Like the Fearless Fund, the Ford Foundation is working to address the many kinds and categories of inequality that have informed the American experience from the very beginning, despite the democratic aspirations imbued into our founding charters of freedom. It is deeply ironic—and fundamentally misguided—to suggest that the Constitution now prevents us from reckoning with the disparities of the present in order to build a more just and equal future.

Our grantmaking is the ultimate expression of our fundamental belief in equal opportunity and human dignity. As a lawyer, a philanthropist, and an American, I am proud to join my fellow funders in supporting the Fearless Fund and defending our First Amendment rights.

Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation

Read the full statement of support here:

We Stand for the Right to Exercise Our Views Through Charitable Giving 

We believe that philanthropic organizations, charitable programs, and individual donors have the right to exercise their values and views through giving money and other resources, as protected by the First Amendment. That includes efforts to support historically marginalized groups.

Right now, those fundamental rights are under attack, in the form of a lawsuit by the American Alliance for Equal Rights. AAER has sued the Atlanta-based Fearless Foundation – led by Black women and committed to providing grants, tools, and mentorship to women of color – claiming that its program for Black female entrepreneurs is racially discriminatory.

While we have different views, funding priorities and values, we, the undersigned, stand together in affirming that:

  • Philanthropic donations support our communities in ways that mirror the diversity of our priorities and interests.
  • Charitable giving is expressive conduct and a form of nonpartisan, constitutionally protected speech.
  • Philanthropy has a positive impact for communities and charitable causes across the country, including supporting historically marginalized groups and communities.
  • Philanthropic organizations, charitable programs, and individual donors have the right to exercise their views through giving, as protected by the First Amendment, even when others might disagree with where a funder chooses to donate.
  • However, giving to hate is not philanthropy, and the philanthropic community has a duty to ensure that charitable dollars never support organizations that promote hate, extremism, and violence.

We are committed to making it easier for organizations and people to give, across all dimensions of society, not harder. We call on the courts to dismiss this lawsuit and uphold the First Amendment rights of philanthropic organizations, charitable programs, and individual donors to give in ways that align with their values.Read the amicus brief here:

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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