Statements on the Murder of George Floyd from MCF, Members, and Allies

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

MCF's Statement

The Minnesota Council on Foundations is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our own work, and in the field of philanthropy. This work is guided by belief in a just, anti-racist society, free from the systemic and pervasive harm caused by racism.

We’re grieving with the community over the senseless and unnecessary death of George Floyd, as well as other unarmed Black and Brown people, and know how far we have to go to realize that vision. We honor George Floyd’s life and memory, and stand with those fighting for a world where Black lives are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

 

Statements from MCF Members

Best Buy

Another black man in America died senselessly on Monday, and it happened only miles from where many of us live. As cars and people passed by, unaware that a man was struggling to breathe as another’s knee was on his neck, our state and country witnessed yet another example of how the life of an African American man, woman, boy or girl is fundamentally different from their white friends, neighbors and colleagues.

All this happened on the same day another black man, this time in New York City, was threatened by a white woman who said she would call the police on him when he requested she leash her dog, as required by city ordinance. She made that threat — and carried through on it — almost certainly knowing it would strike fear in the heart of any African American adult. She weaponized racism, and the whole world was able to watch.

We write about these two events — and could certainly mention many, many more — not because most of us know what this fear must be like. We are as a group, by and large, not people of color. We write this not because most of us have known anyone personally in a situation like this. Thankfully, most of us do not. We write this because it could have been any one of our friends or colleagues at Best Buy, or in our personal lives, lying on the ground, struggling to breathe or filming someone as they threatened us.  

This is the heart of the issue. Every time we see this kind of tragedy it can be hard not to feel emotional, not just for the human being affected or their family, but for the colleagues we know who could be — and have been — victims of overt, hostile and even dangerous racism. If we allow ourselves, it is not hard to imagine them lying on the ground begging to breathe or bravely staring racism in the eye as they walk through a park.

If we permit it, we can — and we believe we should — see the moment for what it is: a horrific tragedy in Minneapolis or one in the making in New York City. But then we must take the next step, moving beyond it happening to a stranger to the possibility of it happening to someone we call a friend. Only then, in our view, do we begin to internalize how terrifying life can be for the black father or mother who must regularly remind their children what to do when facing a situation like this. Or what it must feel like for those same parents to know that they, too, could be facing it themselves.

In keeping with our deep commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, the company will continue to invest resources and time on this topic, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Buy’s Senior Leadership Team 

Link to statement

 

Blandin Foundation

Enough

Minnesota communities cannot be strong unless they are working for – and safe for – every person. 

Today’s mix of health, economic and racial crises rip off our bandage covering historical inequities, deep-seated injustice and unequal opportunities.  We cannot deny that we are in trouble.  Our communities, our leaders, need every person and organization standing with them in strengthening Minnesota.  Because, right now, we are too vulnerable to assumptions, fear and violence. 

The COVID crisis already made it painfully clear that an ounce of prevention would have been worth a pound of cure.  We have not done the things as a state, a society, a culture that make us fully resilient.   We are reaping the harvest of generations of inequities and racism.

We are at the point where, when incidents occur, people–neighbors--die. 

Rest in peace, George Floyd.

We already knew that the experience of too many Black Minnesota students was radically worse.  We already knew that people of varying differences were subject to discrimination and hate in our communities.  We already knew that fear of becoming bullied and targeted has gotten in the way of taking a stand for justice. 

Enough.

Blandin Foundation stands with rural Minnesota leaders as they design and claim healthy, vibrant – equitable – futures.  We’ve been at this for 80 years, and we see signs of strength in even our smallest towns and townships.  We also know that rural peoples can and must do better.  Our communities have their own differences, their own inequities, their own fears.  We are not immune.  Rural leaders know that they often must be first to raise their hands and voices, to stand against hate and for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  And they can’t do it alone. 

This is the time for leaders and for all who stand with them, including Blandin Foundation, to make way for justice.  Taking steps, big and small, that make our communities safe and working for every person. Standing up to racism and hate wherever we see it in our families, communities, churches, schools, daily lives.  From major policy change to identifying and tackling insidious microaggressions.  As individuals, as organizations and as communities.  No matter where we live, no matter who we are.

It will take courage and love.  And it will be right.

 

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation

George Floyd should be with us today. We share in the community’s sadness and anger as we all struggle to process his violent death, and we grieve for his family and friends.

The senseless killing of George Floyd highlights the systemic racism the permeates society and continually puts Black people at risk. As a Foundation we raise our voice against racism, hate, and discrimination, and we commit to supporting the health, wellbeing and safety of our communities. We stand with our grantee partners who have long led and served the community, as together we address the root causes and outcomes of racism.

Our commitment includes condemning racism, violence and aggression and the murder of our Black and Brown neighbors. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation unequivocally denounces the killing of George Floyd and demands that justice be served.

Link to statement


Boston Scientific

On May 25, George Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by the knee of a white law enforcement official. George Floyd was being restrained by the police on suspicion of a non-violent crime. His cries for help, bystander pleas for mercy and the terrible manner of his death were all recorded on video.

George Floyd’s death reflects deeply ingrained, long-standing divisions in our society. And it comes at a time when the pandemic has given rise to hate and xenophobia around the world, with rampant acts of violence across the nation, and the spread of misinformation, racial stereotyping and fear. Sadly, George Floyd is one of many who have recently died because of injustice.

As an executive committee, we feel compelled to condemn injustice and discrimination and to reaffirm our commitment to live by our values and cultivate a workplace that makes equality, diversity and openness priorities—a workplace that sets an example for the greater community. These deaths are yet another reminder that we must continue to listen and learn from one another in safe and inclusive environments—and with respect for different perspectives and backgrounds.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As individuals and as an organization, we must stand up against acts of intolerance and racism—as well as behaviors that promote divisiveness. In line with our values at Boston Scientific, we will not accept hate, racism or intolerance of any kind. 

The tragedy in Minneapolis hit particularly close to home for the nearly 9,000 members of the Boston Scientific team who live and work there. The letter below is signed by our leadership team and carries a universal message: We can only heal and grow better together by listening and learning, by having courageous conversations, and by cultivating a trusting environment where all people feel safe, comfortable and empowered to voice their ideas, thoughts and concerns. When we behave this way, we can set an example for all of our communities around the world. We need to do better—and we can.

Mike Mahoney
Chairman and CEO, Boston Scientific

Message from the Executive Committee

The tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd has devastated our community, causing anger, disbelief and fear. Minneapolis is not just where we work. It is a place many of us call home and where many of us raise families. We grieve what has happened in our city and the division it has wrought.

George Floyd’s death calls for us to condemn injustice and discrimination and to reaffirm our commitment to live by our values and cultivate a workplace that makes equality, diversity, and openness priorities—a workplace that sets an example for the greater community. His death is yet another reminder that we must continue to listen and learn from one another in safe and inclusive environments—and with respect for different perspectives and backgrounds.

In the coming weeks, our leadership team will be expanding the real-talk conversations we’ve been having with employee resource groups around the world. We hope these forums will provide an opportunity for you to share your concerns and feelings about what happened.  In the meantime, please keep the following in mind:

  • Speak up when you experience or witness intolerance, mistreatment or bias in action. No matter what the issue, say something. If you don’t know what to say, start by asking, “What did you mean by that?” Listen, then respond calmly based on facts. Saying nothing when such instances arise condones the discrimination or microaggression.

  • Create an inclusive environment for everyone. Seek different perspectives, and respect points of view and communication styles that are different from your own.

  • Process your feelings. Tragedies like this can feel traumatizing, especially for members of marginalized groups. Talking to friends and loved ones can help. Boston Scientific also makes mental health resources available for times when you may need more support through a dedicated employee well-being website and other places.

We are in the business of advancing science for life—for people of every background, color and creed. It’s critical that we continue to talk about discrimination and injustice because dialogue—and action—is the path to a better future. Thank you for commitment to Boston Scientific and to making our global workplace an environment where everyone feels safe, valued and included.

Link to statement


Bush Foundation

It is always upsetting to witness racism and violence. It is particularly upsetting when the racism and violence is close to home. When it is our community. Our police. Our neighbor — George Floyd.

The video of the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week was appalling. It was chilling to watch a man treated with such disregard for his humanity — not in an instant but over several minutes. Not in a swirl of confusion but in a controlled situation with bystanders trying to intervene.

Many of us keep hoping that we have learned from past mistakes. We want to believe we are better than this. I’ve read and heard the killing described as “senseless” by a number of leaders. How do we make sense of something that is senseless?

The crescendo of community unrest in the last few days is an expression of how our communities are hurting and grieving, an anguished outcry about the treatment of our neighbor and those responsible for his death. Each time we have tragic police violence it exposes failures both in our systems and in our culture of community.

We have to fix the formal ways that people are supported by and held accountable in systems. We also have to work on the broader issues of trust and respect and build connections in ways that overcome bias and bring out the best in each other.

We are moving quickly with community partners to provide funding and support for immediate needs related to the crisis. We want to support community-led efforts to recover and heal, physically and spiritually. We’ll share more on that work soon.

We want to be responsive to the state of emergency in the community. We also know that when the current crisis abates, the underlying issues that led to the protests and created the conditions for the riots will still be with us. We know we need to continue to find other ways to help make our communities stronger and more equitable. There is still a lot of work to do.

The Bush Foundation exists to make the region better for everyone. We support communities to come together to solve challenges in creative and inclusive ways. We support leaders to think bigger and think differently about the change they can help make happen.

George Floyd’s tragic death reinforces and energizes us in our commitment. We believe that too many institutions and systems in our region don’t work well for everyone. We believe we need more leaders with the skillsets and mindsets to adapt those institutions and systems — to push for and support people through creative and bold changes, to create a future where every person can thrive. We believe we have the power and responsibility to make a difference and we are committed to supporting people and efforts focused on this throughout the region.

If you are working inclusively and collaboratively to make positive change for our region, please look at our programs to see if we can be of help to you now or in the future. Together, we can make our community stronger and better for everyone.

Jennifer Ford Reedy, President, Bush Foundation

Link to statement
 

Frey Foundation

We are anguished by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. We acknowledge that our community is hurting on so many levels. It is an injustice so great that we are left wondering if, when, and how we will heal.

We have deliberately taken time to reflect, listen, and learn both as individuals and as part of the philanthropic community in the Twin Cities. Strengthening community is central to our mission and we are committed to the health, happiness, and self-sufficiency of our neighbors.  We know that we must use our voice to speak up about racial injustices and take actionable steps to make our city, state, and country a more equitable place to live. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do know that the solution is bigger than any single law or the efforts of any single entity. We also know that we have a responsibility to learn from our past and take bold actions in moving toward a more just world.

We urge our leaders to act for swiftly and justly.

We condemn police brutality and demand a safer community for all people.

We commit to increasing our efforts to listen, learn, and support positive lasting change in our community.

We support all voices and efforts speaking out on social injustice and systemic racism.

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.
 


GHR Foundation

As GHR staff gathered virtually to mourn the police killing of George Floyd, we reflected on what our collective effort must be to interrupt systemic racism in our community. Through our work we’ve come to learn that there is no single answer to inequity—but do know more urgent and coordinated action is required. I am both broken-hearted and outraged by the continued injustice experienced by Black, Brown and Indigenous communities in America. As a White woman, it’s uncomfortable for me to talk about race. And yet, I cannot stand silent like the officers did as they watched George Floyd die.”

Amy Goldman, CEO & Chair, GHR Foundation

Link to statement
 

Greater Twin Cities United Way

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, and Greater Twin Cities United Way mourns the death of George Floyd alongside his family and our community. We join others in calling for justice for George and for reforms that will help prevent tragedies like these from happening again, particularly to our Black and Brown neighbors. Greater Twin Cities United Way envisions a region where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their income, race or place. We can only achieve this vision if we all, together, strive toward equity and denounce racism and violence.”

 John Wilgers, President and CEO, Greater Twin Cities United Way

Link to statement


Initiative Foundation

We join in grieving the death of George Floyd and the violence and destruction that has followed. Our hope now is for justice as well as peace. Like the Twin Cities, Central Minnesota, too, faces longstanding challenges related to racial inequity. The Initiative Foundation is committed to its many efforts aimed at combatting those inequities, and others, guided by its values of civility, localism, diversity and partnership.

Link to statement

James R. Thorpe Foundation

Guided by the values of compassion and respect, The James R. Thorpe Foundation has been dedicated to making the greater Minneapolis area better for all of its citizens for nearly fifty years. The tragic unfolding of George Floyd’s death, combined with the  COVID-19 outbreak, has brought an unprecedented impact to the Minneapolis area which we strongly feel compelled to help address. The Foundation will support broad community responses as well as targeted support for our long-term partners most directly impacted by these events. Ultimately, we join the entire community in recognizing the need for healing and support that will allow our community to not just survive but thrive.

Link to statement

 

The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota

Two weeks ago, a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd with the help of three other officers. All four officers have since been charged with his murder. We have seen with our own eyes the callous nature of this crime and we join our community in demanding justice. We offer our sincere condolences to those who called Mr. Floyd father, brother, son, partner and friend. A family and community have been shattered and we grieve with them.

George Floyd’s death was an entirely unnecessary and avoidable act of violence. And yet, it is an act that has been repeated again and again.

The pattern of police brutality against Black and Brown men and women goes back decades and even centuries, as does the institutional and systemic racism that has plagued our country since its founding. The current push to reform policing in Minneapolis is a good place to start, but we must also acknowledge the larger system that perpetuates violence on and the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown communities. We must also look to ourselves, as racism is a disease and only we can be the cure.

As a foundation that focuses on North Minneapolis, a predominately Black and Brown community, we have made a commitment to addressing inequities and systemic racism through our grantmaking and connections to the community. We understand racial justice work to be intersectional—in which economic justice and educational justice are tied to the system of over-policing in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Today, as we have for the past number of years, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the Northside, and to our commitment to achieving equity by dismantling the racist practices that perpetuate the pervasive culture of racial discrimination.

We know that words are not enough, that our actions as a Foundation matter. To that end, we commit to:

  • Supporting relief efforts in the communities most affected by the burning and destruction of businesses, organizations, and service providers.
  • Supporting rebuilding and redevelopment efforts grounded in community design and ownership.
  • Listening to our community to understand necessary and critical systemic reforms, and how we can best be supportive.
  • Commencing the redevelopment of 927 West Broadway in North Minneapolis along with our partners TRI-Construction and NEW RULES Benefits Corporation

Watch for announcements in the coming weeks about these efforts. As we look to the future, there is much work to be done and this is just the beginning.

For over 75 years, we’ve been committed to improving lives in the Twin Cities and remain resolute in our in our mission to listen and help build an equitable, safe, just, and prosperous future for all.

Link to statement

 

Knight Foundation

George Floyd’s ​killing was a violent injustice -- one that is all too common in our country. We are saddened and heartbroken, and painfully reminded of the continuing impact of racism in the places we live. As a foundation committed to helping build equitable, inclusive and participatory communities, we stand in solidarity with the people of Minneapolis, St. Paul and all of Minnesota as they work to fight racism and to build communities where everyone can engage, prosper and thrive.

Link to statement


Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies

The senseless killing of George Floyd is evidence of the underlying inequities and racism that continue to exist in our community and our country more broadly. The events that followed have highlighted the deep pain and anger within our community. The many demonstrations of solidarity, peaceful protests, and outpourings of support for the impacted communities were in stark contrast to the heartbreaking violence and destruction we saw in area neighborhoods.     

 As we move forward, Margaret A Cargill Philanthropies (MACP) will more formally examine the role equity and inclusion currently play and can play in our grantmaking. We will examine how issues of social inequality and racism show up in each of our grantmaking areas, what our grantee partners are already doing to address these issues, and how we can be part of those or other efforts 

 In addition, MACP will be immediately increasing our funding support for work in our local community to address issues of racism and inequality, help prevent future violence, and help our community begin to heal. We anticipate working with our community foundation partners to put funds to work with well-positioned local organizations who are already doing this work on the ground.   

 We mourn the death of George Floyd and the pain that has ripped through his family, friends, and the entire community in the aftermath. We stand with our community and our grantee partners, and we believe we will make a difference, together.

Link to statement


McKnight Foundation

We are heartbroken over the senseless death of Mr. George Floyd.

We grieve for his family and friends. We recognize the deep pain felt within the Black community and by all who endure acts of violence based on prejudice, and we stand with people of all racial backgrounds who call for community healing and accountability.

As we physically distance ourselves to keep one another safe during this global pandemic, we recognize that long before Covid, some have never felt safe to move freely within their community. This fear is rooted in our country’s history of institutional and systemic racism, perpetuated by policies, practices, and cultural norms. We are committed to working in partnership with others to build a future where the color of our skin does not determine life outcomes and where every person is equally valued.

Equity is a core value of the McKnight Foundation. What happened this week painfully reminds us of the urgent need for our grantmaking to advance a more equitable, inclusive Minnesota and our ongoing support for meaningful systems change. We salute our public leaders and many grantee partners that have responded to yet another trauma in the community while already under enormous stress.

Our state is stronger when we recognize our shared humanity, and we are all better off when we see and treat people first as our neighbors and fellow community members. Together, we must persevere in our efforts until all can thrive.

Link to statement


The Minneapolis Foundation

Every day, we are painfully aware of the work that remains before we can say that we live in a just society. This week’s reminder cuts deep. We grieve with the family and friends of George Floyd, and we grieve with our community. 

We echo Mayor Frey: Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. George Floyd should still be with us today. And Minneapolis should be a place where all people feel safe, protected, and valued. 

The Minneapolis Foundation applauds Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo for the immediate termination of the officers involved in George Floyd’s horrific and fatal encounter with police. As an organization that views equity as our responsibility, we are deeply invested in reforming our criminal justice system to become a system that affords the same rights to all people, regardless of the color of their skin. It’s why we bring our community together to discuss critically needed change with national leaders, and with each other. It’s why we helped fund and participated in the working group focused on police-involved deadly force encounters in Minnesota in partnership with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. 

It’s why we stand with our community today in calling for justice in the horrific events that ended George Floyd’s life. 

Link to statement
 

Morgan Family Foundation

Here we go again.  Another instance of police brutality against a person of color.  The senseless killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer while three other officers stood witness, is our current tragedy.  We, the board and staff of the Morgan Family Foundation, mourn with his family, his friends, the Black community, and all people of conscience.  The despair, the grief, the rage – they are all real, they are all legitimate.  But now, channeling our energies – including our impulses to violence and destruction - to a higher purpose is the way forward. 

Let us come together, regardless of the color of our skin - or any other trait that can be used to divide us, and speak with a unified voice.  Let us form one chorus, woven of the richly textured fabric of diverse lived experiences and shared aspirations.  Let’s work toward a future, sooner rather than later, in which all individuals can thrive and a country can heal.  We seek justice, equity, and peace – and denounce violence in all its forms.  This is hard work, as we know.  While racism is allowed to fester, we will all continue to suffer.  Each of us, especially those who benefit from white privilege, is called to act.  There is no “innocent” bystander – we must change the culture of anti-Blackness, racism, and intolerance of differences. We must demand of ourselves and each other real and lasting change.  We clearly have much work ahead of us.  We aim to remember and honor you, George Floyd, in the work we do every day.

Link to statement
 

Mortenson Family Foundation

Our voice matters. Our action matters more.

We are grieving for George Floyd’s life that was inhumanely taken from him. We are keeping his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. We are grieving with a community that has, once again, been shown that racism can and does take lives, whether it is the social, political and economic aspects of lives or whether it is truly the breath from a body. Our grief comes with anger and frustration. We are angry that senseless deaths of black, indigenous and people of color continue to happen. We are angry that law enforcement systems are harming rather than protecting the people that they are built to serve.

And, after using our voice to express our grief and anger, we need action. We need to change the systems that cause irreparable harm to BIPOC communities. And to ensure that change happens now AND is sustainable, the actions need to come from deeply held values and beliefs. We need to make our commitment to action during a time of grief and anger and then we need to work on it every day of every year – not just those days that our grief and anger provide the energy to dismantle racism. We will carry George’s memory with us as we continue and deepen our commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive community through increasing the grants that support work by and for community, increasing investments in and with communities of color, and making every daily choice we have with equity in mind.

Link to statement
 

Northwest Area Foundation

We are devastated that another Black man—George Floyd—has suffered and died after a brutal interaction with Minneapolis police officers on Monday evening. George Floyd’s family and our local community grieve and hunger for justice. So do we.

Yet, none of us is surprised.

The senseless violence inflicted on George Floyd reflects the racial injustice we see on a daily basis produced by policies and systems designed to produce just that: racial injustice. We’ve seen it in the disproportionate impact of the current pandemic on Black communities, in the racial wealth gap that continues to grow, and in a criminal justice system that so frequently devalues and debases Black lives.

The Minneapolis Police Department and the officers involved must be held accountable for the abuse of George Floyd. Just as importantly, the policing system must change, or it will continue to produce the same result: destruction of Black lives.

As a foundation committed to racial equity, we will continue to drive for change and support Black leadership, which advances that change every day for Black communities. George Floyd’s death, in our own backyard, evokes the long history of systemic racism in this country and reminds us that we still have urgent work to do.

Link to statement

Northwest Minnesota Foundation

We are heartbroken over the senseless loss of life, violence, and destruction. We grieve for the family and friends of Cody Holte in our region’s East Grand Forks and Hendrum communities and George Floyd in the Twin Cities. We are humbly reminded of the work yet to be done to prevent violence and create a just and equitable society.
 
To that end—we are granting funding to the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, and Region for community recovery and violence prevention. We will continue to partner with other foundations across Minnesota in a collective commitment to racial equity.
 
We denounce violence and racism and seek to lift up compassion and humility.


Otto Bremer Trust

We are stunned by the death of George Floyd and share the outrage felt by so many citizens. At the Otto Bremer Trust, we will work to see that his tragic death will become the impetus to bring the diverse members of our communities together to find and support solutions to issues involving race and equity. These issues are fundamental to citizenship, a core tenet of Otto Bremer during his lifetime and with OBT for 75 years.

In our work over many years we have seen indisputable evidence that people, organizations, and communities can collaborate to illuminate issues, identity options, and then implement solutions. We know that this work takes determination and perseverance to achieve real change.

It is in this spirit that we commit to work with others to seek understanding and find common ground as we strive to address these critical issues.

Link to statement


Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation

Daily, it seems, we are reminded of the work yet to do as we work to create a just and equitable society.

Today the reminder is in our backyard. We grieve with our neighbors, with the family and friends of George Floyd, and all those who call out for justice in our community. At the Foundation we are committed to dismantling a belief in a hierarchy of human value, with a focus on racial equity. Our work as a community foundation is not done until all lives are valued equally.

Link to statement


Sauer Family Foundation

We are heartbroken over the senseless death of Mr. George Floyd.  Our sympathies go out to his family and friends at this blatant lack of concern and care for another human being from one of our police officers.  Let this be the last tragedy of an unarmed black man. 

We grieve with the African American community and now the business owners devastated by the violence in our cities.  We are grateful for the peaceful demonstrations of free speech telling leaders what needs to change. We understand the frustration and anger but call for an end to the violence and destruction that further traumatize our neighborhoods and our children.

Beginning with criminal justice, all systemic racism in personnel and policies that keep our African American neighbors living in fear must be eradicated. Racism in all other systems in our state must also be addressed until real transformation has been achieved.  

The Sauer Family Foundation remains committed to our work to transform a Child Welfare System that disproportionally removes children from African American and Native American families.  We are committed to addressing the racial inequities in our education system and increasing the number of teachers and leaders of color. 

We need to work together until each one of the systems in Minnesota has been transformed; until African Americans and all people of color in our state know they are accepted, safe, and free from injustice.

Trustees and Staff, Sauer Family Foundation


Securian Financial Foundation

The horrific death of George Floyd has left our community feeling outraged, unsettled and profoundly sad. This situation once again shines a light on the unacceptable and systemic racism, inequity and injustice in America.

Just as our business leaders have confirmed their commitment to the principals of greater equity, diversity and inclusion in their companies and their communities, so must we in the philanthropic community.

The Securian Financial Foundation is recommitting to ensuring we live in vibrant communities where justice, equity and inclusion are upheld and honored. We have unique influence and it must be used for good. We invite our philanthropic partners to join us and demonstrate that we’re here, we’re ready and we’re committed.

Securian Financial and the Securian Financial Foundation believe we can help create a stronger, more inclusive community. Together, we will fight harder today, tomorrow and beyond

Together, we will fight harder to do the right thing today, tomorrow and beyond.

Nicole Hansen
The Securian Financial Foundation


Sheltering Arms Foundation

We Stand in Solidarity

It has been a little over a week since the senseless killing of George Floyd and like all community members, the staff and board of the Sheltering Arms Foundation are trying to address overwhelmingly intense reactions. We both grieve and are outraged by the actions of the police.  We see the forces of institutionalized racism that led to the murder of Mr. Floyd in the communities we fund and care about and the impact on the lives of children in those communities.

The opportunity gap between children of color and their white peers in Minnesota is greater than anywhere else in the country.  Covid-19 has deeply impacted communities of color in Minnesota. We commit to continued efforts to dismantle institutionalized racism and to address how it impacts our organization as well as the broader field of philanthropy.  We call for justice for George Floyd and for all who are victimized by racist policies and actions in our communities.  We commit to being a part of the effort to build a more just Minnesota.

The Board and Staff of the Sheltering Arms Foundation

 

Southwest Initaitive Foundation

Our Commitment to Change

Together with people across our state, country and around the globe, we grieve the senseless death of George Floyd. Our hearts ache for the pain our communities are experiencing. Longstanding disparities that separate people along racial and economic lines must be addressed and we ask our friends and partners to be part of this work.

We hope that this pivotal moment in history will spark reflection, learning and change, and Southwest Initiative Foundation commits to doing our part. Our vision is for our communities to be a place where all people thrive. We believe that dignity and belonging are core human values, and we will work together with communities to address the systems and barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential. At a time of division and uncertainty, we must lead with our organizational values of equity, collaboration, integrity, curiosity and optimism to help ensure a safe and better future for all.

Diana Anderson, Southwest Initiative Foundation President & CEO


Tiwahe Foundation

All My Relatives,

As an Indigenous-led foundation built on the values of kinship, respect, trust, and generosity, we are heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. We stand in solidarity to demand his murderers be charged and held accountable for his death. We ask that you join us in prayer and peaceful action as we work towards justice for George Floyd and his family.

From everyday indignities to outright murder, we bear witness to the attempts by police and government to displace black and brown communities from home and community. As American Indians, we call for an end to settler-colonial violence and racism. We call for solutions rooted in decolonization, peace-making, and justice. May we lift one another up as keepers and as caretakers of Turtle Island. We will continue to stand in solidarity with our Black, Indigenous and People of Color to find solutions. Violence is not the answer.

Shirley K. Sneve, Executive Director, Tiwahe Foundation
 

Women's Foundation of Minnesota

We grieve the loss of George Floyd’s life at the hands of law enforcement, and we mourn the pain that has again been inflicted on all Black lives in our city, our state, and our country. We stand in solidarity with movement leaders and call for justice for George Floyd and so many other lives.

In a culture that continually reinforces white supremacy, justice can only be achieved when we confront and repair the anti-Blackness that is woven through every aspect of society—in our homes, schools, workplaces, communities, places of worship, and government.

At the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, our vision of gender equity is indelibly bound to racial equity. The women’s movement can only be fully realized when we center the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and women of color who experience state-sanctioned violence directly and through the men and boys in their lives.

We believe and are committed to the hope that people and institutions can learn, grow, and change, but first we must confront the stark inequities and injustice in our systems, center the impacted communities and invest in their leadership, and collectively build power so that all people can create and lead safe, prosperous lives.

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Ally Statements

Borealis Philanthropy

The shockingly brazen murder of George Floyd while he pleaded for his life has shown in unmistakable terms what anti-Black racism and police brutality look like in the United States. While Mr. Floyd’s horrifying death has galvanized millions, state-sanctioned violence against Black people happens every day. This week we also mourn Breonna Taylor, Dion Johnson and Tony McDade, and many others whose names we don’t know.

Much has been written in our sector over the past few days in response to these murders. In crises like this, funders typically rush to make rapid response grants to show concern. While we applaud the impulse to do something now, this approach is at best a band-aid and, at worst, can send grantees on a boom-and-bust rollercoaster.

When communities came together in grief and outrage over the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Freddie Gray, funders pledged to support them. Yet, as Will Cordery writes in Nonprofit Quarterly, “Less than three years after Mike Brown passed [in August 2014], the philanthropic commitment for Black-led movement work had largely unraveled.”

Despite the creativity and resilience of Black communities, and the progress they have made with minimal funding, philanthropy’s disinvestment in Black communities has had real and painful consequences. This time, our sector must make a long-term commitment to fund grassroots organizations working to end anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence. 

Borealis’ Approach

Bottom-up change has led to every expansion of rights in US history because directly affected people always have the most at stake. Borealis regards directly affected communities as the essential creative force in the larger arc of social change, and we’ve built Borealis from the ground up as a vehicle to resource these communities. Our donor collaboratives fund brilliant, grassroots organizations and frontline communities that are devising solutions to complex societal problems.

As philanthropy considers how it can and should show up in this moment and⁠—critically⁠—in the months, years, and decades to come, Borealis offers some examples of our work:

  • Our Black-led Movement Fund supports local Black-led organizing groups and the connective capacity of the Movement for Black Lives. Grantees include Black Visions Collective in Minnesota, which has become a central organizing hub in the Twin Cities, providing leadership in this critical moment.
  • Our Communities Transforming Policing Fund supports local organizing and policy advocacy to increase transparency and accountability in policing, and to shift power and resources from the police and carceral state to communities most impacted by the criminal legal system.
  • Our Fund for Trans Generations supports frontline trans-led organizations to advance the safety, security, and rights of transgender people, especially Black, Indigenous and other communities of color addressing criminalization and gender-based violence.
  • Our Spark Justice Fund supports local organizing and advocacy groups to end cash bail, transform pretrial reforms, and build the power of communities most impacted by incarceration.
  • Our Transforming Movements Fund supports young LGBTQ leaders of color and their organizations to play a unique bridging role between movements so they may be more inclusive, connected and effective.
  • Our Racial Equity in Journalism Fund supports journalism by and about communities of color, a valuable counterweight to misinformation and gaps in coverage by mainstream or social media.

Beyond program strategy, funders can also move beyond crisis funding by examining and changing how they make grants and who is bringing lived experience to their staff and boards. For example,

We know that we still have much work to do to better support our grantees and to help philanthropy make long overdue changes, but we are committed to doing that work.

Three Things Funders Can Do Right Now

Here are three steps funders can take immediately:

There is much work to be done, and we can’t afford to waste this opportunity to get it right. We invite you to join us in investing in long-term partnerships with communities working to end anti-Black violence and police brutality, and build lasting freedom and dignity for Black and other communities of color.

In Solidarity,

Borealis Philanthropy Staff

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Funders Together

During the global pandemic, my colleague Tabitha, has been reminding us to breathe. She and my other team members often begin and end every Zoom meeting asking us and our members to take deep breaths and remember to breathe throughout the week.  Since watching the public lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, it has been harder to breathe. When Breonna Taylor was ambushed in her home by police and killed, my breathing became heavy in despair. And then watching another public lynching in the death of George Floyd, it became impossible to breath. We, Black people, lost our breath with George as he cried out that he could not breathe. 

I honestly don’t have any words to say that give justice to the pain of racism and oppression. The knee on our collective neck is the structural racism that is persistent and pervasive in every aspect of our lives. We are afraid to run, drive, sit in our homes and eat ice cream, or watch birds.

We also know that racism is taking every opportunity from us to feel like we can breathe without oppression in our housing, education, health, and criminal legal system. The public lynching of Black men takes our breath away and the constant structural racism is killing us slowly, leaving us gasping for air as we call out for real change through anti-racist polices.

And what makes it hard to catch a breath is we know the system is not broken. It was designed by white supremacist slave-owners on stolen Indigenous land to protect their interest. It is working just as it was designed. 

No matter how many Black men, women, transgender men, transgender women, non-binary people, and young children are killed in front of our eyes, the cycle of attention and inattention continues. We were called to a new sense of urgency when Trayvon Martin was killed without justice, and some of us started to say with our words and actions that Black Lives Matter. From Eric Garner who first reminded us “We Can’t Breathe”, to Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, the election of 2016, Charlottesville, and so many names that fill up a whole page, the urgency only continues to grow. But why does it take someone being killed on camera for us to wake up, when Black people have been grasping for air telling you they are in pain because the oppression and inequities of our systems are too much to bear any longer?

What does it say about America when books we’ve been begging people to read about racial justice and anti-racist policies only sell out when White America is forced to watch two public lynchings in less than a month? The question we have to ask ourselves is why do we say violence is not the answer whenever there is an uprising, yet violence against Black people is the only thing that causes us to wake up and act?

I balked at the thought of even writing a statement. Aren’t we all tired of that cycle as well? Another Black person is murdered, people write statements and articles calling for change, and then the world’s short memory kicks in as it attempts to go “back to normal” and uphold its oppressive systems all while claiming that this time is different.

Given Funders Together's commitment to racial equity, a statement condemning the deaths of Black people at the hand of government sanctioned racism should come as no surprise, and in fact, should be expected. I am Black woman CEO leading an organization that has a board that is a majority people of color and a diverse staff. We last week started another racial equity webinar series on anti-Black racism. We work to identify and dismantle white supremacy culture that prevents us from making progress in our pursuit of racial justice. So, our voice is important and needed.

But during several moments this weekend where I could barely breathe at the pain of knowing we were here once again, I cried out to my white friends and colleagues to say something. Their silence was painful. It was not enough for them to be doing the work of racial equity behind the scenes. As imperfect and problematic as their words might be, I needed them to speak out: to speak out to other white people, to honor that the work of being anti-racist is to sit and listen without defense or fragility to people of color with lived expertise, to study and understand the racialized history of our country. Then when the time is right, to consistently and persistently speak and act loudly and boldly and be more than ally, but a co-conspirator for our shared liberation.

Several leaders stepped up. While we need to center the voices of Black people, we also must recognize it is not our job to fix the problem alone.

I ask you to take the time this week to read the pieces below to reckon with how philanthropy’s action or inaction has perpetuated and enabled structural racism. Then use your voice and take anti-racist action daily, not just when there is another Black person killed for all of the world to see.

Amanda Andere, Funders Together CEO

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Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island

From a Broken World to a New Better

Many of us have heavy hearts from the events of the last weeks and months, watching the lives of people of color be snuffed out by racial violence and the disproportionate impact of a relentless virus.

I want to reach out to our members of color to offer our solidarity and support, and our commitment to continue the work we have begun on racial equity.  We clearly live in a world that is broken, and its sharp edges predominantly scar those whose skin pigments are darker than mine.

In some ways, the pandemic, and the release of videos of racial injustice, are lightening strikes in the midst of a devastating storm.  They shine light on generations of accumulated damage, a legacy of racism that affects the health and well-being and hope of our colleagues, neighbors and friends.

As we move forward in supporting our communities in this pandemic and come together to build “A New Better,” we need to continue to center the work of racial equity, and learn to be better allies and partners in the work of dismantling perspectives, practices and structures that perpetuate harm against communities and individuals of color.

Read the full statement from Nancy Wolanski, Director, Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island

 

Helen J. Serini Foundation

We talk a lot about systems change at the Helen J. Serini Foundation. It’s a key phrase in our mission statement, and as much as we try not to fall back on technical jargon, it’s a cornerstone of our “theory of change.”

But we’ve never explicitly talked about what systems change means to us, and we now realize that that is an oversight. Because we don’t want to imply that the current systems in which we live and work—education, employment, housing, food access, healthcare, and so many more—are broken. In fact, we’ve come to believe they are working just as they were designed: by (rich) white (mostly) men, for white men and women. And as an all-white board and staff, we benefit from those very same racist systems we purport to change.

It’s a tricky paradigm in philanthropy, to want to work to change the systems that made your very existence as a foundation possible, and one I and our other board members and staff continue to grapple with as individuals and as a collective. But we realize, in light of the tensions and uprisings across the country today—so reminiscent of the uprising in Baltimore following the murder of Freddie Gray—that we can’t grapple with that contradiction silently or behind closed doors anymore. 

We don’t have all the answers. Far from it. We’re imperfect, and we’ve messed up, and we will continue to do so. And even knowing that, we are committed to both learning and unlearning all of the patterns and behaviors that have upheld this functional, but racist, system for so long. Specifically, we plan to:

  • Engage in additional board training around racial equity and white privilege, both as a whole and as it relates to the philanthropic and non-profit sectors

  • Offer resources, including financial investment, to our grant partners to engage in racial equity trainings themselves

  • Invest in organizations led by communities of color to serve communities of color

 All lives simply cannot matter until we prove that Black lives matter. Our hope has always been that our grantmaking can, in some small way, help to change the systems of our country to fully reflect that statement. Now we add our voice to the many calling for change, and pledge to push harder for that change within ourselves and our organization while continuing to work towards racial equity on a systemic level.

Paul Serini, President, Helen J. Serini Foundation

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Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Silence is Complicity

At the time we’ve reached the unthinkable milestone of 100,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19, we’ve also witnessed the murders of too many Black Americans at the hands of violence and white supremacy: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor. These are merely a few of the names of Black individuals that have died at the hands of racism — there are unfortunately many more that have gone unnoticed and unheard of by the public. Racism is a virus too.

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Southern California Grantmakers

My heart is heavy mourning the murder of George Floyd and the 100,000 lives lost during the past few months of the coronavirus pandemic.

As philanthropy shifts our response to support our communities' recovery, we have resoundingly agreed not to go back to normal. At the beginning of this long and challenging road to recovery, we must acknowledge the realities of this so-called "normal."

It is normal for communities of color to be in crisis for hundreds of years.
It is normal for Black, Indigenous, and people of color to be invisible, oppressed, criminalized, excluded, tokenized, weaponized, and erased.
It is normal for our friends, colleagues, neighbors, and fellow citizens to be hurt and deprived of equitable opportunities to thrive.


But acknowledgment is not enough. We must work to eliminate these devastating, structural, systemic inequities that have become normal. We need to create a new normal altogether. 

I have been inspired and moved by the wisdom of our colleagues. In the past few weeks, the SCG community has heard directly from social justice leaders such as Michelle Burton (Community Health Councils), Deepa Iyer (Building Movement Project), Angela Mooney D'Arcy (Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples), Lyell Sakaue (Bridgespan), and also Aimee Allison (She the People), Cathy Cha (Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund), Sonja Diaz (Latino Public Policy Institute), Shena Ashley (Urban Institute). These thoughtful partners reminded us that the COVID-19 pandemic hit our most vulnerable communities the hardest because it lays bare and amplifies pre-existing systemic inequities.

Christine Essel, SCG President

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Women's Fund of Rhode Island

In the week since four police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, there has been a collective call not only for justice, but also for philanthropy to resource systemic change by supporting organizations that are taking real steps to end the undeniable racism and injustice baked into our society that defines Black lives as expendable.

As women’s funds, foundations, and gender justice funders, we cannot erase the image of Mr. Floyd calling for his mother. We understand that the outcomes of state violence are woven deeply into Black women’s experience. There is no gender justice without racial justice.

Whether it’s migrant children in cages crying for their mothers, indigenous communities that suffer the highest rate of police violence nationally and systemic disregard for missing and murdered indigenous women, or the brutalizing effects of the criminal justice system on Black communities - women of color, especially Black women, not only suffer the loss of children to police violence, they are also the targets of that violence - including Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in her Louisville, Kentucky home back in March.

Our humanity is dying from racism.

For too long, Black people have been silenced and killed under the physical and mental violence of the carceral system — built by, and for, the preservation of a patriarchal, racist world view. Each of us must act now to demand an end to this chapter in our history.

We urge our colleagues in philanthropy to support organizations that are mobilizing to advance community-based solutions. Give generously to organizations on the frontline of change, including to your local women’s fund or foundation. Women’s funds are system change institutions that multiply every size gift 10x primarily by supporting women of color-led organizations that are mapping an inclusive economy built on racial and gender equity and justice.

The only way to end the cycle of government violence against Black people is to act every single day. Use your voice. Use your vote. Use your money. As women’s funds, foundations, and gender justice funders – we stand with Black communities in the affirmation of Black lives, and vow to work with all who envision a world free from the institutions and violence perpetrated by racism and patriarchy.


 

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