Meet the New Grantees of the Black-Led Movement Fund

May 27, 2020

The Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF) at Borealis Philanthropy is excited to announce it has awarded $915,000 in grants to 16 new grantees advancing Black liberation across the country, in addition to the Groundswell Fund’s Black Trans Fund in its inaugural year.  

Launched in 2016, the BLMF is a donor collaborative that invests in the ecosystem of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) by resourcing the powerful local organizations that anchor this movement infrastructure. Collectively, these organizations shape policy agendas for Black communities, create alternatives to institutions that have been harmful to Black people, and advance Black community power to build the liberatory future we all need. 

The Fund’s grantmaking is guided by priorities set in alignment with the M4BL. Organizations receiving BLMF support center the leadership of Black women, girls, femmes, queer, and trans people, apply a Black, queer, and gender justice lens to their work, are focused on power-building in the South and Midwest, and play a core role in anchoring the M4BL ecosystem. 

“I became a donor to the Black-Led Movement Fund through the Women Donors Network in order to support grassroots Black-led organizations doing transformative work in local communities,” said Becky Liebman. “The Fund has expanded me. I learn from the Black-Led Movement Fund team at Borealis: the staff identify, build relationships with, and recommend support for groups that I would not otherwise be aware of. I believe it is effective organizing— and the right thing to do—to entrust resources with Black people who know best what their communities need.” 

Since the Fund’s launch in 2016, the Fund has focused on sustained general operating and capacity building support for its inaugural grantees. This year, for the first time, the Fund is bringing on additional, new grantees leading intersectional, power-building organizing in their communities. 

BLMF grantees are making connections between a wide range of issue areas: housing justice and tenants rights, decarceration and decriminalization, ending deportations, pretrial detention, and police violence, advancement of policies that redefine public safety, and policies protecting the rights of sex workers, among others. 

These organizations employ diverse strategies in their advocacy, including base-building, voter registration, political education and organizing trainings, participatory budgeting, projects developing Black land and community food infrastructure, and responsive legal advocacy for Black communities. In addition, some grantees are focused on community-led data collection to better understand and meet the needs of those they serve—for example, gathering qualitative and quantitative information about the experiences of Black, queer migrants and Black, informally employed workers. 

As part of the Fund’s commitment to supporting Black trans leadership within both grassroots movements and philanthropy, the BLMF made a $50,000 grant to the Black Trans Fund, a new start up directed by Bré Anne Rivera and housed within the Groundswell Fund. Bré Anne, a Black trans woman, is the founding director of the Trans Sistas of Color Project in Detroit (a former BLMF rapid response grantee) and is now a philanthropy fellow at the Groundswell Fund, which is incubating the first two years of this work.

Meet the new BLMF grantees:

  • Action St. Louis is a grassroots racial justice organization that seeks to build political power for Black communities in the St. Louis region. Action St. Louis leverages organizing, communications, advocacy and direct action to mitigate harm against our community while fighting for long term transformation.
  • Black Feminist Future is an initiative informed by the legacy of Black feminist organizing, grounded in the current pulse of movements and located at the emergent need to amplify the power of Black feminist leaders, organizations, and movements for the 21st century.
  • Black LGBTQIA Migrant Justice Project builds and center the power of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants to ensure the liberation of all Black people through community-building, political education, creating access to direct services, and organizing across borders.
  • Black Visions Collective centers their work in healing and transformative justice principles, intentionally develops the organization’s core “DNA” to ensure sustainability, and develops Minnesota’s emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns
  • Dream Defenders are young people fighting for the future we deserve; a future with no cages, violence, or corporate greed.
  • Equity and Transformation’s goal is to empower and mobilize workers in the informal economy to advance interest in the public decision-making arena, increase Black engagement in democracy, influence public decision-makers, and build a more equitable society.
  • Essie Justice Group is a nonprofit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Their award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change.
  • Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy is anchoring Gulf South for a Green New Deal, a formation of both policy development and organizing towards creating a Green New Deal that is inclusive of the Gulf South (TX, LA, MS, AL, FL) and advances long-existing work in the region towards climate, racial, and economic justice.
  • Highlander Research and Education Center serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the U.S. South. Through popular education, participatory research, and cultural work, they help to create spaces where people gain knowledge, hope, and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible.
  • Law For Black Lives is a Black femme-led national network of nearly 4,000 radical lawyers and legal workers committed to building a responsive legal infrastructure for movement organizations and cultivating a community of legal advocates trained in movement lawyering.
  • The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people. They do this by organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting collective power.
  • National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA) is a coalition of Black-led organizations working towards cultivating and advancing Black leadership, building Black self-determination, Black institution building, and organizing for food sovereignty, land, and justice.
  • North Carolina Black Leadership and Organizing Collective (NC BLOC) is a statewide mass movement formation composed of strong, publicly-active, left, Black and POC-led institutions and community leaders who are dedicated to creating and implementing strategies focused on advancing Black and marginalized communities across North Carolina.
  • The People’s Advocacy Institute is a community resource and training incubator for transformation justice in the global south. Through community-led initiatives they inspire self-determination and community-driven solutions to crime, creating a more just system and a more effective way to prevent, respond and heal from physical and systematic harm.
  • The Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative (SNaPCo) is a Black, trans-led, broad-based collaborative to restore an Atlanta where every person has the opportunity to grow and thrive without facing unfair barriers, especially from the criminal legal system.
  • The Transgender Gender-Variance, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) was developed to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant, and intersex people; particularly against transgender women of color, in California prisons, jails, detention centers, and beyond.

In addition to these new grants to sustain and support the ongoing work of Black-led local organizing efforts, the BLMF has recently made ten rapid response grants to support frontline organizations in their responses to COVID-19:

The Black-Led Movement Fund is a donor collaborative supported by the General Service Foundation, the Linked Fate Fund at the Common Counsel Foundation, the Moriah Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Overbrook Foundation, Sprocket Foundation, Women Donors Network, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a donor-advised fund at the Tides Foundation, a donor-advised fund at NY Community Trust, and Anonymous Donors. To learn more about the BLMF and join the donor collaborative, please contact blmf@borealisphilanthropy.org.