Our collective future depends on the safety and liberation of Black people

Black Women’s Lives Matter. Black Girls’ Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter. 

The Collective Future Fund stands in solidarity with movements calling for a future of justice and liberation, where all Black lives are valued. Alongside all those who have taken to the streets, we declare our ever-deepening commitment to challenging white supremacy and anti-blackness in all its forms. 

Our grantee partners, which are Black-, Indigenous-, LGBTQ- and women-of-color-led organizations, have been mobilizing people to raise their voices and put their bodies on the line in the streets, in addition to providing direct relief and organizing support to frontline workers and survivors of all forms of violence during the pandemic. 

As we mourn and mobilize for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, we also say the names of Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Brianna ‘BB’ Hill, and Tony McDade, among so many others who have lost their lives to racist violence. We cannot ignore the fundamental underlying connections between the state violence that has been perpetrated against Black people for centuries, the pervasive harassment and violence that Black women and girls experience in their homes, workplaces and schools, and the tragically high rates of Black maternal mortality. We cannot ignore the connections between the extreme violence against Black trans women and the sweeping criminalization and incarceration of Black communities. 

And this targeting, undervaluing, and underprotection of Black lives is evidenced within so many systems in our society. When COVID-19 hit, it began taking the lives of Black people at three times the rate of white people, and brought an economic recession that has left 30 million people unemployed with Black workers impacted the most. The police’s militarized response to protests, coupled with vigilantism, has traumatized communities further. This leaves communities confronting multiple crises of safety and survival at once. 

As we witness this unfold in the United States, we also see expressions of solidarity around the world, pointing to the fact that anti-black racism is a problem globally, and solidarity efforts are required with other oppressed groups to address it. In the US and globally, women, queer, and trans people of color are holding down the resistance at the same time that they are reimagining systems and showing us what a world free from violence could look like. Collective Future Fund’s grantees are leading the way with fierce, strategic, and compassionate efforts to end gender-based violence.

The Collective Future Fund is committed to continuing the work of healing, resourcing, and mobilizing together. We must ensure that Black and Indigenous women, survivors, and their communities have support to process the violence and racism inflicted on them, while facilitating processes of truth and reconciliation. 

We are whole-heartedly committed to longer term work around the actions this week as driven by the Movement for Black Lives: we stand in solidarity with protestors around the world, and we are committed to strategies for divesting from police and prisons and investing in communities. We are dedicated to advancing immediate relief for Black communities, building community control, and ending the war on Black people once and for all. 

We will deepen our efforts within the philanthropic sector to challenge white supremacy, grow resources for movements to end gender-based violence, and shift cultures and systems in support of girls and women of color.

Together, we must build a future that protects and honors Black and Indigenous lives, because our collective liberation depends on it. 

We’re committed to a collective future shaped by women and girls

As the pandemic continues to unfold, fissures in the systems that are at the core of how this country operates have been magnified. These systems are failing women of color and their communities. 

Women of color and survivors of violence are facing amplified risks as a direct result of the pandemic. We know that there is a surge in domestic violence and child abuse, racialized violence, and state violence against migrants and people in prison and detention. Women make up two-thirds of the roughly 24 million workers in the 40 lowest-paying jobs in America, many of which are deemed essential in this crisis. We know that over 30 million people continue to access unemployment, and with states reopening across the U.S. there is still the threat of another wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. And we know that this crisis is making billionaires out of millionaires through the stimulus package and other supports that prop up large multinational corporations while small businesses and community groups continue to struggle.  

We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to support women of color survivors through this crisis and into the future, as well as to mobilize new philanthropic resources to this end. While survivors, women of color, gender non conforming and trans people of color will suffer at a disproportionate rate from the lasting effects of the public health and economic crises, they will also be the ones to build power and lead with creativity, brilliance, and interdependence. 

For far too long, philanthropy has under-resourced women-of-color-led organizations, especially Black- and trans-led organizations, with only 0.6% going to efforts led by women of color. As Vanessa Daniels, Executive Director of Groundswell Fund, wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “Our misdirected philanthropy is costing us beyond measure. A mountain of evidence shows progressive victories are surging up from groups led by women of color, particularly black women, that build power on the ground — not trickling down from large Beltway organizations headed by white men.”

Yet there are some encouraging signs. During this period of COVID-19, we have seen philanthropy respond in exemplary ways: initiating rapid response funding, simplifying grantmaking processes, eliminating reporting requirements, and offering more multi-year support. We are excited to see these efforts, and hope that funding institutions will continue these practices to create a “new normal” within philanthropy. It’s a critical time for funders to step up — both in how we fund and how much we fund — if we want to ensure that lasting change can emerge from this crisis. 

That’s why the Collective Future Fund continues to uphold our existing funding commitments and partnerships, and why we’re ever more committed to being nimble in our grantmaking. We will continue funding as a response to the ongoing crises, while also moving towards multi-year grants to help stabilize organizations that are led by survivors of violence and women of color. 

As we navigate these perilous times, we hope the philanthropic community can come together to reimagine what is possible. We hope we can join together as philanthropy, survivors, and social movements to heal, resource, and mobilize toward creative, transformative solutions that prioritize and value the women of color and survivors who are leading the way to a collective future. 

Female doctor working in hospital, holding intravenous drip, accuracy, protection, care

Announcing Survivor Safety and Support Fund

COVID-19 is exposing long-standing disparities and inequities created by unjust policies and systems that have left communities vulnerable, in spite of powerful mobilizations by grassroots movements. Millions of people who work in essential care and service industries including homecare workers and house cleaners, restaurant, grocery, and delivery workers, and health and child care providers, are facing risks to their own health, emotional stress, and the economic insecurity that comes with the evolving landscape of managing the coronavirus outbreak. 

Queer, trans, and cis women of color, Indigenous, and immigrant women and girls in particular make up a significant proportion of the essential workers in our communities showing up day after day to mitigate the transmission and impact of the virus. Even prior to this crisis, they faced widespread discrimination, harassment, and violence in the workplace and have been further marginalized by lack of health benefits or paid sick days, low wages, and job insecurity. 

In the United States, which has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, we anticipate that precarity will only deepen, and a lack of safety at home, in the workplace, and in institutional settings will expand. From the intimate space of the home where people are isolated from broader networks of support, to workplaces, to prisons and detention centers, survivors of gender-based violence are facing even more complex challenges. 

Evidence from other crises, including Hurricane Katrina and outbreaks such as Ebola, suggests that violence against women and girls increases during these emergencies. Moreover, women are the first to respond to the emergency and the last to be resourced, despite the undeniably central role they play in fortifying communities in a crisis.

Yet even as these women and girls are experiencing great vulnerability, they continue to be the powerful healers, protectors, visionaries, strategists, and leaders that are rising to meet this moment.  

As a funding collaborative, the Collective Future Fund has the ability to fuel coordination and collective action by supporting healing and mobilization efforts to ensure the safety of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. A value core to our work is the conviction that resourcing women of color survivors and movement advocates can transform the future for everyone. That’s why we’re launching a $2 Million Survivor Safety and Support Fund to support survivors of gender-based violence. 

This rapid response fund, which will be implemented in phases over the course of 2020, will give increased funding support to our existing grantees, contribute to several other pooled rapid response funds that are resourcing immediate organizing and financial support for survivors and low-wage women of color and immigrant workers, and provide additional support to other critical efforts to advance safety and support the queer, trans, and cis women of color, Indigenous, and immigrant women survivors who are on the front lines of this crisis.     

Here’s what else we’re doing in this moment:

  • Entering into ongoing dialogue with colleagues in philanthropy about how to be responsive, responsible, and strategic in this unprecedented moment for our communities.
  • Engaging in a phased process over the course of 2020 to adapt its support to the field in consideration of a changing landscape and a new period of economic downturn.
  • Maintaining our funding to existing grantees even as they adjust their 2020 plans, activities, and timelines.
  • Moving forward later this year to provide multi-year general operating grants to additional women of color and survivor-centered organizations later this year.

While we are in the midst of this crisis, the Collective Future Fund understands that how we recover from COVID-19 will be dependent on how we respond at this moment. We know that every person is being affected by this situation at a personal level in different ways that might destabilize their health, mental and emotional wellbeing, physical safety, economic security, housing, or other aspects of their lives. We affirm that human lives and the well-being of our communities are of the greatest importance at this time, and we will only be able to meet the challenges ahead by caring for each other, calling upon our ancestral wisdom about survival and healing, and offering mutual aid and support to one another. 

Now more than ever, it is clear that our collective future is interdependent, and it is our choice how we turn the many challenges we are facing into an opportunity to transform our future together.

*Please note: The Survivor Safety and Support Fund will be implemented in phases over the course of 2020, and is not currently accepting applications for funding. We are currently prioritizing commitments to our existing grantees: women-of-color-led organizations that are working to meet the immediate needs of survivors and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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