A Message from Our President

2018 has been another year of rapid growth for Borealis. This year we:

Since launching Borealis Philanthropy in 2015, we have grown from a staff of 3 people and 1 collaborative fund (the Transforming Movements Fund) to a staff of 20 and 7 collaborative funds. Borealis’ growth has been fueled by our ability to help donors align their grantmaking and expand their reach, collaborate and learn, and invest in innovative, on-the-ground organizing. We get donors’ resources to where they are most needed – with speed, transparency, and accountability.

Our growth has been an opportunity for us to direct funding to advocates and organizers who have lived experience with the issues they work on, and also requires us to be intentional about how we expand to ensure that we remain steadfast in our commitment to resourcing communities most impacted by injustice.

In 2019, we will launch a criminal justice reform fund focused on transforming the pretrial justice system, and strengthen our current collaborative funds. We will reflect on our organizational goals and equity practices and ensure that our internal practices are aligned and reflect our organizational values.

We also know that in the year ahead vulnerable communities will face heightened threats and injustices. We see our role as moving more resources towards the constituency-led grassroots movements that have the vision and knowledge to lead the way forward.

Often in philanthropy, making investments in these constituency-led groups is seen as a “risk.” It’s time to redefine how we talk about risk. As grantmakers, we want our dollars to go towards the most strategic organizing and advocacy that will bring about the just and equitable future that we all want. That means supporting communities who are closest to the problem to develop the solutions. The risk is not trusting their vision, and it’s one we can’t afford to take.

For us in philanthropy, we have an opportunity and an imperative to redefine and reimagine what our work looks like. 2018 was a year when we experimented, made progress, and recognized the work that lies ahead. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

With gratitude, Margarita (Magui) Rubalcava, President, Borealis Philanthropy

In 2018, Borealis awarded $25.1 million to 232 grantees across 6 donor collaborative funds.


The Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF) resources the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to support its creation of a shared vision and policy agenda to win rights, recognition, and resources for Black people.

In 2018, the BLMF brought on 6 new donors, infusing the fund with much needed resources that will support M4BL in carrying out their visionary 2021 plan. Watch this video we created with M4BL explaining the movement's vision, impact, and structure.

Learn more about the Black-Led Movement Fund.

The Communities Transforming Policing Fund (CTPF) strengthens the capacity of organizations to transform the way law enforcement agencies engage with local communities by centering community-driven, grassroots solutions.

When Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old Black man was shot and killed by police in Sacramento, CTPF awarded rapid response grants to Sacramento ACT (All Congregations Together), PICO California, and Black Lives Matter Sacramento. Those grants supported trainings for local leaders to be legal observers to document law enforcement behavior, healing circles in impacted neighborhoods, and the collection, mapping, and analysis of data on police encounters in Sacramento. Recognizing the importance of moving resources quickly to communities, CTPF had a straightforward rapid response application process where it took two weeks from received proposal to direct deposit payment.


Learn more about the Communities Transforming Policing Fund.

The Fund for Trans Generations (FTG) works in solidarity with activists and organizations for a future where trans and gender non-conforming people live with freedom, safety, and self-determination.


"Transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people have lots to contribute and lived experiences to share, not just painful stories of physical violence and abuse. We, trans women, know what kinds of work deserves resources. We should lift up our voices, step into leadership, and demonstrate we are fully capable of making funding decisions. We are vulnerable, yet we are powerful and we know how to fight for what is just. As someone who was in a detention center, the system tried to take my voice away, but I learned to use my voice. Being on the advisory committee for the Fund for Trans Generations reminded me that I have a voice and can make change. I felt inspired, like we are all constructing a new model for grantmaking and growth." — Karolina Lopez, Fund for Trans Generations Advisory Committee Member

Learn more about the Fund for Trans Generations.

In 2018, our Immigration Initiatives supported impact litigation through the Immigration Litigation Fund (ILF), and also provided timely and rapid support to organizations addressing the pressing issues of family separation and the criminal prosecution of immigrants. The ILF supports efforts to challenge unjust immigration enforcement policies and practices. The organizations we fund use impact litigation as a powerful and proven tool to ensure that the nation’s immigration enforcement system is fair, humane, and prioritizes the civil and human rights of those vulnerable to deportation.

In November 2018, ILF grantee Migrant Justice filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted an unlawful, multi-year operation to surveil, harass, arrest, and detain the organization’s members and leaders. Members and supporters of Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based group which has a long history of organizing immigrant farmworkers, marched from the organization’s Burlington office to the federal courthouse, hand-delivering the lawsuit while rallying outside. This lawsuit represents an example of litigation rooted in the needs and vision of the community who want to stand up for their First Amendment rights and escalate their resistance to ICE. It is also an important partnership between a community-based group and organizations specializing in litigation. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Vermont, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the National Immigration Law Center, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.


Learn more about the Immigration Litigation Fund.

The Racial Equity to Accelerate Change (REACH) Fund will invest in practitioners to support nonprofit organizations with learning and strategy to integrate racial equity into their institutional policies, practices, culture, services, and programs. The Fund will lift up the work of those who are innovating and developing promising practices.


“Many nonprofit organizations want to transform themselves to work in more equitable and just ways, but don’t always know how. The Racial Equity to Accelerate Change (REACH) Fund will help solve this challenge by investing in people who are developing new ways of supporting organizations on their racial equity journey, and by shining a light on the expertise of those who have been doing excellent work with little investment. We’ve already gained valuable perspective on practices to end racial inequities from our participation as a donor in this collaborative fund. By pooling our resources as funders, we hope to leverage our dollars to create a lasting impact while demonstrating to philanthropy that deeper investment in this work is needed.” — Linda Baker, Director of Organizational Effectiveness, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation

Learn more about the Racial Equity to Accelerate Change (REACH) Fund.

The Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund invests in philanthropy serving organizations to inform, educate, and equip funders to integrate racial equity policies and practices into their grantmaking and programs. Our vision is to normalize grantmaking strategies that prioritize structural change and contribute to ending racial disparities.

The Transforming Movements Fund (TMF) supports organizing led by young, LGBTQ people who are working across issues and building inclusive movements that embrace people’s multiple identities.

In August 2018, TMF grantee Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) helped lead a Young People’s Budget Hearing using skits, art, and storytelling to demand a $500,000 Youth Fund in the city’s 2019 budget. KGA, which is based in Long Beach, California, is an organization led by young Southeast Asian women, and focuses on building a progressive and sustainable community that works for gender, racial, and economic justice. They joined with local coalition partners in announcing a “People’s Budget” proposal to the Long Beach City Council, seeking funds for youth programs, deportation defense, language access programs, and code enforcement to improve housing conditions. In early September, they won a significant victory when the city council voted 8-0 in favor of a $200,000 Youth Fund, in addition to funding the coalition’s other budget demands. In a newspaper article, City Councilman Rex Richardson commented: “I’ve worked on nine budgets, and this is the most organized youth effort I’ve ever seen.” Youth leaders have now developed a strategy to secure dedicated youth funding for future years to come.

Learn more about the Transforming Movements Fund.


Of our 232 grantees...

In our movement building initiatives (the Black-Led Movement Fund, the Communities Transforming Policing Fund, the Fund for Trans Generations, and the Transforming Movements Fund), grantmaking dollars went towards:

The grantmaking numbers in our year in review are based on unaudited financial reports.

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