Youth-led gender justice funder honored for grantmaking and donor mobilizing efforts that prioritizes trans and gender expansive folks & sex workers.
WASHINGTON, DC –In a world where underresourced communities are often in pitted against each other for limited dollars, Third Wave Fund’s intersectional grantmaking and donor mobilizing efforts offer a path that more of philanthropy should use to fund social change and equity efforts.
That’s why the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) is honoring the feminist, activist fund with its 2021 “Smashing Silos” Impact Award. The honor is biennially bestowed to funders that work in deep partnership with under-represented and vulnerable communities and support multi-issue and cross-identity efforts to address systemic causes of social, economic or environmental challenges.
Third Wave Fund co-Directors Ana Conner & Kiyomi Fujikawa say they are honored to be recognized for their efforts to prioritize trans and gender expansive folks and sex workers by funding and curating spaces at all the intersections in which they exist.
“We cannot win without disrupting philanthropy as usual. Our vision of a just world stands out boldly in philanthropy because we envision and strive towards a world where young Black, Indigenous, people of color, and queer, trans, and intersex people are fully resourced and empowered, and no longer need to rely on traditional philanthropic funding,” said Conner & Fujikawa. “Receiving the Smashing Silos award affirms our unapologetic commitment to shifting decision-making power to the people and communities traditionally and continuously left out of philanthropy.”
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is one of four grantmakers that will be honored at the 2021 NCRP Impact Awards on Wednesday, October 27th. The virtual ceremony is one of many events that are taking place as part of CHANGE PHILANTHROPY’s UNITY Summit, an annual gathering of top philanthropic and nonprofit leaders dedicated to exploring, examining and expanding their individual and institutional practices in order to advance equity with an intersectional lens, and with community at the center of their efforts.
CENTERING THE WORK – AND THE LEADERSHIP – OF THOSE USUALLY EXCLUDED
Since 1996, Third Wave Fund has resourced and supported youth-led, intersectional gender justice activism and organizing work. As a gender justice funder with leadership that reflects the communities they serve, Third Wave’s grantmaking and donor mobilizing strives to advance the community power, well-being and self-determination of young Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) most directly impacted by and best positioned to end gender oppression.
Third Wave recognizes that gender oppression is inextricably interrelated to classism, racism, and ableism, and that gender justice can only truly be achieved when all forms of oppression cease to exist. Some examples of grantees who reflect this commitment to this intersectional work include:
• G.L.I.T.S: Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society works to free Black trans women from the Rikers Island jail, and recently purchased a building to house Black trans people through a grassroots fundraising campaign.
• DJCC & CRC: Disability Justice Culture Club and Community Ready Corp coordinated BIPOC, trans, and queer, disabled and/or neurodivergent-led reciprocal mutual aid, care networks, and local organizing following the Bay Area’s stay-at-home order in 2020.
• When grantee Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo lost their leader, Lorena Borjas, to COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, the Sex Worker Giving Circle, housed at Third Wave, joined with them to mourn the loss of their elder and pillar for the community, and continued to resource their life-saving mutual aid work.
Sex workers remain consistently at the forefront of Third Wave’s funding by supporting grantees overturning local anti-sex worker laws, creating COVID-19 risk reduction materials, and resourcing jail support efforts for sex workers behind bars.
SUPPORTING THE ORGANIZER’S JOURNEYS OF GROWTH & HEALING
Third Wave recognizes that even though young people bring critical analysis and power to all movements for justice and collective liberation, few funds are available for BIPOC gender justice organizations in both moments of crisis and long-term sustainability.
Leaders say that philanthropy has a responsibility to be responsive and accessible to all people along the path to justice. Through monthly rapid-response grants, capacity-building resources, and multi-year funding, the fund supports grantee partners in working toward personal and structural change, focusing on gender, racial, economic, disability, healing, and transformative justice to achieve well-being, self-determination, and liberation for all.
When the initial impacts of the pandemic were felt in early 2020, Third Wave received ten times the amount of rapid response funding requests than any previous year. They pivoted swiftly, reallocated every spare dollar, and fundraised to move over a year’s worth of rapid response grants in 9 weeks. In total, Third Wave granted over two million dollars to gender justice movements across the U.S. and territories, nearly doubling our grantmaking budget from 2019.
Ultimately, Third Wave aims to shift decision-making power to the people and communities traditionally and continuously left out of philanthropy.
As Third Wave Co-Executive Director Ana Conner said in a Teen Vogue op-ed written in 2020, “At Third Wave Fund, we’re working toward a world where philanthropy is no longer needed because all people everywhere are flourishing. But we also recognize that we’re not there yet. Philanthropy is a system that helps justify the consolidation of power and wealth, giving foundations a way to do good even as they benefit from wealth inequality. But we know our movements need all kinds of support — including the financial resources philanthropy can and must provide. Right now, we need private foundations to serve grassroots movements, helping us transition to an equitable and just world.”
“Our vision of a just world stands out boldly and unapologetically because we envision a world where people are fully resourced and empowered, and no longer need to rely on traditional philanthropic funding. In this world, wealth, power, and all forms of life-giving resources are redistributed and shared, and philanthropy is no longer understood as “charity” controlled by a few, but instead is in the hands of communities.”
About the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has served as philanthropy’s critical friend and independent watchdog since 1976. We work with foundations, non-profits, social justice movements and other leaders to ensure that the sector is transparent with, and accountable to, those with the least wealth, power and opportunity in American society.
Our storytelling, advocacy, and research efforts, in partnership with grantees, help funders fulfill their moral and practical duty to build, share, and wield economic resources and power to serve public purposes in pursuit of justice.
About the NCRP Impact Awards
Since 2013, NCRP has awarded 25 Impact Awards to grantmakers in recognition of support, leadership and partnership with grassroots organizations and community leaders around LGBTQ rights, minimum wage, environmental justice, health equity and other critical issues. The seventh edition of the networking and community building celebration was originally slated to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A full list of past NCRP Impact Awardees is available on www.ncrp.org.
(Top: Mobilize Power Fund grantee Dissenters at their youth leadership convening in Chicago in January of 2020. Photo provided by Byul Yoon.)