This week I talked with Vanessa Daniel, Founder and Executive Director of Groundswell Fund the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement about the launching of their new Liberation Fund to support the leadership of women of color and transgender people of color. Groundswell believes that these two groups bear the greatest vulnerability with the Trump administration’s agenda immersed in white supremacy and misogyny in the U.S. and their leadership role is vital in the larger resistance movement. The fund launches with an initial $500,000 and its first set of grantees will be curated by 15 advisors, prominent women of color leading in a variety of sectors from environmental, racial and economic justice, to immigrant, Native and transgender rights. The Liberation Fund’s expansive approach advances Groundswell’s mission of reproductive justice by ensuring that we all have the power to make decisions about our bodies, families and futures. The fund is now accepting donations and the first Liberation Fund grants will be awarded this summer at the recommendation of the fund’s advisors. I talked to Vanessa about what she hopes to accomplish with her crucial grassroots funding organization and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.
When asked what her personal commitment is to LGBTQ civil rights Daniel stated:
Well I’m a queer woman of color and my wife and I are mommas of a five year old daughter and we’re part of the vibrant queer community of Oakland, California. So my commitment to LGBT rights stems from my desire to live in a world where my family and my whole community can be free. So that’s part of why I have built an organization at Groundswell that has a staff and board that strongly includes LGBTQ people in leadership in our mission statement.
Under Vanessa Daniel’s leadership Groundswell has moved more than $32 million to the reproductive justice movement with a focus on grassroots organizing led by women of color, low income women and transgender people. Ninety percent of Groundswell’s giving goes to work led by women of color. Vanessa’s roots in labor and community organizing inspired a unique funding model at Groundswell with a program staff team of women of color who come directly out of grassroots organizing and who support grantees through grant-making, capacity building and funder organizing to raise the visibility of grantee work in the broader funder/donor community. Groundswell’s work includes the only fund in the country dedicated to supporting access to birth justice for women of color and transgender people and the most robust women of color-led Integrated Voter Engagement training program in the U.S. Vanessa currently serves on the Board of Directors of Common Counsel Foundation and on the steering committee for the Health and Environmental Funder’s Network. She has a B.A. in American Ethnic Studies from Smith College and is a graduate of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program. This year Groundswell is predicted to move $7 million in grassroots organizing grants.