Third Wave Fund, New York Women's Foundation and Ms. Foundation Pen Open Letter to Foundations and Donors Calling for Increased Funding to People of Color 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Third Wave Fund, New York Women's Foundation and Ms. Foundation Pen Open Letter to Foundations and Donors Calling for Increased Funding to People of Color 

Prominent institutional and individual funders are challenging their philanthropic colleagues to increase funding to organizations led by people of color — especially those working at the local and state levels.

“Solidarity is the most powerful tool in the fight against hate,” said Denise Shannon, executive director of the Funders Network on Population Reproductive Health & Rights. “We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most vulnerable communities — all of us together fighting against injustice and for equality.”

The call was issued in an open letter to philanthropy signed by a diverse group of foundations and individual donors, including the Third Wave Fund, Groundswell Fund, New York Women’s Foundation, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples and Ms. Foundation for Women. Signatories also include two of the largest women-focused funder networks in the nation, the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights, an association of 43 foundations that collectively issue $1 billion in grants annually; and the Women Donors Network Reproductive Health Circle, a group of high-level individual donors.


The letter notes that reproductive freedom in the United States is under heightened attack and that women of color likely will be most impacted — especially in the current political climate of “intensifying xenophobia and white supremacy.”

“It’s going to take all of us, working together in a multiracial movement, to win justice and equality,” said Karen Grove of the Grove Foundation and Women Donors Network. “The letter is an invitation to join that movement and a reminder that, as philanthropic leaders, we have a special obligation to ensure that our funding practices align with our shared goal of supporting leaders of color — especially women of color.”

The signers of the letter outline the steps their colleagues in philanthropy can take to make improvements, including working to:

  • Increase funding and support for grassroots, people of color-led organizations;
  • Improve transparency about the amount of funding awarded to efforts led by people of color — especially women and transgender people of color;
  • Initiate conversations with white-led grantees about representation of people of color in their leadership and governance structures; and
  • Recognize the interconnectedness of reproductive health and rights with other social justice issues.


“For donors and funders interested in protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people living in the U.S., there is in this moment a profound moral imperative to increase giving to local and state-level efforts led by people of color. Not only because communities color are under the greatest attack in the current environment, but because they are leading the boldest strategies to dismantle the core structure of white supremacy and xenophobia on which nearly every policy and appointment that undermines progressive values is being hung. If philanthropy fails to do this, it will render itself irrelevant to one of the most important fights for freedom in American history,” said Vanessa Daniel of the Groundswell Fund.

To read the letter or to join this effort, visit


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