How Solidaire is Funding Black Liberation—and What Other Funders Can Learn From It
Martha Ramirez at Inside Philanthropy recently sat down with Solidaire staff members Leigh Gaymon-Jones, movement partnerships and grantmaking practitioner, and Janis Rosheuvel, director of movement partnerships and grantmaking, to discuss the rise in funding for Black-led nonprofits and how philanthropy must go further to ensure that the movement has what it needs—now and for the long haul. They discuss Solidaire’s commitment to increasing support of Black-led racial justice work and its unique approach funding a wide range of issues and groups:
“We are not necessarily aiming to support a singular movement, but hoping to uplift an ecosystem of folks who are working to uplift the lives and futures of Black people… and therefore…uplift the liberation of all people,” said Leigh Gaymon-Jones, movement partnerships and grantmaking practitioner at Solidaire.
They also discuss what Black liberation means for Solidaire—and the intention behind not dictating to its grantees what that looks like:
“So much of how we work at Solidaire is about our movement partners defining the term for themselves and in their specific context and around the specific issues they work,” explained Rosheuvel.
Gaymon-Jones added that Solidaire wrestled with this issue. Is Solidaire as a philanthropic organization and institution positioned to define Black liberation? “I don’t think we are.”
“Through our grantmaking, we partner with many organizations, businesses, groups, collectives, cooperatives that are really rooting their work in a Black liberation framework, so in many ways, that’s being defined by each of those individual groups, and I think it’s appropriately reflective of the diversity of Black life and the Black experience.”
Gaymon-Jones described the Black Liberation Pooled Fund’s grants as no-strings-attached funding, meaning Solidaire is forgoing common grant practices like extensive reporting, quarterly check-ins, documentation, specific expectations of donor engagement or an expectation of a set number of site visits.
Gaymon-Jones added, “I really hope that this fund sparks imagination and creativity and possibilities, and offers the breathing room by offering multi-year funding, by offering general-ops funding; I really hope that it offers the breathing room for some really powerful work to emerge out of these organizations that were already doing really powerful work.”
As Rosheuvel says, for Solidaire, the hope is philanthropy as a whole can learn what it means to fund through deep and long-term partnerships:
“We’re doing the work internally to unburden and release wealth…I’m in solidarity with folks who are doing that and always strongly encouraging for that to be the standard rather than the exception.”
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