In early March, as the COVID-19 pandemic set in, Social Justice Fund NW went into action the way we know best: rapidly moving money to grassroots organizations, and, as the crisis wore on, raising more funds from our community for emergency grantmaking.
In a month we raised over a half million dollars and made 100 crisis grants. The outpouring of support from our community was overwhelming. You all helped SJF step up to the challenge of this moment.
Our incredible grantees have committed themselves and their limited resources to meeting community needs head-on. From Native-led groups distributing food in rural Montana, to Black-led groups in Seattle providing broadband access to youth, to a farmworkers union in Oregon spreading remote communications resources to families, SJF grantees have put their all into responding to COVID’s impacts.
The struggle continues. The need is immense. The government response is insufficient at best. This pandemic has changed the landscape for many communities in our region, and philanthropy must respond to a crisis that day-by-day shows a system in need of change.
We are determined to resource our movement. Inspired by the resilience and fierce imagination of our grantees, SJF will continue to fund community organizations led by those most impacted under the pandemic — and under capitalism — to build strength and power.
When COVID hit, SJF was poised to make a huge impact in 2020 after an enormous year of fundraising and grantmaking in 2019. We granted out nearly $4 million in 2019, including $2.4 million through the Displaced Tenants Fund. The success of our Giving Projects and the growth donor organizing and special campaigns has led to more grantmaking than ever before in our 42 year history.
In 2020, we will make a first round of six base-building grants through our Fund 4 the Frontlines — to the tune of $250,000 for each organization. Yes you read that right — 5 year grants of $50,000 a year, the largest grants SJF has ever made!
And that’s not the only grantmaking we’ll do this year. Our Criminal Justice Giving Project made seven $30,000 grants in March, and two Economic Justice Giving Projects (in PDX and SEA) are set to make an additional 16 grants in June.
Of course, we can’t do all this grantmaking without also raising money for our own organizational sustainability, something we know will get more difficult in the months to come.
That’s why we’re asking you to make your yearly donation to Social Justice Fund EARLY this year. By contributing to our Spring Campaign you’ll help us stay the course for 2020, and lay the groundwork for deepened engagement in the difficult times ahead.
We’re adapting our grantmaking strategy to prepare for the long-haul impacts of spiking infections, physical isolation, recession, job loss, and the as-yet-unknown effects to come. The pandemic has shaken up our system in potentially dangerous ways, giving right-wing extremists the opening to push their racist agenda, while creating conditions for increased authoritarianism.
But it’s also an opportunity for grassroots movements fighting for economic and racial justice to create profound progressive change — in the 2020 elections and beyond.
We hope you’ll join us in the tumultuous journey ahead.