Radical Change Rooted in Love

“In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed… It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.” – Ella Baker

As we reflect on the social unrest and the devastating economic and health impacts of COVID, we are reminded of the words of Ella Baker. Ella Baker was not only a leader; she also became one of the nation’s greatest activists during the Civil Rights Movement. She understood that the system that made it almost impossible for Black people to thrive economically needed to be radically changed.

As the newest co-chairs of Grantmakers for Southern Progress, we are grateful to be able to lead during this moment in time and be part of important systems change work across the South. It is abundantly clear to us that systems change work requires leaders to deeply understand that these long-standing issues are rooted in race and racism and leaders must be equipped with the tools to think and act differently to help build a “next normal” that is far better than the last. The decisions and actions we make today will significantly shape the future.  Now more than ever, supporting equity-focused structural change in the South amongst local and national funders is critical and we understand that building transformative practices in the South has the opportunity to turn the tragedy of this pandemic into an opportunity to build prosperity and progress for all.

This year, GSP is committed to

  • creating an intentional space to build authentic relationships, sharpening systemic analysis and inspiring a common vision to help shape and organize institutional philanthropy, and
  • supporting strategy sessions in the South with funders and engaging more national funders in discussing their southern grantmaking strategies.

We are also excited about the work that we are leading at our respective organizations.

As United Way of Greater Atlanta works to put our community’s children on an equitable path to fulfilling their potential, United Way’s equity journey has recently included “launching the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge and the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund aimed at reducing and preventing racial inequities across systems that impact child well-being; increasing resources for community-based organizations that historically have less access to power, privilege and funding; and amplifying the voice of frontline leaders.” – Katrina D. Mitchell, Chief Community Impact Officer, United Way of Greater Atlanta

The recently launched “Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice raises funds and makes grants to non-profit organizations that have historically lacked access to funding and are addressing intersecting climate, gender, and racial justice crises in the U.S. Grantee partners are advocating for strong policies, building social movements to intensify public demand for change, conducting civic engagement to build political power and hold decision-makers accountable, and engaging in creative and cultural communications efforts to move hearts, minds, and imaginations. ” – Melanie Allen, Co-Director, Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice

We are honored that we both get to serve in leadership roles where we can make radical change like Ella Baker did and reimagine philanthropy while leading with strategies that are rooted in love, learning and leadership.