black women are often the most effective leaders and innovators. It’s encouraging to see a fund shaped by a team with demonstrated commitment to investing in long-term transformation as defined by the Black women who have been driving change with a fraction of the money of so many of their NGO counterparts,’ said Lori Villarosa, Founder and Executive Director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

The Black Feminist Fund will provide flexible, long-term, low-barrier support – including start-up funding – to Black feminist organisations. It will also support efforts to build an informed base of Black women funders and donors committed to directing more and better funding to Black feminist causes and grow the field’s knowledge base by creating a resource hub for Black women activists, philanthropists, allied donors, and civil society.

‘From its initial staffing, leadership, framing and launch, this fund is demonstrating the kind of authentic grounding that can sometime be missing in global philanthropic intermediaries,’ Villarosa said.

The $15 million seed investment that Ford is contributing comes from the capital raised through social bonds it issued in summer 2020. According to Penta, a magazine that reports on high-net worth families and is run by Barron’s, of the funds deployed from the bond sale so far 87 per cent – or about $315 million – have been for organisations led by women and/or working on issues affecting women.

‘All around the world we’re seeing that women – specifically women of colour – are bearing the brunt of the pandemic and its domino effect of consequences. We also recognise that the very same women who are the most impacted are the ones leading transformative movements that create positive change in our communities,’ said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker.

As data from the last year has revealed, Black and brown women have been among those most deeply affected by the pandemic, exacerbating already-existent disparities and potentially setting economic progress back for women in general.

‘Black feminists are changing the world and we deserve resourcing that matches the boldness of our visions. The fund will help make that a reality, and we’re grateful to Ford for supporting this work,’ said Abbas.

Another function of the new Fund will be a networking vehicle to connect Black women donors and their allies to organisations rooted in Black feminist principles and centered on Black women and their intersecting communities. It is looking to raise $100 million in total in its first year.

For more on the Fund, visit their website.

Elika Roohi is Digital Editor at Alliance.

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