Ford Foundation Announces $180 Million in New Funding for U.S. Racial Justice Efforts

Friday, October 9, 2020

Ford Foundation Announces $180 Million in New Funding for U.S. Racial Justice Efforts

NATIONWIDE (October 10, 2020) — The Ford Foundation today announced it has doubled its funding support for U.S.-based racial justice and civil rights groups with at least $180 million in new funding from the proceeds of the unprecedented sale of $1 billion in social bonds. The new funding significantly boosts Ford’s ongoing commitment to advancing racial equity at a critical time when America is in an historic and long-needed reckoning over racism and injustice.

In order to bolster a decades-long commitment to racial justice efforts across the country, the Ford Foundation will direct new funds to groups creating structural and systemic change through strategic litigation, policy advocacy and grassroots organizing. Currently, only 5 percent of racial equity funding in the U.S. is specifically focused on movement-building and grassroots organizing, indicating an urgent need to increase funding for activists and groups that are advancing sweeping change.

“Our most urgent priority for this infusion of funds is to meet activists and litigators where they are, and ensure groups on the ground at this historic moment of racial reckoning have the resilience and resources they need to help build a truly equitable future for all,” said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. “We hope this additional funding will not only sustain advocacy groups through the challenging days and months ahead, but also create space for transformative ideas and approaches to advance racial justice. We encourage other funders and donors to support this powerful, dynamic constellation of racial justice leaders and groups leading the charge of building a more just nation.”

The new funding now brings the Ford Foundation’s commitment to racial justice advocacy to an unprecedented $330 million over 2020 and 2021. According to Candid, which tracks and analyzes global philanthropy, the Ford Foundation is already the largest longstanding funder of racial equity efforts, having contributed more than $665 million since 2011, not including today’s announcement.

“We’re proud to support the organizations, movements, and visionary individuals that are building power in their communities to dismantle the structural systems that harm Black and Brown people,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Ford Foundation vice president of U.S. programs. “Today’s evolving and growing racial justice movement is more intergenerational and intersectional than ever before -- reflecting the confluence of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and economic status on people's lives. We are inspired by the diverse organizations working to reimagine what’s possible and realize justice for all.”

New grants include support to organizations like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among others.

The Ford Foundation’s commitment to racial justice cuts across all program areas, and the funding announced today is in addition to grants allocated to arts, cultural and nonprofit organizations that advocate for racial equity and investments in communities of color. The Foundation has used the proceeds from its social bond sales to invest $85 million in America’s Cultural Treasures to support Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous arts organizations and $10 million to advance equity work in Puerto Rico. More grant announcements are forthcoming.

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