We're writing to you as members of the Board of Directors and as fellow WDN members who are channeling our rage and grief at the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd — and countless others — into action in this moment.
We are protesting for justice. We are having hard conversations with loved ones. We are listening to Black leaders and examining how we are each a part of this broken system. But this is not enough — we must do more.
Earlier this week, many of us were on a webinar with the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), which administers a network of over 150 Black-led organizations across the country. Their call to us was clear — this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to fundamentally shift the way society treats and serves its Black members. They challenged us to shift from being their long-standing allies to becoming accomplices with them to actively help dismantle the structures that oppress.
The organizers acknowledged that an idea as bold as defunding the police (and we know that is a charged phrase) is a paradigm shift akin to the end of Jim Crow laws and even to the end of slavery. Their calls for sweeping change challenge us to be courageous and follow their lead.
What does this powerful call to action mean for us in dollars and cents? M4BL asked the philanthropic sector at large to commit at least $50 million right now, and to make sustained commitments in the years to come.
Since 2017, WDN has granted a total of $3.12 million to organizations in the Movement for Black Lives ecosystem, and that includes $1.05 million already this year. In rising to this call, WDN will be moving an additional $500,000 to organizations under the M4BL umbrella in the next two weeks but when the stakes are this high, we want to move a full MILLION. Can we match ourselves and find new resources to give to this movement? The Hardisty Steering Committee is poised to do the work to get our funds into the hands of movement leaders.
New resources are the key words here. M4BL leaders were emphatic that this funding should not take away from other movements we’ve committed to. We must “liberate” new funds, and we must do it now.
We hope you’ll join us in taking action. And we ask you to follow the lead of our colleagues at the Third Wave Fund who called on donors to write a check with an amount that "makes your hands sweat."
You can on this page or mail a check to WDN, PO Box 2930, San Francisco, CA 94126. As we each contemplate how we show up in this moment, we are asking you to join us in being bold. Please let us know what your plans are for rising to this moment.
Yours in solidarity and community,
Jamie McMahon, Board Chair
Maggie Kulyk, Vice Chair
Leena Barakat, Treasurer
Heidi Yewman, Secretary
Donna P. Hall, President & CEO