From the death of Justice Ginsburg, to ongoing protests around police killings of Black men and women, to the unjustified deployment of federal forces and the appearance of White Nationalist militias, it’s hard to remember a time in recent memory when our nation was so publicly rattled to its core by issues of justice, racial equity, rule of law, and freedom of political expression. At Proteus, we are horrified, yet not at all surprised, by these events. Our resolve is strengthened and our focus sharpened by the thousands of individuals and organizations mobilizing on the ground, in the courts, and in legislative chambers around the country. We know that the work of our grantees and allies, including the significant non-partisan civic engagement efforts we’ve funded in 2020 to protect democracy and advance racial, queer and gender justice will shape national events in the months and years ahead.
Across Proteus, we are both actively responding to the challenges our nation faces today and building momentum for whatever comes next: The Piper Fund is expanding its efforts to defend the right to protest through targeted funding in key states likely to experience additional crackdowns and also by creating a new rapid response communications infrastructure for the period between Election Day and inauguration. The Rights, Faith and Democracy Collaborative is finding innovative ways to respond to the unprecedented attacks on reproductive health access, LGBTQ equality, and religious freedom as a whole. Through the launch of the RFD Network, which allows advocates from across the country to collaborate in an intentionally intersectional space, and cross-movement partnerships to create a new narrative around religious freedom, advocates are better positioned to respond to the avalanche of efforts to weaponize religion and undermine decades’ worth of advancement in civil rights law and policy. The RISE Together Fund continues to draw attention to the need to fund directly impacted communities in response to the twin pandemics of COVID and institutional racism. This includes thought leadership on the underinvestment in Black-led work and a recent funder briefing to highlight the diversity and contributions of the Black Muslim community to social justice movements.
— Paul Di Donato
President and CEO, Proteus Fund
From the White House to the Supreme Court, the powers that be are assaulting our democracy in so many ways, it’s hard to keep track. In light of newly emerging threats to marriage equality and the separation of church and state at our nation’s highest court, we revisit a recent piece from RFDC’s Leah Pryor-Lease looking at two recent Supreme Court decisions that give employers much broader license to sidestep anti-discrimination protections for a host of religious or moral reasons. Those decisions are likely to prompt even more blatant discrimination against women and others needing reproductive health care, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, and people with disabilities.
Additional pieces shed light on the strategies and tactics needed to fight back against the many ways the radical right is continuing to gut decades’ worth of civil rights advances: the egregious and mounting impact of the Muslim ban and efforts to undermine the Census and further disenfranchise People of Color and poor and working-class Americans.
Proteus and its grantees, donors and other allies have always fought for historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities —but now is the moment for unprecedented action. Piper Fund’s Julia Reticker-Flynn explains why Americans’ right to protest has never been more important—and has never been more threatened.
Our team also examines the need to amplify the voices of Black & Brown faith leaders who hold a more equitable and inclusive vision of religious freedom, the responsibility of philanthropy to finally address racial disparities in grantmaking, and the vital work of one of our newest fiscally sponsored projects.
An Incomplete Choir: The Necessity of Black and Brown Voices in Religious Freedom Debates
Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative
Five months ago, none of us understood the extent to which COVID-19 would still be impacting the everyday reality of our entire country. Back in April, Proteus joined 700 foundations and philanthropic organizations in a pledge to simplify grant applications, increase unrestricted giving, and minimize reporting requirements. And that commitment won’t end; philanthropy has an ethical and programmatic responsibility to continue to evolve to work with grantees in confronting the pandemic.
Read on to see how RISE Together Fund has responded to the crisis; to discover how our fiscally sponsored project, Third Wave Fund, is providing rapid-response funding; and to explore the relationship between democracy reform and an equitable road to recovery.
Operating In the Time of COVID
Rise Together Fund