“Reducing American poverty and ending white supremacy are not the same.” Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent article in The Atlantic not only draws attention to the national debate on reparations for slavery, but invokes the centrality of white supremacy as the backbone of wealth inequality in the US.

As Caribbean nations prepare to sue European nations for their history of slavery and genocide, we in RG are called to examine the concept of reparations in our work.

I am relatively new to the RG community, and I currently work as a summer intern. Although I am still learning about the many spokes in this community, I strongly believe that the concept of reparations should play a strong and central role in our work.

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

By Alok Vaid-Menon of @DarkMatterRage

This past month I had the privilege to help fundraise for some movement organizations that I love (including Audre Lorde Project, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Streetwise and Safe, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and FIERCE!) as part of GIVE OUT DAY an annual day of supporting LGBTQ organizations. All of these organizations center issues facing low income queer and trans people of color. In a funding climate that offers gay marriage as the panacea for queer people and legal equality as the solution for people of color, you can imagine that it’s very difficult for organizations like these to sustain their work. Grassroots support from folks like you and me go a long way in allowing these organizations not only to continue their crucial work, but also to have the freedom to self-determine political agendas.

I wasn’t always this excited about fundraising. I only recently developed my passion for this craft. You see I was one of those ‘radical’ thinkers that thought that any conversation about money was about capitalist culture (and therefore automatically problematic). As I began to organize more I recognized that what I thought were my radical anti-capitalist politics was really my class privilege. I grew up in a family with two PhD parents where we were taught to pursue knowledge at all costs. Accordingly, I’ve always had the financial security to discuss political theory in the abstract, without facing the material consequences of these ideas. In these spaces ‘radical’ is less about your actual impact (ability to redistribute capital and resources) and more about the quality and ambition of your argument. What such ‘radical’ theory often refuses to question is how many of us have the privilege to not think about money and organizing because we have institutional affiliation at private universities that give us money to travel and do our work. I didn’t have to worry about the costs to and from political meetings, because I had enough money to sustain my life (housing, food, etc.) outside of my ‘political work.’

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

July 2nd, 2014- today marks fifty years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted. In honor of this history, I’d like to tip my hat towards those foundations who funded the civil rights movement that helped make this legislation possible, as part of RG’s Rich Role Models series and RG’s larger vision of fostering social change philanthropy.

While the vast majority of the country’s 12,000 foundations failed to work towards racial justice (the movement relied mostly on individual giving), the following 4 foundations were the strongest foundational supporters of the movement. Some funders  severed ties with family and community in order to push for a more just world. Others successfully fostered community around their values.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 2.50.46 PM.png

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

On May 17, members of Philadelphia’s RG Chapter turned out to the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education rally to demand more funding for public schools, charter school accountability, shutting down the school to prison pipeline and returning schools to local control. Heather, a member of of this chapter who was at the rally, says that the chapter is starting to work on the fight for fair funding for public schools.

“We were slightly worried before we showed up–is this the right place for us, our message,” Heather says. “The other folks there were mostly union members, and a handful of student and parent groups. But we went for it, and we were surprised by how well we were received. One of the first people who saw us came up and took our picture, and heartfeltly said, ‘That’s the best sentiment I’ve seen in years.’”

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS
Jun
19
2014

Reposted from The Huffington Post

The American middle class is shrinking. The financial divide between the ultra-moneyed and the rest of society is widening. As that gap grows, it becomes harder and harder for people on each side of that divide to break through to connect with people on the other side. It becomes easier to demonize people from “the other side” than to actually connect with them.

I envision a society where everyone has value as a human. A society where the amount of money a person has has no bearing on how much respect they get or don’t get.

To begin creating that society, I start by exploring my own mentality that prevents that society from existing. Let’s call it the “1% mentality.” That name refers to the kind of thinking that allows the financially wealthiest 1% of American society to maintain overwhelming power. But anyone with any amount of money can exhibit this mentality.

When I’m under the influence of the 1% mentality, I find myself believing that the amount of money a person has accurately represents their value as a person. When I pass a banker and a homeless woman on the street, I tend to pay more attention and be more deferential to the banker. And I find that I automatically give more respect to money-earning work than I do to unpaid or barely paid work (such as parenting, community organizing, or volunteering).

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

By Tracey Webb, Founder, The Black Benefactors and BlackGivesBack.com

The Black Benefactors 5th anniversary party in 2012

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”African proverb

When I first learned about giving circles in 2002, I had no idea that at the time it was a growing philanthropic movement across the country.  My introduction came while I was a director of a nonprofit and a local women’s giving circle visited my program.  I became intrigued about how they worked and had many questions for them.  A couple of years later I transitioned to a career in grant making and soon after, I noticed that many of the black-led organizations in my portfolio experienced significant challenges – the same challenges I faced while running an organization that ultimately closed. As a grant maker I did as much as I could to help these organizations, but also knew that more needed to be done on a larger scale.  I began to research giving circles in my area to find any that supported black-led and founded nonprofits.   To my surprise, there was no mixed gender giving circle or fund in the DC region that benefited the African-American community.  This is what led me to launch The Black Benefactors (BB) seven years ago.

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

Reposted from Ari Sahagun’s blog.

I just got back from an amazing discussion: Organization 2.0: Empowering our Understanding of Nimble Formations that Build Power hosted by the Bay Area Justice Funders Network. It was a rich and generative space to think about organizations, movements and networks.

I heard about it  as a local chapter leader of Resource Generation, and I attended this event to learn more about the shift from organization-centered thinking to movement and network paradigms.  It’s a new way of looking at the nonprofit sector and, more broadly, social justice movements.  What follows is a synthesis of what I heard and some of my thoughts from being in the room with a bunch of people thinking about a formative topic – a major transition in the field of social justice.

To give you a snapshot of how I understood who was in the room, check out this networkmap (so meta!).  Panelists and conveners are red nodes.

network

This is limited based on my brief glimpse, and if you’d like me to add you, let me know.

From the perspective of shifting from organization-centered thinking to network- and movement-level thinking, here are 5 key points that speak to the complexity of networks.

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS
Jun
10
2014

By Jay Saper, Margot Seigle & Andrew Meeker

At closing plenary

We are involved in a new Resource Generation member-led project called ReGenerative Finance, which formed last fall out of the Making Money Make Change conference. We are a commitment to fundamentally changing the very shape of the economy by intervening at the scale of finance: by shifting money from the extractive, speculative, “banks and tanks” economy into the interdependent, loving, sustainable, “new economy”, facilitating a Just Transition beyond capitalism.

As we are in the process of creating a model “movement portfolio” that proves that investing in a just transition to the next economy is in fact possible and in our collective self interest, we feel that it is of critical importance to learn from the most impacted communities who are already building alternative futures.

As young people with wealth, we have materially benefited considerably from money being extracted from communities of color. To us it is essential we work to disrupt that. We traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference to begin the process of figuring out what a powerful sense of solidarity might mean in the context of investment.

The capital of the poorest state in the country, Jackson is a city that has been economically distressed for years, with wealth continuously extracted from its 80% Black population. Refusing to tolerate despair, the people of Jackson are actively working to build a resilient economy that is controlled by the community and that helps to meet their various unmet basic needs.

Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

Based out of Cambridge, MA, Abe Lateiner is an class-activist focused on transformational philanthropy. Through choosing his parents wisely, Abe was born into a life of privilege and opportunity. Now, he fights for a society in which people with and without money are valued equally as change agents. Through his blog, “Risk Something,” Abe seeks to inspire other financially-wealthy people to open themselves to internal change at the same scale as the change they wish to see in the outside world.  This article was also reposted on Huffington Post.

In her talk with Thomas Piketty, Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a forceful argument for a progressive American tax system as a way to reduce inequality. As a young person with inherited financial wealth myself, I agree with Senator Warren’s proposal. 

But the quest for greater economic equality in America must be two-pronged. Politicians and policy-makers must lead the legal charge to make our rules fairer. Meanwhile, the rest of us are charged with changing hearts and minds–our own and those around us. 

If our legislature could somehow succeed in installing a progressive tax system (that’s quite an if!), would this be a short- or long-term victory? If we soak the “1%” but do nothing to win them over to the cause of making our country more equitable, can that victory really last? I don’t think so…and I wonder what a further-alienated 1% would do with the massive power they would still wield in an America with progressive taxes.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS

Here are 3 facts that came across my inbox in the past 3 days:

1) A new report shows a revised estimate for the current generational wealth transfer between 2007-2061 is $59 trillion dollars!

What used to be popularly quoted at a $41 trillion collective inheritance, essentially, has now been increased to $59 trillion. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the transfer will be made within the richest 10% of US households.

Many things to unpack with this – one noteworthy topic is how racialized this is…

  • the Millennial generation is more than 50% people of color (by 2040, the majority of the US population overall will be people of color)
  • Wealth is incredibly disproportionately concentrated in the hands of white folks: the “top 1%” of US households are 96.1% white, 3.9% people of color.

… meaning, the vast majority of this transfer will stay incredibly disproportionately in the hands of (a very few) white people. Teaser to point #2 below, the richest 400 Americans hold more wealth than all 41 million Black people in the US combined. Continue reading

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • RSS