DFF Announces Recommitment to Racial Justice Groups and $35.5 Million More in Funding

San Francisco, CA - Three years after its founding in 2020, the Democracy Frontlines Fund (DFF) announced that the initiative’s urgently needed support for racial justice organizing will be extended by three more years. $35.5 million in additional funding has been committed by a group of 14 funders. The $35.5 fund will be disbursed to 11 organizations focused on power-building at the grassroots. DFF continues to be guided by its Brain Trust, which is seven experts in grantmaking who are women of color and trusted allies of the movement. Read the Inside Philanthropy coverage.

“In the face of anti-Black backlash, and a curtailing of racial justice funding by philanthropy in general, DFF is determined to be a beacon of hope,” said Crystal Hayling, Founder of DFF and Libra Foundation Executive Director. “George Floyd was murdered because he was a Black man. We cannot fight racism without addressing race.”

The mission of DFF to fund organizing remains consistent, and DFF’s core support to each grantee will be $1.1 million a year. Returning slate members are: Black Futures Lab, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, Black Youth Project 100, Communities Transforming Policing Fund, Movement for Black Lives, National Black Food & Justice Alliance, Southern Power Fund, and State Voices. DFF also welcomes a new grantee to the core funding slate: Taproot Earth, an organization focused on advancing climate justice and democracy from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast.  Vision Change Win will be awarded $1.5M over three years for strategy and security support, essential in this environment of rising hate crimes.

“DFF’s commitment to empowering Black voters and advancing social justice is truly commendable,” noted Cliff Albright. His co-founder LaTosha Brown, added, “We are honored to be a DFF grantee and are inspired by the impact we have collectively made. Together, we will continue to fight for a more equitable and inclusive society for all."

While many foundations are retreating from racial justice funding, thirteen foundations have recommitted to funding Black organizing: Crankstart, Hewlett, JPB, Kataly, Libra, MacArthur, Schmidt, Sobrato, Someland, Stardust, Tao Rising, Tides, and an anonymous donor. One new foundation, Heising-Simons, is joining the community.

“We at the MacArthur Foundation have learned so much by being a part of the Democracy Frontlines Fund and are excited to renew our financial commitment,” said John Palfrey, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Our democracy is in crisis, and DFF provides a powerful way forward, grounded in racial equity, justice, shared learning, and trust."

“These funding amounts are a floor and not a ceiling,” Hayling said. “We don’t all agree on everything but DFF allows us to mobilize resources for critical democracy-strengthening work in our communities.” 

One of the innovative aspects of Democracy Frontlines Fund is the learning journey funders have taken over the past three years, engaging in deep discussion of the historical anti-Black roots of racism, police brutality and voter suppression. Speakers have included Heinz Award winner Colette Pichon Battle, TransLash founder Imara Jones, authors Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and civil rights leader Bryan Stevenson. Sessions have addressed wedge issues like intersectionality and Critical Race Theory. Learning journey convenings take place virtually and in-person. The in-person convenings have been multiday learning experiences in Montgomery and Minneapolis, with visits to the sites of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Legacy Museum, and George Floyd Global Memorial, respectively. 

“Their approach of organizing inside of philanthropy mirrors our approach of organizing in our communities – bringing us together inside of one movement that is building power for social and political change," said Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab. "DFF is a trailblazer in our movement – providing flexible funds for organizations that are building power at a time when our rights are being eroded,” 

“The support of the Democracy Frontlines Fund has been vital to our work, and DFF’s use of trust-based philanthropic practices has made the process truly collaborative instead of extractive,” said Jeree Thomas, Program Director for the Communities Transforming Policing Fund. “The political backlash following the 2020 racial justice uprisings makes DFF all the more critical to the strength, safety, and sustainability of movements for democracy, safety, and justice for all.” 

Launched after George Floyd’s murder in solidarity with the historic civil rights uprising, DFF was originally designed as a three-year initiative to quickly move resources and coalesce funders around supporting Black organizing. At that time, the expectation was that DFF would sunset this year. Beginning last year, DFF stakeholders initiated a discussion around continuing the grantmaking and DFF’s unique learning journey to understand and confront the roots of racism.

Democracy Frontlines Fund is an initiative of the Libra Foundation.

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