WHO WE ARE

Borealis Philanthropy is resourcing the world we know is possible.

Dream Defenders

Dream Defenders

Borealis is a social justice philanthropic intermediary working to resource grassroots movements for transformative change. We build bridges between funders and organizers to support movements working to make a future that serves all of us.

Founded in 2015, Borealis has grown to include nine collaborative funds working to enhance our collective impact within and between movements across the country. From Black-led movement-buildingto queer and trans liberation, to disability justice and inclusion, our work is rooted in the understanding that in order to upend oppressive systems, we must support the people most impacted by those systems.

Our Mission

Borealis works with funders to direct resources to people building powerful, thriving communities. We invest in leaders, organizations, and movements using diverse and leading-edge strategies to pursue transformational change.

Giving Chart

What We Do

Borealis utilizes the expertise and leadership of our movement-driven staff to identify and resource community leaders, organizations, and movements working to dismantle oppressive systems and create an equitable future.

We connect grantmakers to organizations that share their mission. We team with philanthropy to conceive, develop, and implement grantmaking initiatives that resource the many innovative organizations within each of our respective grantmaking funds.

Through our nine collaborative funds, we create opportunities for donors to learn from organizers on the ground and provide resources to leaders, organizations, and movements pursuing transformational change.

We remove barriers to funding for grassroots organizations and invest in intersectional movement work across communities so that they have the resources they need to thrive.

Simply put, we dream big, we take bold risks, and we fund leading-edge work
rooted in liberation and justice for all people.

SOUL

Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) in Chicago

Our Vision

We envision a world where:

  • We reckon with this country’s long history of racial injustice built on anti-Black racism and Native American genocide and work to repair harm with all communities that have been impacted.
  • Communities are connected and interdependent, and people share responsibility for one another.
  • We have the collective power to have agency over our lives.
  • Our political, social, civil, and economic systems and institutions are representative of and responsive to all communities.
  • Everyone leads joyful, vibrant, and free lives.
mijente

Mijente, Photographer: Angela Jimenez @AngelaSnappy

Our Values

responsivness

Responsiveness

We listen to the needs of grantees and funders and remain aware of shifting landscapes in order to move funding quickly and maximize the impact of our combined resources.

racial equity icon

Racial Equity

We center our work around intersectional racial equity and justice. This means examining how our multitude of identities shape our unique experiences of racism and bias at the interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels. We recognize the intersecting inequities impacting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), as well as women and femmes, queer and trans folks, immigrants, and people with disabilities, and commit to dismantling all forms of harm and oppression that exist in our work and lives. In doing so, we strive to be a resource to funders and organizers who are ready to take bold action that builds the power of communities of color.

trust

Trust

We are committed to building trust and respect with our grantee and philanthropic partners by listening to their needs, responding to their concerns, and working towards consent-based solutions that serve us all.

people-centered

People-Centered

We believe that the people closest to injustice are closest to the solutions. Because we value the guidance of organizers and community members, we are committed to providing long-term investment to movement leaders, as well as flexible grantmaking opportunities that directly and rapidly respond to emerging needs from the field.

curiosity

Curiosity

We prioritize learning and reflection in our work and always aim to find opportunities to grow as an organization. We do not assume to know everything, and we actively seek feedback from donors, grantees, and community members. We commit to asking tough questions, listening always, and applying our learnings to the work.

boldness

Boldness

We are not afraid to take risks with our grantmaking. We embrace the visions of organizers and invest in the courageous movement work that often goes overlooked and is underfunded. We dream big and fund the work that we believe will bring about long-lasting change.

Our Board of Directors

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a philanthropic intermediary?

Philanthropic intermediaries are both grantseekers and grantmakers. Intermediaries provide strategic capacity and expert guidance to individual donors as well as foundations. Often, as in the case with Borealis, they connect donors with limited access to lesser-known organizations, enabling funders the opportunity to support in places and ways they may not be able to do on their own. Intermediaries may support nonprofits in building their organizational capacity as they are more flexible with their grantmaking, making grants of all sizes or to emerging groups and movements.

What are donor collaboratives?

Donor collaboratives offer funders an opportunity to work together on central issues and combine their resources, energy, attention, and expertise to exponentially increase the impact of their work together. Borealis’ donor collaboratives facilitate coordination of strategies across a field of interest and provide grantmaking services as well as a coordinated approach to funder learning and joint grantmaking.

How do we support grantmakers?

We assist grantmakers at all stages – from conceptualizing a grantmaking program, identifying grantees, and making grants, to providing ongoing support for grantee learning and progress. We take responsibility for the funds that have been entrusted to us and have strong systems in place – in governance, accounting, and legal review – to ensure they are used effectively. We also seek to share our knowledge and experience with the broader field of philanthropy and to advocate for the effective use of intermediaries.

What specific services does Borealis offer?

We focus on moving resources in ways that are nimble and flexible, and that provide organizations with the support they need to succeed. This includes but is not limited to philanthropic strategies such as rapid response, general support, grantee-driven capacity-building, and leadership development.