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Progressive Donor Susan Sandler to Give $200 Million to Racial Justice Groups

[Sept. 13, 2020: NY Times]

Vivian Chang, a veteran of the California nonprofit world who will serve as the fund’s executive director, said in a phone interview that “the investments are not so much targeted to battleground states, but looking at the landscape of racism and demographic change.”

“In ways big and small, each of us can establish a legacy,” Susan Sandler writes.

“This fund really underscores what’s left out of many philanthropic discussions,” Ms. Chang said. “This concept of being accountable to real people with real problems, that is what catalyzes change, it’s what generates urgency and creativity. And so that’s why we’re focused on increasing the power and influence of those who bear the brunt of racism.”

The Sandler Foundation, which was started in 1991 by Ms. Sandler’s parents, the billionaires Herb and Marion Sandler, has long been a hub of left-leaning philanthropic efforts. The foundation has helped create organizations like the Center for American Progress and the Learning Policy Institute, and has supported nonprofit journalism outfits including ProPublica.

Ms. Sandler, a trustee at the foundation, has supported several Democratic candidates and campaigns and has been a power broker in national and California politics for years along with her husband, Steve Phillips. She was a key supporter of former President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential run, and she backed Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

With her new effort, Ms. Sandler will shift from the insider world of campaign donations to long-term efforts at building power. In traditionally Republican states such as Arizona, Georgia and Texas, the prospect of a changing electorate has enthralled political observers for years, and it is one reason such states are often mentioned as future battlegrounds in national elections.

Leaders of the groups receiving the new grant money said unlocking that potential would require organizing — and investment. They praised Ms. Sandler’s decision as a legacy-defining one, a move that sees where the country is going rather than where it is now.

The list of grantees also includes the Asian American and Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Fund, Advance Native Political Leadership, the California Digital Divide Fund and PICO California, a progressive, faith-based organizing group.

This Brighter Side of News post courtesy of NY Times at


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