“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Friends and Colleagues,
We are all devastated by the senseless and brutal killing of George Floyd – and too many more whose names we know and those we do not – at the hands of police and racial violence. This is a painful and turbulent time in America. As truth after truth is laid bare, we cannot and will not ignore the racism that infects our nation. Together, let us overcome the destructive lie that Black people are less worthy because of the color of their skin. Let us break down the structures of oppression that restrict freedom. And let us work towards a vibrant future grounded in care and opportunity, devoid of racism and all other forms of hate.
Black lives built America. Black lives fought and died for our democracy. Black lives teach. Black lives heal. Black lives inspire. Black lives matter.
It is up to all of us – from all communities and walks of life – to dismantle the broken systems that allow our fellow Black Americans to be disproportionately killed by law enforcement. That allow our fellow Black Americans to contract and die from COVID-19 at much higher rates. To disproportionately lose jobs without a cushion of savings during this pandemic. To be denied equal access to quality education and housing. To live in communities with toxic air and water. To have voting rights suppressed time and again. To suffer at the hands of a President who has stoked the fires of racism.
This is a collective fight for justice and humanity. We will not stop until our democracy is fair and our systems just. We will not stop until all people, especially Black Americans, are guaranteed the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
America is at a crossroads. This moment calls us to look deep into our values and vision for the world. We have the power to change our future. Let us use that power with courage, compassion, and fortitude. Let us admit we do not have all the answers and seek out unlikely solutions we previously dismissed; let us explore brilliance in places we did not previously look; and let us take bold risks we might not have taken before. We believe this is the role philanthropy can play now and into the future.*
We must acknowledge the horrible wrongs of our past so we may write the next chapter of our American story. One where Black life is valued and cherished. Where diversity is a fundamental American value that enriches our communities. Where every child in America can be safe, secure, healthy, educated, and free.
Building on our twenty-year commitment to elevating strong and resilient communities, our team is proud to deepen our partnership with philanthropists to accelerate these changes and make this just future come to life.
We are recommending generous contributions to seven exceptional Black-led organizations working to build power and eradicate racism in the Bay Area and across the U.S. All are deeply engaged with, trusted, and respected by Black communities. These organizations are fighting for criminal justice, economic security, voting rights, and health care through community organizing, education, direct services, narrative change, and other strategies.
Because rapid response funds will not dismantle centuries of oppression, we encourage supporting these organizations now and hope you will consider adding them to your annual portfolios moving forward. After the protests fade, the momentum must continue in order for lasting change to be possible. We will continue to engage with and listen to talented, effective, and creative community leaders on solutions for long-term change.
Hirsch Racial Justice Funding Recommendations
All are 501(c)(3) organizations able to accept contributions from foundations or donor-advised funds, except one where noted
- Coleman Advocates – puts youth at the center of building power, solidarity and leadership among low-income and working class communities in San Francisco. Through grassroots organizing, budget and policy advocacy, and voter engagement, Coleman Advocates builds hope, justice, and opportunity, envisioning a San Francisco where all children and families have access to high-quality education, living wage jobs, affordable housing, and social support.
- Color of Change – the nation’s largest online racial justice organization driven by 1.7 million members who are collectively strengthening Black America’s political voice, making government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans, and bringing about positive political and social change for everyone. 501(c)4 political organization, not tax deductible.
- Ella Baker Center for Human Rights – an Oakland-based community pillar, the Ella Baker Center has interrupted cycles of incarceration and poverty in the Bay Area, statewide and nationally for more than 20 years. Named after civil rights hero Ella Baker, the organization engages deeply with Black, Brown, and low-income people to shift resources away from prisons and punishment, and toward opportunities that make communities safe, healthy, and strong.
- Equal Justice Initiative – a national leader in challenging racial and economic justice through ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., EJI has worked for more than 30 years to end the death penalty, children in adult prisons, and wrongful convictions. Their powerful National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a six-acre site in Montgomery, Alabama where sculpture, art, and design are used to contextualize the racial terror of more than 4,400 lynchings. We encourage you to watch the film Just Mercy based on EJI Founder Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling book, available free on streaming platforms this month.
- Expecting Justice – a multi-sector collaboration between UCSF’s California Preterm Birth Initiative, and public and private entities, Expecting Justice aims to improve maternal and infant health and reduce preterm births among Black and Pacific Islander communities. Their innovative approach directly supports expecting mothers through stable housing, healthy neighborhoods and high quality jobs, while reducing structural and interpersonal racism in health and social service systems.
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – for more than half a century this national organization has worked inside and outside the courtroom for a just America, targeting the inequities confronting Black Americans and other communities of color. Their comprehensive approach includes their work to fight voter suppression and ensure equal access to the ballot box, combat the racial disparities that infect our criminal justice system, address economic inequality, advocate for fair housing, promote equal educational opportunity, and confront the rise in hate crimes.
- MediaJustice – an Oakland-based national organization building a powerful grassroots movement for digital civil rights, including racial, economic and gender justice and a more participatory media. Founded in 2009, they are best known for their MediaJustice Network, the largest digital action network in the U.S. with more than 100 organizations elevating Black voices and community media. They successfully banned discriminatory facial recognition technology from police use and are working to end FBI surveillance and Black profiling during protests.
We offer this wide range of organizations in recognition of the broad and deep approach that is needed to create effective and lasting impact on entrenched racism and in recognition of the diversity of issues in philanthropic portfolios. If you have additional areas of interest, we have compiled an extensive list of ideas and organizations to discuss with you.
We look forward to partnering with you on racial justice for the years to come. Please reach out anytime to talk with us or ask questions.
With belief in a bright and just future,
Susan Mayer Hirsch
CEO, Hirsch & Associates