Banner image reading "LEAD for Racial Justice Supporting Legal Education, Advocacy and Defense in California" Photo Courtesy of California Black Freedom Fund

CA Black Freedom Fund Launches Initiative to Safeguard Racial Justice Organizations

Legal Education, Advocacy, and Defense (LEAD) Initiative aims to protect progress on racial justice

The Haas, Jr. Fund is proud to join with 16 other funders to support the launch of this initiative.

This press release was first published by the California Black Freedom Fund on May 22, 2024.

Silicon Valley, CA — The California Black Freedom Fund today announced the Legal Education, Advocacy, and Defense (LEAD) for Racial Justice initiative, providing racial justice organizations in California with resources and support to navigate an onslaught of unfounded legal threats by right-wing extremists. The first-of-its-kind initiative will provide legal education and accessible tools to help hundreds of nonprofit organizations and philanthropic institutions navigate the legal landscape, prepare for this pivotal moment, and chart a path forward.

“The racial justice movement is under attack by opponents who want to stop our progress,” said Marc Philpart, Executive Director of the California Black Freedom Fund. “While racial justice efforts remain legal and necessary, opponents to affirmative action are sowing confusion and fear.  LEAD aims to provide the tailored guidance and information organizations need at this moment.”

LEAD is spearheaded by the California Black Freedom Fund, which raises and distributes resources, builds capacity, and strengthens relationships to support and sustain Black power-building and movement-based organizations. LEAD will ensure nonprofits and foundations serving Black communities and communities of color have ongoing legal analysis, in-depth training, and a bank of legal support hours and pro bono representation. Legal partners for LEAD are Adler & Colvin, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Public Counsel, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR SF).

“Throughout California, organizations led by those most impacted have worked tirelessly to push California toward systemic transformation, and they need our support more than ever,” said Kendra Fox-Davis, Chief Program Officer of Rosenberg Foundation. “LEAD will help organizations and their funders better understand the legal landscape and our continued capacity to engage in racial justice programming and grantmaking. It will ensure that grantees and funder partners can combat misinformation and double down on our commitment to racial justice. By equipping these groups with the resources needed to navigate these challenges, we believe real transformation is possible—and inevitable.”

Support for LEAD is provided by ABFE, Akonadi Foundation, Asian Pacific Community Foundation, Asian Pacific Fund, California Community Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Hellman Foundation, Latino Community Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Schott Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, Tipping Point Community, and Weingart Foundation.

“Over the past decade, we have seen increased commitment by philanthropy to the cause of undoing the harm of structural racism and achieving racial justice,” said Charles Fields, Executive Vice President of Programs at The James Irvine Foundation. “We can’t stall or stop now. Instead of retreating we need to redouble our commitment to bolster movements that build a California where everyone belongs and thrives.”

“Now more than ever, it is vital for philanthropy to stand with grassroots leaders committed to building a multi-racial democracy,” said Julián Castro, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation. “The Latino Community Foundation is proud to support the California Black Freedom Fund as it seeks to protect our partners and progress during this critical moment in our nation’s history.”

“Organizations dedicated to serving marginalized communities of color have long played a safety net role, countering systemic inequities through culturally competent support and capacity building. The Asian Pacific Fund is a proud supporter of the LEAD for Racial Justice Initiative,” said Carolyn Wang Kong, President and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Fund. “The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities will not be used as a wedge against other communities of color. We are not immune from attacks and stand in solidarity with other racial justice organizations to navigate the path forward together.”

Emboldened by the United States Supreme Court’s June 2023 opinion in the Students for Fair Admissions cases (“SFFA”), lawsuits against race-based funding and education efforts are undermining decades of collective efforts to address structural racism and discrimination for Black communities and communities of color.

About the California Black Freedom Fund: Launched in 2021, the Black Freedom Fund (BFF) works to ensure that Black power-building and movement-based organizations in California have the sustained investments and support they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism. Learn more