Movement building has been a core commitment of Astraea’s since our inception. When other funders shied away from supporting this work thinking it didn’t yield immediately measurable outcomes, Astraea was vigilant. There is nothing coincidental about the intersections of wins and organizing we are experiencing in this country and globally: they are a culmination of years of movements building. The barrage of vitriol and violence emerging on the popular level reveals the systemic injustice that makes specific lives untenable, whilst simultaneously laying bare how ready and poised we are for a grassroots response. Police brutality and systemic injustice is not a surprise: it’s a strategy. The tectonic shift happening in the streets, on the page, virtually and literally is not a singular moment or a coincidence. It is the strategic rise of our movements. It is through this lens that we take a glimpse at what has happened (so far!) this summer.
How is this movement taking shape in the United States?
The national consciousness about racial, economic and gender inequality has been raised by radical organizing, a time that also marks the two year anniversary of #BlackLivesMatter. Our community of grantee partners, staff, donors and board members are present in those spaces because of our viable and interconnected ecosystem. Folks continue to show up in the streets to protest the continued killings of Black people by police as well as the systemic violence against queer & trans* communities of color. Grantee partner groups like SONG and Familia joined with the #Not1More campaign to release queer & trans* migrants from detention and put an end to deportations. Through the new forms of collective organizing like the #GetYrRights network, theyre working to build strong communities, promoting healing from trauma & violence and taking a stand to end harmful immigration enforcement practices.
Leading in progressive philanthropy to create world-first funding
Astraea made history recently by launching the first-ever Intersex Fund in the world. The fund is a stellar example of the power of a single investment. We secured a significant seed donation from Kobi Conaway and Andrew Owen, and a leadership gift from the Arcus Foundation, which we then leveraged to bring the Funds total to nearly $500,000. By identifying funding gaps and working in partnership with activists, we are providing essential resources to severely underfunded communities. Philanthropic advocacy in action! Our International Fund continued to support new & emerging intersectional LGBTQI activism through 131 grants in 56 countries with over $2 million. An exciting new example is our increasing support for activism led by and for LGBTQI youth. We’re funding groups like Togetherness for Equality and Action (TEA), an LBT-led grassroots group based outside of Bangkok. TEAworks with traditionally marginalized youth from Muslim and queer communities to share stories from LGBT youth, while organizing leadership programs and training in human rights data collection and analysis, social media and self-care.
Using creativity to organize
Artist-activists are imagining new tactics, strategies and visions for the world. This summer, the Astraea Global Arts Fund awarded grants to 15 artists and arts collectives who are producing work in response to criminalization and militarization in their local contexts. We are proud to build on our 37 year legacy of supporting activist artists!
Producing groundbreaking research
In June we released the groundbreaking research document: Bridges to Justice & Nepal Case Study. The case study sparks questions about how to encourage, research, and fund activism to improve the lives of LGBTI people globally. Over the past year and half, Astraea worked with researchers, activists, and allies in Nepal to document the powerful and creative movement-building by LGBTI people. Nepal is home to Asia’s first openly-gay federal elected official and is a global leader in implementing the Yogyakarta Principles. The recent earthquake compounds the challenges LGTBQI people face and makes the findings of the study even more critically relevant.
Reimagining the next generation of LGBTQI human rights advocacy
Our CommsLabs initiative continues to thrive. These gatherings are designed with, by and for LGBTQI activists, and build upon a shared vision of strengthening a network of human rights defenders and technologists working together to further LGBTQI advocacy through communications and technology. In April we held a planning workshop with local activists and technologists from Eastern and Southern Africa, to imagine and co-create the next African CommsLabs. Scheduled for November 2015.
July marks the halfway point in our three year, $20 million fundraising campaign, Fueling the Frontlines. Because of your generosity and commitment, we have raised $11.2M of our total goal, enabling us to continue building and resourcing true social change. Astraea’s Fueling the Frontlines Awards, held in Boston in May 2015, went a long way toward helping us reach our financial milestone, while allowing us to recognize three extraordinary women who have furthered the movement locally and nationally: Elyse Cherry (CEO of Boston Community Capital); Daunasia Yancey (Co-leader of Black Lives Matter: Boston), and the late political scientist and author Jean Hardisty. Midway through 2015, we remain ever-vigilant in our collective insistence for gender, racial and class equality. As we take stock of our successes we also look forward to the continued work in our backyards, across nations and around the world! Come along for the ride!