Liberation Ventures Moves $2.2M to the Black-led Reparations Movement

Liberation Ventures
12 min readMar 27, 2023

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The Hallelujah Statue at Whitney Plantation, created by Dr. Ken Smith, photographed on a recent team trip.

Liberation Ventures is thrilled to announce our second round of grantmaking: $2.2M to support grassroots organizations across the Black-led reparations movement, with renewals to organizations in our first round as well as new investments. The organizations in our second portfolio are diverse in their geography, structure, and approach to building momentum toward federal reparations; their work spans the sectors of arts and culture, technology, organizing and advocacy, local and state campaigns, technical assistance, education and awareness, journalism, and research. Learn more about our first round of grantmaking here.

Many people ask us about our philosophy and our process; below, we have answered some of the most common questions we receive.

What themes arose in the new movement partners you are adding to your portfolio?

Overall, our 2023 grantmaking includes new organizations in three areas: local and state efforts, the legacy of chattel slavery, and new capacity within the movement.

Local and State Efforts

Local and state-level initiatives to pass reparations are gaining momentum across the country. These efforts are critical testing grounds that will build momentum for federal reparations and help us learn best practices in reparations policymaking along the way. In addition, we must support local culture change and historic preservation work that helps Black communities heal and thrive. We know that resourcing stakeholders around government actors — especially local organizers — is critical to the success of place-based efforts. When a reparations task force is stood up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure that they have the resources they need to develop strong recommendations, keep community voices centered, and build the power needed to ensure those recommendations get implemented. Therefore, we are bringing on five new brilliant place-based organizations in Asheville, NC, Brownsville, MD, the state of New Jersey, Savannah, GA, and Boston, MA.

The Legacy of Chattel Slavery

Reparations are owed not only for chattel slavery itself — but also the legacy of trauma and oppression it caused and continues to cause. In order to build a Culture of Repair, we must connect the dots across time and boldly name the interconnected webs of state-sanctioned violence that, in some cases, continue to cause harm today. Four organizations in our second portfolio are seeking redress for the legacy of slavery, including the war on drugs, redlining and segregation, police violence, lynching and racial terror, and discrimination against Black veterans.

Capacity For The Movement, By The Movement

We know that as the movement grows, new capacities will be needed to support reparations practitioners across the country. This includes research, legal support, written and documentary journalism, platforms to teach Black history, and more. In this round, we funded a number of organizations who are building capacity for the movement, by the movement — to ensure we are prepared for the inevitable ups and downs we’ll face over the long term.

What is your approach to proposals, reporting, and other antiquated philanthropic practices?

LV’s approach to grantmaking is relational, streamlined, and designed to lift as much of the burden as possible from our movement partners. LV does not require written reporting. Instead, we learn more about the impact of our movement partners through working side by side: co-authoring articles, co-hosting events, collaborating on projects, and providing non-financial support. We also love attending events hosted by our movement partners; in 2022, we attended events hosted by eight of our thirteen partners. The only reporting expectations we have of our movement partners are two check-in calls throughout the year — in spring and fall — to discuss how things are going and what support we can provide.

For this reason, LV’s grantmaking process is currently invitation-only. LV is committed to shared learning with our movement partners, which grows from strong and enduring relationships. We believe it’s critical to fund organizations that are in relationship with each other, because this helps ensure our partners are accountable to each other, build on each other’s strengths, and makes the impact of our investment more than the sum of its parts. In addition, we know the importance of carving out pathways for new organizations or formations, and to support organizations that are courageously stepping into the reparations movement. We are committed to learning and iterating along the way, so we can strike a balance between resourcing those that have been in this work for decades and emergent efforts.

What other factors are used to make grant decisions?

For our 2023 grantmaking round, we asked ourselves a number of questions about each of the organizations in our pipeline, and there was a slightly different set of questions for renewals vs. new potential partners.

For renewals, we primarily considered three questions:

  • What impact has this organization made this year, and how do they define impact?
  • What work does this organization plan to accomplish next year and are they resourced to do so?
  • What are the organization’s relational values? Do they align with LV’s Beliefs? How do we make such determinations?

For new movement partners, we considered the questions above as well as a few additional:

  • What role does this organization play in the ecosystem? Are they a partner to an organization we already fund? If not, could they be?
  • Will building a relationship with this organization help us learn more about the field of reparations practitioners, challenges and opportunities the field is facing, and what type of work is needed to win and build a Culture of Repair?
  • How big is this organization? Will our grant be meaningful/catalytic?
  • Will our capacity building program be supportive to this organization’s leadership team?

What does being a part of the LV portfolio include, in addition to financial investment?

All LV movement partners are invited to participate in our capacity building program, to be piloted in 2023. We are still defining the details of this program, and aim to co-create it through feedback from our movement partners in Spring 2023. However, we know that it will be designed to strengthen relationships between people and organizations across the movement, as well as meet the greatest needs our partners are facing — fundraising, communications, strategic planning, research, healing, and more. In the past, we have helped movement partners articulate their theory of change, attend fundraising trainings, build digital communications capacity, develop donor materials, reviewed grant proposals, and more.

In addition, the leaders or project managers of every organization in the 2023 portfolio received a $2500 wellness stipend. This stipend is designed for those leaders to spend on anything that will help make this work more sustainable for them — an executive coach, therapy, a meditation retreat, etc. While we are excited to learn what leaders spend it on, no reporting will be required.

Here’s the list of organizations we’re supporting:

New Movement Partners

  • African American Education & Research Organization at Melchor-Quick Meeting House mission is to enable Black people to have the means to learn and share education of all kinds throughout our lives.
  • Black Veterans Project furthers research and storytelling to advance racial equity in and out of uniform. We lead a movement for racial inclusion and justice across the United States military while ensuring the welfare of all Black veterans who’ve served.
  • The Brownsville Project abolishes systemic oppression by helping communities confront and heal from suppressed history. We strive to create structural change and healing for those who have historically experienced the most harm.
  • Canopy Collective facilitates learning, truth-telling, and global dialogue to help end and heal from the systems of oppression that have perpetuated generational cycles of racialized violence against Black Americans. In collaboration with reparative justice partners, Canopy Collective creates opportunities to bring people power to collective action and facilitate narrative shifts around racial justice and healing.
  • Center for Jubilee Reconciliation and Healing is a grassroots public policy organization that educates locals and visitors on the history of slavery in order to empower individuals, nonprofit organizations, governmental institutions, schools, colleges, and churches to create tools for positive change across the State of Georgia.
  • Equity and Transformation is a non-profit, community-led organization founded by and for post-incarcerated people with chapters in Chicago and Joliet. EAT was established in 2018 with the mission of building authentic Black equity throughout Illinois by ending economic violence, eradicating anti-Black racism in labor, and transforming the lives of survivors engaged in the informal economy: the diversified set of economic activities, enterprises, jobs, and workers that are not regulated or protected by the state.
  • Justin Hansford is a Howard University School of Law Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. In December, 2021, he was elected to serve on the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) for the 2022–2024 term.
  • Kinfolk’s mission is to uproot oppressive systems and reimagine public spaces through art, emerging tech, and storytelling. Kinfolk exists to recenter the lived histories of marginalized peoples in shared space through the inhabited web of extended reality technologies. We look to provide a digital archive that puts the power of preserving our histories into the people’s hands.
  • The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s (the Institute) cutting-edge racial and social justice advocacy seeks to empower people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice and harness democratic power — from the ground up-in New Jersey. Known for our dynamic and independent advocacy aimed at toppling load-bearing walls of structural inequality to create just, vibrant and healthy communities, we are committed to exposing and repairing the cracks of structural racism in our foundation that erupt into earthquakes in communities of color. The Institute advocates for systemic reform that is at once transformative, achievable in the state and replicable in communities across the nation.
  • Next City’s journalism centers marginalized voices while amplifying solutions to the problems that oppress people in cities. At a time when cities face rampant inequality and urgent challenges, Next City’s work is critical: by spreading real stories and workable ideas from one city to the next, we connect people, places and solutions that move our society toward justice and equity. This grant is specifically to support the 2023 Vanguard Fellow, who will focus on truth, reconciliation, and reparations in Virginia.
  • The Racial Justice Coalition in Asheville is a broad-based alliance of individuals and organizations committed to addressing systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence against Black people and those most impacted by poverty, criminalization, and mass incarceration. Through grassroots-led organizing and community collaborations, the RJC seeks to achieve and sustain deep equity by building power to those historically underrepresented, dismantling policies and institutions that uphold racism, and reimagining a community where justice exists for all people.
  • The Redress Movement is a Black-led, multi-racial housing justice organization that empowers communities across the U.S. to take direct action to redress racial segregation. We work to repair the harm caused by intentional policies to segregate communities by educating, mobilizing, shifting the narrative, and winning redress victories. Our starting point is housing, but our goal is to dismantle all that divides us and heal our nation by facing the facts of history. We envision a world where race no longer determines where we live or the quality of our lives, and we all get to live in thriving communities.
  • Repair America Collective is a collective of grassroots community organizers moving in solidarity for intersectional healing. Our mission is to repair harm in our communities by elevating consciousness of humanity through learning, sharing, healing, and celebrating. Repair America Collective has a four pillar approach towards reparative planning that includes learning, sharing, healing, and celebrating. In each area we develop reparatory justice based activities that allows us to identify and employ holistic models of repair from systemic racism through community engagement. These reparative plans are based on the intersection of art, culture, health, community, policy, and research.
  • Reparation Education Project supports the escalating movement for reparations as a resource for those exploring historical and current information and analysis on reparations. Led by one of the most knowledgeable and longest-serving experts on the issue in the country, REP partners with organizations that are part of the diverse racial justice ecosystem and brings added value to reparatory justice initiatives around the country.
  • The Reparations Finance Lab is a financial service non-profit that seeks to engage capital markets to design innovative financial products and processes that will deliver Reparative Capital to the descendants of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
  • Reparations United’s aim is to build a lean structure that can select any specific injury issue and educate, organize and mobilize existing local coalitions to develop, initiate, and get funded reparatory programs locally in multiple communities simultaneously. We will manifest this mission through work, strategy, and building the collective will of activists in communities across America.
  • The Terrence Crutcher Foundation’s mission is to create just and liberated communities free from racial violence and harm. We do this through building power, policy advocacy, community development, and education. We engage community, law enforcement, and policymakers to identify, prevent, and confront racial inequities in Tulsa, Oklahoma and across the country.
  • Young Foundation for Social Justice and the Arts is a production-focused organization highlighting the untold stories of individuals doing critical work in activism and social justice whose histories too often go unwritten. The Foundation’s approach is two-pronged: to create documentary film content sharing the stories of people working to advance equity and social justice, and to support Black artists whose expression is driven by the social justice movement and our contemporary moment through exhibitions and installations.

Renewals

  • African American Redress Network is a leading research and advocacy organization for U.S. racial justice. AARN supports those engaged at the grassroots, regional and state levels in promoting racial justice for specific instances of U.S. historical wrongdoings by undertaking and facilitating multidisciplinary research, capacity-building, education, and legal advocacy. They are a collaboration among the Thurgood Marshall Center at Howard University’s School of Law and the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.
  • The Amendment Project’s goals are to mobilize a community of college-aged students to advocate for the introduction of reparational resolutions in city councils across the U.S.; generate conversation about economic amendment policies on college campuses and center reparations discourse in our national political consciousness; and embolden young Americans with the knowledge and tools to fight for the introduction of reparations policies on a national level.
  • Beloved Community Center’s mission is to forge and continually expand a quality of leadership and beloved community to guide Greensboro, NC into a new era of equitable economic sufficiency, peace, social, gender and racial justice that can serve as a model and inspiration for ourselves, our region, our nation and our world.
  • Color Farm Media is a collective of narrative change agents using storytelling to catalyze people into social action and community engagement.
  • FirstRepair works nationally to educate and equip leaders, stakeholders, and allies who are advancing local reparations policies that remedy historic and ongoing anti-black practices.
  • Get Free (formerly Project Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations) believes that “to tackle inequality at its core we must examine what led us here.” That’s why Get Free is building a people-powered, intersectional mass movement to surface the origins of our inequalities and dismantle the policies and narratives that keep us divided, and push for reparations that will heal our relationships and our democracy.
  • The Legacy Coalition’s aim is to petition for redress of grievances and receipt of reparative justice until our nation recognizes its debt to our collective humanity and that of our terrorized and murdered fore parents.
  • Media 2070 is a growing consortium of media-makers and activists collectively dreaming up a future that is abundant with media reparations, while making visible the ways in which the media have taken part in and supported state violence and harm against Black people.
  • The National African-American Reparations Commission is a group of distinguished professionals from across the country with outstanding accomplishments in the fields of law, medicine, journalism, academia, history, civil rights and social justice advocacy. They are united in a common commitment to fight for reparatory justice, compensation and restoration of African American communities that were plundered by the historical crimes of slavery, segregation and colonialism and that continue to be victimized by the legacies of slavery and American apartheid.
  • The National Assembly of American Slave Descendents is committed to advancing the national movement for compensatory Reparations for Black Americans who descend from US slaves, American Freedmen. NAASD is American Freedmen led and therefore focused on directly repairing the issues impacting our Black American communities.
  • The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America mission is to win full Reparations for Black African Descendants residing in the United States and its territories for the genocidal war against Africans that created the TransAtlantic Slave “Trade” Chattel Slavery, Jim Crow and Chattel Slavery’s continuing vestiges (the Maafa). To that end, NCOBRA shall organize and mobilize all strata of these Black communities, into an effective mass-based reparations movement.
  • The Truth Telling Project is committed to implementing and sustaining grassroots, community-centered truth-telling processes to amplify the voices of the traditionally silenced and disenfranchised in response to state-sanctioned, direct and indirect violence.
  • Where is My Land is a national movement dedicated to helping Black people discover, search for, identify, and reclaim land taken from them over the past 400 years. WIML aids families seeking restitution for land that can not be restored by providing assistance to Black families through advocacy, research and technology services

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Liberation Ventures

Liberation Ventures accelerates the Black-led movement for racial repair.