New Report Shows Impact of COVID-19 Funding for Immigrant Rights Movement

In 2020, as communities around the world faced one of the most unprecedented global health and economic challenges of our lifetime, Four Freedoms Fund (FFF) launched a COVID-19 Response Fund and strategy to support immigrant justice organizations throughout and beyond the pandemic.

In the new Resilience and Community report, Four Freedoms Fund—a NEO Philanthropy collaborative fund—details the impact of more than $2.5 million in rapid response funding that was dispersed through 56 grants to groups in 23 states.

Key findings: 

  • Rapid response funding is a critical and effective tool for funders to help movements build power. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • After another challenging year, immigrant justice movements are resilient and they are winning big fights in important contexts. 
  • Funders should deploy rapid response funding: 
    • On top of long-term core funding for movements 
    • With flexible criteria so groups can be nimble 
    • To groups led by and supporting directly impacted people 

A Four-Part Strategy

FFF, a leader in philanthropic support for immigrant justice movements in the US, prioritized four key areas for grantmaking based on its deep understanding of what the immigrant justice movement was facing at the time, while also seeking to support work that would build momentum towards longer-term power-building and systems change. The four key areas included:

  1. Freeing People from Detention, Prisons, and Jails;
  2. Protecting and Expanding the Safety Net and Economic Supports;
  3. Countering Xenophobia and Anti-Asian Hate; and
  4. Embracing Immigrants as Essential Workers and Members of Our Communities.

Stories of Resilience

Despite the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities, and the tremendous responsibilities and operational challenges for immigrant justice organizations, FFF grantees went above and beyond to take care of their communities, win bold, inclusive policy victories, and strengthen the movement for immigrant justice amid a crisis.

Grantees used COVID response funding to:

  • Depopulate detention centers like Irwin, Bristol, and Berks;
  • Secure workplace protections for poultry workers and immigrants working in high-risk jobs across the country;
  • Combat the rise in anti-Asian hate; and
  • Fight for inclusion of immigrants in broader economic relief and healthcare access efforts.

Lessons for Funders: Responsive Grants Drive Impact

“As funders, what stands out to us is the importance of infusing the movement with flexible, rapid response funding in addition to the core support we provide.”
— Rini Chakraborty, Senior Director, Four Freedoms Fund

The stories of impact from FFF’s COVID-19 Response Fund add to the lessons learned from the FFF’s 18-year history of philanthropic support of immigrant justice movements in the US. Rini Chakraborty, Senior Director of Four Freedoms Fund, sees rapid response funding as an important strategy for supporting social justice movements, one that should follow best practices of streamlined decision-making on the part of funders and self-determination for grantees.

“Our grantees’ accomplishments and resilience throughout the course of the pandemic underscore for us the critical importance of funders responding to the urgent needs in our communities, while also trusting movement leadership to meet and overcome the challenges our communities face,” said Chakraborty in the report.

For more information on Four Freedoms Fund’s COVID-19 response grants, read the full report: Resilience and Community, Supporting Immigrant Communities Through FFF’s COVID-19 Response Fund.