Building Community to Address Racial Justice

By Laura Tarbutton | Mar 11, 2022 |

People from different culture and races protest on the street for equal rights - Focus on black man eyes

When George Floyd was killed in May 2020, there was an immediate wave of one well-intentioned question: “Where should I donate?”

People were shocked, fed up, and wanted to be part of the solution to the centuries of cultural norms, policies, and narratives that promoted the type of brutality that ended Floyd’s life. At Brighton Jones, we began hearing concern from racial justice organizations and community leaders. They feared donors weren’t committed for the long term and their support would be short-lived.

We wanted to be an ally and help direct resources to organizations in Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. At the same time, we were compelled to educate ourselves about the causes, current challenges, and theories of change to address racial justice. We invited others to join us.

The Racial Justice Community Impact Circle launched in November 2020 as a year-long cohort to educate donors, seed relationships with community partners, and create sustainable action plans to work toward a more equitable society. Members spend part of the year meeting with community members and organizations, such as HeArtwork Collective, on personal journeys of introspection. While we each traveled our own path, we challenged ourselves to unpack unconscious bias, examine motivations for and power dynamics in charitable giving, and analyze patterns in our past donations.

With our foundational learnings in place, we traveled to the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

Grounding the circle in history

We traveled to Alabama in September 2021 to ground ourselves in the recent history of the Civil Rights Movement and meet with some of today’s leaders. We were inspired by our guide, Michelle Browder, who is a Black artist and activist who runs More Than Tours, a civil rights tour company. She gave our group a tour of her art studio she calls “the Mothership” to see The Mothers of Gynecology monument before the tribute to enslaved Black women was publicly unveiled later that month. We visited Selma and walked the historic Edmund Pettis Bridge with Dianne Harris, who walked that same path as a teenage “foot soldier” more than 56 years before. In Montgomery, we were awestruck by Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We also shared an intimate dinner, with brilliant and talented staff of ACLU Alabama, including Policy and Advocacy Director Dillon Nettles and Executive Director JaTaune Bosby, to learn more about how they’re fighting for justice every day.

By November 2021, members were ready to present their Action and Commitment Plans to the rest of the circle. The plans include personal reflections and key learnings from the year, as well as each member’s plan to stay accountable and engaged in racial justice efforts.

Members of Community Impact Circles commit to investing in and being a true partner to organizations doing the work. The organizations they invested in provide direct services, they advocate, and they advance causes such as equity in education and reforming the criminal justice system. In total, the community gave $120,000 to racial justice causes.

How to get involved

If you’re interested in supporting these organizations and forming a sustainable partnership, we are happy to make an introduction. Additionally, we welcome you to read, watch, and listen to the list of resources provided for and by the Racial Justice Community Impact Circle members.

Racial justice resources

ACLU Alabama – To preserve and protect the civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution, especially the principles contained in the Bill of Rights.

Advancement Project – To fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive, and just democracy using innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.

American Indian Arts MFA Program – Emphasizing the importance of Native writers offering voice to the Native experience.

Better Together – To increase the number of students graduating from high school, continuing their education, and training after high school, and ultimately beginning work in a career they find meaningful.

Black Future Co-op Fund – To support Washington state’s first all Black-led philanthropic organization, uplifting solutions that ignite Black generational wealth, health, and well-being.

Black Wellness Fund – To invest in organizations that address issues of mental health and wellness; economic development, including employment and housing; and education for African American residents in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chinatown Community Development Center – To build community and enhance the quality of life for San Francisco residents.

Choose180 – To transform systems of injustice and support the young people who are too often impacted by these systems.

Community Land Conservancy – To promote a people of color-led land conservancy that acquires land for parks in historically underserved communities — so that community voices are heard and centered in land use decision-making.

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation – To advance the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public.

Cooperation Richmond – To encourage, incubate, and facilitate the launch and successful operation of diverse cooperative enterprises in Richmond operated by local residents, especially those coming from legacies of systemic marginalization and barred opportunity.

Craft3 – To use capital to build resilience, lessen the racial wealth gap, and expand economic prosperity for all.

The Education Trust – To close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families.

Equal Justice Initiative – To end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenge racial and economic injustice, and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

Equity in Education Coalition – To eliminate the opportunity gap and promote success – birth through career – for all children of color in Washington State.

Fair Chance – To partner with organizations on the frontlines to strengthen their sustainability, transform leaders, and bolster their capacity to achieve life-changing results for children and youth experiencing poverty.

Girls, Inc – To inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, providing girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges girls face.

Hedgebrook – To support visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come.

Insight on the Inside – To inspire and empower by sharing mindfulness meditation and other contemplative practices to people in communities vulnerable to the consequences of systemic racism and other forms of oppression.

Japantown Task Force – To preserve and develop Japantown, strengthen the ethnic diversity, and create an atmosphere of safety, beauty, vitality, and prosperity.

Kelly Youth Services – To educate, stimulate and motivate youth into becoming self-sufficient, responsible, and employable citizens in the community.

Faith Crusade Montgomery Rescue Mission – To permanently alleviate hunger and homelessness withing Montgomery, surrounding areas and abroad.

One Treasure Island – To create a vibrant, inclusive community on Treasure Island.

Outdoor Afro – To celebrate and inspire African American connections in leadership and nature.

PolicyLink – To support a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity by Lifting Up What Works ®.

Port Gamble S’Klallam Foundation – To improve the quality of life for Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal members while increasing the understanding of the Tribe’s rich cultural heritage with people who reside in the Puget Sound area and visitors from far and wide.

Rainier Scholars – To cultivate the academic potential and leadership skills of hard-working, underrepresented students of color.

Real Rent Duwamish – To make rent payments, as people who live and work in Seattle, to support the revival of the Duwamish culture and the vitality of the Duwamish Tribe.

Seed Commons – To bring the power of big finance under control through a national network of locally-rooted, non-extractive loan funds.

Suquamish Foundation – To enhance the culture, education, environment and physical well-being of the Tribe and the greater Suquamish community.

Young Community Developers – To empower and inspire the community to remove barriers to employment; apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to be creative; and achieve personal success.

Let’s talk

Whether you have a specific question, or you’re interested in learning more about how our approach can be tailored to your situation, we’d love to hear from you.