In 2009, the Edward W. Hazen Foundation adopted a new mission statement making structural racism the central framework and focus of our work and identified the following goals to guide the Foundation through 2014.
Hazen’s grant programs during this period have supported community organizations engaged in organizing for education justice and youth organizing on a range of issues, including education, immigration, juvenile justice, and LGBTQ rights. In addition to direct financial support, Hazen has created a capacity building initiative to increase the effectiveness of grantees’ racial justice analysis, internal training, and organizing campaigns. The Foundation also actively and intentionally engages with peer foundations and the broader philanthropic sector to increase support for the fields of education and youth organizing and for grantmaking that explicitly addresses race.
The Foundation is focused on collective action because the change desired is structural, not solely individual, although individuals involved in the work often undergo personal transformations as they experience agency and dispel the sense of alienation and powerlessness often associated with life in politically and economically weak communities. Patient, sustained support for the long, hard work of building a constituency that has been able to analyze their lived experiences and develop the social cohesion and legitimacy to wield power effectively has led to the creation of policy solutions such as an opportunity for undocumented students to access postsecondary education and achieve citizenship, or the DREAM Act; protections for LGBTQ youth of color in police proceedings including street stops and end “Stop and Frisk” policies; a statewide program to develop teachers for hard to staff schools from among community residents; and federal, state and local policies to end the disparate imposition of punitive school discipline practices that drive young people of color out of school.
Understanding that all people have multiple aspects of their identities, both as they assert themselves in the world and as perceptions of them affect responses by others and policies that impact them, the Foundation believes that it is critical to consider the intersections of race, gender and gender identity, age, and other factors in analyzing conditions and seeking change. Economics, a factor that also intersects with race, contributes to privilege or disadvantage, and so the Foundation supports organizations that seek to develop solutions that target the particular conditions confronting poor people of color, without expecting economic conditions to be a proxy for race. While economic conditions track closely to race, unless the racially inequitable underpinnings of our system of laws, policies, and practices are explicitly considered, no strategy will break the cycle of poverty.
Therefore, the Foundation assists grantees and the fields of youth organizing and organizing for educational justice in increasing their ability to analyze conditions and policies and develop campaigns and strategies that address root causes of structural racism and, as appropriate, account for the distinct impacts of gender and gender identity, disability, immigration status, economic class, and other factors.
It has also become clear that changing public policies will not in and of itself create the shift in conditions affecting young people of color and their communities. Systems and structures that block opportunity and uphold inequity for whole subgroups of people both shape and reify cultural norms rooted in racial bias. For example, Hazen grantees and others involved in immigration reform and justice for undocumented residents have successfully shifted the perception of undocumented students (Dreamers) from a drain on society to societal assets for whom public policy is a barrier to their achieving their aspirations and contributions to society. In New York Hazen grantees involved in pushing back on “Stop and Frisk” procedures have exposed the fallacy that unprovoked stops routinely result in disarming young men with guns, but rather rarely contribute the goals of safety and undermine respect and justice. Further work is necessary in order to aggregate such victories into a new set of societal norms that drive policy and behavior and to build the communications capacity to articulate and disseminate them.
During 2014, Foundation staff and consultants completed a review of the progress towards Hazen’s strategic goals. Their key findings include:
Further, the Foundation looked to data emerging from a review of six years of grantmaking and capacity supports provided through the national funding collaborative, Communities for Public Education Reform, and a scan of youth organizing completed by the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing, concluding that:
For the coming five year period, Hazen has reaffirmed its commitment to the mission and focus on support for grassroots organizations that develop the capacity of adults and young people to generate sophisticated analyses of their experiences living in a society shaped by structural oppressions and to identify issues central to that oppression, build power, and strive to change them. Looking to incorporate what we have learned over the past four years and to respond to the evolving work in the field, the Foundation has established the following goals for 2015 through 2019.
Knowing that social change requires a powerful constituency committed to advocating for justice, Hazen will continue to focus grant resources predominantly on grassroots organizations and activities that directly support their efforts. The Foundation will make 1, 2, and 3 year grants to organizations that are engaged in organizing for education justice and youth organizing, specifically those with a structural approach to dismantling racialized policies and advocating for just solutions to inequity. The grantees will be selected from among the Foundation’s current group of core grantees, but not exclusively so, nor will all current grantees continue to receive support. While there was great benefit to the previous strategy of sustained funding over four years, the decision limited greatly the number of organizations receiving grants and provided no point of entry for new work. By staggering the grant periods, the Foundation hopes to be able to provide funds to a broader range of organizations over the five years.
The Opportunity Fund will make some resources available for additional activities such as convening, alliances, research, and communications. We anticipate some growth in budget over this period and so the Foundation’s ability to provide this support will increase as they become available.
Hazen will continue to screen all its investments for social, environmental, and governance standards. However, in an effort to ensure that all of its assets are used to their greatest advantage in pursuit of the mission, the Foundation will commit up to $1 million or a maximum of 5% of the corpus to impact investments that directly address the challenges affecting youth and communities of color, specifically investments that:
Finally, Hazen has long embraced its role as an advocate for the work of our grantees but also the larger fields of organizing for education justice, youth organizing, and racial justice. The review of the past four years also made clear that the Foundation’s efforts have contributed to the development of these fields, increasing support from the philanthropic sector and policy makers, and expansion of activity on the ground, but that there is room for growth of Hazen’s communications capacities in service of the mission. Therefore, as resources are available, the Foundation will seek opportunities to bring forward its experience as a funder of organizing for racial justice and that of the grantee community.