As I ring in 2023 with fellow Tidesters, I’m reminded of a verse by the sagacious poet Amanda Gorman: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” These words reflect the sense of hope and intention that can happen anytime, especially this time of year. This “light” also provides the vision and courage it takes to build a just and equitable world.
Last year I made an urgent call to the social sector to shift power to effect change and highlighted Tides’ unique position to move resources to communities that have historically faced systemic barriers to opportunities, given our partnership with donors and community leaders. With support from our partners, we made progress in answering the call to shift power.
We aligned our grantmaking priorities with frontline community groups working to protect the voting rights of Black and Brown communities, and those who are addressing the environmental harms that impact economically disadvantaged communities. And we convened donors and frontline community leaders to hold important conversations about how we can collectively invest our resources and knowledge to achieve greater impact.
Moving resources (back) to communities
Thanks to donors who heeded our call to “get off your assets,” our Healthy Democracy Fund granted $10 million in 2022 — a pivotal election year — to nonprofits engaging in grassroots organizing and civic engagement to increase voter registration, close the voter turnout gap, and protect the voting rights of Black and Brown communities and young people.
Another Tides-led initiative, WE LEAD, provided nearly $2 million to Black women, women of color, and Indigenous women taking on big polluters with local, community-based action. And we granted $3.5 million through our Frontline Justice Fund to support grassroots environmental organizations that are fighting for environmental and climate justice through litigation.
The Movement Voter Fund, a collective action fund hosted at Tides Foundation, which supports nonprofit and community-based organizations across the country with voter engagement, accepted 700 donations amounting to more than $24 million for the fund and made 643 grants worth more than $28.5 million to build voting power in BIPOC, LGBTQ+, immigrant, youth, and other communities.
Bringing our partners together
We know moving resources to communities is critical to advancing social justice, but we also recognize it is equally important for the social sector to prioritize the knowledge and expertise of BIPOC community leaders and others who are closest to the disparities we need to address. That’s why in 2022, we also took the time to host convenings with movement leaders to share how we can best sustain the reproductive justice movement, counteract environmental racism, and support grassroots leaders working to protect our democracy. From these convenings we learned that our partners have a shared interest in learning from each other and that these conversations provide meaningful connections between donors and movement leaders.
Building bridges to accelerate change
Although we made these incredible strides last year, we know our work is not done. There is no doubt that engaging in systems change work takes fortitude. I believe Gorman offers us another nugget of wisdom, “If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.” We must continue to build bridges with those who share our vision for a world in which justice and equity prevail.
I believe our power is in our continued connection. It is through our partnerships that Tides will continue to center social justice and respond to the voices and needs of under-resourced, “under-championed” communities. We will build more bridges until we reach the equitable future we all deserve.
As we move into 2023, I ask you to join me in making this our year of inspiration. Let’s find our energy and light, let’s continue to shift power and lift every voice, and let’s continue to work together to accelerate change. I consider this the year of “2023 and WE”!