Philanthropy has always been part of my life. As a young child, my parents would help my brother and me make end-of-year gifts to local organizations, sharing pamphlets and donation requests so we could learn about the food pantry, women’s shelter, and other services that people in our community needed. I was taught that giving money away is a responsibility and a privilege; because we have more than many other people, we have to help others.
As I grow older, I realize that what I give is as important as how I give. I wanted to connect my giving more directly to my social justice values.
As a public school teacher in New York City, I see every day how race, class, income, and access play out in young people’s lives. These are difficult issues and require more than easy fix solutions.
I knew I could be a better philanthropist if I heard directly from activists about what was happening in their neighborhoods and their ideas on how to create change. North Star Fund’s Springboard Giving Circle, a partnership with Resource Generation, made these connections real.
As a Springboard member, I shadowed North Star Fund’s activist-led Community Funding Committee on site visits, and participated in discussions on how grassroots activists were transforming the city from the ground up. On one site visit, I met with Common Law’s Foreclosure Resisters, a group of homeowners who were challenging predatory lending practices. With a rapid response grant from North Star Fund, the Foreclosure Resisters flew to the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Antonio to confront the CEO. They won immediate loan modifications and a historic change in how Wells Fargo approaches foreclosure loans. This year, they’re taking the fight to other banks to force system-wide changes so that families don’t end up on the streets.
I could feel the difference that my fundraising was making on the lives of New York families and I walked away from the site visit so inspired and motivated to take action.
I also learned how to fundraise with a team. With just over a $100,000 raised by Springboard members, we gave out an additional ten grants of $5,000 each to groups such as Laundry Workers Center and Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC who are advancing labor standards and immigrant rights, so that more New Yorkers can live and work with dignity.
Springboard was also transformative on a very personal level. I had the opportunity to reflect on my identity, to understand my class privilege, and to participate in making change from an authentic place where my skillsets and experiences could be most valuable.
I have taken the lessons I’ve learned and shared them with my brother and cousins. We are working on incorporating social justice philanthropy practices into our family foundation. I am excited about the money we are raising together as part the Springboard program—but most importantly, I am excited about how we are moving resources to some of the most important and critical social movements happening in our city and country.
I was taught that giving money away is a responsibility and a privilege.line