Ford Foundation Provides Initial Funding for Black Feminist Fund

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Ford Foundation Provides Initial Funding for Black Feminist Fund

The Ford Foundation announced on Thursday that it’s providing US$15 million to help launch a philanthropic organization led by Black feminists whose mission is to boost funding for global movements that support that Black women.

The Black Feminist Fund started as a kitchen-table conversation in 2013 that co-founder Tynesha McHarris describes as part “love fest” and part “venting session,” but ultimately led to brainstorming an idea to move significant resources “unapologetically” to Black feminists. 

“We were talking about something that was so meaningful to us—why is it difficult to get resources for this kind of movement work, especially when it’s led by Black feminists and Black women,” says McHarris, who is the principal of Black Harvest, a Black feminist consulting firm. 

The fund will fill a gap by providing a vehicle focused specifically on Black women, and dedicated to systems change around “ending racism and sexism and the shared ways in which those oppressions work against each other,” McHarris says. There is also no comparable group looking at connecting this kind of work across the African diaspora, from the continent of Africa, to the Caribbean, U.S., Europe, and Latin America, she says.

With the Ford Foundation funding as a start, the group intends to raise US$100 million in its first year to support grantmaking to groups across the world that are supporting Black women, girls, and trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. They will also function as a movement builder and system-change organization, by serving as a resource hub for other Black feminist groups.

To reach the significant goal of US$100 million, the fund will invite other institutional and private foundations to provide support with a frank request to be funded boldly, “like you want us to succeed,” McHarris says.

They also intend to approach Black women who are already leaders within philanthropy, and will aim to create a base of Black women donors with wealth. They also will reach out to those who don’t have wealth but want to provide support. The goal is to send a message that “we can raise resources for ourselves and explicitly when it is for us,” McHarris says.

For Ford, support of the Black Feminist Fund comes from proceeds raised through a US$1 billion social bond sold in June. The funding is among several efforts the foundation has provided in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a disproportionate effect on women and people of color. Of the funds deployed from the bond sale so far, 87%, or about US$315 million, have been for organizations led by women and/or working on issues affecting women, according to the foundation... 

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