Collectively resourcing the ecosystem

The Astraea Foundation is thrilled to announce that we have received a $4 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, as part of her 2019 pledge to donate the majority of her wealth back to the society that helped generate it.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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The Astraea Foundation is thrilled to announce that we have received a $4 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, as part of her 2019 pledge to donate the majority of her wealth back to the society that helped generate it. As one of 116 recipients, we are in extraordinary company with many gender, racial, economic and climate justice organizations fighting for transformative social change.

Scott’s giving strategy demonstrates what responsible and values-driven redistribution of wealth can look like for big-dollar donors looking to meaningfully invest in a more equitable society. Her strategy of resourcing across multiple social justice movements is a remarkable model for philanthropy that centers organizational leadership by those most impacted by inequities. Of the organizations awarded funding, “91 percent of the racial-equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100 percent of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders and 83 percent of the gender-equity organizations are run by women, bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems”. 

In addition to lifting up intersectional movement ecosystems necessary to drive transformative change, Scott also notes that resources of all kinds are needed by social justice movements and all contributions matter. As a public foundation, Astraea works in strategic partnership with donors of all levels to ensure that their resources reach self-led LBTQI groups working for racial, gender and economic justice who are best positioned to drive transformative change. Each and every single donor who has supported Astraea over our 43 years by contributing their time, resources or energy, we thank you! Whether you commit to donating $5 a month or give a significant one-time gift, you are an integral part of an ecosystem of support that enables us to do the work we are all charged to do – collectively resource our movements. Thank you for being in community and in solidarity with us. 

We know that when we uplift self-led groups and engage in responsive grantmaking with unrestricted, long-term support, we resource movements to build capacity, strengthen coalitions and envision solutions that bring about lasting change. Multi-year unrestricted resourcing supports grassroots groups to navigate crises like COVID-19 and its impacts on their communities even as they continue and deepen their ongoing work to upend complex structural inequities. Grantmaking can and must shift power to those who are closest to the issues being addressed.

Unfortunately, philanthropy as a whole has yet to catch up to this need: as of 2018, only 20 percent of nonprofit funding in the United States was unrestricted, tying nonprofits to donors’ aims. Funding often fails to reach those on the frontlines of social justice movements – especially LBTQI people and indigenous, Black, Latinx and other racialized communities – cutting off resources from where they are most needed. For example, in 2017-2018, the Global Philanthropy Project and Funders for LGBTQ Issues found that global LGBTI foundation funding made up less than 31 cents of every $100 of overall foundation giving. A new report from the Ms. Foundation revealed that total philanthropic giving to women and girls of color is about $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States. Our own research in collaboration with American Jewish World Service, GATE and Mama Cash shows that most LBQ, trans and intersex organizations are operating with budgets of $10,000 or less.

These statistics further demonstrate what we know to be true: philanthropy is awash in contradictions, with gatekeepers keeping resources from the very communities from whom they have built their wealth. We hold a deep awareness of what it means to steward resources that come from the same harmful systems that we and our grantee partners seek to transform. We recommit ourselves to the long-term effort to dismantle the systems of capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy that make an entity like Astraea necessary to help hold philanthropy accountable – even as we sit within philanthropy as a bridge to our movements. We are reminded that it is our movements that have been putting forward this vision over so many years: liberate your wealth and return it to the people from whom you have profited. 

Thank you again to all of Astraea’s donors, partners, and supporters. When we work in concert to be in true partnership with our movements and take their lead in the use of resources, collective liberation is possible. 

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The Power of Pausing

In July, the Astraea staff took a bold step: we shut our (metaphorical) doors for two weeks, and we took an extremely necessary break.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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In July, the Astraea staff took a bold step: we shut our (metaphorical) doors for two weeks, and we took an extremely necessary break

Like many other social justice organizations and foundations, we had been moving and working at breakneck speed for far too long, barely pausing to take a breath. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, we took some initial steps to support the health and wellbeing of our staff – reducing staff work hours, providing unlimited sick leave for anyone diagnosed with or caring for a loved one with COVID-19, ensuring that staff had access to the equipment they needed to work from home as comfortably as possible. These steps helped us to slow down a little bit, but stopping altogether felt like it was out of the question.

Until we just did it. We took the decision to go on an organization-wide “pause” from July 1-15, ensuring beforehand that all staff members would be able to step away from their work fully and take the opportunity to rest and reflect – both personally and on their role and place in Astraea’s ecosystem. We recognized the pause as not just a vacation, but as a radical, political, subversive act: one that rejects dominant capitalist and white supremacist definitions of productivity as tied to success, and instead disrupts by embracing rest, care, and joy as critical to the health of our people and therefore the health of Astraea.

As an organization in the midst of a leadership transition, the pause was also an opportunity to reflect on the kind of organization we want to build and to be, in order to continue serving our grantee partners and sustain powerful global LBTQI movements in the best way possible. We know that our movements have been hit especially hard by the impacts of COVID-19, and continue to be deeply and disproportionately impacted by the ongoing pandemics that are white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, sexism, and transphobia. Reverend angel Kyodo williams, Black writer, activist, and Zen priest who led our staff in sessions on both ends of the pause, reminded us that there is a wholeness to movements, and we have the ability to shape our contribution to that whole, based on the choices we make. Our choice to make rest and reflection a priority is one critical step in becoming the Astraea we know is possible – one that is truly anti-racist, intersectional, feminist, queer, and global.

As we emerged from our pause on July 15, having each had distinct experiences, Reverend angel brought us together to share snippets from our time away, and most importantly to listen and be present with one another. A reminder that just as our movements are whole, we too as Astraea are a whole, each person making up an essential piece of the organization. We shared reflections, experiences, and thoughts small and big. Some of us went on hikes, others caught up on sleep, and many of us continued to care for loved ones. Some of us experienced joy and relief, and others grappled with grief and sadness. Whatever our individual experiences, in listening to one another and making space for each person, we were reminded that we had collectively taken the decision to pause, to collectively prioritize care for ourselves and our Astraea community. And that is powerful.

We wanted to share a few reflections from our staff members on the pause, in hopes that you and your organizations might also be inspired to do the same:

  • The pause was remarkable for me – it allowed me to dedicate endless unstructured time to reground myself in my body, from which I had become a bit disconnected. Fully rested, I found myself open to engaging in shadow work that was unlikely to be explored if not for this pause. I took this time to take to the streets in solidarity with my city against police violence, which was a truly powerful experience that I will carry with me for my entire life. – Hanna Israel, Development Associate, Institutional Partnerships
  • The pause gave me an opportunity to disrupt the capitalist routines of overwork I often find myself caught up in. It gave me a moment to breathe and to reflect on how I can bring practices that promote wellness and sustainability to my work at Astraea. Kim Kaletsky, Senior Communications Manager
  • Our organizational pause was an act that I have come to understand even more deeply was both risky and revolutionary. I hope each of the Astraea staff members were able to find something, some way of creating time and space to nurture themselves that they will now commit to continuing. And as we continue to buckle down more deeply on our work as a social justice funder and partner, it is our self-care that can re-fuel our anger and outrage into something more powerful. – Sandy Nathan, Interim Executive Director

More reading on the power of the pause:

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Out of Office: We’re Pausing to Reflect

Astraea will be taking an organization-wide pause from July 1 – July 15, 2020.

Pictured: Astraea staff during our pre-pause video chat retreat

Hello!

Astraea will be taking an organization-wide pause from July 1 – July 15, 2020. As we continue our culture change and organizational transformation work, we are mindful of the importance of slowing down and making intentional time and space to reflect. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this need to pause and replenish our minds and bodies all the more urgent and necessary, so that we are able to return to Astraea, to our grantees, and our supporters rested, rejuvenated, and ready to continue the joyful struggle.

Astraea staff will not be working between July 1 – 15, 2020. We will resume our regular working hours on July 16, 2020.

As the pandemic continues to impact communities already affected by systemic inequalities, we are called upon to deepen our support for grantee partners working to care for their people. COVID-19’s impacts are exacerbated by the longstanding pandemic that is anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Astraea stands in solidarity with the recent powerful uprisings against the racial injustice that threatens Black lives, and we continue to fuel LBTQI BIPOC activists whose visions and labor are building more just futures for us all.

We opened our pause this afternoon with a session led by Reverend Angel Kyodo Williams, a Black writer, activist, Zen priest, and trusted friend to Astraea. Reverend Angel will be joining us again at the end of the pause, guiding us into reflections and practices to consider the Astraea we want to become.

This pause period is an opportunity for Astraea staff to step away from our desks, and reflect on how we can step more into “being” as opposed to “doing.” It is also a time for us to examine our own practices as we work to be an anti-racist organization and vision the Astraea we know is possible—one that is truly anti-racist, intersectional, feminist, queer, and international. As a queer feminist fund, we owe everything to Black, Indigenous, Women of Color and Global South feminists who built the intersectional vision of liberation that is at the very core of our mission.

Ultimately, we hope that this pause will enable us to show up at Astraea, in philanthropy, for our grantee partners, and in our communities in even more powerful ways.

In Solidarity,
The Astraea Staff

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Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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Black-led organizations are supporting their movements through a ‘double pandemic’

The recent uprisings across the U.S. and around the world have the power to create change. Simultaneously we know that dismantling systemic racism will not happen overnight, and that it is years of movement labor by Black organizations that has brought us to this point. For this blog post, we spoke to Program Officer Courtney Okeke to delve a little deeper into some of the work our grantees have been doing to support their communities over the last few months, and highlight why it is critical we support that work, not just now but always, if we want to ensure our movements’ sustainability and resilience.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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“These times are both: painful and pivotal. They are taxing times with the double pandemics of coronavirus and long-standing violence against Black people absorbing people in differing degrees of anxiety, isolation, fear, disgust, devastation, and a dynamic, pulsing display of determination.” – Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Black activist, writer, and Zen priest

Black communities are living through two public health crises simultaneously. One – COVID-19 – began in late 2019 and the other – racism – has been ongoing for over 400 years. Both have disproportionate and devastating impacts on Black and Brown communities. With uprisings for the Black Lives Matter movement in their fourth week in the United States, the words of Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, “these times are both: painful and pivotal” are poignant. They remind us that these uprisings have the power to create change, and simultaneously that dismantling systemic racism will not happen overnight, and Black people continue to face ongoing violence.

In our statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we amplified and encouraged folks to support our U.S. based grantees who have been on the frontlines working to simultaneously advance racial and gender justice, while also responding to the needs of their communities as a result of COVID-19, a crisis that has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities. For this blog post, we spoke to Program Officer Courtney Okeke to delve a little deeper into some of the work our grantees have been doing to support their communities over the last few months, and highlight why it is critical we support that work, not just now but always, if we want to ensure our movements’ sustainability and resilience.

While the recent demonstrations are unprecedented in many ways, they are the result of decades of Black-led organizing towards anti-racism, abolition, and healing justice. Similarly, while Black and Brown communities have rapidly mobilized to support their communities through COVID-19 over the last few months, their strategies come from years of community-centered collective care work that has been building towards an abolitionist vision for the future. As Astraea, we are incredibly proud to fund and support many of these Black-led LBTQI organizations fighting to radically reimagine our societies as safe for us all.

How have our grantees been impacted by COVID-19?

All our grantees have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way, and have had to adapt their strategies to meet this moment, be that expanding mutual aid or expanding their organizing to support community needs, all the while complying with shutdowns across the country. As Program Officer Courtney Okeke shared, “Our grantees are Black, migrant, trans, and gender non-conforming (GNC) led and work across the very communities who are being most affected by the racial, healthcare, and economic injustices being exacerbated right now – HIV+ people, incarcerated people, sex worker communities, those who are unhoused, those who are migrants, those dealing with domestic violence, those who don’t have access to healthcare and reproductive health services, and more.”

Deepening Coalitions

Coalition building is critical for our movements because it brings groups together across issues, identities, and geographies, ultimately supporting them to create social change. The deepening of coalitions has been a key strategy groups have been using to coalesce around shared visions for their communities.

Many of our grantees are part of the Movement for Black Lives – including Law for Black Lives, BYP100, MediaJustice, Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, and others – which has been a critical platform for Black-led groups of all sizes to really build together towards the larger Black Lives Matter agenda. 

Groups that have not been part of established platforms or coalitions in the past are also coming together to work with others who have similar goals. One such partnership is the work that grantees Black and Pink and TGIJP are doing together to support queer and trans Black people in prisons who are at extremely high risk of being infected by COVID-19. Additionally, with TGIJP leading, the groups have been working to specifically support Black trans people coming out of prison to ensure they have community support and resources during this period of social isolation, especially given that being criminalized, leaving the prison system, and reentering society already presents a number of challenges. This work of course remains incredibly necessary through the current protests and uprisings.

Fighting for access to healthcare and reproductive rights

The U.S. South – and particularly Black communities in the region – has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of unequal access to healthcare and ill-equipped healthcare facilities. This is on top of growing attacks on abortion and trans people’s ability to access healthcare, just to name a few.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Astraea grantees SisterSong and SPARK were working to advance reproductive justice and were often first responders for Black queer and trans communities in terms of connecting people to birthing support, doulas, and healthcare support in general. The two organizations also regularly work to create culture change, advance knowledge around reproductive justice, and build networks to improve policies and systems that negatively impact the reproductive lives and bodily autonomy of their communities. With COVID-19, the cracks in the existing healthcare system have deepened and the work of SisterSong, SPARK, and others like them has taken on even more urgency and had to expand to be able to meet their communities’ needs.

Additionally, SisterSong and SPARK have also been working in partnership with various other groups – faith-based groups, smaller rural organizations, as well as the Southeastern Alliance for Reproductive Equity (SARE), a regional partnership working to align reproductive rights, health, and justice organizations serving diverse communities in the Southeast. The work and collaboration of these coalitions has doubled down during this period, given that individual groups’ capacity is stretched but the need for their advocacy is more critical than ever.

Prioritizing Healing Justice

COVID-19 and the recent uprisings have highlighted the need for Black and Brown communities to be able to access healing justice tools and practices as essential to their survival and health. Astraea grantee National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) has been working both to increases their communities’ access to healers across the country, as well as to create spaces to ensure that healers themselves have access to the support systems and tools they need to be able to sustain their work. Throughout the uprisings, NQTTCN has also been using its own platforms to amplify the work of Black mental health and healing justice practitioners.

Moving beyond this ‘moment of crisis’

In Intersections of Justice in the Time of Coronavirus Cara Page & Eesha Pandit write, “As we increasingly hear the word “crisis,” which evokes panic and a fear-based response, this is an opportunity to be clear and intentional about exactly what the crisis is. In fact, though we are indeed facing a public health crisis in the form of a virus, many of our communities live in crisis and economic disparities constantly. These crises, such as lack of access to dignified and quality health care and housing, a living wage, electricity, running water and freedom from state, communal, and interpersonal violence, are created and sustained by institutions and social structures that are working as intended.”

Black queer and trans communities in the United States live in a constant state of crisis and economic disparities as a result of ongoing state-led violence and discrimination. The grassroots, community-centered collective care work of Black-led organizations is not at all new, but as crises further marginalize these communities, the urgent need to resource it and sustain it only grows. 

Ultimately however, as Cara and Eesha write, it’s about moving beyond the panic and fear of just this moment. We have to recognize that the work of Black-led organizations is an absolutely critical, galvanizing force for seeding transformative change, and we have to resource it. If we want to see that change, that transformation, and those abolitionist visions come to life, we must fund the work of Black activists, and support them to build power not just now, but forever.

Donate to Astraea now and support the incredible Black queer and trans-led organizing working to secure a more just future for us all.

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On learning, healing, and standing up for Black lives

In this week’s blog post, we’re sharing: healing resources for Black communities and political education resources on Black and queer liberation for the moment. We’re listening to and uplifting meaningful ways to collectively care for our Black communities.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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On Tuesday, we issued a statement supporting the anti-racist resistance taking place in the United States and around the world right now, and condemning racism, white supremacy, policing, transphobia, and state violence that would have Black people erased. As a queer feminist funder based in the United States, we owe our existence to the civil and human rights activism of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer movements that have come before us. We are reminded this June that Pride itself began as a riot against policing led by trans women of color, for our collective liberation. These are our foundations, the legacy on which we build to ensure Black liberation, and indeed the liberation of all peoples and the healing of our planet. 

In this week’s blog post, we’re sharing: healing resources for Black communities and political education resources on Black and queer liberation for the moment. We’re listening to and uplifting meaningful ways to collectively care for our Black communities. 

Some of these resources are for non-Black people and uplift the importance of anti-racism, abolition, intersectionality, and inter-community solidarity – tools and strategies we collectively need to lean into if we are to dismantle deeply embedded systems of white supremacy.

At the same time, it is absolutely necessary that Black folks have the opportunity and access to resources to be able to rest, heal, and grieve as state-sanctioned anti-Black violence continues. 

In that spirit, we’re delving into and delighted by some powerful reading on the interconnected struggles for Black and queer liberation in this moment, and healing resources that we hope are helpful to members of the Astraea community. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to seek out other important anti-racism resources as well. We share these as one act of care and hope that if you find them helpful, you will pass them and others on to your own communities. 

Essential reading on Black and queer liberation in this moment

  1. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics – Kimberle Crenshaw 
  2. Racism is exhausting Black people. Here’s what we need. – Derrick Clifton
  3. How to Support Black Trans People Right Now – Jael Goldfine
  4. Mother Jones: The Police Killing you Probably Didn’t Hear About this Week – Laura Thompson
  5. Black Trans Men Face a Constant Threat of Police Violence – Ash Stephens
  6. Black LGBTQ+ Leaders and Allies Address the Rage Against Racism – Advocate.com Editors
  7. Queering Prison Abolition, Now? – Eric A. Stanley, Dean Spade, and Queer (In)Justice
  8. 26 Ways to be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets
  9. Black and Asian American Feminist Solidarities: A Reading List – Black Women Radicals and the Asian American Feminist Collective
  10. Of course There are Protests. The State is Failing Black People – Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  11. Pride is and Always Was About Rebellion, This Year More than Ever – George M. Johnson

Healing resources for Black communities

  1. Healing Offers – Harriet’s Apothecary
  2. Rest for Resistance – QTPoC Mental Health
  3. Talking Back – bell hooks
  4. 7 Virtual Mental Health Resources Supporting Black People Right Now – Jesse Sparks
  5. 10 Wellness Resources and Relief Funds for Black individuals to find some respite – Kells McPhillips 
  6. Circle of Mothers: Trayvon Martin Foundation
  7. The Well
  8. Healing Packet – Women of Color in Solidarity
  9. National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
  10. Healing Resources for BIPOC Organizers & Allies Taking Action for Black Lives – Irresistible

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Collectively caring through resource sharing

This week, we are encouraging folks to center themselves in community to help guide us through this moment. This post includes some collective care resources from movement leaders and healing justice practitioners that have moved us in the past few months.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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by Sabrina Rich, Communications Team

As a queer feminist foundation that has been around for over four decades, we know what it is that allows us to survive, thrive, and heal: being in community.

As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to take a toll on our bodies, our psyches, and our everyday lives, we’re reflecting on what it means to truly stand in those communities. This post is an offering in that service. In these uncertain times, we know that caring for communityneighbors, friends, chosen family, and ourselvesis vital and necessary for supporting our collective healing. 

To quote our Healing Justice Report,

 “Over the last decade, we at Astraea have witnessed and been moved by the emergence and rise of healing justice work—resiliency and survival practices that center the collective safety and wellbeing of communities—as an integral part of our fight for collective liberation. We have learned from our grantee partners how these practices and traditions can be tools for building power, and how they can deepen and sustain the long and hard work of movement-building. Rooted in their wisdom, we continue to work to integrate healing justice as a core aspect of our grantmaking and accompaniment to organizations and movements, both in the U.S. and globally.” 

In that spirit, we’re uplifting some powerful healing justice resources that have moved us recently for their social justice and community focused approaches to healing. These resources come from movement leaders and healing justice practitioners who have and continue to prioritize collective care as integral to our freedom, and to achieving justice for all. We hope they will be helpful to you and your communities as you seek to find ways through this moment and beyond.

Some highlights!

Healing Justice Resources:

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How we’re supporting our partners now and for the long haul

This week, we’re pleased to share with you Astraea’s COVID-19 Collective Care Response: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul. This response to the pandemic aims to bolster our grantee partners now and for the long haul as they care for their communities and confront the pandemic’s impacts across the globe.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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by Astraea’s Development Team

Last week, we officially launched our blog and wrote about some of the immediate steps Astraea has taken to address the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our grantee partners around the world. 

This week, we want to take a bigger picture approach and share with you Astraea’s COVID-19 Collective Care Response: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul. We recognize that the health, economic, social, and political repercussions of the pandemic are going to stay with us for a long time to come, and we know that the communities Astraea exists to support – LBTQI, Black, brown, migrant, poor and working class – will continue to be those hardest hit by COVID-19. Astraea’s response aims to bolster our grantee partners now and for the long haul as they care for their communities and confront the pandemic’s impacts across the globe.

In Guayaquil, a city in Ecuador that lacks the public health infrastructure to handle its extensive COVID-19 outbreak, Astraea grantee partner Mujer y Mujer is providing food and money to sex workers, LGBTQI people, survivors of gender-based violence and individuals with limited mobility. In the U.S., grantee Southern Vision Alliance is offering financial support for coronavirus-related organizing in North and South Carolina, with priority given to efforts led by LGBTQ people, workers, youth, rural communities, Black people and people of color (POC), migrants, dis/abled people and families. In Botswana, grantee Rainbow Identity is supporting its constituents with mental health referrals and food packages. These strategies represent a massive collective care response for and by those excluded from mainstream systems. Astraea grantee partners are also continuing their advocacy to prevent further human rights violations, violence and criminalization caused by the pandemic, as well as seizing new opportunities to advance their agendas.

As a queer feminist fund that prioritizes organizations working at the intersections of multiple identities and oppressions, Astraea provides long-term, flexible, and accessible support to some of the most under-resourced communities around the world. Grounded in our Feminist Funding Principles and Healing Justice framework, we have been moved to launch our COVID-19 Collective Care Response

Many emergency funds have blossomed to address immediate needs, and these are an imperative part of philanthropy’s efforts. However, grassroots organizations need long-term resources to care for their people, transform their strategies to meet the moment, and bolster their resilience for now and the next ten years. Astraea’s role is to do what we have always done, but more deeply. 

In order to support our grantee partners to respond to emergent needs now and continue their critical work for years to come, Astraea’s COVID-19 Collective Care Response has two goals:

  • Raise at least $1 million from institutional and individual donors to provide increased flexible, unrestricted support for our grantee partners and build on Astraea’s close grantee accompaniment. We are glad to be halfway to that goal already. Our program team is already granting out new funds raised and as we are able to secure additional funds, we will continue to move resources to grantee partners for the short-, medium- and long-term unfolding of this crisis. 75% of the funds will be immediately regranted to our partners, with 25% resourcing Astraea’s ability to partner with movements for the long haul.
  • Amplify the importance of resourcing grassroots LBTQI and POC-led organizing, through our philanthropic advocacy and communications (including this blog!) Our communities are too often excluded from mainstream philanthropic and government responses to emergencies like this pandemic. Astraea is fiercely committed to doing all we can to center the grassroots movements who have the solutions we need to emerge from COVID-19 into a more just world. 

COVID-19 is both an unprecedented crisis and, in terms of its impacts, a foregone conclusion. Without access to sustainable, flexible resources, grassroots movements are vulnerable: when conditions change and harms increase, requiring infusions of cash and capacity, activists struggle to keep organizations open and their members safe as they try to pivot and respond. This pandemic pulls back the curtain from years of undervaluing the organizing efforts of those most impacted by dire crises. 

Astraea’s coronavirus response recognizes that now is the time for philanthropy to make good on our knowledge that long-term, flexible, general operating support and much more of it, is what our communities have long needed. Those who are closest to the problems that need addressing are best positioned to set their own priorities and determine where resources should go. 

We deeply appreciate our resource partners who have already joined our COVID-19 Collective Care Response, and we applaud those in philanthropy who are increasing flexible funding to frontline groups. As we see what it is possible for philanthropy to do when confronted with a crisis, we know that this moment is ripe for transformation. Philanthropy must move as much unrestricted funding to the ground as we can, into the hands of those who are now and will be most impacted by COVID-19 for many years to come. Join us.

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Meeting the Moment

For Astraea’s 190+ grantee partners, the pandemic has deepened the challenges that they face, including surveillance, criminalization and violence, limited access to healthcare, economic hardship, crackdowns on civic space, and much more. This week’s blog post is a deep dive into some of the concrete steps we have already taken to amend our grantmaking process and relieve administrative burdens for grantees, so that they are able to access funding quickly and seamlessly.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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by Mihika Srivastava and Kyli Kleven

In the last few months, we have all watched our world change dramatically around us. For Astraea’s 190+ grantee partners, the pandemic has deepened the challenges that they face, including surveillance, criminalization and violence, limited access to healthcare, economic hardship, crackdowns on civic space, and much more. We have taken this time to reach out to our grantees all over the world, and really tune into their needs at this time. We have been learning from the ways many grantees have rapidly adapted their strategies to meet the moment, and begun to shift our own so that they continue to be determined by grantees’ priorities.

As always, our grantees and LBTQI grassroots movements at large have put their communities first by organizing in powerful and critical ways. They stand on the frontlines of the pandemic caring for their communities. For them, collective care looks like providing basic necessities, offering healing support, facilitating connections to health care, participating in mutual aid, and ensuring holistic and digital security.

As a queer feminist fund that prioritizes organizations working at the intersections of multiple identities and oppressions, Astraea provides long-term, flexible support to some of the most under-resourced communities around the world. In 2019, 75% of our funding to grantees was in the form of general operating support grants. While this moment is an unprecedented one, it calls on us as a feminist funder to commit even more deeply to these core values and practices.

“Movement building must go on and we as funders have to do our part to keep grantees resourced and financially secure. We know that both funding and other kinds of non-financial support are critical, and so it is essential that we are sending our grantees on-time payments, extending proposal and submission deadlines where needed, changing convening dates and/or moving to virtual convenings, or other new solutions that need to become practice in the weeks and months ahead,” says Astraea Interim Program Director Kerry Ashforth.

As a first step, our Program Team worked to amend our Spring 2020 grantmaking cycle to relieve grantees of as many administrative burdens as possible, and prioritize their ability to access funding quickly and seamlessly. Here are some of the steps we have taken:

  1. In March 2020, we communicated with renewal groups and waived proposal requirements for any who had not already submitted them.
  2. We have made additional funding available to existing grantees where able, and we are raising new funding to be able to do so for even more grantees going forward.
  3. We are working hard to move our current grants out more quickly, so partners are better equipped to weather the storm.
  4. Program Officers have been checking in with grantees to support with any capacity building and other accompaniment needs they may have, beyond funding.
  5. Realizing that many partners would struggle with internet access and costs, we sent offline versions of our application to as many grantees as possible. In some cases, program staff walked applicants through proposals over the phone and took notes for them.

Speaking to why it felt so critical to make these changes, our Senior Grants Manager Miabi Chatterji said, “Astraea already provides general operating support to most of our grantee partners because we believe that is the best way to support movement building. We were also already in the midst of accepting applications for our current grant cycle when the pandemic expanded globally. Our staff became incredibly aware of the need to do everything we could do to make things easier for grantee partners and try to get them their funds faster.

Above all, we are trying to use this time to question our assumptions and practices. What information do we have to collect from grantee partners, and why? What modes of communication are most accessible and genuine to grantees? What can we streamline? Can we make these practices permanent? In what ways can we create an even better future state of normal?

We are remaining flexible and nimble in the coming weeks and months around our reporting and decision-making, particularly as we begin to plan for future grantmaking cycles. Creative solutions in grants management can often look like new metrics for tracking grantee partners’ work, or online systems for grantees to submit written materials but this moment calls for a different kind of creativity. Though many of these best practices are in place, we’re deepening and expanding our ability to weave compassion into grantmaking systems.

Throughout the coming months, we will be working to find creative solutions to these and many other questions that arise, with the ultimate goal of continuing to build power for our movements, now and over the long haul.

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LBQ organizations center collective care; let’s resource them and learn from them

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice says a “return to normal” should not be our goal.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

This week, we’re sharing a piece we wrote for the Advocate on Lesbian Visibility Day about the leadership of LBQ movements and the responsibility of the funding community to recognize and resource them.

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We know there are two ongoing realities for LBQ people: 1. LBQ-identified women and non-binary people’s lives are being threatened everyday around the world, and 2. LBQ-identified women and non-binary activists are not only creating change in their own lives, but also are building a new political reality that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for all oppressed and marginalized communities—and indeed, for us all.

As a result of heightened threats to LBQ communities’ safety and security during the current crisis, organizations around the world have been forced to rapidly shift and adapt their strategies.

Read more in our piece for the Advocate

Learn more about our partnerships with incredible LBQ organizations!

  • Watch our Lesbian Day of Visibility video featuring a number of our LBQ grantees
  • Look out for our upcoming report, “Vibrant Yet Under Resourced: The Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements” with Mama Cash
  • Check out our infographic on LBQ strategies for Liberation
  • Read about Astraea’s lesbian roots and some of our first grants in this article for them.

Caring for community, caring for ourselves

Astraea’s blog, Resourcing Resilience: On healing, hard times, and staying hopeful, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In our first post, we share resources on mutual aid, queer funding opportunities, work from home, and letting go of productivity.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

Mutual Aid and Queer Relief Resources

We have been so moved to see the ways that communities are coming together to support each other in this moment of need, so we thought we’d share a few mutual aid and queer relief/donation opportunities* from around the world that might be of interest to any of you looking to contribute!

*This is by no means an exhaustive list!

International

United States

On ‘Work’ and ‘Productivity’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For those of us who are lucky enough to be able to continue doing our jobs right now from the safety of our homes, we are all adapting to working remotely and having our homes become our offices. For some Astraea staff working remotely is their norm (we’re spread out all over the world!) and one of the first things many of our remote colleagues graciously did was to share some of their remote working tips with us, so we wanted to pass them on to all of you! 

We also acknowledge that working during a crisis is HARD and frankly, not always possible – some of us are now full-time caregivers to loved ones of all ages, others may be managing anxiety, depression or other conditions, and most all of us are finding we have to spend more time just looking after ourselves, our homes, and our people. With that in mind, we also wanted to share a couple of resources about what it means to reject ‘productivity’ right now, and focus more on just being gentle with ourselves.

Remote Working

Putting Yourself First and Productivity Later