No state has vowed stiffer opposition to the Trump agenda than California, with state officials issuing tough statements and top grantmakers shifting their strategies for battle. Several rapid-response initiatives by funders have emerged all over the state to prepare for the worst under Trump, especially in regard to treatment of immigrants. But California isn’t alone in this movement. We've been following what funders have been doing in other states, too, to protect immigrant and marginalized populations. Among other things, these recent moves offer a glimpse of which funders we're likely to see at the center of future battles around Trump administration policy in coming months and years.
The Boston Foundation may be one funder to watch in this regard, judging by a set of emergency grants made last month. In December, this locally focused funder announced four emergency funding distributions as part of its Open Door Grants program. These grants aim to help the most vulnerable Boston residents right now: Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.
Orlando Watkins, TBF’s vice president for programs, explained the funding decision like this:
While this quarter’s funding allotment for Open Door Grants was distributed to 20 excellent recipients last week, we at the Boston Foundation felt very strongly that the current negative climate in some quarters against our Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ populations warranted additional support to these deserving organizations that protect, serve, and help new residents of the United States and other marginalized groups acclimate and feel welcome.
Like so many community foundations, which must work with a diverse range of stakeholders, the Boston Foundation doesn't have a distinct ideological profile. And it's not the first funder in Boston we might think of as leading the pushback to a Trump agenda. But as TBF's president and CEO Paul Grogan, the foundation actually has a long history of stepping forward in troubled times.
For more than a century, The Boston Foundation has made standing up for those who are under siege a pillar of our many missions. Over the decades, we have fought for civil rights, housing rights, and educational rights and protections, among other causes. We take the causes that inspired these emergency grants just as seriously.
The four emergency grants were for $25,000 each and went towards both general operating support and program support. CAIR-MA, Inc. received operating support for to continue dispelling cultural misunderstandings and bridging gaps between the American Muslim community and the rest of the American public. Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition also received operating support for an initiative focused on building local capacity to advance policies to benefit immigrants and refugees.
Meanwhile, TBF gave an emergency grant to the Irish International Immigrant Center, which seems like a funny choice at first glance. Boston has always had a large Irish population, but these aren’t the type of immigrants that we’re typically worried about. However, IIIC serves immigrants from over 120 countries with legal services, like free legal clinics, pro bono work, and full representation. The one LGBTQ grant that came out of this latest emergency commitment went to Silver Lining Mentoring, which is using the funds for a skills support group for LBGTQ teens.
Like the California Endowment and other California funders that we’ve highlighted for their post-election funding, TBF has largely kept its emergency focus on the local level. Immigrants seem to be this funder’s biggest concern at the moment, but healthcare and racial equity could also come up in due time.
We brought up TBF’s Open Door Grants program a few months ago because of its interesting approach of stepping outside its established program areas to respond to pressing local needs. These grants are for a one-year period and range from $10,000 to $50,000 each. TBF has stated that it won’t be changing its core funding areas until at least 2020, so these grants are your best opportunity to get support for post-election protection. In total, 48 groups have received Open Door grants since October. TBF allocated about $2 million to this program this fiscal year and has received over 300 applications thus far. Learn more and apply here.