“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Audre Lorde
Our work as a collective giving organization is predicated on understanding and supporting the great philanthropic work being done in Austin and its surrounding areas. The term philanthropy is rooted in love for humanity and that love comes in many forms. Protest is philanthropy. Testifying to our own lived experiences and lifting up the stories of people most hurt by injustice is philanthropy. Channeling resources, financial and otherwise, is philanthropy.
This past week has shone a direct light on how much work there is to still be done in helping to create a just and safe country for the Black community. I have struggled with how to deal with the pain and anger of our country, and I can only imagine how you are feeling. This is collective grief. Just as we give collectively, we grieve collectively, and we must take action collectively to bring equity and healing to our community.
The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others have brought an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger for the social and racial injustices that continue to be endured by the Black community. Collectively, the Impact Austin Board and I stand in solidarity with the Black community, especially our Community Partners, and we share their grief and outrage.
Impact Austin commits to following the lead of our Community Partners. We will trust their keen insights and channel our resources, education and connections to support and uplift the people doing the hard work, often unheard and unseen. We further commit to creating safe spaces to engage in productive dialogue and commit to sharing and learning with and from each other. If anyone has resources or learning opportunities to share, please reach out to us.
As you look for ways to engage on these issues, consider supporting our Social Innovation Grant Community Partners. The Social Innovation Grant funds a collaborative focused on advancing equity for women and girls of color. In fall of 2019, our collaborative grant was awarded to The Innocence Initiative to focus on the adultification of Black Girls in Central Texas. Below are the organizations leading The Innocence Initiative:
• Community Advocacy and Healing Project is a 501 c(3) rooted in human-centered, culturally appropriate, and trauma informed advocacy and healing experiences. They are rooted in mindfulness. Mindful of the needs communities systemically ostracized and oppressed. Mindful of systemic caused traumas, and the role healing from those traumas can cultivate community.
• MEASURE Austin seeks a better quality of life for members of underrepresented communities - especially People of Color through shared research, best practices, and community participatory action.
• Hearts 2 Heal is a diverse community of people with mental health and/or bereavement experiences working to promote innovative peer-based wellness strategies. They create community-based mental health programs that honor diverse experiences and eliminate stigma and discrimination.
• Lone Star Justice Alliance redirects youth and emerging adults out of the Texas justice system and into community-based treatment programs to improve outcomes and reduce incarceration rates.
• Girl Scouts of Central Texas provides an engaged community for girls to spend quality time with peers and female role models in a safe space where they can try new things, develop skills, take on leadership roles, and just be themselves.
If you’re looking for other organizations to support and work with, here are seven Austin advocacy groups founded and led by Black women that were shared in Austin Woman magazine. Two of these organizations are our Community Partners - Measure and Community Advocacy & Healing Project.
Our members joined Impact Austin and Girls Giving Grants (g3) to better understand community issues and support organizations that identify solutions and put in the work to make change. Our goal is to help the voices that are not being heard. Our role is to support and provide resources. Our shared passion is to make the world better.
May we create an equitable, safe world for all people,
Christina Canales Gorczynski