Mission: To transform communities of color and lift up the leadership and power of everyday New Yorkers in the fight for equality and justice.
About the organization: Founded in 1978 by a group of donors who had come of age in the activist 1960s and '70s, the North Star Fund envisions a world in which resources and power are equitably shared and everyone lives with dignity. To that end, the organization aims to upend the traditional practices of philanthropy by vesting decision-making power in leaders drawn from the communities where its grantees work. In 2015, following the police killing of Eric Garner the previous year, the fund created the Let Us Breathe Fund, the only New York City-based Black-led fund focused on police reform and Black liberation.
Current programs: The Let Us Breathe Fund today supports the long-term leadership of Black New Yorkers working to address police violence and structural racism. Led by the activist-led Let Us Breathe Funding Committee, the fund mobilizes resources from individual donors and foundations in support of Black-led organizations and allied communities directly impacted by "broken windows" policing, poverty, and injustice in New York City; since 2015, the fund has distributed more than $1 million to organizations working on issues ranging from abusive policing in the streets and school campuses to historic disinvestment and lack of economic opportunities in communities of color.
COVID-19 response: In late March 2020, North Star awarded COVID emergency relief and renewal grants totaling more than $1.7 million — the biggest weekly grantmaking total in its forty-year history. The organization's COVID-19 page lists links to resource clearinghouses, funds delivering direct assistance and aid, emergency loan and grant programs, and information on how to adapt organizing efforts to the new pandemic reality.
Website: Visitors to the North Star Fund site can learn more about its grantmaking and Let Us Breathe Fund, read grantee stories, check out the COVID-19 resources page, and/or find out how to support organizing efforts related to the ongoing public health emergency. Visitors to the site can also sign up for the North Star newsletter, learn how to get involved or join a giving project, and/or make a donation to the organization, the Let Us Breathe Fund, or the Future of Organizing Fund. Organizers who visit the site can apply for a Let Us Breathe Fund grant or a North Star Fund grant.
Funding: The North Star Fund is supported by individuals, foundations, and program services.