Skip To Main

Settings

External Links

DFF Slate Member Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, photo by Garrett Garms/Winston-Salem State University
11 Grantees.
74.5 Million Dollars.
Infinite Opportunities.
We are listening to the will and self-determined priorities of Black communities, supporting them, and getting out of the way.
“What Will It Take? Requirements of a Multi-Racial Democracy” ‑ Inaugural DFF blog post by Crystal Hayling and Daniel Lau
Read DFF’s Year Two Report highlighting powerful accomplishments of the DFF Slate, and stories of change from our Funders.
Read Our Our Year Two Report
DFF Funders’ 2023 Learning Journey to Minneapolis: George Perry Floyd Square Mural photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Funders’ 2022 Learning Journey to Montgomery: Black female joy and celebration photo by Jean Melesaine.

The Democracy Frontlines Fund is a national aligned giving strategy.

Our goal is to leverage millions of new dollars to fund Black organizing and disrupt traditional philanthropy.

The Democracy Frontlines Fund (DFF) began in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, and in response to the national outpouring of grief, rage, and demand for change, the health and economic crisis of COVID-19, and an election year of unparalleled and historic importance.

DFF commits to the following:

  • Funding organizations led by and for Black people
  • Funding power-building organizers
  • Providing multi-year general operating support
  • Eliminating burdensome application requirements

Together with our funder partners, we raised and granted $39 million dollars in our first phase of work from 2020-2023. We are now in our second phase of multiyear work from 2023-2026 and continuing to grow with new partners and an additional $35.5 million dollars. DFF now totals $74.5 million.

Guided by a Brain Trust of accountable movement advisors, pictured below, DFF is funding the country’s most impactful racial justice groups led by and for Black communities with unrestricted dollars and getting rid of the red tape.

Not tomorrow, today.
Not alone, together.

Meet the DFF Slate

The DFF grantees are national organizations building sustainable local power. These groups are in partnership with one another and are committed to reimagining safety, amplifying the voices of disenfranchised voters, and prioritizing Black, LGBTQI+, youth, disabled, undocumented, and formerly incarcerated leadership. The DFF Slate illustrates that change happens at the speed of trust, and no organization can effectively tackle our society’s problems without including those disproportionately hit.

Funding organizing is different than funding services or museums. The work rarely falls neatly within prescribed program areas. It can feel messy, and those seeking logic models will feel frustrated and troubled by the breadth of unfamiliarity of these approaches. But as Rep. John Lewis said, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, to help redeem the soul of America.” Unequivocally, these organizations are building a world where we all count, where our voices are heard, and where our communities can thrive. Our democracy depends on it.

These 11 exemplary groups organizing and building power in Black communities across the nation were identified and vetted by a Brain Trust and confirmed after additional due diligence conducted by The Libra Foundation team.

Meet Our Funding Partners

From the start, there has been small but growing interest among foundations to truly step up and respond to this moment. In turn, The Libra Foundation has enlisted forward thinking philanthropic partners to launch and grow the Democracy Frontlines Fund. We began in 2020 with twelve (12) partners and have grown to fourteen (14) as the urgency for change intensifies.

As a collective giving and learning community, DFF resources and is in relationship with Black movements and organizing—most of whom fight voter suppression through long-term voter engagement and work on defunding the carceral system in order to build safe and healthy communities.

For years, social justice movements have demanded that philanthropy look in the mirror and see the ways the field replicates the harmful systems that it insists it wants to change. DFF, with the leadership of Curriculum and Facilitation Advisor Tynesha McHarris, is facilitating a learning journey with our funder partners to dig deeply into issues of racial justice and equity.

Through quarterly convenings featuring Slate grantee partners, we are unpacking the legacy of discrimination and racism, discussing movement theories and strategies, building community, and embracing what it means to practice active anti-racism through racial justice grantmaking and allyship.

DFF Brain Trust

Julia
Beatty

Borealis Philanthropy

Julia Beatty (she/her), Director of the Black-Led Movement Fund at Borealis Philanthropy, brings an extensive background in community organizing, racial justice policy advocacy, donor organizing and social justice philanthropy. She formerly served as the Director of Programs for the Twenty-First Century Foundation—a 40-year old Black-led intermediary philanthropy that provided multi-year, general support to Black-led grassroots organizations. She has also worked with national policy organizations to build the organizational and leadership capacity necessary to create and sustain change led by communities of color. Julia is the former Director of Grants Development, Evaluation and Communication for the W. Haywood Burns Institute, a national training intermediary that aims to eliminate structural racism within juvenile justice systems. She also worked with the Center for Social Inclusion to deepen the structural racism analysis of policy advocates and assist them in crafting racially equitable policy strategies on infrastructure issues critical to communities of color.

Nicole
Boucher

Just Trust

Nicole Boucher (she/her) leads the strategy and operations of The Just Trust to fight for criminal justice reform. She has a ferocious belief in the power of organizing and movement building—seeing early on in her career that the most brilliant problem solvers were the organizers, coalition leaders, storytellers, and practitioners closest to the challenges. She is committed to strengthening movements by organizing resources amongst a broad constellation of philanthropic funding partners, supporting the development of movement leaders, and cultivating high-impact teams. As the former vice president of Way to Win, she worked on the larger landscape of partnerships to strengthen and create the infrastructure needed to advance transformative policy and build lasting power. Prior to Way to Win, she was the co-executive director of the California Donor Table. She has contributed to the growth and sustainability of a number of organizations focused on racial, social, and economic equity, including Rockwood Leadership Institute, Urban Habitat, and PolicyLink. She serves on the boards of Color of Change PAC and Tides Advocacy Fund.

Vini
Bhansali

Solidaire Network

Rajasvini (Vini) Bhansali (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Solidaire Network. In a wide-ranging international career devoted to social, ecological, and economic justice, she led Thousand Currents for nine years where she was credited with helping launch a collaborative climate justice fund and an innovative impact investment fund and grow the organization’s grantmaking and partnership practices with social movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She has led a national youth development social enterprise; managed a public telecom infrastructure fund addressing digital divide issues in Texas; and worked as a researcher, planner, policy analyst and strategy consultant. Vini also worked as a capacity builder for youth polytechnics in Kenya—motivating her work to transform U.S. philanthropy. Born and raised in India, Vini earned an MPA with a focus on technology and telecommunications policy at the University of Texas at Austin and a BA in Astrophysics and Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities; Social Sciences from UC Berkeley.

Vanessa
Daniel

(formerly) Groundswell Fund

Vanessa Daniel (she/her) is the founder and former Executive Director of Groundswell Fund, the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement and of Groundswell Action Fund, the largest fund in the country centering giving to women of color-led 501c4 organizations. Under her leadership, Groundswell has moved more than $50 million to the field, focused on grassroots organizing led by women of color, low income women, and transgender people. Prior to Groundswell, she supported LGBT rights and economic and environmental justice grantmaking at Tides Foundation; organized homecare workers with SEIU; helped win a landmark living wage law with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy; and helped support the organizing efforts of welfare mothers with the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward). Vanessa serves on the Board of Common Counsel Foundation. She has a B.A. in American Ethnic Studies from Smith College and is a graduate of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program.

alicia
sanchez gill

Emergent Fund

alicia sanchez gill (her/ella) is the Director of Emergent Fund, managing all of the operations of this Black, Indigenous and people of color-led rapid-response fund. Emergent Fund was established in 2016 to help move resources to communities under attack by federal policies and priorities. Prior to this role, alicia was the Interim Executive Director of Collection Action for Safe Spaces, a Black trans and queer grassroots organization that uses survivor-centered, anti-carceral solutions to eliminate public gendered harassment and assault in Washington, DC. alicia believes another world is possible—and trusts the leadership of the people most affected by harmful policies to bring this world to bear. alicia is deeply connected to local and national movement spaces, having organized with Black Mama’s Bailout, INCITE!, YWCA USA, DecrimNow DC! and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. She knows we can organize ourselves into freedom and is thrilled to help ensure that those on the frontlines have the support they need to build power and transform our world and ourselves in the process.

Ashindi
Maxton

(formerly) Donors of Color Network

Ashindi Maxton (she/her) is a Co-Founder and former Executive Director of the Donors of Color Network (DOCN). Prior to DOCN, she served as an independent strategist and donor advisor in democracy reform and social and racial justice. She has developed funding strategies informing more than $100M in investments from foundations and individuals including the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, and the Women Donors Network. Other past roles include National Policy Director of the NAACP and National Director of Political Partnerships for SEIU. She also was the principal of an arts charter school and a bilingual Spanish teacher. She serves on the boards of Way to Win and Voqal USA. Ashindi has been recognized as “Donor Organizers of the Year” by Inside Philanthropy. She was also listed three times on the Young and the Guest List among “forty-and-under geniuses, visionaries, crusaders and innovators shaping Washington’s future” by Washington Magazine, and by “NAACP Power 40” list. A Fulbright Scholar, Ashindi holds an MPP from UC Berkeley, and a BA in Africana Studies from Vassar.

Teresa C.
Younger

Ms. Foundation

Teresa C. Younger (she/her) is an activist, advocate, renowned public-speaker, organizational strategist, and a proven leader in the philanthropic and policy sectors. Having spent over 20 years on the frontlines of some of the most critical battles for comprehensive equity and the elimination of institutionalized oppression, she now serves as the President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. Prior to Ms. Foundation she led the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, and the ACLU of Connecticut. Teresa is a thought leader at the critical intersections of gender and race, serving initiatives such as Grantmakers for Girls of Color, Funders for Reproductive Equity, Philanthropy New York, and Black Funders for Social Justice. Teresa also serves on a number of boards including the Ethel Walker School and Essie Justice Group. Teresa is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in Humanities from the University of New Haven in 2018.

DFF Team

Tynesha
McHarris

DFF Curriculum & Facilitation Director

Tynesha is the Principal of Black Harvest, a Black Feminist advisory firm working with movement leaders and philanthropy. She brings over fifteen years of experience advocating for racial, gender and youth justice in social movements, organizations, and philanthropic institutions. Tynesha has worked to mobilize resources to feminist movements and racial justice ecosystems. This includes the Movement for Black Lives, Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and the Black Feminist Fund. She has also led organizations supporting survivors of gender-based violence, and young people impacted by incarceration. Inside foundations, she has worked with the NoVo Foundation, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Newark Trust for Education and has designed portfolios of more than 150-million-dollars in investments. She is also on the advisory board of Funders for Justice, Just Beginnings Collaborative, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color.

Daniel
Lau

DFF Initiative Officer

Crystal
Hayling

DFF Founder; Executive Director, The Libra Foundation

DFF Blog

What Will It Take? Requirements of a Multi-Racial Democracy

With democracy under threat here and around the world, this election year poses the question: what are the requirements of a multi-racial democracy?  What must be in place to ensure that our right to participate survives for all of our children? There are many elements, of course, and at the Democracy Frontlines Fund we support power building organizations that protect and enhance our right to vote, as well as groups that are creating community-led strategies to keep us all safe and designing solutions to the climate crisis.

Read Full Post
DFF Slate Member Black Voters Matter in Michigan, photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Slate Member Black Voters Matter in Michigan, photo by Jean Melesaine.

With democracy under threat here and around the world, this election year poses the question: what are the requirements of a multi-racial democracy?  What must be in place to ensure that our right to participate survives for all of our children? There are many elements, of course, and at the Democracy Frontlines Fund we support power building organizations that protect and enhance our right to vote, as well as groups that are creating community-led strategies to keep us all safe and designing solutions to the climate crisis.

To have a functioning democracy, we need to ensure that people, and in particular Black people who are closest to injustice, are safe and thriving.  With this pivotal election year, our DFF blog series  will focus on our civic engagement pillar and three aspects within: vibrant and well-resourced community organizing, free and fair access to voting, and addressing disinformation.

We’ll start with organizing in this inaugural blog, because that is where the hard, often unsung work of democracy begins. We can’t fully exercise our democratic rights unless groups in our communities have first laid the groundwork by tilling and sowing the ground – that’s like trying to grow a garden without any soil.  True organizers don’t just show up and try to harvest votes in an election year – they are at their work in the winter, in the fallow times, and as we write this they are seeding this fall’s successes in the spring.

Organizing is the diametric opposite of despair —the belief that no one cares and nothing can be done about the threats to our democracy. Organizing at its best can stoke our precious sense of hope, and help us imagine coming back together as vibrant, whole and well – while steering us from this fragile moment to that destination. This is because organizing leaves people feeling connected to their neighbors, part of a network in their community. It can also help overcome toxic divisiveness.

People’s Action gets this, and that’s why their “Organizing Revival” takes us beyond transactional spurts of organizing that fall conveniently in election years. Their goal is a much more longterm “strategic alignment and shared movement infrastructure that will help independent as well as networked organizations build and wield power more effectively across issues, geographies, and constituencies.” They’re bringing poor and working people back into a process from which they’ve too often been sidelined or excluded.

Our grantee partners in the Democracy Frontlines Fund know better than most that organizing is a long-term investment that builds deeper relationships over time. No one understands the deep and lasting role of organizing better than Black Voters Matter, working to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. “This isn’t about one election, this isn’t about one person winning or one party being in power,” LaTosha Brown reminds us. “I have the audacity to believe that there are far, far more of us that want an inclusive, representative democracy than those who seek to undermine and destroy it.” Amen.

In preparation for this year’s consequential election, Black Futures Lab is leading a five-state electoral organizing strategy to engage Black voters through deep canvassing, relationship-building, and voter education. Alicia Garza shares, “Every election cycle, there’s a lot of hand-wringing about whether or not Black voters are going to show up. We know that our communities show up when we invest consistently and with curiosity – when we listen to, rather than talk at our folks.” Black voters have made a significant difference in every election, and this cycle will be no different.

There are so many more amazing folks out organizing our frontline communities, too many to mention by name here, and their compelling work at the grassroots desperately needs resources. So it’s shameful to see many funders scale back their racial justice work in this critical moment. This is a time for funders to follow the bold lead of DFF and move their money to organizing – now.  After completing our first round of multi-year investments of $39 million in Black power building from 2020-2023, our funder community came back to the table with starting commitments of $35.5 million through 2026. In election years, organizers need the money early to engage and inform their communities.

We are proud to sign on to the All By April campaign, joining nearly 200 pro-democracy funders and donors in accelerating our 2024 giving to frontline civic engagement partners. We thank our funder community who, through our swift and collective efforts, make possible the accelerated awards of $11.5 million to our 11 grantee partners building power in Black communities across the nation six months ahead of our normal grantmaking timeline. We must have the vision and the bias to action to get the resources to the grassroots.  As we’ll discuss in future blogs, this is not the sole requirement of our democracy. But organizing is the beginning, the core element that makes it all possible.

Annual Reports

Building Power Toward Justice
Unflinching Commitment to Movement

Powerful accomplishments of Black organizing from the DFF Slate, and stories of change experienced by our Funder Learning Community.

Atlanta’s John Lewis Mural by Sean Schwab, photo by Kelly Costa.

Stay Engaged

We are so proud of what we’ve built together.
We’re even more excited for what we can do next!

If you’d like to learn more about what’s next for the Democracy Frontlines Fund and how to get involved in future projects, please contact Initiative Officer Daniel Lau at hello@democracyfrontlinesfund.org.

This is only just the beginning.
Join us as we continue to cause good trouble.

Please note that the Fund has allocated all resources to the current slate of organizations, and we are not able to consider requests for funding.

DFF in the News

Democracy Frontlines Fund launched as a time-limited racial justice and democracy funding initiative in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The collaborative is extending its mission with another $35.5 million over three years.

Inside Philanthropy, October 31, 2023

DFF announces a three-year extension of its urgently-needed support for racial justice organizing. $35.5 million in additional funding has been committed by a group of 14 funders, and will be disbursed beginning this year to 11 organizations focused on power-building at the grassroots – Taproot Earth and Vision Change Win are now added to the DFF Slate.

The Libra Foundation, October 31, 2023

DFF is featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s article describing how new pooled funds seek grants from foundations or individuals, aggregate the money, and give it away. The efforts aim to drive fundamental change by building Black nonprofits’ public-policy muscle.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 31, 2023
DFF Slate Member CTPF’s grantee Tallahassee Community Action Committee, photo courtesy TCAC.
DFF Slate Member CTPF’s grantee Chicago Torture Justice Center, “Chicago police torture survivor with loved one” photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Slate Member Black Voters Matter’s “We Won’t Black Down” campaign and bus tour in Michigan, photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Funders’ 2023 Community Safety & Democracy Learning Journey to Minneapolis: People’s Way at George Perry Floyd Square photo by Jean Melesaine.

Inside Philanthropy tracked the progress of 11 major foundations’ 2020 racial justice pledges, and stated "nobody met all the criteria we used to gauge funders’ success — except this one. The pooled fund is following all of the best practices, including shifting decision-making power toward people of color.

Inside Philanthropy, December 27, 2022

In Transformative Philanthropy for Racial Justice, Crystal Hayling, executive director of The Libra Foundation, writes about the creation of the Democracy Frontlines Fund, the importance of funding bold, Black-led strategies that strengthen democracy and anti-racism, and the experience of bringing funders together to reimagine what’s possible in philanthropy.

Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2021

While many of us are still processing the domestic terrorism organized by white supremacists and incited by the outgoing president last week, we are already being bombarded by calls for healing, reuniting, and peace. Bipartisan initiatives are emerging, roundtable discussions are being organized, and think pieces asking, “How did this happen?” continue to circulate through social media.

Nonprofit Quarterly, January 13, 2021

The national reckoning on racial justice in America remains unprecedented and in response, The Libra Foundation has rallied foundations from across the country to establish the Democracy Frontlines Fund, a new initiative to provide sustained support to frontline, Black activists leading the movement to end systemic racism.

Black Voice News, September 27, 2020

When civil rights icon John Lewis passed away only weeks after unprecedented street protests demanded action on systemic racism, Libra Foundation Executive Director Crystal Hayling called the event “a clarion call to stay in the long and hard fight for racial justice, a fight that left scars on [Lewis’] body.”

Inside Philanthropy, September 18, 2020
DFF Slate Member CTPF’s grantee Cambridge HEART, “Community responder with loved ones” photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Funders’ 2022 Equal Justice and Democracy Learning Journey to Montgomery: Lateefah Simon in conversation with EJI’s Bryan Stevenson, photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Funders’ 2022 Equal Justice and Democracy Learning Journey to Montgomery: Funder Cohort at The Legacy Museum photo by Jean Melesaine.
DFF Funders’ 2023 Community Safety & Democracy Learning Journey to Minneapolis: George Perry Floyd Square street signs photo by Jean Melesaine.

The murder of George Floyd by a police officer — one in an unbroken string of unjust Black deaths at the hands of law enforcement — has triggered an unprecedented national outpouring of grief, rage, and demands for change throughout the country.

The Center for Effective Philanthropy, September 17, 2020

A group of grant makers led by the Libra Foundation has pledged a total of $36 million to 10 Blackled organizing groups, adding to the billions of dollars private and corporate foundations have committed to racial-justice efforts since George Floyd was killed in May.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 17, 2020

Grantmaking Partner

Democracy Frontlines Fund has partnered with Amalgamated Foundation to facilitate our annual grantmaking quickly and efficiently to grantee partners.