Our reading and dialogue with colleagues have sharpened our focus on the unjust distribution of wealth in this country. In solidarity with the groundswell of efforts toward decolonization, we feel compelled to spend down our foundation’s assets.
SAF was started with funds inherited from Tony’s grandfather, who in the early 1900s bought land and oil rights in Central California, profiting from the state’s 19th century genocide of its Indigenous people and dispossession of their land. This land in present-day Kern County, the ancestral home of the Yokuts, Chumash, and other Indigenous people, shares its history with nearly all of California’s land: it was stolen from its original inhabitants, who were forcibly removed through murder and enslavement.
We no longer feel entitled to use this money.
We remain deeply connected to and supportive of the creative parent community we have served for the last thirteen years. However, our need to address the source of our funding has brought us to a new resolve.
We are returning the foundation’s remaining funds to the communities from which they were taken. We will announce these unrestricted grants—to local tribes, California Native programs, and Native-led national organizations—as they are finalized.
We see this as an expansion of our mission and a shift in how we work for it.
The spirit of sustainability in the name of our foundation calls for approaches that downplay commodification and competition and instead lift up all creative practices. We intend to build community and work for structural reforms which will have a greater impact than our grantmaking ever could. We are developing partnerships with others working for a more equitable, anti-racist future. Ultimately, we hope that capitalism—and the compensatory philanthropy it relies on—is replaced by a more just distribution of wealth.
This work may outlive us, but as parents we have developed great patience, and a deep commitment to the generations to come.
Caroline and Tony Grant
We want to thank Justin Laing of Hillombo Consulting for his perceptive comments and close engagement with our work.
The following individuals and organizations have also shaped and informed our thinking. We could not have made this shift without their writing, leadership, provocation, and guidance.
Jeanne Bell, Nonprofit Quarterly, JustOrg Design
Janet Brown, former President/CEO, Grantmakers in the Arts
Felicia Rose Chavez, The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop
Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations”
Nadia Elokdah, Grantmakers in the Arts
Lisa Hoffman, and the Artist Communities Alliance
YK Hong, Keep Beyond
Toni Jensen, University of Arkansas and the Institute of American Indian Arts
Michelle Lee, The Circle Law Group
Dallin Maybee, Native American Rights Fund
Hope Mohr, Movement Law
Shannon O’Loughlin, Association on American Indian Affairs
Andrew Simonet, Artists U
Eddie Torres, Grantmakers in the Arts
Edgar Villanueva, Decolonizing Wealth, California Truth and Healing Fund
and finally, our colleagues in Grantmakers in the Arts’ Pro-BIPOC Funding Workshops