Our Issue Areas

Democracy

A functioning, representative democracy that works for everybody serves as an essential foundation to advancing and protecting human and civil rights. Democracy is the pathway to achieving rights and justice for communities who have been excluded from shaping their own societies, and the road to achieving dignity for every individual. This is true for democracy as a system of government itself, as well as its norms and institutions – internationally and here in the United States, at both the highest and most local levels of government.

Piper Fund, our longest-tenured program, is a donor collaborative that gives a stronger voice to disenfranchised communities and defends democratic ideals and institutions. We collaborate with funders and movement leaders to build community power and create a healthy democracy that protects fundamental rights for all individuals.

Many of our fiscally sponsored projects and donor advised funds also work to protect and strengthen democracy. These include projects advocating for transparency, accountability, and participation among the governments of United Nations member states, initiatives advancing public education around reform of electoral systems and voter access, and research and consulting projects exploring both why democracy is fragile and how it can be strengthened.

Human Rights

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attended; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

Our commitment to protecting and advancing human rights ranges from the small places, close to home that Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently described, to supporting large-scale networks of changemakers working to ensure the safety, health, rights, and dignity of individuals around the globe. As a grantmaker, we support movements to advance civil rights, empower communities, and achieve justice.

As the only national donor collaborative dedicated to supporting Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) communities, the Security & Rights Collaborative works to combat profiling, discrimination, hate crimes, anti-Muslim bigotry and xenophobia in our nation. Together with our partners, we aim to defeat emboldened opposition and empower MASA communities to work in common cause with allies across a range of movements for justice.

Almost all of our work seeks to advance human rights – from our donor collaboratives to the family foundations we have managed. Many of our fiscally sponsored projects work to advance human rights, from building networks of funders and advocates through affinity groups (including Human Rights Funders Network, our longest-tenured fiscally sponsored project), to providing grants and further support to NGOs and other on-the-ground organizations, to advocating for civil rights and working towards justice for a number of different communities.

Proteus Fund is a member of Human Rights Funders Network and Grantmakers Concerned about Immigrants and Refugees.

Peace

Proteus Fund grew out of the peace movement – it’s our longest-standing commitment. We believe that every human has a right to a peaceful existence, which means residing in a stable, resilient society, being free from state and military violence, and living within a nation whose priorities reflect the valuation of human life, not continuous reinvestment in the military-industrial complex.
We manage the Colombe Peace Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to building and sustaining movements for peace.

LGBTQI Justice

We have a deep commitment to advancing LGBTQI justice in the United States. People should be free to live without fear of discrimination, persecution, violence, or denial of services based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our work seeks to protect basic rights, build intersectional coalitions, and engage in public education across different advocacy issues to advance full realization of justice for LGBTQI individuals and communities.

Recognizing that victories in the LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements advance one another, the Rights, Faith and Democracy Collaborative aligns and unifies leaders and organizations into diverse coalitions to maximize efforts. Together, we fight against discrimination under the guise of religious liberty – while advocating for the freedom of legitimate religious expression.

We were also the home of the Civil Marriage Collaborative, which closed in 2016 after playing a key role in winning the freedom to marry nationwide.

We serve as fiscal sponsor to Third Wave Fund, an activist fund led by and for women of color, intersex, queer and trans people under 35 years of age that resources and supports youth-led Gender Justice activism to advance the political power, well-being, and self-determination of communities of color and low-income communities.

Proteus Fund is a member of Funders for LGBTQ Issues.

Racial Justice

We believe that achieving racial justice is integral to nearly every struggle for progress. To live in the country, and world, that we all dream of, we will have to dismantle systemic racism and rebuild a new society that is truly equitable. This means supporting grassroots work led by communities of color, facilitating efforts for solidarity, and leading the privileged towards a place of true allyship.

As the only national donor collaborative dedicated to supporting Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) communities, the Security & Rights Collaborative works to combat profiling, discrimination, hate crimes, anti-Muslim bigotry and xenophobia in our nation. Together with our partners, we aim to defeat emboldened opposition and empower MASA communities to work in common cause with allies across a range of movements for justice.

The Rights, Faith and Democracy Collaborative builds diverse coalitions led by communities of color to fight against discrimination under the guise of religious liberty – while advocating for the freedom of legitimate religious expression.

Piper Fund, a donor collaborative dedicated to creating a healthy democracy that protects fundamental rights, advocates for broader funding of grassroots democracy reform work led by communities of color.

We are also proud to serve as fiscal sponsor to EmbraceRace, a multiracial community of parents, teachers, experts, and other caring adults who support each other to meet the challenges that race poses to our children, families, and communities.

Proteus Fund is a member of Funders for Justice.

Gender Justice

We believe that gender justice has important applications beyond women’s rights, gender equality, reproductive justice, and ending gender-based violence. Third Wave Fund defines gender justice as a movement to end patriarchy, transphobia, and homophobia and to create a world free from misogyny.

We work towards gender justice, and ending systemic gender-based oppression, by supporting work led by the most impacted – including queer, trans, intersex and GNC people; communities of color; and Millennial women.

Recognizing that victories in the LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements advance one another, the Rights, Faith and Democracy Collaborative aligns and unifies leaders and organizations into diverse coalitions to maximize efforts. Together, we fight against discrimination under the guise of religious liberty – while advocating for the freedom of legitimate religious expression.

We serve as fiscal sponsor to Third Wave Fund, an activist fund led by and for women of color, intersex, queer and trans people under 35 years of age that resources and supports youth-led Gender Justice activism to advance the political power, well-being, and self-determination of communities of color and low-income communities.

Other Proteus Fund fiscally sponsored projects work to connect philanthropists funding women’s human rights and to prevent violence against women in the global south.

Intersectional Movements

There are many ways to pursue a more just, equitable, and democratic world. Our approach to this goal is built on supporting intersectional community-based movements at the local and state level. This is the approach taken by all three of our donor collaboratives: beyond grantmaking, our collaboratives work closely with grantees, other aligned funders and allied organizations to build capacity, empower grassroots leaders, connect movements to each other, and create sustainable and effective organizations.

We have a number of fiscally sponsored projects dedicated to building strong movements. Some of these focus on single, broadly applicable tactics – such as narratives or strategic communications. Some are dedicated to funding emerging grassroots work, with an emphasis on rapid response.

Proteus Fund is a member of Neighborhood Funders Group.