We are committed to supporting organizations led by those most impacted by systemic oppression – largely low-income communities of color. The Libra Foundation’s guiding principle is that those who are closest to the issues understand those issues the best. They are not only the most equipped to build solutions, they are the most effective at implementing those solutions. We focus on frontline organizations led by people of color transforming the criminal justice system and advancing environmental and climate justice and gender justice.
Community Safety & JusticeView Grantees
By investing in organizations led by and for those directly impacted by the carceral punishment system, the Community Safety & Justice portfolio supports reimagining safety, community-defined restoration, and the end of mass incarceration and criminalization as we know it today. We believe strategies using a healing and transformational justice approach brings us closer to decarceration, the abolition of jails and policing, and closer to the liberation of those disproportionately oppressed by our current criminal injustice system, including Black, Brown, Indigenous, trans, and low income people.
Environmental & Climate JusticeView Grantees
Anchored in the principles of Just Transition, the Environmental & Climate Justice program centers and supports organizations led by and for people and communities who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, environmental harm, and systemic racism. We prioritize community-powered organizations and formations working together to organize locally, trans-locally, and beyond.
Gender JusticeView Grantees
Gender Justice work at Libra is centered on envisioning a world where women, girls, gender-expansive and non-conforming, queer, and trans people have self-determination, safety, and equity. Gender justice is inextricably linked to racial justice and supports strategies that address the root causes of gender injustice by unpacking how patriarchy, racism, white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and sexism affect the lives of all people.
Unlocking philanthropic resources for the collective power of movements.
It’s not just about what we do; it’s about how we do it. Libra is on a journey to holistically support the organizations we fund. That means moving money into the hands of BIPOC communities, crafting and implementing grantee-focused grantmaking processes/solutions, and building a culture of transformation in the philanthropic sector. Here’s how we’re doing it:
To support the financial sustainability of movements, Libra’s grantmaking provides multi-year, unrestricted general operating support, with no proposal or report required. There’s too much at stake for organizations to waste time with administrative burdens. Why multi-year and unrestricted? Multi-year grants give organizations more runway to plan and freedom to take chances, and unrestricted means we don’t dictate how funds should be allocated; our grantee partners do. We have grant cycles, so our grantee partners know they can rely on us. And we’re responsive: when the unexpected hits (which it often does), we’re ready for it. This is trust-based philanthropy in practice.
We fund organizations led by and for those disproportionately impacted by systemic oppression, largely organizations led by and for BIPOC communities. Although strides have been made in the last few years, philanthropy has mostly funded white-led, large nonprofits that often overlook the wisdom and expertise of the communities that they serve. We believe that the communities that are most impacted by the problems we seek to solve have the solutions, and therefore should drive the changes we need to create a world that works better for all of us.
Trust builds over time when funders shift from extractive behavior to generative collaboration. In service of sharing labor, we take on the work of staying up to date with our grantee partners through conversations, webinars, and public information, rather than asking them to spend countless hours writing applications and reports to update us. This allows us to be in touch with members of our community on their own terms, so we can learn about them and gain a deeper understanding of how their work is unfolding. Libra’s program officers hold office hours for grantee partners to check in when and if they want to. We’re here when grantee partners want us; otherwise, we get out of the way. We also consistently ask our grantee partners for feedback and actually make changes based on their experiences and suggestions.
To respect the time of potential grantee partners, we have an invitation-only process. All new prospects are sourced through our existing grantee network. By asking our current grantees questions like, “without which organizations could you not do your work?” the result is we are funding networks of organizations, groups already in relationships with each other, rather than funding organizations that don’t work together or have shared analysis.
We are one foundation, amongst many, and it is our responsibility to leverage our influence to organize our philanthropic peers. Our staff are allies to our grantee partners, working together to shift philanthropy - both resources and practices - in a way that is accountable to community. We embrace opportunities to collaborate with funder allies and grantee partners to share how we approach our work, what we’ve learned, and where we continue to struggle in the effort to cultivate change.
- A La Defensa (Fiscally Sponsored by Tides Foundation)A La Defensa is the Collective Action Fund (CAF) of La Defensa, both of which work to transform California’s punitive systems through public education and community empowerment to decarcerate California and bring loved ones home. A La Defensa acts as a fiscal sponsor for issue-aligned coalitions in the Los Angeles area.
FUNDING BLACK POWER-BUILDING AND SEEDING TRANSFORMATION IN PHILANTHROPY
Amid the racial reckoning of 2020, Libra joined with eleven other philanthropy partners to launch the Democracy Frontlines Fund. The Fund is an aligned giving strategy leveraging $36 million in multiyear unfettered support for a Slate of ten exemplary Black-led organizations. The grantees, selected by a Brain Trust of movement advisors who are all women of color, are working for racial justice, free and fair elections, and to defund the police. The focus and intent is building power at the community level.
Together, the funders in the Democracy Frontlines Fund have embarked on a learning journey to confront the legacy of racism and begin to transform philanthropy from the inside out. Illuminated by the insights of seminal thinkers and strategists like Stacey Abrams, Cliff Albright and Alicia Garza, they are examining racism’s deep roots and practicing what it means to be a principled funder in relationship to and allyship with racial justice movements.