The Frontline Impact Digest

Unrestricted Grants Reflect Deep Understanding of Equity in L.A.

By Roni Hooper, Director, Foundation and Government Grants

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One of the most common misconceptions about Liberty Hill Foundation is that we are a pass-through organization, simply raising funds and then passing those funds along to grantees in Los Angeles. But our strongest philanthropic partners know this image couldn’t be further from the truth. Funders who make unrestricted grants to Liberty Hill Foundation do so because they recognize the crucial role we play in promoting racial and economic justice across the county.

These foundations also know that general operating support is one of the most effective strategies for upending the traditional, patriarchal structure that has long defined the philanthropic sector.

For more than 45 years, Liberty Hill has built trust among low-income communities of color in LA and strengthened the landscape of community organizing for social justice.

We stand right alongside them as they fight for clean and healthy neighborhoods, a justice system that prioritizes youth development, and policies that protect renters’ rights and prevent homelessness. We provide customized coaching, training, and workshops; and advocate for—and prepare—leaders from disadvantaged communities to take their rightful place at the table where high-stakes decisions are being made.

And our grantees do not work in isolation. We bring them together into cohorts so that they can learn from one another, coordinate efforts, and engage in mutual support and racial healing.

We also intentionally reach out to and support organizations that have been formed within the last 10 years and have annual budgets under $500,000. These organizations, which we call “Rising Activists,” are led by Black, Native/Indigenous, and other leaders of color, and often require a significant investment of time and specialized guidance that Liberty Hill is uniquely positioned to provide.

All our work fits under the umbrella of racial and economic justice as we shift power into the hands of those most affected by structural injustice. We help them connect the dots, and we provide the tools they need to get the job done. But grassroots community leaders are always in the driver’s seat. They hold the power.

General operating support furthers this work in several ways. First, it helps lessen the financial strain of large grants and contracts that are heavily restricted and do not provide near enough support for the administrative demands. Second, it gives us the flexibility to let our grantees lead the way toward racial and economic equity. Third, unrestricted funding allows us to welcome foundations into an even deeper relationship with Liberty Hill as we present the breadth of our work as interconnected strategies rather than smaller silos of individual programs.

We look forward to deepening and expanding these types of funding partnerships that put power into the frontlines and result in lasting and meaningful change.

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Rising Activists