2020 National Philanthropy Day Award Honoree

Headwaters Foundation for Justice
Amplifying the power of community to advance equity and justice

Headwaters_Foundation_for_Justice.jpgHeadwaters Foundation for Justice was established in Minnesota in 1984 when a group of progressive donors got together. They believed that the people who directly experienced society’s injustices were the people who knew the way to collective liberation. That founding group used their beliefs to change philanthropy’s landscape and created a new grantmaking model—one that shifted power away from funders and wealthy donors and instead placed power in the hands of the people. This was the start of a community-centered, trust-centered grantmaking model.

Today, Headwaters still relies on people from the community to guide their grantmaking, and they prioritize community organizing that centers Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC). To date, they have awarded more than $10 million to organizations across Minnesota.

Headwaters has three main grantmaking programs. The Giving Project Grant Program invests in organizations that lead grassroots organizing work; the Fund of Sacred Circle supports Minnesota- and Wisconsin-based Native American organizations that address systemic injustices; and the Community Innovation Grant Program is a project-specific opportunity promoting problem solving solutions that lead to more effective, equitable, and sustainable solutions.  

Headwaters understood how systemic racism made the changes and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic feel heavier in communities where BIPOC lived, worked, and organized – communities of people who risked their safety making deliveries, cleaning hospital rooms, sheltering in place with a violent partner, or living in overcrowded conditions. In response, they created the Communities First Fund in March 2020, and rapidly raised over $1 million in funds for BIPOC-led community organizations responding to the pandemic.

Notably, the Foundation also established The Transformation Fund in late May 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Having raised over $2 million, The Transformation Fund prioritizes frontline BIPOC-led organizations working to change systemic racism, institutional violence, and white supremacy.

Photo by Fotos for Barcelona

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