OpEd: CEO Lori Bezahler on Edward W. Hazen Foundation’s Decision to Empty Its Coffers

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

OpEd: CEO Lori Bezahler on Edward W. Hazen Foundation’s Decision to Empty Its Coffers

The past two years have seen an increase in philanthropic support for a diverse range of nonprofits advancing a progressive agenda. Grant makers who have just started awarding money to these causes, as well as longstanding supporters of social-justice organizations, have rallied resources to protect fundamental rights that seemed suddenly in jeopardy after 2016 — giving well-established national organizations such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood a “Trump bump.” Newer efforts such as the Black Voter Project, which combats voter suppression based on race, have also gained donor attention and dollars.

We are in a movement moment, a time when major shifts in the public discourse can generate profound social change. We see public attention turning to long-simmering injustices and bringing about new partnerships and alliances like the relationship forged between the student survivors of the Parkland shooting and young people of color combating gun violence in Chicago and elsewhere.

Yet, as reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, support is flattening, a potential sign that interest is waning as the foundation world returns to business as usual at exactly the wrong time. Rather than retreating to our comfortable practices of the past, we need to put the power and the money into the hands of those leading the change.

Early Successes
In every state, facing resistance and often direct physical threats, young people of color are finding new and creative ways to bring people in their communities together to challenge the systems that keep them from thriving or even surviving. With so much in our politics conspiring to make us cynical, these efforts deserve the attention and support of foundations so they can maximize the opportunity of this movement moment...

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